How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs - The Ultimate Guide for 2020
Written by Joe Jonovich
Learn powerful up to date methods from the experts that will stop bed bugs in their tracks and get rid of them for good.
32 Minute Read
So, you’ve got bed bugs. It’s OK. Bed bugs have been part of human society from the beginning.
They have been found in Egyptian tombs and were mentioned in texts dating back to the time of Aristotle. However, in the fight against bed bugs you have something that Aristotle didn’t have… the internet!
Today, you can learn about bed bugs and the most effective treatment methods from experts in the pest management industry.
In addition, general pest management practices have shifted to only using pesticides indoors only when necessary. In the past hotels would routinely treat guest rooms with pesticides, and this would prevent a bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs have also become resistant to many of the pesticides they encounter in their travels. However, using scientific advancements and a biological understanding of bed bugs, it is possible to get rid of bed bugs and sleep peacefully again.
In this guide we will explore the best methods for getting rid of bed bugs. We will discuss why they are notoriously hard to get rid of and how long you should expect the extermination process to take.
There are many different treatment methods utilized to kill bed bugs and you can weigh the benefits and negatives of each method.
We all want a healthy home for our family; with a little boost of knowledge you can feel confident in the bed bug elimination method that you choose. Whether you are trying to get rid of bed bugs from a single-family residence, an apartment, or even a hotel or nursing home, with the treatment options available today, it is possible to get rid of bed bugs.
Are Bed Bugs Hard To Get Rid Of?
The short answer is yes. This is not a problem that can be solved by reaching for the can of roach spray you keep under the kitchen sink.
Even professional pest control companies generally expect at least two treatments to completely get rid of the bed bugs from your home. Why are bed bugs so hard to get rid of? There are several reasons that the bed bugs are notoriously hard to eliminate.
Pyrethroid (Pesticide) Resistant – Pyrethroids are a class of chemicals that are commonly used in pest management applications. Most pyrethroids have low toxicity to mammals (people and pets) and birds, are fast acting, and require low doses of active ingredient to kill insects. However, some bed bugs have developed a resistance to this class of chemical. Entomologists have compared the death rates of bed bugs reared in the laboratory for 30 years (no exposure to pyrethroids) vs bed bugs collected from homes around the country. The lab reared bed bugs had 100% death rate when a pyrethroid insecticide was introduced. The field-collected bed bugs showed near immunity from the pyrethroid pesticides. There are varying degrees of resistance depending on the bed bug population, but all the experts agree that pyrethroid resistance contributes to the difficulty in getting rid of bed bugs.
Bed Bugs Multiply Quickly – Another factor making it hard to get rid of bed bugs is how quickly they multiply. The number of eggs a female bed bug will lay in her lifetime depends upon her access to blood meals. The average lifespan of a bed bug is about one year. Bed bugs usually feed every 3-7 days if a meal is available. One female can lay about 113 eggs in her lifetime. Under optimal conditions, a present host and comfortable air-conditioned temperature, bed bug populations can double every 16 days.
Bed Bug Behavior – The activity, habits, and behavior intrinsic to bed bugs makes them hard to get rid of. Bed bugs have a secretive lifestyle; they are active at night and congregate together in small cracks and crevices during the day.
Their flat bodies enable them to fit into a crevice no wider than a toothpick. They prefer to stay close to their next meal (your bed or sofa) and often gather in the tufts and folds of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards and side tables. They are also often found behind wall plates and baseboards.
Bed bugs do not have a central “nest” like ants or termites. They are prone to wandering. If a single pregnant female remains after a bed bug treatment the infestation process can begin again. Bed bug behavior coupled with their life cycle make them a very hard pest to get rid of.
The current bed bug outbreak in the United States began in the 1990s. It is not yet ingrained in our culture to be vigilant when staying at hotels or vacation rentals, or thoroughly inspecting used furniture that you bring home.
One night stay in an infested room is enough to bring bed bugs home with you in your bags. Once introduced, it often takes several months to realize the itchy welts on your skin are from bed bugs.
They hide during the day, and the bite itself is actually painless. An introduction quickly becomes an infestation. Resistance to chemical treatments, their cryptic lifestyle, and rapid rate of reproduction combine to create a situation where bed bugs are hard to get rid of.
How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Getting rid of bed bugs is a process, no way around that. How long it takes to get rid of bed bugs depends upon which elimination method you choose, the severity of the infestation, and the thoroughness of the treatment.
A bed bug treatment using heat kills bed bugs immediately, but there is no residual. A chemical bed bug treatment can take a few weeks, but it leaves a residual which provides continued protection from bed bug reinfestation.
The size and severity of the initial infestation is also a factor in determining how long it will take to get rid of bed bugs. From the time you realize you have bed bugs to sleeping worry free, do not be surprised if it takes at least 4-6 weeks.
Regardless of the treatment method you select, finding the right licensed and insured pest control company to partner with can take time. Interview multiple professionals and ask detailed questions regarding their experience, procedures they use, and their success rates.
Before you commit or sign any contract, find out when they are available to do the initial treatment and ask about their practice for follow up appointments.
Another factor that affects how long it takes to get rid of bed bugs is understanding that you will be responsible for preparing the room for treatment.
Bed bugs hide in the smallest of crevices including the joints in your bedside table. Your pest control company will give you a prep sheet of things you need to do before they can treat the room.
Allow yourself plenty of time to accomplish this before they come to treat. Not only does proper preparation increase the effectiveness of the treatment, insufficient preparation may cause the company to reschedule/delay the treatment.
