Once you've discovered you have bed bugs and have called for pest control services to get rid of them for you, it's time to start getting your home ready. Exterminators need access to every part of your home and your belongings, and there are several ways you can make things go easier along the way, resulting in a faster visit from the exterminator and a quicker return to a home that is free of bed bugs.
Wash and Seal What You Can
Regardless of what kind of treatment your home will be getting from the exterminator, you'll need to take care of belongings like your clothes, bedsheets, and objects like stuffed animals at some point. Taking care of them first can actually make things easier for you in the long run.
Start by removing your bedsheets, taking your clothes out of dressers and closets, and piling everything together that you can and plan to wash. Since bed bugs can hide in just about everything, it's safest to wash as much as you can. Wash with hot water and dry on the highest setting unless it's not safe to do so; for everything you can't use high heat on, seal it in an airtight bag to deal with later. While dry-clean-only clothes can't be washed, they can be heated, but will need to be taken to a dry cleaner for proper cleaning later. Sort all your cleaned items in airtight bags as well. Some stuffed animals can be washed the same way, but check tags to be sure; if they can't, they may need to be thrown out.
Doing this helps your exterminator by preparing many of the main areas they have to treat, like mattresses, and it also means that once the extermination is complete, you have clean sheets and clothes that are safe and immediately ready for use again.
Tidy and Rearrange Rooms
Preparing for an exterminator might seem like a strange time to clean house, but tidying your home makes it easier for your exterminator to access everything they need. Many treatments involve spot cleaning, typically on items like furniture with cushions. Additionally, moving furniture away from walls can help contain an infestation. Since bed bugs can't fly, they need to be able to crawl up or on something, and if bed bugs are getting to something you own via the wall, this can stop them moving any further.
When cleaning, focus on making things accessible rather than making things look nice. Beyond clearing away clutter and moving all furniture a few feet away from every wall, take apart sofa cushions and remove your mattresses from their bed frames. This is a good time to do some house-wide cleaning and trash everything you no longer want or need. Every little bit helps.
Avoid moving any furniture from room to room as much as you can, however, as this may unintentionally spread bed bugs to other areas of your home. Without help, bed bugs spread slowly, so don't move too many things between each room.
Discuss What Treatments Are Being Used
Knowing what exactly your exterminator plans on doing can help you prepare. There are a variety of different treatment options for bed bugs, ranging from freezing and heating treatments to steam treatments and pesticides. For example, if your exterminator wants to use a heat treatment throughout your whole house, you may need to remove all items that could be damaged by the high temperatures, like some electronics. If any poisons are being used, you may need to isolate your mattress so they can treat it and seal it in a mattress case.
The important thing to note about many treatments is that they are effective so long as the treatment is being done, but not long after, so talk to your exterminator to see not only how to prepare before the extermination date, but also how to reduce the risk of the infestation coming back once they're finished.