How To Deal With Bed Bugs Naturally
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.
Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.
Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.
Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.
Where Bed Bugs Hide
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.
Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.
When Bedbugs Bite
Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.
Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.
People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.
Signs of Infestation
If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:
- Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
- Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
- An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands
If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.
Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.
If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.
Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:
- Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
- Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
- Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
- Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
- Get rid of clutter around the bed.
If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.
While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.
Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: "Bed Bugs."
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: "Bed Bugs."
The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: "Stop Bed Bugs Safely."
University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: "Managing Bed Bugs."
How To Get Rid Of Bugs In Your House Naturally
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Get Rid Of Bugs In Your House Naturally
Ants, cockroaches, spiders, mosquitoes, and bedbugs are just some of the many nuisances that can infest our living spaces. But before you reach for a chemical bug spray, try a natural way to get rid of these pests. You can use food traps for cockroaches, nets to protect against mosquitoes, neem derivative sprays for bedbugs, and essential oils against ants – all without any adverse side effects.
When it comes to dealing with any bug infestation at home, most of us immediately reach for a handy can of bug spray. But just one whiff of a squirt of spray may clue you in to what scientists have been saying for a long time now – the pesticides in these sprays can harm more than just pests. For example, when used frequently, DEET, the most common of these insect repellents, can cause side effects ranging from blisters on the skin to nerve damage. 1
It’s even worse if you have kids around. Case studies suggest that children should not be exposed to DEET and must keep as far a distance as possible. Repellents containing DEET have been known to cause respiratory distress, encephalopathy, and seizures in children. 2
It’s important to switch to natural ways to get rid of bugs precisely for these reasons. Natural products have far fewer side effects than their chemical counterparts. Whether it’s pesky mosquitoes you want to get rid of or stubborn bedbugs, here are a few ways to deal with such household pests naturally.
Getting Rid Of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are not just an irritation, they can cause wide-spread disease, including vector-borne illnesses, and even epidemics, such as malaria, dengue, and the recent Zika virus.
1. Mosquito Nets
Of course, the best prevention against malaria is to prevent mosquitoes from biting you in the first place! The most effective way of keeping mosquitoes out is with a simple mosquito net. 3 Mosquito nets have holes large enough to let air in but small enough to keep mosquitoes out.
Using long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets: In line with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLIN) has become an important prevention strategy in countries prone to malaria outbreaks. 4 The mosquito repellent properties of several plant products have been extensively studied over the years but there are certain limitations with their use in LLIN. Most of them wash away in water and cannot be easily fixed on the textiles. Trials are still being performed to find the best ways to infuse nets with plant products.
2. Essential Oils
The oils of several plants can be used as mosquito repellents, including citronella grass, lemon grass, eucalyptus, lavender, neem, thyme, holy basil, geranium, peppermint, kakronda, and toothache tree. 5
A field trial in Canada tested the efficiency of 3% citronella candles and 5% citronella incense in protecting individuals from mosquito bites. The use of citronella oil significantly reduced the number of mosquito bites in people. However, it was observed that plain candles were also quite effective in reducing mosquito bites. Researchers assume that it was the heat, light, moisture, and carbon dioxide produced by the plain candles that drew mosquitoes away from the test individuals. 6 But what works in citronella’s favor are compounds such as citronellol and geraniol in the essential oil. Both of these have a pungent odor and can keep mosquitoes away.
