Bed bugs are annoying little pests and can drive you crazy.
They invade your home and feed on your blood while you sleep. The bites are itchy and can leave ugly marks on your skin.
You can bring bed bugs from other infested areas such as hotels or friend’s places. They travel in luggage, backpacks, or shoes.
They’re sneaky, hard to find, move fast and hide into tiny holes. A few individuals can turn into a full-on infestation in a matter of weeks.
Early detection can be a game-changer in the fight against an infestation. You can use an early detection method to take it before it becomes a serious problem.
If you are asking yourself: what is the best way to get rid of those little monsters? No one solution fits all. Most of the time, you will get rid of your infestation with a combination of methods. Here are the list you can use.
Table of Contents
Mattress Encasements 👍
- Kill bedbugs hidden inside the mattress
- Safe, do not contain pesticides
- Will not treat bedbugs hidden in wall and bed frame
Mattresses are the perfect hiding spot for bed bugs. This allows them to hide from the light and stay close to their food source. Studies show that around 70% hide inside mattresses.
Covering a mattress with an encasement gives a protection against bed bugs. It can be used to protect your infested mattress or new mattresses.
Buying a mattress encasement is cheaper than throwing your infested mattress to buy a new one.
If you cover an infested mattress, the bedbugs will be stuck inside. It can take a year for bedbugs inside an encasement to die from suffocation or lack of nutrition. But they cannot come to bites you at night.
At Townhustle, we really like mattress encasement because it does not use pesticides. You can sleep without any chemicals close to you at night.
To buy and use a cover, you can read our guide: Best Bed Bug Mattress Covers
- Easy to find
- Evaporates quickly
- Can damage surfaces where you pour it
- Strong smell
- Do not kill eggs
This solvent is used for paints or fingernail polish remover. For fingernail polish, it has to be 100% acetone.
To use, you have to pour acetone in their hiding place. The solution will kill bed bugs on contact but will not kill their eggs.
The main advantage of using this technique is that you certainly have the product already at home. You can also find it easily in any supermarket.
This solvent is also available in larger volumes in any hardware store; It will be found near the paint supplies.
It can be a quick solution to get rid of a few bed bugs into a trash bag. But we do not advise using this method to get rid of an infestation.
- Available everywhere
- Not kill bed bug eggs
- Evaporates quickly
It dries up the bed bug and kills it on contact. Higher concentrations of alcohol, kill bed bugs faster. For example, 90% isopropyl alcohol will work better than 70%.
Rubbing alcohol works much like acetone. It will not kill the bed bug eggs either. However, it is an effective on-the-spot solution to avoid bed bug bites.
It also evaporates quickly, which makes it safer to use than other forms of alcohol.
Just like acetone, we do not recommend using it to control a severe bed bug infestation.
How to use
- Find an empty spray bottle.
- Filled it up with Isopropyl alcohol with 70% and 91% concentrations.
- Spray around the area, where you detect them.
- If you are not sensitive to the smell of alcohol, you can spray every corner of your pillows, your bed, and your beddings.
Diatomaceous Earth (Desiccants) 👍
- Approved by EPA, and FDA
- Non resistant to bed bugs
- Long term action
- Inhalation risk
Diatomaceous earth is a type of powder made from the sediment of fossilised algae.
It’s a desiccant; it works by absorbing the oily protective layer that covers their exoskeletons. Without this protective coating, bed bugs will dehydrate and die.
This process is not instantaneous; it takes up to 10 days for bed bugs to die.
Because these desiccants work through a physical mode of action, bedbugs can’t become resistant to them.
Before choosing a Diatomaceous earth, make sure, they are EPA registered and labeled as for the bedbugs use.
Some forms of diatomaceous earth may be harmful, especially if inhaled. Stay on the safe side and use with care.
Diatomaceous earth is the best to use in cracks and crevices to reduce inhalation risk.
It’s a great idea to use Diatomaceous Earth to fight bed bugs. You should definitely read our guide to use Diatomaceous Earth for bed bugs.
Silica Gel (Desiccants) 👍
Silica Gel is made of the same chemical compound as diatomaceous earth, called silica.
Silica gel is more effective and faster than diatomaceous earth. Almost all of the bugs (97.5%) died within 24 hours of walking over silica gel, while only 10 percent with diatomaceous earth.
Silica gel having a tremendous absorbing capability because it acts more like a sponge to absorb the bed bug’s body moisture.
