Home Care

What Exactly Are Bed Bugs and How To Deal With Them

Don't let the bed bugs bite!

Photography: Shutterstock (main)

We’ve all heard of the saying, “Goodnight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” But what are bed bugs really? In case you have yet to see one, they are tiny, flat insects usually found hiding near where humans sleep: bed frames, headboards, box springs, luggage, under loose carpets and rugs, in the cracks of furniture and mattresses. At night, these little creatures come out of hiding, pierce the skin, consume blood, then hide again once they’ve had their fill. 

While bed bug bites may not be painful initially, they can later develop into itchy red welts. They may even cause an allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis and a whole-body severe response. That’s why it’s crucial to avoid a full-on infestation at all costs, and you can start doing this by knowing the early signs of one.

Signs that you have bed bugs:

1. Blood spots and/or dark stains on your mattress 

These spots are actually the fecal pellets and dried blood remains of the bed bugs. 

2. Sweet, cloying scent 

Smell your mattress and if there is an unpleasant sweet scent, you may have bed bugs

3. Skin irritation

Unexplained swollen red welts in groups of two or three on your skin may be an indicator of bed bugs. 

4. Dried exoskeleton remains 

Bed bug nymphs will grow and shed their skin until they reach adulthood. 

5. Live insects 

While bed bugs are small, it’s still possible to spot them on your bed, carpets, or furniture. 


If you experience any of the aforementioned issues, then it's a must that you take action right away before they infest all the rooms of your home.

How to deal with bed bugs:

1. Identify which rooms have bed bugs 

Look for the signs of bed bugs in your other rooms, as they can spread to other areas. Apart from the bedroom, they usually live in sofas and sofa beds.  

2. Before throwing your mattress away, hire pest control professionals 

The first thing you might want to do is throw away your mattress. Yes, it may seem like a waste, but it's the only way you can be sure that no bugs are settled deep within the foam and springs. Remember, however, to hire a professional who can make sure that the infestation is dealt with. Otherwise, some may survive and may cause another infestation in your new mattress even if you have already thrown away the old one.  

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3. Stay in your own bed 

Sleeping in your own bed can lower the risk of bed bugs spreading throughout the house, and as always, make your bed a safe haven by regularly cleaning your sheets and mattress. 

Prevention is always the best solution, and while there is an odd chance that you can bring home bugs in one of your out-of-town trips, mostly, it's all about proper home maintenance and keeping things fresh and your mattress dusted. 

These are a few ways to prevent bed bugs from entering your home: 

1. Clean your luggage

Once you’ve returned from a trip, quickly empty your luggage. Wash all of your clothes and vacuum the luggage. Make sure to clean and disinfect your vacuum bag afterwards, or properly throw out the disposable parts. 

2. Closely examine your ukay finds and second-hand furniture 

Carefully inspect any second-hand clothing or furniture you’re about to buy or accept from others. Watch out for dark or brown spots, as these may be the fecal matter and dried blood remains of bed bugs. Also, look for adult bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs hiding in between creases, cracks, and folds. 


3. Frequently flip your mattress

It may be a good idea to turn over your bed and inspect whether there are bed bugs nested on your sheets, box springs, headboard, or mattress. 

4. Vacuum your mattress regularly.

Invest in a small, hand-held vacuum that specializes in the removal of mites and deep-seated dust. We have a list here: 5 Handheld Vaccum Cleaners You Can Buy Online for Those Hard-To-Reach Places

5. Keep your home tidy

Declutter your home, as piles of toys, clothes, and shoes can be potential hiding places for bed bugs. Additionally, make sure to regularly wash your clothes and bedding. 

Knowledge is crucial in combating bed bugs. Recognizing signs of infestation, like blood spots on mattresses or a distinct sweet odor, allows you to act promptly. Prevention strategies, such as regular cleaning, luggage care, and cautious handling of second-hand items, are effective if done right. If an infestation occurs, professional help is recommended, even if it means discarding your mattress. 


This article has provided information on identifying and preventing bed bug activity, understanding their behavior, and solutions to manage them. With this, you're equipped to maintain a bug-free environment and a peaceful sleep. If bed bugs do appear, you're at least equipped because you already know what to expect.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bed Bugs

When are the bed bugs most active?

Bed bugs are most active during the night, typically emerging around midnight and remaining active until about 3 AM. During daylight hours, they usually hide in their preferred crevices or spots on a bed. 

What are some of the natural bed bug sprays I can use?

Some natural bed bug sprays you can use include a vinegar solution and a bed bug killer spray made from essential oils. Other effective natural methods include using diatomaceous earth and alcohol.

Essential oils, such as lavender or tea tree, can be used to make a bed bug killer spray. Alcohol is another substance that can be used to get rid of bed bugs that’s easily accessible. 


In addition to these, you may use other substances like cinnamon, fresh mint, garlic, and strong alcohol to make homemade sprays for bed bugs. Talcum powder is another possible ingredient for a homemade bed bug spray. These sprays can be made using different combinations of these natural substances depending on your needs and preferences. 

How can I get rid of the bed bugs?

To get rid of bed bugs, you can use methods such as vacuuming to trap bugs, using chemical and non-chemical treatments, and ensuring that you correctly wash covers.

Run your vacuum over anywhere the bugs might be hiding, including your mattress, carpets and other potential hiding spots. You may have to do these more than once to kill all the bugs and their eggs.

How do I treat bed bug bites?

To treat bed bug bites, the first step is to wash the affected area gently with soap and water. This helps to clean the area and prevent infection. Next, you can apply an over-the-counter anti-itch product to the area to help relieve any itching or discomfort. 


If the itching is severe, you may want to consider taking an over-the-counter antihistamine as well. In some cases, if the bites are numerous or causing severe reactions, you may need to consult with a healthcare provider for further treatment.

Are there other child- and pet-friendly ways I can do to get rid of bed bugs?

Aside from using a vacuum cleaner and diatomaceous earth, other child- and pet-friendly ways to get rid of bed bugs include washing clothes and bedding at high temperatures. Bed bugs cannot tolerate high temperatures, so washing at the maximum heat is key to getting rid of the infestations. You should strip beds to wash mattress protectors and bedding, remove any loose covers on furniture to wash immediately, and clean rugs thoroughly using heat. Some homemakers swear by exposing the affected furniture under the sun for at least 24 hours to kill off the bed bugs.


This article appeared in an issue of Real Living Magazine. With reports from Nica Jose.

Source: Top Best PH

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