Three DIY Mosquito Repellent Sprays You Can Make At Home
- In a 2 oz amber spray bottle, mix 8 drops each of rosemary and lemongrass essential oils, 4 drops of geranium essential oil, 1 tsp of castor oil, and 1–1.5 tsp of water. Shake well and spray all around the house to repel mosquitoes. The amber color of the bottle protects the light sensitive essential oils from oxidation and possible deterioration in quality. 7
- In a 16 oz spray bottle, mix 20 drops each of citronella oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil, and eucalyptus oil, 1/2 tsp of vegetable glycerin, and 14 oz of witch hazel or vodka (yes, vodka). Shake well and spray around the house to drive mosquitoes away. 8
- Make a mix with 4 ml of neem oil and 10 drops each of spike lavender oil and lemon eucalyptus oil. Moisten your palms and take a few drops of this mix. Rub your palms vigorously and apply all over your exposed skin. In addition to repelling mosquitoes, the essential oils also mask the strong smell of neem oil. 9
Saying Sayonara To Bedbugs
Anyone who has ever had a bedbug infestation knows how stubborn they can be. What’s more, there is reason to believe that they can spread over 41 diseases to humans! 10
1. Heat Treatment
Although bedbugs are resistant to most pesticides, they are extremely sensitive to a rise in temperature. One study found that by increasing the temperature to 48 degrees Celsius around the infested furniture, nearly all bedbugs could be eliminated. Circulation and containment of the heat are crucial to the success of this kind of treatment. Polystyrene boards have been found to be quite effective in creating a treatment space and containing the heat. 11 Such treatments are, however, best carried out by a professional exterminator. The exterminator will have the necessary equipment to create a heat treatment space. Depending on the size of the room and the degree of infestation, heat treatment can take 6–8 hours. 12
Most successful integrated pest management (IPM) programs for bedbugs include vacuuming, encasing infected items in zippered compartments, heating, steaming, and freezing – all are not always necessary in every case.
Oils And Other Low-Risk Products
Eucalyptus oil, used as a spray on infested areas, is typically effective against bedbugs. Commercial products containing essential oils such as citronella, clove oil, cedar oil, eucalyptus oil, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint oil work well too. Some studies also recommend dusting the infested area with low-risk pesticides such as silica gel and diatomaceous earth (DE). Dusts such as these spread easily too from bug to bug. 13
Make Your Own Bedbug Repellant
- In a spray bottle, take 10–20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and add a little warm water. You can also add a few drops of lemon essential oil if you like. Spray on mattresses and bedding to eliminate bedbugs.
- Add eucalyptus oil to your laundry detergent and wash your sheets with it to get rid of dust mites and bedbugs. Avoid this if you have small children, though. Eucalyptus essential oil is very strong and should not be used, even in diluted form, on children under two years of age. It can cause respiratory distress in children. 14
- Add 1 tsp each of rosemary and peppermint oils to 2 cups of water and spray the mix on cushions and the floor around the bed. 15
- While traveling, it is a good idea to add lavender oil to a tissue and wiping the hotel room mattress with it to repel bedbugs. 16
Getting Rid Of Ants Naturally
It often seems that ants are the least bothersome of all household pests. They don’t bite unless disturbed, and they certainly don’t spread any infections. However, they can bore into absolutely anything in the house, eating their way through groceries and any food left outside. So here’s how you can fight them!
1. Essential Oils
Oil extracts of cinnamon leaf are extremely effective against red fire ants, even in low concentrations. The major component of cinnamon, trans-cinnamaldehyde, has a very strong inhibitory effect on red fire ants. 17
Natural Techniques To Get Rid Of Ants
- If you have ants marching into your house, you can put 1–2 drops of peppermint, spearmint, clove, catnip, orange, or eucalyptus orange oil on your threshold or wherever their entry point is. Pure essential oil on carpeted, laminate or wooden floors can, however, cause damage so do take care.
- You can also create a mobile barrier by placing a potted peppermint plant near the ants’ entry points and move it around as ants find new ways in. You could also scatter a few peppermint leaves and add a few drops of peppermint oil to them for more potency. 18
2. Clove Powder
Clove powder is an efficient ant repellent too. In a test carried out to check the efficacy of clove powder in inhibiting red fire ants, scientists found the powder worked well. Using clove powder around ant colonies was found to repel nearly 99% of them in a span of three hours. 19
Some Clove Power Against Ants
You can make a powder of fresh cloves and sprinkle it around ant colonies and their suspected points of entry. Be sure to use cloves that still smell fresh, as old cloves may have lost their essential oils to evaporation.
When it comes to irritation level, cockroaches closely rival bedbugs. Give them a few days time and it seems like they’re everywhere! Cockroaches especially love damp, dark spaces – heck, they may even be the only survivors of a nuclear attack!