Traditional Insecticide Treatment – If you choose a traditional insecticide bed bug treatment, how long it takes to get rid of the bed bugs can vary. Most pest control companies schedule a follow up for about 2 weeks after the initial treatment because many insecticide treatments don’t kill the bed bug eggs.
Bed bug eggs hatch between 6 and 9 days after they are laid. For this reason, multiple treatments are often necessary which extends the timetable for fully getting rid of bed bugs. Also, be realistic with the scope and severity of the problem. If you are concerned about killing bed bugs fast, do not under represent the locations that you have seen bed bugs to your Pest Management Professional.
If you have seen them in both the living room and the bedroom, treat both of these rooms at the same time. This prevents reinfestation and allows you to quickly get rid of the bed bugs.
Heat Treatment – Heat treatments are the quickest way to kill bedbugs. This is not a turn up the heater and go out to lunch solution, but it can be accomplished in one appointment from the pest control company. Licensed professionals with specialized equipment will heat your room to between 135°F (57.2°C) and 145°F (62.7 °C).
Thermometers are placed around the room and watched closely to ensure the air is heated enough to kill bed bugs but not hot enough to cause damage. Bed bugs and bed bug eggs die immediately at 122°F (50°C). This treatment generally takes between 6 to 8 hours and requires careful monitoring by the technician and preparation from you the homeowner.
If waiting 2-3 weeks to get rid of bed bugs is not an option for you, a successful heat treatment can get rid of bed bugs in as little as an afternoon.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) – If you are inclined to treat bedbugs yourself, you can buy almost everything the professionals use, but it will inevitably take longer to get rid of the problem.
There are excellent guides videos online to show you how to inspect and treat, but this treatment method may take longer to fully eliminate bed bugs from your home. You must take the time to discern between various products learn how to safely and properly apply them. Pest management professionals often have years of in the field experience and high-level training.
They have personally observed bed bug behavior for years and successfully gotten rid of bed bug infestations. If you are tackling this job yourself, regular and thorough inspections and prompt retreatments are necessary to successfully get rid of bed bugs.
Remember, if you miss one spot during your bed bug treatment, you may have to start the battle over from the beginning. A DIY approach to bed bug elimination is not fast or easy, but it certainly can be done.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast
Once you have determined you have bed bugs creeping into your bed at night, you need to act fast. The longer you allow the infestation to proceed untreated the more expensive and time consuming it becomes to get rid of the bed bugs. But don’t panic and throw out your mattress thinking your problem is solved; it is not. Educate yourself on the various treatment options and determine which method aligns with your priorities and budget. Generally speaking, getting rid of bed bugs completely is not a fast, easy, or inexpensive process.
Mechanical Control – If you need to make some bed bug killing progress fast while waiting for your treatment appointment try these remedial measures. Clear all clutter, put it in a plastic bag, and dispose of it outside. Vacuuming alone will not solve a bed bug infestation, but it can help keep their numbers down. Be sure not to move items from room to room as that will spread your problem to other areas of the house. Clutter and trash should be sealed in a bag and immediately taken outside. After vacuuming bed bug infested areas, immediately clean the vacuum outside. Scrub infested areas with a stiff brush to dislodge the eggs and vacuum with a powerful vacuum. Using the crevice attachment, vacuum along all bed seams, cracks, crevices, and baseboards. If you have a strong heat steamer, you can kill bed bugs quickly making slow passes on your bed and bed frame with steam. Stay away from the wall outlets with steam! Launder all the bedsheets and linens and dry on the hottest setting your dryer has. To quickly kill bedbugs toss shoes, stuffed animals/plush toys, blankets, pillows, seat cushions, and fabric bags in the dryer for at least 1 hour. Consider placing a mattress and box spring encasement on your bed and bed bug traps on feet of your bed. Each of these actions will get rid of some bed bugs quickly, but will not solve the problem without other intervention.
Heat Treatment – If your main concern is killing bed bugs fast, a heat treatment may be a good option for you. Heat treatments can kill bed bugs in one day by a licensed pest control company. The affected room is heated to between 135°F (57.2°C) and 145°F (62.7 °C). Some experts believe the rising temperature in the room lures the bed bugs from the daytime hiding spots. When a bed bug (and bed bug eggs) reaches 122°F (50°C) they immediately die. A successful bed bug heat treatment requires a highly skilled technician. Mattress, furniture, drywall, and concrete are excellent insulators. If any bed bug refuge doesn’t quite make it to bed bug killing temperature the treatment will fail. Likewise, too much heat can destroy electronics and sensitive items. The appointment for this service will take about 8 hours to complete. Although heat kills bed bugs quickly and efficiently, there is no residual affect. Unless a residual pesticide is applied in conjunction with the heat, any bed bug that may hitchhike from another part of the house can begin the infestation anew.
Traditional Chemical Bed Bug Treatment – An insecticide based treatment is a much more affordable option than a heat treatment, but it does require patience. Bed bugs that are accessed directly during your treatment will die quickly. However, most of the time bed bugs contact the insecticide indirectly, meaning they walk on it during their evening search for a meal. Bed bugs only come out of hiding for a meal every 3-7 days. Most insecticides do not kill the bed bug eggs either. A follow up pesticide application is generally necessary to kill the nymphs that have hatched from the eggs since the first application. The goal of this application is to kill the nymphs before they become adults that are capable of reproducing. Although chemical control for bed bugs is effective, it is not the fastest way to kill bedbugs.
Can You Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Your Own?
Yes, you can absolutely get rid of bed bugs on your own. With patience, perseverance, knowledge, and the right products, you can get rid of bed bugs without an exterminator. Do it yourself bed bug control can fit nicely into your budget and schedule, but it is a large undertaking. Be warned though, if you make mistakes during a DIY bed bug treatment you will find yourself in a cycle of continual treatment. This means you will spend quite a bit of money repurchasing pesticides and applying more pesticide to your bedroom and mattress than if you had called a professional.
