Becca Day-Preston | Contributing Writer | Sunday, 30 August 2015

How I Fought Bedbugs…AND WON!

How I Fought Bedbugs, And WON!

The Debrief: IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! Don't worry, this story has a happy ending...

Imagine this. You’ve just, against all odds, managed to buy a flat in London. Moving day is two weeks away. Finally, after a year of bullshit viewings and asshole estate agents and a particularly stressful final stretch of the whole ridiculous process, it’s all over. You schedule the carpet man to come and fit the carpets. The van is booked. Then your boyfriend calls you from the new flat. And he says three words. The worst three words:

We. Have. Bedbugs.

No. No no no. This can’t be happening. But hey hello guess what IT IS HAPPENING! It is happening in the place you are about to live. This happened to me and, with bedbug numbers apparently enjoying an all-time high in this fetid cesspool that we call “London,” IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. Don’t worry, though. This story has a happy ending. Thank fuck. We fought the bedbugs, and we won! But how? This is how. 

Beating bedbugs isn’t easy – it is an absolute hell of torture inflicted both by the bugs (those fuckers get hungry) and yourself (six months on, every itch or insect bite launches me into the throes of mattress-checking). But it is possible.

1. Call the council

This is the first thing to do. They might want to eyeball your bedbugs, so get a specimen if you can. We put ours in a Bonne Maman jar and took it to the council and the council said, yes, that is a bedbug. 

I will never forget meeting the bedbug man. He denounced the tube as 'full of bugs, don’t ever sit down!' and then, with the first real thousand yard stare I’d ever seen, told me “sometimes… sometimes I dream of bedbugs…”

Deep-seated emotional trauma aside, he sprayed and then, a month later, sprayed again. In this time, our new downstairs neighbours’ very old cat died. Racked with guilt, I rang the council to ask if this could have been our fault. No, they said, of course not.

2. Do a deep clean 

We moved into the flat a month later than planned. A couple of weeks after moving, I noticed a bite. Then another. Then another. They were back. Or rather, they never went away.

So we called the council, again, who grudgingly agreed to do another treatment under the original payment. The bedbug man with the sad, distant eyes felt sorry for us, so he did loads of ‘extra’ spraying. But still! They prevailed! Because you’ve got to do a ‘deep clean’ ‘til they’re all gone.

This consists of dismantling your bed and stabbing away at all the nooks and crannies with a literal kitchen knife, following up with a thorough going over the bed and mattress and ENTIRE ROOM with the vacuum (which is then instantly and thoroughly emptied into the outside bin). 

3. Put diatomaceous earth on EVERYTHING 

But that’s not all. There is one thing, and one thing above all, that you need to know about if you’re going to finish the job on bedbugs: food grade diatomaceous earth. Sexy name, sexy product. Rarrr!

Diatomaceous earth is basically the most drying dry thing on the planet, and it kills the bedbugs by drying them out ‘til they become dust, like the vampires in Buffy. Once you’ve stabbed your bed to death, you need to go balls crazy with this shit. Smear it allllllll over the underside of your mattress, chop out big fat lines of it along the skirting boards, shove it into the nooks and crannies of your bed. Repeat, repeat, repeat. At some point, you’ll realise they’re gone.

You’ve finished the job. You beat bedbugs. WELL DONE YOU!

Look, I’m not telling you that you can take on bedbugs alone. You can’t and you shouldn’t try. But you can be smart, coupling the council’s spray (which is diatomaceous earth suspended in some kinda solution, basically) with your own tough guy attitude. 

Bedbugs are gross, guys, but they don’t mean you are gross. If you take one thing from this article, please let it be that I am not gross.

BDP’s Ace Bedbug Busting Tips:

1 Know the signs

Bite patterns, excrement, sloughed-off exoskeletons. Google is your best m8.

2 Sorry, you have to sleep in your bed while all treatment is going on

We didn’t at first, and look where that got us. The bugs only come out to get poisoned if there’s bait (hello, you’re the bait, bloodsack).

3 If you’re mucking about with diatomaceous earth, moisturisise like crazy

That shit will give you old lady hands.

4 Yes, the council. No, not the expensive private exterminators

They all use the same thing, because all the harcxxxre shit is illegal now. Yes, even if the expensive fella is making promises. He just wants your $$$.

5 Though, if you can afford to spring for heat treating, I’ve heard it’s the balls

Basically cooks them to death. Also costs a cool grand.

6 Hydrocortisone cream

You’re gonna need it on those bites.

7 You can still sit down on the tube

Probably. I do, because I am very lazy.

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional exterminator. I’m just an idiot person who managed, through tenacity and luck, to speed along a process using something you can buy off Amazon that happens to kill bugs as well as apparently being something people eat to make their poo less hard. Mate, I don’t make the rules.

Like this? The you may be interested in:

How To Move House: A Definitive Guide

How To Take Your Desk From Your Hated Place To Your Happy Place

Decorating Tips We Can Learn From Airbnb

Follow Becca on Twitter @becca_dp

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