Getting rid of cockroaches requires a systematic process of deep cleaning accompanied by the use of natural pesticides. Since cockroaches are often attracted to food leftovers and residues, always begin with the kitchen. Wipe everything down after a meal and never leave waste exposed.
1. Dishwashing Liquid
Among easy home treatments, a mix of water and common dishwashing liquid was found to be effective against cockroaches. The soapy liquid blocks their air passages and knocks them down. The cockroaches ultimately die after 18 to 24 hours. 20 So, keep a spray bottle of soap water handy and spray generously if you see a cockroach.
2. Boric Acid Powder
You can also bait cockroaches using a mixture of boric acid and sugar. The sugar attracts the cockroaches to the mixture. When ingested, boric acid is extremely toxic to such insects. 21 Sprinkling this powder in cracks and crevices, especially around the kitchen sink, can help get rid of cockroaches. You need to remember that boric acid can irritate the nose and mouth of humans too, so take care to keep the mixture out of reach of children.
Dealing With Other Bugs
There are several other household pests you may not want to deal with. One is thefruit fly, which seems to hover around just about any damp space in the house. A popular home remedy involves taking about half a glass of vinegar or apple cider vinegar and adding a few drops of dishwashing liquid to it. Swish the glass and add some warm water to help mix the liquids. Place the glass at spots frequented by fruit flies. This is an excellent trap for fruit flies – they come attracted by the vinegar smell and are trapped by the weight of the soap. 22
Another common bug that can become a menace in huge numbers is thespider. Although spiders do keep our houses bug-free, a spider and its webs can make any place look run-down. Clearing away spider webs and egg sacs as soon as they are spotted is the first step in spider management. Areas prone to spider habitats must be kept free of insects to ensure food scarcity.
Spiders have the ability to taste what they touch and they don’t like the taste of many plants.
Spider Repellant Made Right At Home
- An excellent home remedy for spiders involves using essential oils. Take 2 cups of water, and add 10–20 drops of one or more of the following oils – lavender, citronella, cinnamon, catnip, – and/or citrus oils such as grapefruit or lemon. Use the spray around the house to keep spiders at bay.
- Spiders don’t like catnip either. Grind fresh catnip leaves and mix with water. Soak cotton balls in this mix and keep at spider-prone spots around the house. You can soak the cotton balls in catnip oil too. You can also make catnip sachets by packing dried catnip leaves in some thin natural fabric. Place the sachets around the house to drive away spiders. 23
- Spiders also dislike lemons and limes. Mix water and bitter lime or lemon juice and spray wherever required. Placing orange, lime, or lemon peels at strategic spots can keep your garden spider-free too. 24
Use Your DIY Bug Repellants Correctly
Take note that not all of these natural alternatives have been studied for skin allergies and other irritations. It may be wise to use gloves when working with sprays of any kind. Of course, essential oils have been studied extensively and there is sufficient information available about their possible adverse effects. If you have young children at home, ensure that these bug repellents are not lying around the house. Ingestion of some of these substances can be very harmful.
Do you have any other go-to methods for dealing with household pests?
