How Cold Before Bed Bugs Die

Just How Cold Does It Have to Be to Kill Bed Bugs?

Most people have heard about the freezing treatment to kill bed bugs. Naturally, a question foremost on their mind is:just how cold should it be to kill bed bugs? If you are planning to use such freezing treatment to get rid of bedbugs, then read on for important information.

Latest research on bedbug freeze treatment

Recent studies have shown that bedbugs are no longer susceptible to cold treatment. The freezing method is simply not as effective as it once was in killing these critters. The same research has proven that the blood sucking parasites have become immune and developed a high tolerance to cold. Also the experiment showed that bedbugs eventually succumb to extreme cold, it takes several days to see results. Bedbugs are actually known to have developed high cold-tolerance by lowering their bodily fluid-freezing points. This freeze intolerant strategy helps them survive in extreme cold conditions.

The bed bug or Cimex Lectularius had disappeared for many decades but has made a comeback recently. Bedbugs are now known to infiltrate student hostels, hotels and motels, cinema halls, public transport systems, airlines, buses and even schools, assisted living facilities and hospitals. Many news reports have stated that several famous cinema halls in major cities like New York etc have actually been shut down thanks to bedbugs. Bedbugs feed on human and animal blood. They insert sharp proboscis in the mammal’s skin to suck the blood and this leaves red welts and itchy bumps on the victim’s bodies.

Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

People often use bedbug bombs, foggers, sprays and powders only to have the bugs back within a few days of this treatment. In the past, freezing treatment was known to have worked well but the new study published in theJournal of Economic Entomologyhas proven otherwise.

This aforementioned study was conducted in theUniversity of Minnesotawhere researchers froze the bedbugs in varying life stages. They also tested the effect of cold on fed and unfed bedbugs. They exposed the adult, eggs, nymphs and larvae of bedbugs to extreme cold temperatures of -5 deg Celsius for varying lengths of time. They further reduced the temperature to -16 deg Celsius and they found that the adult bugs survived at this temperature as well. The eggs of the bugs survived in short term exposure to even lower temperatures of -25 degrees C. The study ultimately proved that the adult bedbugscould be killed by cold only through exposure to temperatures of -16 degC or lower for a period ofatleast 80 hours.

This is the main reason why many museums and food facilities use standard practices of freezing possibly infested items to cold temperatures before displaying them.This safe method can also be used by homeowners dealing with bedbugs provided they have large freezers that can accommodate all infested items.

How to use cold treatment to effectively kill bed bugs? Just how cold should it be to ensure killing all bedbugs?

If you suspect any items of being infested, make sure you place them in a sturdy Ziploc®/freezer bags. This will ensure that the bugs do not die off elsewhere in the freezer. Also, bagging delicate items before freezing them will ensure that they do not get damaged thanks to changes in condensation or moisture. Make sure that you place all infested items in freezers having temperatures of at least -17.8 deg C for a period of 4 days.If the freezer is at a temperature of minus 20 deg C, then you can reducethe period to 48 hours. That is how long it takes to get rid of all bed bugs.

The aforementioned study also studied the effect of such supercooling on the feeding habits of bed bugs. The study then concluded that 100% of the bugs could be killed with minimum exposure of 80 hours at -16deg Celsius.

Bedbugs do not carry any diseases but simply having an infestation is socially unacceptable. So while the cold temperature can be effective in killing them one has to make the following considerations:

  • Items that are not freezable need to be exposed to other means of supercooling. If you live in very cold place, you might consider putting infested furniture outdoors for a few days, where possible.
  • Be sure to check if the air temperature where the bugs are located is indeed the same as the external temperature of at least -16 deg C.
  • If the sun is shining, the little warmth can be enough to raise the temperature of the furniture in question and the freezing treatment may be rendered ineffective.

Cold or freezing treatment is usually enough for treating bedbug infested fabrics but for other items it is best to use other techniques of killing bed bugs described on this website.

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Top Ten Tips to Prevent or Control Bed Bugs

Related Information

1. Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects.

You can compare your insect to the pictures on our Identifying bed bugs Web page or show it to your local extension agent.Exit (Extension agents are trained in pest control issues and know your local area.)

