If you’ve found one or many bed bugs in your house, you might be wondering where to sleep at night. Here’s what to do and why:
Continue sleeping in your bed if you have bed bugs, unless the infestation is extremely bad. If you start sleeping in another room, you’ll attract bed bugs to that area or you could transport them with you in your clothes or bedding. This makes the infestation worse and harder to clear.
You can and should take steps to protect yourself from bed bugs and get rid of them. Keep reading to find out how.
By the end of this article, you’ll know:
- What happens when you sleep with bed bugs
- 10 ways to keep bed bugs off you while you’re sleeping
- How to get rid of bed bugs
What happens when you sleep in a bed with bed bugs
Bed bugs like to hide in dark, humid areas of the bed and bedroom, but they also hide in furniture, clothing, walls, floors, clutter, and many other places. Every 3 days or so, bed bugs come out at night to bite people sleeping nearby. They usually do this at around 4 a.m.
If you sleep with bed bugs, and it’s been a few days since their last feed, there’s a good chance the bed bugs will come out and bite you while you’re asleep, especially if you’re the person they usually bite.
They first inject you with an anesthetic in a place where your skin is uncovered, such as on your arms, neck, or legs, then they bite.
On the rare occasion, a bed bug might bite you on your scalp. But bed bugs don’t like fur or hair and never choose to live there. Here’s everything you need to know about bed bugs and hair.
If bed bugs bite you, you’ll probably have a reaction and wake up with groups or lines of swollen red bites where you were bitten. Bed bug bites are itchy, and could form pustules on the skin.
Some people, especially the elderly, have no reaction to bed bug bites and don’t even know they’re being bitten.
If you’re brave enough, watch the following video of a scientist willingly being bitten by a bed bug to see what happens when you sleep with bed bugs:
Sleeping with bed bugs won’t make you sick or give you any illnesses as they don’t carry or pass on diseases.
However, bed bug bites can become quite uncomfortable and you might struggle to sleep because you’re scared of being bitten or itching a lot.
One bed bug can bite many times, so you’ll get multiple bites each time a single bed bug bites you. And if the bed bugs are left to multiply, there will be more of them to bite you multiple times. You’ll soon be getting more and more bites every few days.
It’s very important that you take steps to get rid of bed bugs quickly, before they spread throughout your house and crawl to your neighbor’s place to start breeding there.
10 ways to keep bed bugs off you while you’re sleeping
There’s no sure-fire way to keep bed bugs off you when you’re asleep. If they want to get to you, and you’re fast asleep, there’s a good chance they will find a way.
Sleeping with the light on doesn’t stop bed bugs from biting you. Here are some things you can try to keep the bed bugs off you while you’re asleep:
- Bed bugs usually bite at 4 a.m. and they will change their feeding schedule if you’re not around at this time. But if it’s one of your first nights with bed bugs, get up and out the house before 4 a.m., before the bed bugs have a chance to realize you’re not home at this time. This could buy you a night or two.
- Move all clutter, boxes, plastic bags, etc. away from the bed. Bed bugs hide in clutter and come out from there to bite you at night.
- Move your bed away from all furniture and walls. Put these bed bug interceptor traps under the feet of your bed to catch any bed bugs trying to crawl up and onto your bed. If you don’t want to get the traps, place an empty plastic container under each leg of your bed, and put some soapy water or oil in the container. Bed bugs that fall into these containers when trying to get onto your bed will drown.
- Cover your bed with yellow or green bedding, as these are the colors that bed bugs stay away from when choosing a place to nest. Bed bugs are most drawn to black and red, so avoid using these colors on your bed.
- Wash your linen, pillows, and pajamas on a hot water cycle and either put them in the dryer or hang them in the sun for at least half an hour to dry. The bed bugs might survive the wash, but they will die from the heat of the dryer or the sun.
- Cover as much of your body as possible with clothing. Try sleeping in winter pajamas, gloves and long socks, and keep a blanket over you. Bed bugs can’t bite through clothing or bedding, so the less skin you have exposed the less places they can bite. If you want to go to the extreme, wear a balaclava (like this one) over your face, so only your eyes are exposed.
- Wash your bedding and pajamas daily, and heat them in the dryer or put them out in the sun.
- Cover your mattress and box spring with an encasement, to seal in the bed bugs so they can’t come out. Here’s a good mattress encasement and here’s a good box spring encasement available on Amazon. Don’t take an infested mattress outside. Wrap it tightly in plastic, mark it as “infested”, and choose one of these ways to safely get rid of it.
- If you can’t put an encasement on your mattress and box spring, vacuum or steam clean them to kill as many bed bugs as possible. Again, this won’t get rid of all the bed bugs, but it will kill some so you get fewer bites. Throw away the vacuum bag or sterilize a bagless vacuum cleaner.
- Vacuum your floors and baseboards. Throw away the vacuum bag or follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean and sterilize a bagless vacuum. This usually means washing the canister and filter in boiling, soapy water. Leave the vacuum out in the sun to kill any bed bugs that might be in it.
- I haven’t been able to find any products that work to repel bed bugs specifically, though studies have shown that spraying repellent with DEET onto clothes helps to keep away bed bugs. Some people swear that putting Vicks VapoRub or blotting white vinegar onto exposed skin stops bed bugs from biting.
- Don’t bring in new items or move anything until you’ve gotten rid of the bed bugs. More items give bed bugs more places to hide and breed, and moving items could transfer the insects to new spaces and rooms, which makes the infestation worse.
How to get rid of bed bugs
There’s no single solution that’s guaranteed to get rid of bed bugs. Below are some of the best ways and products from Amazon to kill bed bugs in your home:
- Studies have found that cimexa powder is more effective at killing bed bugs than diatomaceous earth, which many people use. A light dusting around baseboards, cracks in floorboards, and bed and furniture legs kills bed bugs that come out from these hiding places. Whatever you choose to use, follow the instructions carefully and don’t inhale the dust.
- Don’t take an infested mattress outside. Moving the mattress could spread bed bugs throughout the apartment or house, making the infestation worse. To save a mattress, wrap it in an encasement and wait for at least 6 to 12 months for the bed bugs to die. If you want to get rid of the mattress, wrap it tightly in plastic, mark it as “infested”, and dispose of it responsibly.
- Foggers are NOT good for killing bed bugs, so they aren’t recommended.
- If you have bed bugs, call in a professional pest control company or speak to the property manager to help you get rid of them. They’ll probably use a combination of treatments, such as a bed bug spray, vacuuming, and/or a heat treatment.
- If you think all the bed bugs are gone, put these sticky traps near the furniture where bed bugs were active. Leave the traps there to see if any bed bugs get stuck. If you don’t find any bed bugs and you don’t get bitten for 6 consecutive weeks, you know that the area is most likely free from bed bugs.
- Click here for a list of 8 ways to kill bed bugs.