|1.||↑||Robbins, Philip J., and Martin G. Cherniack. “Review of the biodistribution and toxicity of the insect repellent N, N‐diethyl‐m‐toluamide (DEET).” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A Current Issues 18, no. 4 (1986): 503-525.|
|2.||↑||Briassoulis, G., M. Narlioglou, and T. Hatzis. “Toxic encephalopathy associated with use of DEET insect repellents: a case analysis of its toxicity in children.” Human & Experimental Toxicology 20, no. 1 (2001): 8-14.|
|3.||↑||Bradley, A. K., A. M. Greenwood, P. Byass, B. M. Greenwood, K. Marsh, S. Tulloch, and R. Hayes. “Bed-nets (mosquito-nets) and morbidity from malaria.” The Lancet 328, no. 8500 (1986): 204-207.|
|4.||↑||Wanzira, Humphrey, Henry Katamba, and Denis Rubahika. “Use of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets in a population with universal coverage following a mass distribution campaign in Uganda.” Malaria Journal 15, no. 1 (2016): 311.|
|5.||↑||Raja, A. S. M., Sujata Kawlekar, Sujata Saxena, A. Arputharaj, and P. G. Patil. “Mosquito protective textiles-A review.” International Journal of Mosquito Research 2, no. 7 (2015): 49-53.|
|6.||↑||LINDSAY, L. ROBBIN, GORDON A. SURGEONER, J. D. Heal, and G. J. Gallivan. “EVALUATION OF THE EFFICACY OF 37O CITRONELLA CANDLES AND 57O CITRONELLA INCENSE FOR PROTECTION AGAINST FIELD POPULATIONS OF AEDES MOSQUITOES.” Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 12, no. 2 (1996): 293-294.|
|7, 8.||↑||Brown, Kathy. “Homemade Insect Repellents: Organic DIY Repellents to Keep Biting and Creeping Insects Away From You.” PublishDrive, 2016.|
|9.||↑||Berton, Hélène. “The Essential Guide to Natural Skin Care: Choosing Botanicals, Oils & Extracts for Simple & Healthy Beauty.” Llewellyn Worldwide, 2012.|
|10.||↑||Burton, George J. “Bedbugs in relation to transmission of human diseases: Review of the literature.” Public health reports 78, no. 6 (1963): 513.|
|11.||↑||Pereira, Roberto M., Philip G. Koehler, Margie Pfiester, and Wayne Walker. “Lethal effects of heat and use of localized heat treatment for control of bed bug infestations.” Journal of economic entomology 102, no. 3 (2009): 1182-1188.|
|12.||↑||Understanding Bed Bug Treatments. University of Minnesota.|
|13.||↑||Quarles, William. “New IPM methods for bedbugs.” IPM Pract 34 (2015): 1-9.|
|14.||↑||Young, Kac. “The Healing Art of Essential Oils: A Guide to 50 Oils for Remedy, Ritual, and Everyday Use.” Llewellyn Worldwide, 2017.|
|15.||↑||Billings, Samuel. “The Big Book of Home Remedies.” Lulu Press, 2013.|
|16, 18.||↑||Worwood, Valerie Ann. “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Revised and Expanded: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments.” New World Library, 2016.|
|17.||↑||Cheng, Sen-Sung, Ju-Yun Liu, Chun-Ya Lin, Yen-Ray Hsui, Mei-Chun Lu, Wen-Jer Wu, and Shang-Tzen Chang. “Terminating red imported fire ants using Cinnamomum osmophloeum leaf essential oil.” Bioresource technology 99, no. 4 (2008): 889-893.|
|19.||↑||Kafle, Lekhnath, and Cheng Jen Shih. “Toxicity and repellency of compounds from clove (Syzygium aromaticum) to red imported fire ants Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).” Journal of Economic Entomology 106, no. 1 (2013): 131-135.|
|20.||↑||Szumlas, Daniel E. “Behavioral responses and mortality in German cockroaches (Blattodea: Blattellidae) after exposure to dishwashing liquid.” Journal of Economic Entomology 95, no. 2 (2002): 390-398.|
|21.||↑||J.L. Capinera, Encyclopedia of Entomology, Springer Science & Business Media, 2008.|
|22, 24.||↑||Billings, Samuel. “The Big Book of Home Remedies.” Lulu.com, 2013.|
|23.||↑||Ford, Dionna; O’Brien, Mandy. “Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxin-Free Recipes to Replace Your Kitchen Cleaner, Bathroom Disinfectant, Laundry Detergent, Bleach, Bug Killer, Air Freshener, and more.” Ulysses Press, 2014.|
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.
How to Deal with Bed Bugs when Travelling
Last updated: April 5, 2019 . Written by Laurence Norah
As a traveller, one thing that is certain is that you are going to be sleeping in many different places. With this comes risk, one of which is to wake up one morning covered in tracks of red bites – the possible mark of bed bug bites!