You can read: Best Bed Bug Powders
Bean leaves (Traps) 👍
- Environmental friendly
- Availability of the leaves
This strategy has been around for centuries to keep pests away from sleeping quarters. The hooked hairs of the leaves are able to trap the insect who step on them.
Scientists are trying to reproduce this material in biomimetic applications to catch bed bugs. But yet nothing has been more effective than actual kidney bean leaves.
This method is totally safe and environmentally friendly. It can be difficult to find kidney bean leaves if you do not cultivate them. But if you have some in your garden, you can test this solution without any risk for your health.
You can treat your bed frame, mattress with the steamer method. Wash your bed sheet with enough temperature. Encase your mattress. And finally, throw kidney bean leaves all around the bed to keep bed bugs hiding into crack and hole at a distance.
This solution will maybe not get rid of all the infestation. But it can largely help you to have a better sleep.
Essential oils (Lavender, Thyme, Tea Tree, Lemon Grass & Clove)
- Benefical to health
- Organic Method
- Safe and Variety of uses
- Availability in the market
- Can stains surfaces
- The smell can be strong for sensible people
Because of bedbugs rocketing population all over the world, many researchers tried to find and form an environmental-friendly and powerful weapon that will eradicate bedbugs.
Lavender is used for its repelling effect. Many people testify its repelling effects, including myself. You can use lavender essential oil for your bed bug infestation, as well as a way of preventing re-infestation.
Thyme is another powerful essential oil with natural insecticide qualities that can help repel, kill and prevent bed bugs.
Lemongrass can also kill the bugs and prevent their eggs from hatching. Its strong yet pleasant smell prevents bedbugs from accessing areas where lemongrass has been applied.
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, is native to Australia, where the aboriginals used them for various health and skin-related issues, including treating bug bites. Tea tree oil is highly antimicrobial and antibacterial. It kills bed bugs and their eggs. It has a strong disinfecting smell that also helps deter bedbugs.
These essential oils are helpful alternative solutions in exterminating and repelling bedbugs.
Disposal Contaminated belongings
- Reduce the infestation
- Not environmentally friendly
- Spread the infestation in a new place
Yes, disposal of contaminated belonging will reduce the population of bed bugs and unhatched eggs. But you should know it’s often ineffective because of adults and eggs hiding in surrounding areas.
The second argument against that method is the cost of buying the new replacement items such as mattresses, bed frames, sofas, luggage… You should not forget that the new items can become infested again.
If every infected home would throw the contaminated items it would result in huge waste and an environmental disaster. Also, the improper disposal of infested furniture facilitates the spread of bed bugs.
If your belonging gets infected, effective solutions such as heat treatments or dry cleaning can be done by yourself or a professional.
- Benefit beyond the infestation
- May contaminate other areas if objects are not properly removed or stored
Unlike, disposal of contaminated belonging, Decluttering will help to remove places where bed bugs are hiding.
Without as many places around to hide, the treatment will be easier.
Decluttering have also many health benefits on a personal level. Here are some of the benefit of tidying up:
- Can help you de-stress and get rid of anxiety
- Lessens allergens
- Help you sleep better
- Gain a sense of control
- Improve your state of mind
Cleanliness and Personal Hygiene
- Will not help you with bed bug
No, you don’t have bed bugs because of cleanliness and problem of hygiene. They are only attracted to blood and detect carbon dioxide to find you. Bed bugs travel to new places by hiding in luggage, shoes, or other objects. You will only need exposure to one to get a bed bug infestation.
- On hand
- Natural ingredient
- Do not eliminate hidden bedbugs
Vinegar can eradicate and can kill bed bugs. Vinegar is a strong acetic acid. Spraying vinegar on bed bugs will disrupt the insect’s nervous system.
While this home remedy is safe and effective, it is not a standalone treatment. You won’t be able to eradicate a bed bug infestation with vinegar alone.
Bed Legs Interceptor (Traps) 👍
- Can help with an early infestation
- Easy to use
- Too late if the bedbugs are already in the mattress and bed frame
Traps can help you with a light infestation. They are really effective as a prevention method to see the beginning of an infestation.
Bed legs traps will help you to catch some bugs but they will not help you to get rid of the whole infestation by itself.
Bed bug traps are great at detecting an early infestation.
- Safe for your family
- It’s free if you have a vacuum
- Do not eliminate bedbugs inside of materials
- Energy and time consuming
Vacuuming is not 100% effective because it does not capture bedbugs inside materials.
We recommend vacuuming before using any other methods. It’s 100% free and can help to reduce the infestation without any chemicals.
Vacuuming is especially helpful where there are groups or clusters of bed bugs.