There are many products very cleverly marketed for bed bugs that will not solve your problem. As all DIY homeowners know, success is found in the planning and learning phase. Know the products you are purchasing and how and if they interfere with one another. Have realistic expectations, but with diligence and consistency you can get rid of bed bugs yourself. Here are the steps we recommend if trying to get rid of bed bugs yourself.
Identify – If you are treating bed bugs yourself, you have to verify that what you are seeing is indeed a bed bug. Bed bugs are small, but they can be seen with the naked eye. Once you catch a specimen many counties offer extension services that can positively identify the specimen. Treating your sleeping area with pesticides without confirmation of active bed bugs can lead to unnecessary pesticide exposure.
Inspect – To successfully get rid of bed bugs yourself, you must know the locations and severity of the infestation. As a general rule a recent infestation will be confined to areas in or around the bed. A severe infestation may have spread to other bedrooms or the living room. Use a bright flashlight and paint scraper or even a credit card to carefully inspect the tufts and seams of mattresses, turn the box spring and night stand upside down and carefully inspect all the cracks and crevices. Disassemble the headboard and bed frame checking carefully for live bedbugs, skins from molting nymphs, and blackish fecal spots. The edges of baseboards should always be closely examined as well. If an upholstered sofa or recliner is used for sleeping, check the folds of the fabric and underneath thoroughly. Once you have determined an active bed bug infestation and the severity and locations of the infestation, you need to order your chosen pesticides and prepare the room to get rid of bed bugs yourself.
Treatment – A successful Do It Yourself bed bug treatment will use a combination of a few different products. You will choose a product for the mattress, a product for cracks and crevices other than the mattress, and a dust for around electrical outlets and other inaccessible areas. When deciding which products to use, ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. The label is the law. The allowable placement and application of each product is described on the product label. Most insecticides are not allowed to be applied to mattress, but a few are. Some products leave a residual while others do not. Some products are fast acting while others are not. We recommend encasing your mattress and box spring with a bed bug proof cover to prevent future infestations. The key to a successful do it yourself bed bug treatment is you must be thorough. Leave no crevice in the room untreated.
Monitor – After you put your freshly laundered sheets back on your bed, you must still actively monitor and retreat. Bed bug eggs will hatch after about a week and they need to be killed so they do not become adults capable of reproducing. Place bed bug traps under the feet of your bed and furniture. Bed bug traps prevent bed bugs from crawling from the floor up into your bed or furniture, they also serve to monitor the infestation. Repeat the treatment every 7-10 days until there is no evidence of bed bugs in the home.
As Youtube has shown us, we can do anything, including getting rid of bed bugs yourself. With thorough inspections and applications, and retreatments as soon the need arises, expect 6-8 weeks to a bed bug free home.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally
When treating a bed bug infestation, it is understandable to be concerned about the chemicals being sprayed on and near your bed. How to kill bed bugs naturally is a very common question with a somewhat complicated answer. Bed bugs are hard to kill; if the answer was as simple as spritzing lemongrass oil around your bed, the professional bed bug industry would not exist. A study conducted in 2018 found that professional pest control companies performed over 1 million bed bug exterminations in the United States with a gross revenue of over $600 million. Bed bugs reproduce very quickly in the ideal environment of a temperature controlled bedroom with a blood meal available nightly. A bed bug population can double every 16 days. They are small, elusive, and hide during the day, making it impossible to physically remove or kill every individual bed bug. Natural products like essential oils and other home remedies cannot kill bed bugs as quickly as they reproduce. Life of all life forms, bed bugs included, are determined to survive and reproduce. As we learned in Jurassic Park, “Life, finds a way.”
Home Remedies for Bed Bugs
There are many natural ways to kill bed bugs, some work, others do not. Completely getting rid of bed bugs naturally will take a combination of products and treatments. If you don’t eliminate the bed bugs, the infestation will continue and become more difficult to control. Before you attempt any natural home remedy for bed bugs remember that even “natural” and organic substances can cause skin irritations and reactions, especially if used in excessive quantities. We do not recommend using any product to kill bedbugs that is NOT approved by the EPA.
Vacuum – An easy and accessible way to naturally kill and remove bed bugs is with your vacuum cleaner. This will not eliminate your bed bug problem but helps to greatly reduce their numbers. Vacuum cracks and crevices including tufts, seams, zippers, and the trim of beds and upholstered furniture where bed bugs can hide. Be sure to throw away the vacuum bag outdoors to avoid spreading bed bugs to other areas of the house.
Steam – Bed bugs and their eggs die at 122°F (50°C). The high temperature of steam 212°F (100°C) immediately kills bed bugs. Apply steam slowly to the folds and tufts of mattresses, along sofa seams, bed frames, and corners or edges where bed bugs may be hiding. Be careful though, steam may damage some finishes and keep steam away from electricity. Steaming every few days is a natural way to kill bed bugs, but may not provide 100% relief.
Protect Your Bed – It is not necessary or advisable to throw out your mattress at the first sign of bed bugs; the bed bugs will infest your new bed. Instead, invest in a bed bug proof mattress and box spring encasement. These completely encase your mattress and the zipper is so small that even the smallest of nymphs can not escape. Bed bugs can neither come out of your bed to bite you, nor get into your mattress and box spring. Installing these natural bed bug barriers greatly helps in your fight against bed bugs.