Of course, your initial thought may be that you’ve been the victim of a highly trained vicious mosquito squadron. But look a little closer – because you may have been the victim of something else entirely, something that is going to get fellow travellers all terribly excitable and probably freak you out too – the fearsomely savage and much feared bed bug.
In today’s post I’m going to share with you some knowledge on bed bugs that I picked up from my time spent working in hospitality, and particularly in a hostel in New Zealand, where a great deal of my time was taken up with activities relating to bed bugs and bed bug management. Which wasn’t on the initial job description.
As a result of that experience I have seen and squished far more bed bugs than any person ought to, and spent tremendous amounts of time peering into tiny cracks looking for the evidence of their presence.
Today I’m going to tell how to know if you’ve been nibbled on by bed bugs, how to look out for signs that you’re not sleeping alone, what to do if you’re bitten by bed bugs, how to get rid of bed bug bites, plus what you can do to deal with the bed bug issue. First though, let’s take a look at some facts about bed bugs.
Bed Bug Facts!
Bed bugs are actually pretty amazing little critters! Here are some quick facts for you:
- Bed bugs can survive for up to a year without food, particularly when it is cold. They can survive temperatures ranges down to around –32C and up to 45C. When it is cold, they go into a sort of hibernation, and pop out of it when it warms up.
- In the right conditions it takes one pregnant adult female six months to create an infestation of literally hundreds of thousands of bugs. She is bloody awesome at hiding in the meantime.
- When it gets warmer, bed bugs reproduce faster. This is why bed bug issues are often commonly associated with warmer countries. In higher temperatures, the reproductive cycle goes from 21 days down to as fast as 8 days.
- Bed bug sex is not a fun thing for the bed bug female. It involves carapace piercing in order to get the necessary fluids inside her. If I was a bed bug girl, I’d want to go bite someone, too.
- Bed bugs like other bed bugs. They secrete a pheromone that attracts more bed bugs. Sociable little chaps.
- Bed bugs are bigger than you might think, particularly in their adult stage, which they reach after five junior stages. And I thought one go at puberty was tough. They grow up to 0.5cm long, easily visible by the naked eye, in their adult stage at least.
- They are attracted to their victims by carbon dioxide and warmth, amongst other things.
- Bed bugs love travelling almost as much as you do. They or their eggs will happily hitch a ride in your clothes or on your backpack, and then hop off when they reach somewhere new and exciting with fresh fields of blood filled meat to suck on. This makes eradicating them a bit tricky in a well visited bed!
Which Countries Have Bed Bugs?
The reality is that pretty much every temperate to warm country will have bed bugs. So you’ll find bed bugs in Thailand, bed bugs in Australia, bed bugs in the USA – the list goes on. Basically every continent except Antarctica has bed bugs!
It’s also a worsening problem it seems as we are travelling more and more, and our climate seems to be providing warmer days. These two factors combine to produce the ideal conditions for bed bugs to spread, and for bed bugs to breed!
How to know if you’ve been bitten by bed bugs
People react to bed bug bites, like any other bites, in different ways. You may have been munched upon countless times, and have absolutely nothing to show for it, or you may come up in horrific pustules, blisters, or bumps that look just like mosquito bites. Diagnosis can be tricky! Additionally, for some reason, elderly people barely react at all.
The easiest way to tell though is the classic line pattern that the bed bug leaves behind. This will be a nice straight line of red bumps, that looks like something has methodically chewed you up. And that would be because somethinghasmethodically chewed you up!
Bed bug bite example
Often this will be a line of three bumps, sometimes more, depending on a variety of factors, including whether or not the bug was disturbed during the meal, or if the bug didn’t quite find what it was looking for on the first, second, third.. or.. well, you get the idea.
Bed bug bites can also take a while to appear after you’ve been bitten, sometimes up to a couple of weeks. Which makes working out what bit you and when fairly difficult. Very often, you will discount the bites as nothing more than mozzie bites, and move on with your life.
Bed bugs also tend to bite in areas that aren’t covered, however in tropical areas you’re not likely to be sleeping in much anyway. They also don’t usually target armpits or the back of your knees.
How to spot bed bugs in your hotel room or bed – the warning signs!
