A Practical Guide to Bed Bugs Part 2: Preparing for War

Now that you can sleep properly it's time to bring your focus to Step 2. This step will require a lot of energy and perseverance as you are preparing for all out war between you and the bed bugs. Thankfully you are not alone and whomever is doing the pest control will be treating your apartment and giving you specified advice along the way. Resist the urge to get up and leave as you'll most likely just take them with you. 

You are going to have to heat treat every single piece of fabric that you can in your house. This means that everything that can go through the dryer should. Keep anything else hanging above waist height in your closet. Hopefully your land lord will chose to heat treat which is the most effective but if not you can iron all your delicate clothing both before and after a poison treatment. The direct heat of the iron will kill of the bugs, just be very thorough!

Once each garment is dried, sort them and bag them in groups, if you have stuff you know you won't use in the next few months, keep those in bags that you tuck away out of sight. The less bags you have to search through for the shirt that you need the better! Label the bags properly and twist the ends before tying a knot, this will help prevent bed bugs from crawling in and you also don't have to tie the knot as tight. You will have to live out of garbage bags until the threat is over so ensure that you can easily access the clothes you use most. To avoid spreading the plague to your friends, try to get dressed as close to your time of leaving as possible. There is no hostess gift worse than bed bugs.

For shoes it's a bit harder, but you can freeze them! It's been suggested that they may need at least 48-72h in the freezer to actually kill any hiding bugs so it will be a lengthy process to do so. It is a good way to stay safe and an addition to the rest of the treatment options.

At this point I expect that at least your bedrooms and closets have a lot less clutter, it is however vital that you de-clutter the rest of your apartment as well. Leaving piles of stuff lying around or keeping anything on the floor is a perfect hiding spot for bugs as they attempt to find new homes now that your bed is so much less inhabitable.

I would wait with any further steps until an inspection of your apartment has been done. It's tempting to attempt to get rid of as many bugs as possible, but you might also get rid of evidence of where the bugs are hiding or coming from. This will make treatment harder and less effective. Once inspection is done however you should have free hands to do everything else, unless the inspector says differently of course.

For any treatment you will need to unscrew all outlet covers as the little creepers enjoy hiding inside the space surrounding the outlets. Once this is done it's time to vacuum. Keep in mind that it's vital that you throw out the bag each time that you vacuum as there may be live bugs in there and they will spread. Vacuum all crevices and in the outlet holes. Get a good vacuuming in around your bed and in your closets as well. If you have a floor steamer this is also a great way to treat your house. The steam will be able to get those hard to reach areas that your vacuum wont and will kill the bugs at contact. The more thorough you are the more bugs will die. Repeat this process every week and it's recommended that you continue after your apartment has been treated. If your apartment gets poison treated however, letting the poison sit for as long as possible before you clean it up will ensure that you get as many of the bugs as possible.

It took a full 3 months before it seems that the bed bugs have been completely eradicated in my apartment building. All in all about 5 poison treatments and 1 heat treatment. The heat treatment didn't treat the whole apartment and we are suspecting that that's why it wasn't fully effective. The last poison treatment was done with a newer very strong poison, that supposedly was safe for humans and pets. Here's to hoping that it didn't cause any long term effect on us.


Getting rid of bed bugs is a long and exhausting process. Stay rested and stay prepared. The easier it is to treat your apartment each time the quicker they will go away. You may have to live a very minimalist lifestyle for a while and keep things simple just know that you will get through it and eventually they will be gone.