Dryer Sheets – It is circulated online that rubbing dryer sheets on your bed and furniture will repel bed bugs. There is simply no data to support this. Bed bugs are drawn out from their hiding spots from the heat of our resting bodies and the CO2 we exhale. They will not choose to starve in order to avoid the scent of a dryer sheet.
Essential Oils – There are many essential oil recipes online claiming to repel bed bugs. If you have an infestation, you need to do much more than attempt to repel them; you need to kill them. Entomologists at Rutgers University have conducted experiments with various oils. In a pristine laboratory setting where the oils were directly applied to bed bugs, many of the essential oils had very low mortality rates in bedbugs. The oils with the greatest promise are silicone oil and paraffin oil. Researchers theorize that silicone oil and paraffin oil suffocated the bedbugs, but much more research is needed before this can be an effective home remedy for bedbugs.
Alcohol – Spraying alcohol on your mattress and furniture is not a natural remedy for bed bugs. Studies show that directly spraying a bed bug with rubbing alcohol will kill it only 50% of the time. Keep in mind the cryptic lifestyle of the bedbugs; they are congregating out of site and out of reach when you are awake. They only become active at night. You can not get rid of bed bugs by only killing the ones you easily see walking across your bed. In addition, rubbing alcohol is a flammable material and could cause a fire hazard.
Ultrasonic Pest Repellers – The Journal of Economic Entomology published a study that tested whether bed bugs were either repelled or attracted by these ultrasonic noise devices. The study found that that these devices had no impact on the bed bugs; they were neither attracted to nor repelled from the noise.
Natural Pesticides for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Silica Dust or Diatomaceous Earth – Diatomaceous Earth, or DE, is not a repellent but it is not a traditional pesticide. It is finely ground up remains of fossils of small aquatic animals called diatoms. The skeletons of diatoms are made up of silica which has sharp edges. When bed bugs and other insects come into contact with the diatomaceous earth the sharp edges cause abrasions and cut the bed bug’s exoskeleton. Eventually, the bed bug dehydrates and dies. This natural dust can be spread around the perimeter of the room, in cracks and crevices, and the mattress and box spring. It kills bedbugs slowly, but it remains effective so long as it is left undisturbed.
Natural/Botanical Pesticides – Pesticide products must be registered with the EPA unless they are natural and generally regarded as safe. Natural or botanical pesticides receive a 25B registration from the EPA. There are many 25B products available marketed as natural bed bug treatments. They contain mixtures of plant oils and often have strong odors when applied. Because they are not tested by the EPA, the manufacturers are not required to show data that they actually work! Before buying any of these products you should look for independent laboratory testing to determine the efficacy. If you choose this route, please remember that even all-natural and organic products can cause skin irritations.
Aprehend – Aprehend is a natural biopesticide that has proven highly effective against bed bugs. It is comprised of Beauveria bassiana fungal spores. Beauveria bassiana is a natural fungus that is harmless to humans but causes disease in insects. Researchers at Penn State University developed a delivery method for applying these spores to surfaces to treat bed bugs. The formulation is applied with a proprietary sprayer and the spores remain dormant on the surface until a bed bug walks through them. The fungal spores attach to the bed bug’s skin and germinate after about 20 hours. After the spores germinate, the fungus gains access to the bed bug’s blood stream and within 3-7 days the bed bug dies from a fungal infection. Research on Aprehend also suggests that a bed bugs transfer the disease causing spores to bed bugs that have not come into contact with Aprehend. Bed bugs live together in tightly packed harborages which facilitates the spread of the fungal spore. A significant advantage of Aprehend is the long lasting residual effect. An Apprehend barrier remains active for up to 3 months if it is left undisturbed. An Aprehend bed bug treatment is natural bed bug remedy that should be considered.
Natural Bed Bug Control with No Pesticide
There are natural ways to get rid of bed bugs without chemicals, however for the most part it requires the assistance of a licensed pest control company. These methods utilize specialized equipment and are not considered home remedies for bed bugs.
Cryonite Treatment – One way to kill bed bugs without using chemicals is by freezing them. The Cryonite machine converts liquid carbon dioxide into particles of dry ice. The dry ice snow comes out of the machine at -110°F. This treatment is non-toxic, contains no chemicals, and is effective for the bed bugs that it reaches. It is safe for most surfaces including electronics. However, as with all bed bug treatments with no chemical, it provides no residual. Cryonite is not intended to be used as a stand alone treatment. It should be used in conjunction with other bed bug elimination procedures such as mattress and box spring encasements, active monitoring and trapping, vacuuming, and if circumstances allow, a chemical treatment for a residual effect.
Heat Treatment – Whole room heat treatments are a very effective natural bed bug treatment. A whole room bed bug heat treatment can be done by a Pest Management Professional in one day with specialized heaters. The room is monitored with temperature sensors then heated up to between 135°F (57.2°C) and 145°F (62.7 °C). If necessary, fans are strategically placed in the room to aide with the distribution of the heat. If done correctly, the slowly rising temperature lures the bed bugs from the nooks and crannies where they hide and instantly kills both the bed bugs and their eggs when the temperature reaches at 122°F (50°C). If the room or a particular hiding place does not reach the target temperature the heat treatment can fail. This natural method of killing bed bugs can take 6-8 hours for the service. A whole room heat treatment offers no residual protection. A bed bug heat treatment is most successful when used with other bed bug elimination procedures such as mattress and box spring encasements, active monitoring and trapping, vacuuming, and if circumstances allow a chemical treatment for a residual effect. Without a chemical residual barrier, your room is not protected from a reintroduction of bed bugs.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs at Home
Many people choose to try and treat bed bugs themselves. While this can work for a time, often bed bugs will not be completely exterminated and will reappear and the infestation will grow. After multiple unsuccessful DIY treatments, we find that people often spend as much money on treating bed bugs themselves than if they had called a pest management professional early on. We recommend speaking to professional pest control companies and getting quotes for the service. Some companies even offer financing on a bed bug treatment. Successful bed bug treatments require a combination of multiple products, methods, and reapplication. If you choose to get rid of bed bugs yourself, take your time, treat thoroughly, and retreat as often as necessary until there are no signs of bed bugs for at least 30 days.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs In A Mattress
When you realize you have a bed bug infestation, a very normal reaction is to want to toss your mattress and box spring out the front door. Unfortunately, that will not solve your problem. Bed bugs are not only living in your mattress and box spring, they are also living in your furniture, behind your baseboards, and in your walls behind the electrical outlets. They congregate in small crevices and come out for a meal every 3-7 days. You have to treat not only your mattress, but any other area where they may be hiding. With perseverance and the right tools, these tips can help get bed bugs out of your mattress.
