*Sigh* It’s a dreaded topic. One that I’ve been avoiding, but I know that I’m not the only one whose experienced a bed bug problem before. Bed bugs don’t discriminate – they don’t care if you’re the cleanest and tidiest person on earth (not that I am). If you are on vacation and you stay in a hotel room with bed bugs unbeknown to you, they’re going to hop in your suitcase and come home with you.
My experience with bed bugs is slightly different than some of the horror stories I’ve heard, but it still happened and it was still a major pain to deal with. I’ll try to start from the beginning.
Back in April of 2015 (told you I’ve been avoiding this), I noticed some bumps on my hips and around my back. I had just got back from a run, so my roommates assured me that it was probably just a rash from my running shorts. They looked like this:
The first thought in my mind was that they were bed bug bites. My roommates thought I was crazy because we’ve never had a problem in our Chicago apartment before, even though they are common in big cities. So after this discovery of bites, I started researching like crazy. The description of what they look like and pictures I saw of other bed bug bites matched mine. Of course, I panicked.
I also read about where they hide and how to detect if you have bed bugs. So I searched my room, mattress, sheets, curtains, etc. high and low. I came up with nothing. No signs and no bugs. So I brushed it off and thought maybe my roommates were right. A couple weeks passed by and nothing happened – no sightings of bugs and no additional bites.
Then, the bites appeared again. This time, on my leg around my knee.
This time I knew I had bed bugs. My roommates still didn’t believe it, but there was no other explanation. I was on a trip for work a week before the first bites appeared, so this time I searched through my luggage for any signs, but still saw nothing. I stripped my bed, turned it over and still NOTHING. I took my luggage outside as a precaution and washed all my bedding again. I couldn’t sleep in my bed after this second set of bites appeared. The thought of them crawling on me in my sleep was terrifying.
I read that bed bugs are most active around 3-4am. I set an alarm the next few nights to wake up and search for them as they’re coming out of hiding. There was still no bugs!
A couple more weeks go by and no more bites. It’s the strangest thing, because this goes against all the other stories I’ve read. Then, on a Thursday before I was supposed to leave for a weekend long trip with my best friends, I came home to this:
A bed bug. Right out in the open. In the middle of my bed. Not hiding, not moving. I guess he wanted me to find him. He basically seemed dead. I’m not sure why, because I read they can live for several months after their ‘full-grown’ by feeding off your blood. UGH. Gross.
I honestly started crying. It was the LAST thing I wanted to deal with before I was gone for three days. I didn’t want to leave my roommates alone with this problem, either. It was already really late and the stores were closed, so I had to try to ‘fix’ this issue in the morning before my flight. I went to the store as soon as I got up to buy bed bug spray, bed bug mattress and box spring protective covers, and a steamer. $250+ to try to remedy the bugs.
I stripped my bed again, placed everything in the dryer (even threw away some things), and sprayed down my mattress and box spring. I also sprayed my curtains and corners of my room. Then, I steamed all the clothes I had in my bedroom, and my mattress and box spring (heat kills the bugs). I struggled to fit the protective covers on my mattress and box spring, but I did it. I thought if they were still clinging to my bed, at least they weren’t going to get out.
During this extensive clean-up and spray down, I never once saw another bug – again, goes against everything I’ve hard about these pests. I packed up my things for the trip in a new suitcase and I was gone for the weekend with the thought of bed bugs on my mind. How horrible!
When I returned to the apartment three days later and moving forward, I didn’t have any other issues with seeing another bug or getting bit. I did notice that one of our upstairs neighbors in my apartment moved his mattress out to the garbage a couple days after I got back. This leads me to think the problem may have started upstairs and just one little guy came down to my room. Everyone says there is never only one bug – but I’m starting to believe this was my case. I’m still glad I took all the necessary precautions. I guess my trifecta remedy did work and I’ve been bed bug free for almost a whole year!
Moving forward, I will ALWAYS check my hotel bed for bed bug signs (even though I’m not sure that’s how they came to me). No matter how clean or tidy hotel rooms seem, bed bugs are still a possibility. The more and more people I talk to about my situation, the more I learn just how common they are. I’m VERY lucky we didn’t have to pay for an exterminator and they never spread to my roommate’s beds. If you come across a bed bug issue that similar to mine, remember these three items:
3. Fabric Steamer – Only $30!
Hopefully, that will do the trick for you, too. I also read that putting Vaseline on your bed frames will help to catch bed bugs that are on the floor trying to crawl up to your bed.
I hope that you never have to deal with them, but if you have bed bugs, try not to panic (or cry, like me) and quickly do everything you can to get rid of them, because they can only get worse!