2. Don’t panic!

3. Think through your treatment options — Don’’t immediately reach for the spray can.

Be comprehensive in your approach. Try other things first. Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques may reduce the number of bed bugs and limit your contact with pesticides. If pesticides are needed, always follow label directions or hire a professional. There is help available to learn about treatment options. (4 pp, 480 K, About PDF)

4. Reduce the number of hiding places — Clean up the clutter.

A cluttered home provides more places for bed bugs to hide and makes locating and treating them harder. If bed bugs are in your mattress, using special bed bug covers (encasements) on your mattress and box springs makes it harder for bed bugs to get to you while you sleep. Leave the encasements on for a year. Be sure to buy a product that has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough to last for the full year without tearing.

5. Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed sheets, blankets, bedspreads and any clothing that touches the floor.

This reduces the number of bed bugs. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers Remember to clean them when you do the laundry.

6. Do-it-yourself freezing may not be a reliable method for bed bug control.

While freezing can kill bed bugs, temperatures must remain very low for a long time. Home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bed bugs; always use a thermometer to accurately check the temperature. Putting things outside in freezing temperatures could kill bed bugs, but there are many factors that can affect the success of this method.

7. Kill bed bugs with heat, but be very careful.

Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won’t do the job. Special equipment and very high temperatures are necessary for successful heat treatment. Black plastic bags in the sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, if the contents become hot enough. Bed bugs die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F). To kill bed bugs with heat, the room or container must be even hotter to ensure sustained heat reaches the bugs no matter where they are hiding

8. Don’’t pass your bed bugs on to others.

Bed bugs are good hitchhikers. If you throw out a mattress or furniture that has bed bugs in it, you should slash or in some way destroy it so that no one else takes it and gets bed bugs.

9. Reduce the number of bed bugs to reduce bites.

Thorough vacuuming can get rid of some of your bed bugs. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around the room. Change the bag after each use so the bed bugs can’t escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in an outside garbage bin.

10. Turn to the professionals, if needed.

Hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase your chance of success in getting rid of bed bugs. If you hire an expert, be sure it’s a company with a good reputation and request that it use an IPM approach. Contact your state pesticide agency for guidance about hiring professional pest control companies. Also, EPA’s Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety provides information about IPM approaches, how to choose a pest control company, safe handling of pesticides, and emergency information.

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Can You Freeze Bed Bugs?

“Don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a familiar bedtime phrase, usually meant in a playful context. Unfortunately, bed bugs are on the rise in the United States. These irritating pests are surprisingly hardy and can survive in extreme conditions, including freezing temperatures.

Can bed bugs live in the cold?

Yes. Bed bugs have a high cold tolerance. They can remain active at temperatures as low as 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can survive at even lower temperatures. They’re able to lower the freezing point of their bodily fluids, allowing them to live in the cold for a few days. Research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that some bed bugs survived short exposure to temperatures as low as -13 degrees F. However, if they’re exposed to extreme cold (below 0° F) for several days, they will die.

Can bed bugs freeze?

Yes. The Journal of Economic Entomology study found that bed bugs freeze when exposed to 3.2 degrees F for 80 hours. It’s a function of time and temperature. The lower the temperature, the shorter period of time it takes to freeze a bed bug. For example, at 32 degrees F, it could take weeks. At 30 below 0 F it could be minutes. Terminix’s RapidFreeze treatment instantly takes the bed bugs to minus 60 to 80 degrees below 0 F and kills them instantly.

Will freezing bed bugs get rid of them?

Yes. Freezing bed bugs can kill them. However, you have to use a very low temperature (0 degrees F or colder) for at least four days for cold treatment to work. Your freezer may not even be cold enough. The center of the item, such as bedding, being frozen must reach 0 degrees F. Use a remote thermometer to measure the temperature of the items you’re freezing. Begin counting the four days as soon as the center reaches 0 degrees F.

Is freezing bed bugs the best way to get rid of them?