Eliminate Bed Bugs on the Mattress – If you decide to use a chemical spray on your mattress, make sure you read the label. Most EPA registered pesticides are not labeled for mattresses at all. Many of the products that the EPA has allowed for mattress bed bug use are labeled for use on tufts and seams of the mattress only. They can not be used as a broadcast spray on your mattress. There are very few products that allow for a broadcast application to the mattress. It is very important that you read the label on any product you plan to use. You can successfully get bed bugs out of your bed by carefully vacuuming, steaming, or freezing (Cryonite treatment) bed bugs rather than applying a pesticide. After any treatment to your mattress you should immediately encase it in a bed bug proof mattress encasement. By keeping pesticides off your sleeping surface, you limit your exposure to pesticides.
Eliminate Bed Bugs from the Box Spring – A box spring has many nooks and crannies where bed bugs can hide. If your box spring has a fabric liner on the bottom, you will need to tear that off to fully access the underside of the box spring. Since your body does not come into contact with the box spring, you can be more liberal in applying chemicals to the box spring than the mattress. Of course, follow the label when treating your box spring with any chemical. In addition to chemicals sprays, you can vacuum, steam, or freeze any bed bugs that you can access. Once the box spring is dry, we recommend placing a bed bug proof encasement over the it as well.
Dust – In addition to spraying, steaming, and vacuuming the mattress and box spring, you can apply an insecticide dust as well. Dusts are great for hard to reach areas and last as long as they are undisturbed. There are great products on the market for bed bugs that are simply non-toxic silica dust. Silica causes abrasions on bed bugs’ exoskeleton eventually causing them to dehydrate and die. Carefully read the label on the silica product you choose, but generally a silica dust can be used to treat the interior joints of the bed frame, the tufts and folds of the mattress, and the interior framework of the box spring. Do not treat sleeping or contact surfaces with this dust as it can cause skin and lung irritations. Silca based dusts are a vital tool in treating a mattress and boxsprings for bedbugs but they should be reserved for inaccessible areas.
Encasement – Once you treat your mattress for bedbugs and the treatment is dry, we recommend encasing the mattress and box spring. A bed bug proof encasement fits tightly around the entire mattress and zips securely. Bed bugs can not get out of the mattress to bite you, and additional bed bugs can not get in to infest the bed. Once you carefully treat your mattress and box spring for bed bugs and securely encase them, you will not need to treat them again. Next, you may make the bed with freshly laundered sheets and blankets that have been dried on the highest dryer heat setting. If you chose not to encase the mattress and box spring, you should complete the treatment process every 7-10 days until there are no signs of bed bugs.
Trap and Monitor Bed Bugs – One of the most important parts of getting rid of bed bugs from your mattress, is monitoring bed bug activity to make sure they are 100% gone. The last step of treating your mattress and box spring for bed bugs is placing bed bug traps under the feet of the bed. These traps capture and detain any bed bugs traveling across the floor attempting to get access to your bed. They also capture any bed bugs leaving your bed via the foot of your bed. Not only does this kill some bed bugs and prevent them from biting you, bed bug traps allow you to continually monitor the room for the presence of bed bugs. Treating your mattress and box spring for bed bugs is an important part of the bed bug removal process, but you must treat the other areas of the room as well. By integrating chemical treatments with encasements, and vigilant monitoring, you can save your mattress and box spring from bed bugs.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs In Furniture
Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and they can go months without a meal. Bed bugs can infest furniture, especially sofas and recliners where people tend to sleep, and bedside tables and dressers. Be especially careful when bringing a used piece of furniture into your home, bedbugs can hide in the smallest of cracks in furniture. If you have bedbugs in your living room sofa or recliner that is usually a sign of a more severe infestation. With careful inspection and treatments, you can get rid of bed bugs in furniture; follow these tips to success.
Sofa and Chair – Sofas and chairs tend to get infested with bed bugs because people often go from their bed to a sofa or recliner to sleep. Understand that treating the sofa or recliner is a small part of the bed bug extermination process; you must treat the bed bugs’ daytime hiding places to achieve control. Getting rid of bed bugs from a couch or living room recliner is similar to getting rid of bed bugs from a mattress. Follow the steps listed above in the mattress section. You can start by using the finest attachment on your vacuum and vacuuming as many bed bugs as you can access. To get rid of bed bugs in a couch or upholstered chair, treat the furniture including the folds, pleats, and seams of the upholstery. If you choose a ready-to-use aerosol product make sure to use the crack and crevice straw that comes with it. This straw is a valuable tool for applying chemical to the deep folds of fabric where bed bugs like to hide. Give the furniture time to fully dry before applying a dust to the inaccessible areas. If the dimensions of your couch or recliner allow for it, we highly recommend purchasing a bed bug proof encasement for your couch or recliner. If the design of your furniture allows for it, place bed bug traps/monitors under the feet of the sofa and recliner. By checking the traps to monitor the infestation, you will know and when you need to retreat. A heat chamber is also a viable bed bug treatment option for sofas and chairs (see below). With thorough inspection, treatment, and monitoring you can get rid of bed bugs in your couch and recliner.