Useful Tips: Bed bugs can survive in the vacuum hose, and the worst they can escape. It is important to throw them when you finish.
Steam (Heat Treatments) 👍
- Safe for health
- Will clean the surfaces
- Cheap, if you already have one at home
- Increase humidity of the room.
- Can ruin some delicate materials such as wallpapers
Steam is an effective technique in killing bed bugs of all stages. To be effective, steam treatment must reach 150–170 degrees Fahrenheit (65 – 75 °C) for a sustained period.
Bed bugs are sensitive to high temperatures. Steam is effective up to 3/4″ into fabrics and 2-3/8” into gaps such as cracks and crevices.
If you have an infrared thermometer you can check the surface immediately after the steam brush has passed. Bed bugs will be killed if the surface temperature is more than 160°F.
Washing Machine (Heat Treatments) 👍
- Widely available
- Not suitable for big and delicate items
Heat treatment is generally considered to be the best method. The temperature matter. All adults and nymphs will be killed at 40°C (100°F), but only 25% of eggs.
To kill all eggs you will have to wash at 60°C (140°F) or more. Bed bugs cannot drown easily, the main trick is to use hot water.
It will not be possible to wash all clothes at a high temperature. Some delicate fabric will be damaged. You can use the freezing technique for those garments.
You can use self-service laundries if you don’t dispose of a washing machine at home. Most of the time you will find bigger capacity washing machines for duvets and pillows.
Clothes dryers (Heat Treatments) 👍
- Widely available
- Not suitable for big and delicate items
Your clothes dryer can be as useful as a washing machine to get rid of bed bugs. Dryer are a good choice when you want to kill bed bugs but don’t want to clean you clothes.
Manufacturers tend to reduce the operating internal temperature of dryers. Drying clothes for longer on a lower heat is better for the environment and gentle with clothes. Bed bugs might not be killed with a low heat dryer; Make sure to use the highest temperature allowed by your clothes.
It can be good to seal treated clothes into plastic bags while the infestation is not yet controlled. This way, you can avoid new contaminations. You can use trash bags because they are cheap and come in many sizes.
Heat Boxes (Heat Treatments)
- No chemical
- Wrongly done, can take fire
Heat box is another helpful alternative. Just simple as placing belongings in a box, The device will provide sustained heat to kills bedbugs, larvae, and eggs.
Some boxes are big enough to fit whole luggage when you come back from travels. It could avoid pain and struggle later on.
Pest control companies often rent the devices at nominal cost and it may make sense for frequent travelers to invest in one like this.
Below a quick demonstration of a bed bug treatment using a professional grade heat box to enclose the infested furniture on site.
Room Temperature (Heat Treatments)
- Non toxic/ Non chemical
- Not dangerous to human
- Single treatment
- No worries of chemical residue
- Can damage funitures
- Time consuming
- Fire Hazard
- Can spoiled plants and other electronics.
One step from heat treatment. This method of bed bug control involves raising the room temperature to or above the killing temperature for bed bugs, which is around 45 °C (113 °F).
Government advise in whole room heat treatments involve a pest professional bringing in specially designed equipment to avoid damage and accidents.
This equipment is designed toward professional such as hotel owner.
- Easy to do
- You need free space in your Freezer
- It takes a while
Killing bed bugs with cold is a function of time and temperature. The lower the temperature, the shorter period of time it takes to kill a bed bug.
Bed bugs have a high cold tolerance. They have to be exposed at 0°F or less for at least four days. At -30°F, it could be minutes.
Professionals are using the freezing method in a much different way. They use specialized equipment that generates tiny particles of ice crystals. This is deadly for bed bugs. It’s a “snow” made from carbon dioxide that leaves no harmful residue.
If you choose the Do It Yourself method, your freezer may be cold enough. Most of them come with a temperature between 0°F to -11°F.
We recommend placing bedbug-infested items in plastic bags. Then keep it in the freezer for a week to let the center of items reach at least 0°F for four days.
- Long process
- insufficient supply of materials
The fungus Beauveria Bassiana which has been used for years as an outdoor organic pesticide, is also highly effective at killing bedbugs. It shows to be a reliable residual solution that can kill any bed bug exposed to it.
This naturally occurring fungus has typically been researched for control of soil-borne pests like aphids and beetles, but is safe for exposure to humans and most other non-insect animals.
Fungus has proven to be 100% effective in a contained laboratory setting. Within just 10 days of exposure, bed bugs of all life stages had succumbed to the parasite.