There is a bit of a misconception that for a place to have bed bugs, it needs to be dirty, or unkempt, or messy. This sadly isn’t the case – the hostel I worked in for example was absolutely fanatic about cleanliness and bed bug management, and we still had the odd bug.
Of course, if your chosen accommodation doesn’t care too much about basic things like cleanliness or tidiness, then you can be pretty damn sure that they aren’t that bothered about bed bugs either. So the two can be linked, even if one doesn’t cause the other.
So how to tell if you might not be sleeping alone? Here are some ways to spot bed bugs:
- Bed bugs are fairly shy and retiring creatures. They mostly come out at night. In the day time they like to hide, not too far away from their evening meal. Obvious places to look therefore include in your bed frame, and anywhere near the bed that harbours cracks that they can squeeze into. Curtain rails, skirting boards, door frames – even the heads of screws. You get the idea.
- Bed bugs secrete a black gooey substance. You might find this on the bed sheets after you have been bitten. You can also look for it on the bed frame. Lots of black goo around a hole or crack indicates the likely presence of our friends. If it is recent, you will be able to easily smear it with your fingers.
- Bed bugs have a distinctive aroma, which is how they attract other bed bugs. It’s a bit like the smell of a stink bug.
- Bed bugs have six different sizes, from the super tiny to the fairly large. So there are a variety of body shapes and sizes to look out for.
- Bed bugs are not excited by heat or excess amounts of carbon dioxide. If you think there are bed bugs in a hole, you could try breathing into it, or blowing a hair dryer into it on a low setting. This may force them out of hiding, or boil them in their shells. Whichever works for you. It may also distribute bed bug eggs all over the room.
- You may find blood stains on the bed after you’ve been bitten. However, you can get these with any bite, so it’s not a guarantee of bed bugs.
What to do if you think you’ve been bitten by bed bugs
If you think you have been bitten by bed bugs in a hotel or other accommodation, the first thing is not to panic. Whilst the bites can be itchy and annoying, bed bugs are not currently known to carry any actual diseases.
So in that sense, you are better off having been bitten by a bed bug than a mosquito.
Photo CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan;
You should, of course, mention to your host that you think you have been bitten. There are two main reasons to do this:
- If the problem is with the place you are currently at, then they need to know so that they can do something about it
- If you were bitten somewhere else, there is a possibility that you have brought the eggs or bugs with you. They therefore need to keep an eye out for future problems. Be aware that they are unlikely to thank you for this.
When you inform your host, a variety of things will happen. It is very likely that, even if the accommodation believes itself to have bed bugs, it will deny this. Admitting to having bed bugs is akin to admitting you have the plague, due to the bad reputation these critters carry.
So unless you have the dead body to prove your case, don’t expect too much in the way of liability being admitted.
Additionally, as the bites can take so long to come up, the accommodation provider may actually have a point, in that you could have brought a problem into their previously clean environment. This is a great way to make you feel guilty and thus shut you up. After all, who is going to tell their friends that they may be a carrier of bed bugs?
What you should see, if they are at all bothered / professional / caring are some efforts by the accommodation provider to find any problems.
Where I worked, if someone seemed to have an issue, we would take their room apart, literally. Bed frames would be disassembled, and any bugs we found would be squished. We also used a heat gun to sterilise cracks in wood or metal. However, if we found bugs or eggs, this was never disclosed to guests.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites
Treating bed bug bites is much the same as treating any other bites. The application of topical anti-histamine creams or ingestion of anti histamine is about the best you can do. A bite is a sign of an allergic reaction, and anti-histamine can help.
Try not to scratch the bites – your nails are dirty and this will lead to infection.
If you have reacted particularly badly, then get yourself down to the doctors where they may be able to help out with more powerful creams or pills.
Ultimately though, it’s going to be a waiting game where you’ll just have to wait for the bites to subside.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs
If you are travelling, as previously mentioned, it can be hard to prevent bed bugs as you are not in control of the situation.
However, you can stop yourself from taking bed bugs home, and take preventative measures in your home.