Yes and no. You can try to freeze bed bugs, but the best way to control bed bugs is through Integrated Pest Management—a combination of prevention, monitoring and treatment. Some bed bugs have become resistant to common pesticides, meaning many bed bug sprays are no longer effective. Heat and steam, using professional equipment, can also be used to treat bed bugs.

Many professionals do freeze bed bugs effectively, but in a much different way. They use specialized equipment that generates tiny particles of "snow" from carbon dioxide, the same material that puts the "fizz" in soft drinks. For bed bugs, these tiny ice crystals are deadly. The "snow" leaves no harmful residue on clothing, bedding or other sensitive items, so thorough treatment can be performed.

Contact Terminix today and ask about our specialized cold treatment. Our RapidFreeze method puts bed bugs on ice.

What Temperature Do Bed Bugs Die At?

Bed bugs are one of the many parasites that can plague homeowners. Like most other parasites, bed bugs are small, resilient, and very nasty. The fact that they tend to live in our beds only makes them even more repulsive.

With that being the case, it’s not surprising that people are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to kill, control, and prevent bed bugs. One curious method that we’ll discuss here is temperature.

People rarely think of using temperature for dealing with pests. This is especially true nowadays with the thousands of pesticides, repellents, and pest-control tools available on the market.

Avoiding the unnecessary use of pesticides is always a good idea. Also, it’s important to remember that repellents aren’t always effective. So, especially since these are our bedrooms that we’re talking about, it’s worth asking, “Can heat kill bed bugs?” We’ll answer that question and a lot more in this article.

Are bed bugs temperature resistant?

The short answer is no, they are not. Like any other living thing, bed bugs do die below or above specific temperatures.

The longer answer, however, is that these temperatures are somewhat difficult to reach. In fact, a lot of what you might have read online under “tips and tricks” is actually wrong. There are a lot of people and blogs that cite using moderately cold or hot temperatures to kill bed bugs, which is almost always misleading.

The fact of the matter is that bed bugs can, unfortunately, survive a lot of extreme temperature fluctuations. The temperatures that are lethal to bed bugs often can’t be reached in an average household and can also require additional equipment.

Discovering the actual temperatures needed to kill bed bugs often dissuades people from attempting this method at all. Instead, they’ll turn to pesticides and other traditional methods to deal with their parasite problem.

What temperature do bed bugs die at?

According to various scientific studies, the temperature that is lethal for adult bed bugs is 118.94°F (48.3°C). On the other end of the spectrum, the temperature at which adult bed bugs freeze to death is -19.48°F (-28.6°C).

Although these can be tricky to achieve in a residential setting, it isn’t impossible. Before you consider using temperature as a weapon, it might be good to know which works best: heat or cold. This will depend on the equipment that you have on hand.

Can you freeze bed bugs to death?

Some modern freezers can reach 0.4°F (-18°C), although many freezers come up short in that regard. At normal freezer temperatures (which reach 6.3°F/-14.3°C, on average), bed bugs will die in 24 hours. It would be safest to leave them in there for at least four days, though.

If you want to freeze your unwanted bed bug guests to death, you’ll need:

  • A remote thermometer to verify the temperature in your freezer
  • Bags with airtight seals to store the infected items in (since you definitely don’t want bed bugs crawling around your freezer)
  • Time

That last point may be surprising, but bed bugs can survive in freezing temperatures for quite some time. So, if you want to be certain that your efforts will yield a positive result, be prepared to set aside enough space in your freezer for at least 4–5 full days. Also, remember to put every infected item in a sealed plastic bag to ensure that your bed bugs are confined and can’t escape.

As for the type of things you’ll want to freeze, any item that can survive in such temperatures for 4–5 days can be frozen. Shoes, books, cloth items, toys, pictures, and even electronics without LCD screens can all be put in the freezer and come out unharmed.

If you have bed bugs living in electronics with LCD screens, in items that contain a lot of moisture, or in items that are too valuable to risk putting them in a freezer, you might want to consider another method of bed bug control.

Keep in mind that the length of time is important. Bed bugs have been known to survive temperatures of even -13°F (-25°C) for quite some time. So, you’ll have to make sure to keep them in the freezer long enough to kill them.

How can you use heat to kill bed bugs?