Bedroom Furniture – Research has shown that bed bugs prefer to congregate near the host (near your bed). They are attracted to the CO2 released from your exhalations as you sleep. As the bed bug infestation progresses there may not be enough room for them in your nightstand or headboard and they have to wander further. Bed bugs are very mobile. Getting rid of bed bugs in your bedroom furniture is an integral part of eliminating the infestation. The first step to getting rid of bed bugs in your furniture is to clear the clutter. Anything that can be thrown away, should be sealed in a plastic bag and taken immediately outside. Anything that can go through the laundry should be washed and dried on the highest heat possible. Carefully check laundry bins for bed bugs so you don’t accidentally spread them and make your problem worse. Vacuum the inside of drawers and underside of the furniture with the finest crevice attachment you have. Immediately clean the vacuum bin outside or throw away the vacuum bag. Treat the inside of drawers and all the cracks and crevices with a residual spray. Pay special attention to the legs, posts, any casters or wheels and where these pieces connect to each other. You may have to disassemble some pieces of furniture to thoroughly treat for bed bugs. Apply an insecticide dust if you able and place traps or monitors under the feet of any furniture. By regularly checking the traps you can monitor the infestation and confidently know when the bed bugs are out of your furniture.
Bedroom Accessories and Picture Frames – In a bed bug treatment much attention is given to your mattress and furniture, but bed bugs hide in your bedroom decorations and knick knacks as well. Pest Management Professionals report that bed bugs seem to favor laying their eggs in the felt backing that is often found underneath lamps and behind picture frames. The carboard matte often found inside of picture frames is another favorite bed bug hiding spot. The small tight joints of picture frames and lamps offers bed bugs a sense of security and easy access to your bed. Carefully inspect all picture frames and take them apart to clean and treat it if necessary. Attention to detail and thorough inspection and treatment as detailed above is the only way to get rid of bed bugs from furniture and beds. • Consider Heat Chamber for Furniture – The design and construction of many types of furniture renders bed bug harborages inaccessible. If you can not access areas of furniture to treat with chemicals, steam, vacuum, or Cryonite, consider a heat chamber. Heat chambers are available in various sizes. Some smaller ones are designed for homeowner use; they fit your luggage. Some pest control companies have larger heat chambers that they can put a piece (or multiple pieces) of furniture in. The heat chamber is then heated to a temperature at which bed bugs die. This is an excellent option for particularly difficult to access pieces of furniture.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Carpet
Bed bugs do not prefer to burrow and congregate in carpet, but they are very adept wanderers. If you see a bed bug walking on your carpet, they are more than likely traveling in search of a blood meal. Getting rid of bed bugs in carpet is challenging because you can not simply spray a chemical on the carpet wall to wall. Pesticides that are labeled for use indoors usually have “crack and crevice” or “spot treatment (not to exceed 2 square feet)” on their label. For example, when you treat the room for bed bugs, you can spray the crevice where the baseboard meets the carpet. This is actually a very common place for bed bugs to congregate. But, the label states that you can not apply the product to the entire floor. It is a violation of federal law to use pesticides in a manner other than how the label allows.
Vacuum – For getting bed bugs out of carpet, your vacuum will be your best tool. Empty the room and slowly and methodically vacuum every square inch of carpet. Use the baseboard attachment to thoroughly clean the edge of the carpet. Immediately discard the bag from the vacuum or clean the canister with boiling water outside.
Steam – Heat kills bedbugs. You can rent or purchase a steam cleaner to get heat into the carpet. The steamer should emit steam of at least 212℉ to ensure the heat penetrates into the carpet. Make very slow methodical passes with the steamer, one inch per second is the recommended speed to kill bedbugs.
Dusts – Please be cautious, dusts such as Silica dusts and Diatomaceous Earth are only labeled for crack and crevice treatments. We can not recommend that you cover your carpet with these products as it goes against the label.
Laundering – You can get bed bugs out of a small area rug quite simply, wash it and dry it on high heat. As part of a more complete bed bug treatment protocol, thorough and regular vacuuming and steaming of carpets will get rid of bed bugs in your carpet.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes
Frequent laundering of clothes and sheets will not get rid of a bed bug infestation on its own, but it is an important step in gaining 100% bed bug elimination. Washing and drying your clothes on high heat will kill any bed bugs in your clothing. By taking a few precautions, you can get rid of bed bugs and their eggs in your clothes.
Keep bed bug contaminated laundry separate. Place the laundry in a sealed plastic bag before taking it to the washing machine. You want to avoid spreading bed bugs to other areas of your home. Once you put the clothes in the washing machine throw away the plastic bag outside. Make sure you check the laundry bins for any bed bug stragglers.
Wash and dry on the highest heat setting your washer and dryer has. Bed bugs and their eggs are instantly killed when the reach 122℉.
Store the clean clothes in a sealed plastic bin while the bed bug infestation/treatment is ongoing.
