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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Finding Roaches & Bed Bugs In My Toronto Apartment

Don't let them bite! 🪳

Toronto apartment. Right: A photo of a bed bug

Toronto apartment. Right: A photo of a bed bug


This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't even think bed bugs were real until they invaded the Toronto apartment I was living in, circa 2016.

It was a brutal wake-up call. My roommate and I had already spent the better part of a year ridding our two-bedroom in the west end of roaches when we started waking up with mysterious bites all over our bodies.

It would be weeks before we were in the clear again but. during this time, I learned a lot about how to prevent apartments from becoming a state of squalor for bugs.

To help you avoid learning the hard lesson as I did, I thought I'd share my knowledge.

Everything must be kept pristine

My girlfriend often chastises me for being high-maintenance about cleaning, and she's not wrong. But watching roaches scatter out of your kitchen sink for months on end gives one a new appreciation for doing the dishes.

Bed bugs can happen regardless of cleanliness. However, if you've got roaches in your apartment, chances are your whole building is infested, and they're holding up in your unit because you're providing them with food and water.

To mend this issue, my roommate and I rang up his mother, a cleaner by trade, for advice on how to keep our apartment pristine. She told us to wipe down everything, and we did.

We cleaned behind our fridge, under our oven, and all the places everyone neglects because it's a hassle — and we made it sparkle.

It was grimy work, but our commitment to cleanliness paid off big time. Our roach population got noticeably smaller in the weeks that followed, we still had measures to take, but this step definitely got the train rolling.

According to Smith's Pest Management, accessible food sources such as dirty dishes in the sink or crumbs on the counter help draw roaches into your home.

"Roaches also love garbage, so make sure to take the trash out regularly and keep all household garbage cans tightly sealed," the company's website notes.

Sleeping with the lights on does nothing

When I got bed bugs, one of the first things I did was invest in a sleep mask. Why? Because my roommate had convinced me that they only feed in darkness, so being the genius that I am, I figured I'd starve them by sleeping with the lights on for two weeks.

It turns out that's not a thing.

According to Batzner Pest Control, bed bugs' activity level is not influenced by the amount of light in a room. Rather, the pests adjust their activity according to your schedule to maximize their feeding opportunities.


Invest in quality roach poison 

They don't sponsor me, but I'd shout out Advion Roach Bait Killer every episode if I had a podcast.

To say the poison — which my roommate had to import from the U.S. — was effective would be a massive understatement.

I can't tell you the science behind how it works, but basically, roaches eat the poison and die, and then other cockroaches eat their dead friends, and before you know it, there are no more roaches.

Seriously, nothing helped us with our roach problem more than this stuff. We got our bug population down to zero, thanks to it. So, if you need help, I can't recommend it enough.

Throw out your mattress and bedding

Bed bugs get everywhere quickly. Before ever biting you, they lay eggs in your clothes, bedding, furniture and mattresses, so cut your losses as soon you discover them.

My roommate and I were in bedbug denial for a couple of weeks after getting bitten, which really hurt us in the long run. We would've been better off if we'd thrown our mattresses and bedding in the garbage from day one.

Don't try to save your bed. Yes, getting a new one is a hassle, but it's also your first step toward being bed bug zero.

Talk to your building supervisor immediately

If I can hammer one bit of advice into your head, it's to be proactive the moment you discover you've got bugs.

Don't let your building supervisor or landlord drag their feet when helping you. Tell them you've got a serious issue with roaches and bed bugs, and you're only paying rent once they solve it.

It's not a fun conversation, but you need professional help to kill bed bugs and check to see if your landlord is responsible for paying for it.

My roommate and I handled our roach issue independently, but our bed bug problem wasn't fixed until our place was fumigated. So, the quicker you can make that happen, the better.

I hope this breakdown aids you in your fight to keep your apartment bug-free. I believe in you!

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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