A messy bed.

To prevent bed bugs, keep clutter to a minimum. Bed bugs thrive in clothes, newspapers and piles of stuff in general.

And stay vigilant! Watch for signs within your apartment building, local libraries and hotels. You should also know what bed bugs look like, so that you can report them immediately — before they spread.

Generally speaking, high heat or extreme cold kills bed bugs. Try these tips from Adria Vasil, author of Ecoholic, if you already have bed bugs:

  • Steam clean your mattress and then fit the mattress with a tightly woven barrier sheet (organic cotton barrier sheets will also keep out dust mites).
  • Wash everything, including curtains, bedding and removable upholstery in hot water (you may need to do this more than once).
  • Physically remove bed bugs with the vacuum and then carefully empty and clean the vacuum canister and filter.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around baseboards.
  • Try an enzyme-based product like Kleen Green.

Diatomaceous earth is also used to control ants, silverfish, fleas and roaches in the home. Sprinkle a small amount along cracks and baseboards, or above the cupboards. Naturally occurring diatomaceous earth is made from crushed fossilized algae. This fine powder is like glass. It is so abrasive that it damages the protective outer shell of creepy crawlies. When that protective exoskeleton is pierced, insects dry up and die. Ask for it at your local garden store.

Kleen Green™ is an organic blend of enzymes specifically designed to remove and eliminate dirt, germs, bacteria, odours, and pests, including bed bugs, lice, scabies, crabs, fleas, mites and more, naturally. I’ve never used this product but it beats toxic pesticides, so it could be worth a try! It claims to be non-toxic, no-residue formula, non-flammable, hypoallergenic, rinseable and biodegradable.