If you want to try heat instead of freezing, you absolutely can. This is often the less practical route for a couple of reasons.

  • Not many homeowners have a suitable way to reach steady temperatures of 113°F (45°C) or of maintaining that temperature for a long period.
  • Few infected items could survive such temperatures for long enough.

Also, remember that the higher the temperature you can achieve, the faster you’ll deal with the problem.

At 113°F (45°C), it takes 94.8 minutes to kill adult bed bugs. The trick here, as with the freezing method, is to make sure that all the bugs are subjected to the heat treatment. You can’t allow a single one to escape and hide somewhere.

For this reason, when using heat, you might want to subject your entire home to this treatment. After taking everything that can’t survive such temperatures outdoors (including yourself).

You should call a pest control company that specializes in heat treatments. They’ll use special equipment to increase the temperature in your home to the required level. This should kill every living bed bug inside – if maintained for enough time. While that is happening, you’ll have to deal with the bed bugs in the items you’ve brought outside in a different manner.

What temperature do bed bugs eggs die at?

So far, we’ve been talking about killing adult bed bugs. We haven’t mentioned what temperatures you need to kill bed bug eggs.

As with other parasites, bed bug eggs are generally more resilient than their adult counterparts. They can survive temperatures that are up to 130.6°F (54.8°C), which is why this is the minimum treatment temperature we’d recommend. As far as freezing is concerned, -46.3°F (-43.5°C) should be enough for bed bug eggs, as long as you give it enough time.

3 Comments

Eileen

At what temperature will bugs and eggs die in a shorter period of time, say 5 or 10 min? There are some smaller items I don’t want to put in the dry, but I could put in boiling water or in a glass pan in the oven.

InsectCop

I would suggest you try another method instead since I’m not sure what would be the temperature to be lethal in such short timeframe. Here’s our article about getting rid of bed bugs.

Tasha Eason

My 1987 clothes dryer reaches >130 degree max increment on my gauge. In 2016, I dealt with these bugs several months & rounds of professionally applied pesticides. Now in 2020, exactly 15 days after 1st noticing the aroma of them, & a professional spray, there is not one sign of anything near an egg laying adult. Day 15-20, both myself & 1 of 2 cats have been attacked by hatchlings, followed by finding up to 100-120 eggs that have just dropped from any surface that wasn’t directly treated, ie, underneath a cats fav window seal, around the vacuum cleaner, & under 3 total pieces of antique furniture. The bugs may have entered my home as eggs via cushions on last summers lawn chair that had covers removed, were laundered & kept on the drying cycle around 40-50 min. The fabric did not seem to conduct heat well & they were left in a temp storage area, not quite 2 weeks before re-doing another 30-40 min dryer cycle once, then storing in a vacant room, inside one of those 3 pieces of furniture. My 2 worst ground zero egg drops! The temps on this site prob were never achieved within pores of my cushions. It’s sure cost me to use best available info till I found this page. Which was 112 degrees & 10 min, I’d found in 2016. Now, in 2020 I’ve been just lost in .gov sites that haven’t provided any easily findable info I could use, 1st just searching for kill times & temps. So I thought I’d share, & say THANKS 4 the INFO.

What Causes Bed Bugs and How to Get Rid of Them

Finding out your home has been exposed to bed bugs is enough to give anyone chills. These pests are notorious for entering a home, spreading quickly, and causing a deep infestation. When bed bugs take up residence in and around your bed, they turn toyouto keep them alive. That’s right — as you sleep, bed bugs pierce your skin and feed on your blood. Sounds awful, huh?

A bed bug infestation can be a nightmare to deal with. Obviously, the best course of action is prevention. But even if you’ve already found a bed bug (or ten), there are steps you can take to get rid of them and prevent them from entering your home again. Let’s take a look at what causes bed bugs, how to tell if you have them in your home, and actionable steps you can take to prevent and eliminate bed bugs.

What causes bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped pests that feed on the blood of humans and other mammals. The presence of a single female bed bug is enough to start an infestation. In fact, a female bed bug can lay 2 to 5 eggs each day, and as many as 500 in her lifetime (usually 6 to 12 months). Left unchecked, one bed bug could turn into hundreds in a matter of a few weeks. Bed bugs survive solely on blood, and need to feed at least once every 14 days to reproduce but, when necessary, can survive months at a time without feeding.