If you have dry clean only clothes, talk to your dry cleaner. We recommend calling them and asking if they handle bed bug contaminated laundry and ask them their procedure for bringing it in. Dry cleaning can kill bed bugs but not because of the heat used in the dry cleaning process. The most common chemical used in dry cleaning is Perchloroethlene, or PCE. Bed bugs exposed to PCE will die in the dry cleaning process.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Luggage
Bed bugs are frequently introduced into your home after a stay at a hotel or with a friend. Once you have fought a bed bug battle and won, you are pretty motivated to prevent a future infestation! Savvy travelers are becoming more aware of ways to prevent and get rid of bed bugs in their luggage. If you suspect you encountered bed bugs on a trip or want to prevent a bed bug infestation, follow these tips to get rid of bed bugs from your luggage.
Always inspect the mattress and headboard in a hotel room before bringing your luggage inside the room.
Never put your luggage on the bed in a hotel room; use the luggage rack for your baggage.
When you get come immediately place your luggage outside in the bright light so that you can see well. Place your clothes in a sealed plastic bag. Clothing should be placed directly from this sealed plastic bag into the laundry. Wash and dry on the highest heat settings available.
Use a flashlight to carefully and fully inspect your luggage for bed bugs. Check the seams, the folds, the pockets, and the zippers. Thoroughly vacuum every nook and cranny of the suitcase using a crevice tool. Make sure you dispose of the vacuum bag or thoroughly clean the vacuum canister outside. If you have a steam cleaner with a crevice attachment, steam clean all the edges, surfaces, cracks, and crevices. Move the steamer very slowly (1” per second) to ensure the bed bugs are killed. You can also use a scrub brush with hot soapy water along the seams and folds. If you are a frequent traveler consider purchasing a heat chamber. With a home heat chamber you can quickly and easily heat luggage and its contents to a temperature that kills bed bugs and their eggs.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Permanently
Getting rid of bed bugs permanently takes patience, thorough inspections, and often multiple treatments. Working with an experienced Pest Management Professional (PMP) who incorporates the principles of IPM, or Integrated Pest Management, you can permanently get rid of your bed bug infestation. The IPM Institute of North America defines Integrated Pest Management as, “a sustainable, science-based, decision-making process that combines biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools to identify, manage and reduce risk from pests and pest management tools and strategies in a way that minimizes overall economic, health and environmental risks.”
A quality pest control company implements IPM practices into their bed bug procedures to ensure you get rid of bed bugs safely and permanently. An IPM approach to bed bugs means low-risk pesticides will and should be used, but in minimized amounts. IPM bed bug procedures recognize the value of vacuuming, steam, heat treatments, Cryonite or freeze treatments, trapping and monitoring to permanently get rid of bed bugs. Another bed rock of effective IPM is communication with your PMP and customer education.
Bed bug IPM relies on the homeowner to be vigilant in checking bed bug traps and communicating their findings to their Pest Management Professional. In turn, the PMP will ask questions and investigate as to how the infestation may have been introduced into your home. In determining the source of your bed bug infestation you can make adjustments to your routine and avoid a future bed bug infestation. Successful bed bug IPM requires a relationship with excellent communication between PMP and the homeowner; that is why your choice of pest control company is very important. Using these principles, you can get rid of bed bugs permanently.
How Exterminators Get Rid of Bed Bugs for Good
The best exterminators get rid of bed bugs for good by using a variety of methods. Bed bug elimination is never accomplished by simply spraying one time and expecting 100% elimination. The best approach includes an evaluation of the construction and structure of the room to be treated, the history of the infestation, and the customers concerns and expectations. There are many tools in an exterminator’s toolbelt for battling bedbugs, including chemical treatments, heat treatments and steam, Cryonite or freeze treatment, and mechanical treatments such as vacuuming and laundering bedding, curtains, and clothing. You will see the best results when the various treatment tools are combined to attack the bed bugs from all sides.
When interviewing potential pest control companies, ask direct questions about the bed bug treatment options. They should be able to answer your questions about how they incorporate IPM (discussed above) into their bed bug treatments. Professional exterminators get rid of bed bugs permanently because they utilize scientific advancements, biological understanding of bed bugs and their behaviors, technology with specialized equipment, and their years of dedicated experience.
Chemical Bed Bug Treatment – Pros and Cons
The most common bed bug treatment is a chemical treatment. Before your exterminator begins the treatment, you will be required to prepare the room for treatment. The pest control company will give you a prep sheet, but it includes things such as removing the bedding, clearing the clutter, emptying drawers ect. During the treatment, your bed and headboard will be disassembled.
Depending on the Pest Management Professional, or PMP, they should first utilize some form of non-chemical removal. Some Pest Management Professionals will just thoroughly vacuum the seams, tufts, and folds of your mattress and other areas where bed bugs are present. The goal here is to kill as many bed bugs initially therefore relying on pesticides less. For a more thorough initially kill, we recommend searching for a company that kills bed bugs with either extreme cold or extreme heat. Bed bugs and their eggs die immediately when exposed to extreme temperatures. By significantly reducing the population with either Steam (heat) or Cryonite (cold) before the chemical treatment, you set yourself up for success.
The next step of a chemical treatment is applying the chemical to areas where bed bug activity is present. By federal law, certain products can be applied to sleeping areas while others can not. Your PMP will utilize a low risk pesticide that is labelled for mattresses, box springs, and the cracks and crevices of your bedroom furniture and baseboards as appropriate for your infestation. Bed bugs can hide in the smallest of cracks, so a slow and methodical approach should be used. This chemical will kill bed bugs after they come into contact with it. The product chosen by your PMP should be a residual insecticide. A residual insecticide means that it will remain effective where it is sprayed for weeks after it is applied. For example, if a bed bug egg hatches 1 week after your bed bug treatment and walks across the residual, he will die. Having an active residual is an extremely important feature of a successful bed bug treatment.
