Paris is currently facing a bed bug infestation – however, what many people are unaware of is that bed bugs are on the rise in Britain too…
Last month, pest control company Rentokil reported a 65% increase year-on-year in infestations across the UK.
With this in mind, the bed experts at MattressNextDay have shared their insight on why this increase is happening, how to spot a bed bug infestation, and their top tips for preventing it.
Martin Seeley, the CEO and bed expert at MattressNextDay said, “The pre-loved market is booming in the UK due to the current cost-of-living crisis. Naturally, we’re all looking for cheaper alternatives, and that’s why more than half of Brits (55%) would consider buying second-hand furniture. However, this growing trend comes with a cautionary note, as the increased trade in second-hand furniture also correlates with a rise in bed bug infestations.
“These resilient pests, capable of concealing themselves within various surfaces, exhibit a particular love for upholstered furniture such as headboards and chairs. Unfortunately, bed bugs can also last up to 18 months without food. So, buying used furniture that has been stored for several months is still not completely safe and can still be home to thousands of bed bugs. Experts have also warned that bedbugs are becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides, making them harder to remove.”
How to thoroughly examine second-hand furniture before buying
There’s no harm in buying second-hand furniture if you fully inspect it for bed bugs before buying. Here’s what you should look out for:
- Visible Bugs: This is the most obvious sign. Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that have flat bodies, and are a similar size and colour to an apple pip. If you spot any small insects, especially in the folds and seams of the furniture, it’s a clear indication that bed bugs might be present.
- Shed Skins: As bed bugs grow, they shed their exoskeletons. Look for these translucent, shell-like remains near where they hide.
- Tiny Eggs: Bed bug eggs are small and white, resembling grains of rice and are around 1 mm in size. These can be particularly hard to spot but are usually found in clusters. Check seams, joints, and corners for these minute eggs.
- Stains: Rusty or dark stains on the furniture could be bed bug droppings or crushed bugs. Examine carefully to see if you notice any unusual marks.
- Odour: A musty or unpleasant odour can sometimes accompany a bed bug infestation. If the furniture emits an unusual smell, it’s worth considering this as a potential warning sign.
- Blood Stains: Bed bugs feed on blood, and if they’ve been feeding on the furniture’s previous owner, you might find small reddish-brown stains.
When examining the furniture, take your time and be thorough. Run your fingers along seams, edges, and any hidden areas. While it might seem meticulous, a careful inspection is your best defence against inadvertently bringing home bed bugs.
If you do identify any of these signs, it’s advisable to reconsider the purchase. While it can be disappointing, it’s far better than dealing with a bed bug infestation later on. On the other hand, if the furniture passes your scrutiny, you can enjoy your new find with confidence, knowing you’ve taken steps to ensure its cleanliness.
Why it’s important to deal with bed bugs as soon as you spot them
If you believe you have a bed bug infestation at home, it’s important to deal with them straight away. Although bed bugs typically feed on blood every 5 to 10 days, they are resilient and capable of surviving up to 18 months without feeding. Plus, female bed bugs lay 200-500 eggs over two months in batches of 10 to 50. The eggs are sticky and attach to items of furniture or fittings in clusters. Eggs can also hatch in about a week so it’s important to deal with a bed bug as soon as you find one.
Eight additional expert tips for preventing a bed bug infestation in your home
- Regularly cleaning your mattress is not only key to making it last longer but it’s also the perfect opportunity to check for bed bugs. You should aim to clean your mattress once every three months.
Pocket sprung styles can be vacuumed safely, whereas foam styles like memory foam require sweeping to avoid damage. You can read MattressNextDay’s guide on preparing and caring for your memory foam mattress to ensure you keep it as hygienic as possible.
- Once a week, pull back your bedding and let your mattress air. This gives your mattress the chance to spring back into shape, whilst evaporating any excess moisture.
What’s more, dust mites love the warmth of your bed, so letting your mattress air and cool down will lessen your chances of these loitering around, too.
- Researchshows that bed bugs harbour in dirty items, as opposed to clean items, so make sure to wash your bedding and sheets at least once a week to avoid a build-up of bacteria.
- Use an encasement mattress protector. These can be labelled as bed bug proof, but the primary word to look out for when shopping is ‘encasement’. This style of mattress protector completely covers the mattress, leaving no entry point for pesky insects. Plus, if you do have bed bugs, an encasement will trap the bed bugs and they will die of starvation.
- Make sure to keep your home clutter-free and tidy. The more objects you own, the more opportunities for bed bugs to hide. Plus, clutter increases the difficulty in eliminating bed bugs once they’ve been established.
- You should also vacuum at least once a week to remove any potential bed bugs from travelling further. Make sure to hoover all hiding hotspots, such as skirting boards, under sofa cushions and under the bed.
- If you share laundry facilities with others, such as in student accommodation, take extra caution. When you transport your items to be washed, keep them in a plastic bag.
Once they are washed, remove them from the dryer and place them straight back in the bag. Fold them at home where it’s safer to do so.
- Bed bugs are also known to hide in cardboard, so try to unpack your boxes quickly after moving house. Also, never use cardboard boxes for storage and stick to plastic containers, instead.