One of the most common questions asked is “what causes bed bugs?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t cut and dry. Bed bugs originated in developing countries in Africa and the Middle East but, as overseas travel became more popular, they spread to developed countries like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. After the government banned the use of an insecticide known as DDT, which was effective at killing bed bugs but also harmful to humans, the pests began to spread more rapidly. Bed bugs don’t carry disease and, aside from causing itchy, sometimes painful bite marks, don’t pose a huge risk to animals or humans health.

An infestation of bed bugs is caused by spreading the bugs from one place to another. Bed bugs aren’t likely to latch on to you or your clothing as a way to get from one place to another. Instead, bed bugs tend to attach to items found where people travel, allowing them to spread to where humans live (since they feed on the blood of sleeping humans):

  • Luggage
  • Backpacks
  • Briefcases
  • Mattresses
  • Used furniture

Once the bed bugs have attached to your luggage and arrived with you to your hotel or home, they can spread to any small, dark crevice they can find. They don’t have nests but they do tend to live in groups, especially inside of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards. In other words, bed bugs want to live where they have easy access to humans to feed off of. Though they prefer to be close to the bed, these nuisances will travel between 5 and 20 feet just to feed on a host.

When discussing the causes of a bed bug infestation, it’s important to dispel some of the myths that have perpetuated a stigma around having them.

  • Myth #1:Bed bugs are caused by unclean living conditions— This is absolutely not true. Bed bugs can be found anywhere people sleep or travel, from a 5-star hotel to an airport to your cousin’s odd-smelling basement. Cleanliness is not a factor.
  • Myth #2: Bed bugs spread from person to person— This isn’t entirely false but it’s not exactly true, either. Bed bugs don’t fly or jump like ticks and fleas do, and they tend to stick to more efficient modes of travel, like latching onto your suitcase.
  • Myth #3:Bed bugs can stay contained in one apartment— If you live in an apartment building, you may not realize that a bed bug infestation for your neighbor could be an infestation for you, too. Bed bugs can travel through peeling wall paper, electrical outlets, and practically any other opening in a wall. If your neighbor has an infestation, you should treat for bed bugs right away.

Now that you know what causes bed bugs to infest your home, let’s look at ways to prevent bed bugs.

How can you prevent a bed bug infestation?

In an ideal situation, you won’t ever have to deal with bed bugs in your home or apartment. The best way to ensure this is to take proactive measures. If you live in an apartment, multi-family unit, or have roommates, this may prove more challenging but it’s worth taking as many preventive steps as possible.

Prevent bed bugs when traveling

Travel is one of the quickest ways to bring a family of bed bugs into your home. Whether you’re staying in a hotel, a hostel, or an Airbnb, it’s important to follow these steps to make sure no bed bugs find their way onto your luggage or other personal belongings:

  • Inspect the room you’re sleeping in— Check for live bugs, rusty spots from where bed bugs were crushed, excrement droppings, eggs, and yellowish skins from shedding nymphs. If you find bed bugs or signs of them, let management know immediately. They are legally required to address an infestation and provide you with alternative sleeping arrangements.
  • Keep your suitcase out of the room until you’ve checked for bed bugs— It’s best to keep it in your car or in the bathroom with the door closed. If there are bed bugs in the room, they won’t have access to your luggage and won’t be able to make the trip home with you.
  • Keep luggage off the bed and off the ground— Even if you don’t find evidence of bed bugs in your room, they can travel from other hotel rooms. Keep your suitcase and other bags on a luggage rack or on top of a table.
  • Wrap suitcases in plastic —Airports are full of luggage from around the world which means that they can also be full of bed bugs. For extra prevention, get a plastic suitcase cover.
  • Wash clothes in hot water when you return from travel —Even clothes you didn’t wear should be washed in hot water and dried in a dryer on high heat. If there were any bugs present, this will help kill them and prevent them from finding their way into your bedroom. When moving your clothing to the laundry room, be sure to put it in a plastic bag first, so bed bugs don’t fall off on the way.
  • Inspect and vacuum your luggage when you get home —Before bringing your suitcase into your home, inspect it for bed bugs and vacuum it out, just to be safe.