Fungus is effective in killing bed bugs and can be found in products such as Aprehend™.
- Another pest to resolve
In scientific studies, the most common bed bug predators are cockroaches, spiders, centipedes, masked hunters and some types of ants, like pharaoh, argentine, or fire ants. When it comes to animals, the only noted natural enemies of bed bugs are some species of lizards like geckos.
Pesticides (Pyrethroids, Pyrroles,Propuxor Carbaryl and Aprehend)
- It can be fast
- Easy to use
- Can be dangerous for health
- They can develop resistance to it
Some pesticides can be really effective to repel or kill bed bugs but some drawback exists.
Some pesticides use to work but bed bugs develop resistance when widely used. DDT was so effective at killing bed bug infestations that the species was nearly wiped out. Now, Bed bugs are resistant to DDT and the pesticides in use are nowhere near as effective as DDT was.
When Bed bugs are exposed to a pesticide, over time, the most sensible are killed first, leaving only the less sensible to breed. This allows them to mutate and become resistant to pesticides.
Bed bugs are most often found in the bedroom. I don’t like the idea of sleeping in a room with pesticides.
Unfortunately, pesticides are toxic for us, and exposure to them can cause a number of health effects. They are linked to acute poisoning, cancer, hormone disruption, asthma, neurotoxicity, organ damage, and more.
Pyrethrins are botanical insecticides derived from chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethroids are synthetic chemical insecticides that act like pyrethrins. Both compounds are lethal to bed bugs and can flush bed bugs out of their hiding places and kill them
Unsafe pesticide applications are more dangerous than Bedbugs.The Nebline
Pesticide can be an effective method, but it is important to use with care.
Pest Control Professional
Bedbug control is the most expensive service in the pest control industry. Cost is ranging from $350 for a single room up to $4000 for a whole house.
You can get rid of an infestation by yourself. But if you have the budget to hire an exterminator, it can save you a lot of time and hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are bedbugs due to poor hygiene?
No, hygiene and cleanliness have nothing to do with bedbugs. We think it is a good idea to tidy up to prevent your bed bugs from hiding. It will help to get rid of bedbugs.
What chemicals do exterminators use for bedbugs?
Exterminators use Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids.
It’s important to know that they will not only spray pesticides. Instead, they will use a variety of strategies depending on circumstance.
They will do a visual or canine inspection to find the hiding spots. Finally, they will use heat treatment, mattress encasements, and pesticides where appropriate.
Does pesticide DDT kill bedbugs?
DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethaneused (DDT) used to be effective but most bed bug strains today are resistant to it.
The United States banned its use in 1972 but some countries still use it to fight mosquitoes. EPA banned it based on its risks to human health and environmental effects, such as those to wildlife.
DDT is a dangerous pesticide. The right question isn’t if DDT kills bedbugs but does the risk worth it?
Do you have to treat the whole house for bedbugs?
It really depends if it’s at light or a severe infestation. Bedrooms are the most common places to find them. However, in larger infestations, bed bugs can invade the whole house. It is always important to check the whole house to see if the infestation didn’t spread.
Can bed bugs be completely eliminated?
Yes, an infestation can be totally eliminated.
It’s important to monitor after the treatment. If one Bed bug has been left behind, it can grow into a new infestation.
Should I sleep in my bed if have bed bugs?
If we sleep in another room, they will follow us and infest the other rooms.
It’s better to sleep in the same room. Do not move your luggages, belongings and furniture from room to room.
What brings bed bugs out of hiding?
Bed bugs are attracted by heat and Carbon dioxide (aka CO2) released by the body while sleeping.
Some traps are emitting heat and CO2 to attract bed bugs.
Is it dangerous to sleep in a room with diatomaceous earth?
No, it’s not dangerous once it has settled. You can safely sleep in the room with Diatomaceous Earth.
The best treatment depends on your level of infestation. One single method is usually not enough to kill them all.
Let’s remember that eliminating bed bugs will take patience and diligence. You have to treat every place they can hide. If you left a few bedbugs or eggs behind, it could grow into a new infestation within a few weeks.
You can also read our guide to get rid of bed bugs permanently
You can do it by yourself. Use a combination of these treatments to make sure to kill every individual:
- A good start is to declutter the infested rooms.
- You can steam and vacuum the accessible surfaces.
- Use desiccants for cracks.
- After the treatment, monitor if you left some behind. You can use traps under your bed.
Do you know other methods? Do you have some thought on the methods above? We’d love to hear your opinion and include it in this post. Feel free to contact us.