The next step your exterminator will use to get rid of bed bugs is applying a dust to inaccessible areas. The silica based dust attacks bed bugs differently than the pesticide that was sprayed. This silica dust clings to the bed bug’s exoskeleton and absorbs its waxy coating. After about 14 days the bed bugs will die of dehydration. The dust may be placed in wall voids, behind electrical outlets, and along baseboards.
Chemical treatments are the least expensive bed bug treatment option and are highly effective if performed carefully and thoroughly. They work best if combined with other measures such as mattress and box spring encasements and traps for monitoring. However, there are drawbacks to a traditional chemical treatment. For severe infestations, a second or third chemical application is sometimes necessary. Research has shown that some bed bug populations have become resistant or immune to the chemicals being sprayed. With the resistance issue in mind, any chemical bed bug treatment should utilize multiple methods of extermination such as described in this article.
In the last 20 years bed bugs have emerged as a public health crisis. Much research has been conducted and innovative new chemicals and treatments have been brought to the marketplace that are proving highly successful against bed bugs.
Freeze (Cryonite) Bed Bug Treatment – Pros and Cons
Cryonite is a non-toxic bed bug treatment that kills pesticide resistant bed bugs and their eggs by rapid freezing. Using specialized equipment, CO2 is transformed into cold, dry ice snow, and freezes the pests to death. The Cryonite machine sprays CO2 snow at -110º F. Cryonite leaves no residue, is safe to use in or near most electronics, and it is non-chemical and non-toxic. Since chemicals are not used, there is no risk of experiencing chemical resistance. Cryonite treatments are especially popular in sensitive accounts such as schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. With specialized attachments the operator can apply the -110º F snow deep into crevices. The CO2 snow penetrates the underside of furniture, bedding, box springs, mattresses, freezing the bed bugs to death where they hide.
The main benefit of Cryonite is that it is a pesticide free bed bug treatment. However, that same benefit also becomes its major disadvantage. A Cryonite treatment alone leaves no residual protection against bed bugs. If a bed bug is reintroduced hours after a Cryonite treatment alone, it will not die. Cryonite is best used in conjunction with other treatment methods such as applying a residual spray and actively monitoring the infestation.
Heat Bed Bug Treatment – Pros and Cons
Whole room heat treatment is another non-chemical method professionals use to kill bed bugs. Bed bugs and their eggs die when exposed to temperatures of 122℉. With a conventional chemical bed bug treatment you will wait weeks before the infestation is under control. If the heat treatment is done correctly, you can be bed bug free that same day. The service takes approximately 8 hours and requires specialized heaters, fans, and temperature sensors. Your pest control technician will slowly heat the room to a temperature of between 135°F (57.2°C) and 145°F (62.7 °C). Hot air rises; fans are used circulate the air to ensure the entire room reaches the bed bug killing temperature. A benefit of this treatment is you don’t have to seek out the bed bug hiding space and risk overlooking part of the infestation. All of the bed bugs exposed to this extreme heat will be killed.
Heat treatments are a fast, effective non-toxic treatment for bed bugs, but they are not without shortcomings. Generally, a whole room heat treatment is the most expensive option for a bed bug treatment. Just as with a Cryonite bedbug treatment, heat treatments offers no residual against reinfestation. For maximum protection, most pest control companies highly recommend incorporating a residual spray, mattress and box spring encasements, and active monitoring in conjunction with a heat treatment.
While the vast majority of heat treatments are successful, sometimes heat treatments fail. What causes bed bug heat treatments to fail? Generally, heat treatments fail to 100% eliminate bed bugs because of technician error. There are many factors that go into deciding whether a heat treatment is appropriate for the infested space. Heat treatments work better in small spaces with low ceilings. Concrete absorbs an enormous amount of heat which affects the heat distribution to other areas of the room. If these factors are not accounted for properly the room will not reach the temperature necessary to get rid of the bed bugs. Some researchers believe that the rising room temperature draws the bed bugs out of their hiding spots. However, it has been documented and observed that an improper heat treatment can drive bed bugs further away, such as into the attic, making them much more difficult to treat.
Steam Bed Bug Treatment – Pros and Cons
Many professional pest control companies incorporate steam into their bed bug procedures. Most professional grade steamers used by pest control companies emit steam at a temperature of greater than 212℉. Bed bugs and their eggs die at 122℉. The heat from the steam penetrates a few inches into soft surfaces like your mattress and box spring, cracks and crevices of furniture, and baseboards. Slow methodical passes with the steamer are necessary to effectively kill bed bugs; a rate of 1” per second is recommended. Only bed bugs that are directly exposed to the steam will be killed. If steam is your only treatment method, it will have to be methodically performed multiple times until you go 30 days with no evidence of bed bugs.
As with all other non-chemical bed bug treatments, a steam only treatment offers no residual. You have no protection against future bed bug infestations with a steam only treatment. Caution should be used with steam around electrical outlets, electronics, and it may damage the finish on some furniture. For these reasons, we recommend using steam in conjunction with a residual chemical treatment, mattress and box spring encasements, and placing traps/monitors under the legs of your furniture.
As you now know from reading this article, there is more than one way to kill a bed bug. Each treatment method has pros and cons as described above. For the DIY up for a challenge, we hope we have provided you with fair and unbiased information to be successful. If you want to team up with professionals, we hope we have given you enough information to ask the right questions when you interview pest control companies.
If you are located in Atlanta, South Florida, or the Tampa Bay Areas and would like a free estimate or have additional questions for our technical team, please call Nextgen Pest Solutions today. Our bed bug experts have experience eliminating bed bugs and would be happy to walk with you through the process. Through customer education and IPM best practices we have experience getting rid of bed bugs from apartments, single family homes, hotels, cars, and offices.