Prevent bed bugs when moving

When you’re moving to a new home, it’s important to take precautions to make sure bed bugs aren’t transferred from one place to the next, or left behind from previous residents.

  • Inspect your new home for bed bugs— Do this before you move any of your belongings in. Make sure to check the places we listed above. It’s also a good idea to ask the previous residents if they’ve ever had a bed bug problem.
  • Don’t use blankets or coverings from the moving company— There’s no guarantee that the moving company has taken proper measures to check for and remove bed bugs from blankets or furniture coverings. Since these items touch many other peoples furniture and homes, it’s best to avoid using them at all.

Prevent bed bugs at home

If you’re not careful, you may make it easy for bed bugs to enter your home. Fortunately, there are some ways you can prevent bed bugs from coming into your home.

  • Apply caulk to cracks on the inside and outside of your home
  • Make sure window and door screens don’t have any tears
  • Eliminate clutter that makes it easy for bed bugs to hide
  • Use special bed bug coverings to protect your mattress and box spring
  • Keep electrical outlets covered when not in use
  • Vacuum frequently
  • Seal any cracks around baseboards and electrical outlets, to prevent them from moving between walls (especially important in apartments or multi-family homes)

Other tips for preventing bed bugs

  • Be cautious of second-hand items —Previously used clothing, mattresses, luggage, and furniture can host bed bugs and cause an infestation in your home. It’s best to avoid second-hand items that could contain bed bugs. If that’s not an option, be sure to inspect and clean each item thoroughly, before bringing it into your home.
  • Watch for bed bugs in shared laundry rooms —Usually, if an item that has a bed bug on it is washed, the bed bug will die. Still, it’s possible for shared laundry rooms and laundromats to have bed bugs that hideaway. Inspect your laundry after washing, just to be sure.
  • Ask for your apartment’s bed bug policies —If you live in an apartment, there may not be much you can do to prevent bed bugs from infiltrating your apartment. Ask your landlord or management company for a copy of their policies regarding how they handle bed bugs.

Prevention is key if you want to avoid the frustration and stress of dealing with a bed bug infestation. If you’re late to the game and think you may have bed bugs, don’t worry. There are some simple ways to identify the problem.

How to tell if you have bed bugs in your home

If you have even the slight suspicion of a bed bug infestation in your home, it’s important that you treat it. Low-level infestations can be harder to identify and are certainly inconvenient but are easier and much less expensive to treat than a widespread infection. When searching for bed bugs in your home, you’ll want to have a magnifying glass, a flashlight, and a bag to hold any bed bugs you find handy.

Many people believe that bites on the skin are a good indicator of a bed bug infestation but this isn’t always the case. Bed bug bites can look similar to many other kinds of insect bites, as well as eczema, rashes, or hives. Additionally, not all people react to bed bug bites.

Physical evidence of bed bugs

  • Live bed bugs
  • Reddish, rusty looking stains on bed sheets or the mattress (this is caused by bed bugs being crushed)
  • Dark spots that look like a stain from a marker (these are bed bug excrements and can bleed in the same way a marker would)
  • Tiny eggs and eggshells
  • Pale yellow skins (the nymphs, or baby bed bugs, shed these as they grow)

You should also know where to look for bed bugs, aside from obvious places like the mattress. Bed bugs can hide in almost any small, dark space. If you can fit a credit card into a space, a bed bug can fit, too.

Places to check for signs of a bed bug infestation

  • Near the seams and tags of the mattress
  • Inside or on the box spring
  • In cracks on the bed frame and headboard
  • Under loose wallpaper
  • Inside or behind picture frames or wall decor
  • In the joints of drawers and shelving
  • In the crevices of where the wall meets the ceiling or the floor
  • In electrical outlets

You don’t have to rely on seeing a bed bug to know for sure that you have an infestation. Seeing their excrements, skins, eggs, or spots is enough to alert you to a problem. If you see a bed bug or signs of bed bugs, you should call a professional immediately. Even if you’re not 100% sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s easy to misidentify the signs for something else and the longer an infestation is left untreated, the more it will spread.

