I would just like to state for the record: bedbugs bite. Really. They bite. And it's annoying! We're clean people. Our house gets messy because we have two young kids, a working husband and me who writes, takes care the kids, tries to volunteer in the school and spends time with the kids. It's a lot and sometimes the housecleaning gets shoved aside. But we aren't gross. We don't have piles of junk lying around and we're careful about the used items we bring into our home.
We bought a set of bunk beds after our last move and somehow ended up with a voracious case of bedbugs. One infected bite landed me at the doctor's office for a prescription which I am apparently allergic to (the things you learn...) , which in turn landed me in the ER. It made for an interesting month.
Worse than that was sending my girls to school with bites on their arms and just feeling gross. We've finally (knock on wood) successfully nipped them in the bud. So, as someone who has experience dealing with bedbugs, here are a few tips to help you get rid of them before they take over your life:
Deny the presence of bed bugs: Ignore the fact that you brought new furniture into your new apartment and start blaming dust mites or allergies to the wood the new beds are made from. Stay in denial for at least a month before you actually start looking for bed bugs. Use a flashlight and look for the little creepers that like to hide in the seams of the mattress. On the plus side, don't expect a huge swarm of bugs, you likely won't find that.
Soak the buggers in alcohol: It kills them and after you've been bitten a dozen times you will get a sort of satisfaction from wiping the little vipers from the earth. Note: you will walk around smelling like rubbing alcohol for weeks. Also, if you have wood beds the alcohol will stain the wood, which is of little consequence when you just want to sleep a full night without being noshed on by a bunch of blood suckers.
Wash all your fabrics and store them in the depths of despair: Go on Cinderella, put on your big girl pants and get to work. You'll have to wash ALL of your clothes, towels, bedding, curtains and stuffed animals. At the very least you'll have to roast them in dryers with temperatures high enough to melt gold. Don't forget to spray your drawers with alcohol before you put your clothes back in... just in case.
Note: Your clothes will all shrink because you aren't supposed to dry all of your clothes. So you'll either need to lose weight or buy new clothes. In which case, just chuck everything you ruined, it'll save you a bundle on having to buy those airtight storage bags.
You should only keep out a week's worth of clothes and towels. You'll be sick of seeing your kids in the same clothes after the first two weeks. So you suck it up, you only have a week to go.
Have someone spray your house three times: The first two times you'll be convinced they've disappeared. So you start to pull out your clothes and such from those giant storage bags only to realize they were just hiding. So go back to step one and start over. Twice.
Rip the beds apart and dance on it's ashes: You'll finally realize that those wood bunk beds you bought have someone become home to a bedbug family. They have found the smallest crevices and moved in. It doesn't matter how many of their relatives you kill or how many times you are grateful your daughter peed the bed again so you can convince yourself you are washing the sheets AGAIN for a good reason, they'll come back. They don't die!
So with the mercy of Atilla the Hun you'll tear the beds apart limb from limb. Draw funny pictures all over them so no fool is unfortunate enough to think they scored a perfectly good bed from the trash can and celebrate as bedbug haven is relocated to trashville. Have your apartment sprayed one more time and continue paying for the brand new bunk beds that have made a home in the landfill.
If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you may consider buying stock in the laundry mat industry because you'll be spending a lot of time there.