How to get rid of bed bugs: Expert tips as Paris outbreak leaves London at risk of infestation

As Paris Fashion Week comes to an end, British visitors should be cautious of bed bugs hitching a ride back to the UK on the Eurostar.

Following an alarming number of bed bug ‘invasions’ across the channel, which has even sparked concern from the French government, it’s vital to stay informed on how to get rid of the pests.

Bedbugs can be infuriatingly persistent if not dealt with correctly, leaving hosts vulnerable to red, itchy rashes and blistering bites.

The pests are not for the faint-hearted, so it’s best to acquaint yourself with the correct procedures to treat the creepy crawlies.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to get rid of the pesky critters, Richard Barrie, founder of The Bed Bugs Experts, has revealed.

Founder of The Bed Bugs Expert Richard Barrie has shared his top tips on getting rid of the critters following an outbreak in Paris 

How to treat bed bugs yourself   

Richard’s number one tip is to first evaluate the ‘proper identification’ of the insects.

‘On average, we get 10-15 calls a day, and of those calls only around two will actually be bed bugs,’ the expert added.

While some are fortunate enough to hire an expert in the unfortunate situation, Richard recognises that many will treat the pests themselves.

In this instance, Richard said: ‘Imagine your bed as an island and start there.’ The pest expert advises to treat the bus with steam. 

He said: ‘Treat your bed with steam and place interceptors on the feet to stop them getting to you.’

Interceptors act as a trap for bed bugs. The effective instruments are designed to catch critters and are available on Amazon for as little as £5.

Thoroughly steaming a mattress will help eradicate the insects and eggs lurking in the material, as they can not survive the high temperatures.

For those treating without a professional, Richard also advises fitting a monitor onto the bed to track and locate the critters.

If treating the critters without a professional, Richard said to steam your bed as the pests cannot survive the high temperatures

If treating the critters without a professional, Richard said to steam your bed as the pests cannot survive the high temperatures 

How to professionally get rid of bed bugs  

If feasible, Richard recommends seeking a heat treatment to kill the bugs, which pest companies offer.

‘We do heat treatments to the house with two further visits in the month, this covers the egg hatching period,’ he said.

At Richard’s company, the procedure involves putting the temperature in the infected bedroom to ‘around 52-55°.’

The specialist will maintain that temperature for around six hours, even though the bed bugs will die in roughly one minute under the extreme conditions.

This is because, ‘it’s the eggs we’re trying to kill, which takes longer.’

While a bed bug infestation might seem like a distant nightmare, Richard’s business has completed over 300 treatments in Scotland this year.

Protecting yourself from bed bugs  

Pest control expert, Scott Hyslop, Director of PEST UK, has revealed a small investment travellers can make to protect themselves against bed bugs. 

Having bedbugs is almost entirely down to luck because ‘it has nothing to do with hygiene’, he said. 

If you know that you have bedbugs in your home, and are being bitten, Mr Hyslop recommends one investment which could be a huge help- a mattress protector. 

What are the signs of bedbugs in your room?

  • Small bugs or tiny white eggs in the crevices and joints of your furniture. 
  • Bites on your skin.
  • Tiny black spots on your mattress.
  • Shells which the bugs have shed.
  • Blood spots on your sheets – these can occur if you squash a bug after it has fed 
  • An unpleasant, musty scent. 
  • They tend to prefer fabric or wood over plastic and metal, and often hide near to where you sleep. 

He added that if the bugs have burrowed themselves into your mattress, a mattress protector can trap them there, without actually killing them. 

These can cost as little as £5, although prices vary. 

If you are wondering how bedbugs get in in the first place, one of the most common ways, especially in the UK where they are slightly less common, is if they are brought in from luggage after a holiday.

The first thing you do after a long journey when arriving at your hotel might be to throw your suitcase under the bed and lie down, but Mr Hyslop revealed that this could be a crucial mistake.

As hotel beds can be such a haven for bedbugs given the frequent turnover of visitors, putting a suitcase under there is effectively an open invitation for your journey back. 

Once you return from the location that you suspect has the pests, check your luggage immediately.

The pest expert said: ‘As a prevention the main thing we suggest is that when people get home they wash their clothes.’ 

Another common way that bedbugs are brought in to people’s homes is through second-hand furniture, so if you buy any, be sure to check it before taking it inside.

Even new furniture is worth a look, because it may have been in transit with older items. 

Bed bug outbreak in France 

The panic around bedbugs isn’t new, but calls for Brits to avoid travelling to France has made people anxious about the little bugs.

French hotels and Airbnb’s are suffering from an alarming surge in bed bugs with one in ten of the country’s households now infected.

A survey found that 11 per cent of French households have been struggling to deal with outbreaks of blood-sucking insects between 2017 and 2022.

The research, conducted by the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), suggested that the tourism industry is largely to blame for the surge in infestations.

Beds used by a frequent turnover of visitors in places such as hotels are prone to infestations.

The French government has launched a concerted effort to fight bed bugs which have appeared in huge numbers on public transport, in cinemas and in hospitals.

One-tenth of all French households are believed to have had a bedbug problem over the past few years, usually requiring a pest control operation costing several hundreds of euros that often needs to be repeated.

Paris city hall urged President Emmanuel Macron’s government to help with the infestation, including by creating a dedicated task force.

France’s national health agency recommended that people check their hotel beds when travelling and be cautious about bringing second-hand furniture or pre-owned mattresses into their homes.

Once bedbugs are sighted in a home, affected rooms must be treated quickly, it said.