How to get rid of bed bugs in your home

If you’ve identified that you have bed bugs, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and how to handle the situation effectively. Don’t worry — there are proven tactics for dealing with a bed bug infestation. With each step, you’ll want to be as strategic as possible because it’s very easy for bed bugs to spread to other areas in your home. If you live in an apartment, contact your landlord immediately; they may be legally required to help with treatment.

Keep the infestation from spreading

The first thing you’ll want to do when you begin the process of getting rid of bed bugs is to avoid the infestation from spreading throughout the house.

  • Placing everything in the infested room in a sealed plastic bag until it can be treated.This includes bedding, clothing, stuffed animals, blankets, toys, and any other items that could contain bed bugs.
  • Discarding furniture that you can’t remove bed bugs from.Make sure to destroy it or mark that it has bed bugs so someone else won’t bring it into their home.
  • Vacuum thoroughly and empty the vacuum bag after every use.You’ll also want to throw the vacuum bag away in an outdoor trash can.

Once you’ve ensured that the bed bug infestation is contained to the original area, you’ll want to start preparing for treatment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns, “Jumping straight into control is tempting, but won’t work. Preparing for treatment is essential to getting successful control. It will also help by making it easier for you to monitor for bed bugs that haven’t been completely eliminated. This preparation should be conducted whether you are doing the treatment yourself or hiring a professional.”

Preparing for treatment against bed bugs

There are several steps you should take to get ready. These include:

  • Remove all clutter from infested room— Bed bugs love to hide out in clutter, so the less there is, the easier it will be to exterminate them. As you remove clutter, be sure to put it into sealed plastic bags and remove from the house so you don’t spread the bugs to another room
  • Move your bed away from the wall— You should move your bed at least 6 inches away from the wall, remove all bed bugs and eggs from your bed (you may need a professional to help with this), and use bed bug interceptors to catch any pests that try to climb up your bed.
  • Clean all items in the infested room —This includes walls, furniture, baseboards, clothing, decorations, curtains, and anything else that is in the room. As you clean, remove any bed bugs, eggs, or skin that you find and dispose of in a sealed plastic bag. Vacuum thoroughly and place the vacuum bag inside of a sealed plastic bag and then into an outdoor trash can.
  • Make necessary repairs— Because bed bugs like to hide in small places, it’s important to inspect the room for any cracks in the wall, floor, or ceiling, damage to the electrical outlets, and tears in the wallpaper. Caulk and repair as needed to make it impossible for bed bugs to live there.

Finally, you’ll want to take steps to kill the bed bugs. Depending on how bad the infestation is, you may want to consider hiring a professional to handle the extermination of bed bugs.

Heat/cold treatment of bed bugs

To kill bed bugs using heat, you can place in a black plastic bag and leave in the sun or in a hot car. Alternatively, you can set your freezer to 0 degrees and leave sealed bags with contaminated items inside the freezer for a minimum of 4 days. While this can be useful for small items, it’s not considered an effective way to destroy an infestation.

Treating bed bugs with pesticides

EPA-registered pesticides that are made specifically to treat bed bugs can be effective. However, these pesticides can be harmful to your health if not used properly. If you have pets or small children, they should not be in the home during or immediately after the use of a pesticide. Make sure to read and follow the instructions on whichever pesticide you choose.

For widespread infestations, your best solution is to call a professional who can provide an intense, thorough bed bug treatment. Whether you treat for bed bugs yourself or hire a pro, you’ll want to be on high alert for several weeks afterward. If you notice any bed bugs or signs of them, your treatment was probably not all the way effective and another may need to be done.

Minimum risk to health, but never easy to deal with

Bed bugs are a dreaded pest problem that can drain your energy and your finances. Thankfully, though, they don’t pose a risk to your health. Still, taking steps to prevent an infestation is your best bet. If you still end up with a bed bug problem, don’t worry. There are ways to treat the issue and prevent them from coming back.

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