The first thing you’ll want to do when travelling is to get used to inspecting the accommodation you are staying in for bed bugs. If there are signs of bed bugs, you should ask for another room, or consider another property. If the room has bed bugs, it is very likely that some of these bugs might get into your luggage, and that you will take them home with you.
You also can take some preventative measures like spraying your luggage with one of the bed bug sprays mentioned further on in the post. You might also want to invest in a heating device which will heat your luggage up above a temperature which kills bed bugs, thus sanitizing your belongings.
For your home, we would suggest investing in mattress covers for your beds. This stops bed bugs getting into the mattress, which is one of the most common places for them to hide. It also means you don’t need to discard of your mattress if you do get bed bugs, which can be costly if you have a nice mattress. See here for another well reviewed mattress protector.
The main thing to consider is how bed bugs might get into your property. The most common ways are for you to bring them back from a trip in your luggage, or for guests to bring them when they visit. Mattress covers can help in guest rooms, and careful inspection of your guests room after they leave is also a wise idea.
Another common vector for bed bugs is through furniture. We would advise against buying second hand furniture for this reason, as it can be very hard to tell if it is home to bed bugs.
There are a range of other products to help you deal with bed bugs in the home. These include electronic ultrasonic repelling devices, bed bug traps for your bed legs, and diatomaceous earth, which is a non-toxic substance that kills insects.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
The bad news about bed bugs is that in a well visited environment like a hostel or hotel, it is pretty much impossible to eradicate bed bugs.
This is because even if you were able to find and kill every last egg, nymph and adult from the premises, all it takes is one new arrival with a pregnant adult female to turn up, and the problem starts all over again. In a warm climate where the bugs can breed quickly, the problem is only going to be worse.
In such an environment, the best that can be done is to try to manage and stay on top of the problem. Regular inspections of sleeping areas, blocking up inviting cracks and the occasional use of some sort of anti-bed bug chemicals are the best that can be done so that the issue stays small – akin to a few mosquitoes flying in through a window at night, rather than spiralling out of control into a serious infestation.
Speaking of chemicals, another problem arises. The most effective chemicals for properly killing off the whole bed bug lifecycle are also not exactly human friendly. Fumigating a room is actually therefore more hazardous to human health than a few bites is ever going to be – and in fact more people have probably died from reactions to the anti bed bug chemicals than from actual bed bug bites. However, there are some non-toxic options, one of which I have listed below.
Products to help you deal with Bed Bugs
There are some products you can get to help stop that most nightmare of all situations – taking the bed bugs from your travels to your home, as well as other sprays for killing bugs generally.
- EcoRaider is one of the better natural options for killing bed bugs. This is available from the manufacturer, and also on eBay here. In a study by the US Entomological Society of America, this was the only natural bed-bug killing product that effectively killed both bed bug nymphs and bed bug eggs
- The other recommended product from the above study is this Bed Bug Spray by Bed Bug Patrol, available on Amazon. This was also successful against bed bugs. It’s also highly rated by commentators, as well as being both organic and non-toxic.
- This is another well rated natural product available on Amazon
- Electronic repellers like this work by emitting ultrasonic sounds to deter a range of insects, including bed bugs
- There are a wealth of other options also available from both Amazon.com and UK.
- This Travel Sized Luggage Spray by Bed Bug Patrol on Amazon.com is designed to help protect you from bringing the bed bugs back from your travels – possibly the worst outcome of any bed bug encounter!
If you do have a problem in your home, it is likely that you will have to call in professionals to fully clean out your house. They will use all sorts of nasty chemicals, and you will probably have to move out for a while. That is the only way to really sort out the problem once and for all.
And that is that for bed bugs! If you’ve got any comments, questions or experiences to share from your travels, including horrific photos, don’t be afraid to share them below! Otherwise happy travels, and remember, sleep tight.. don’t let the bed bugs bite!
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About the authors
Laurence and Jessica Norah are the British-American travel blogging couple behind photography & adventure travel blog Finding the Universe and luxury / couples travel blog Independent Travel Cats.
We’ve been running this site since 2010. We’re full time professional travel bloggers, and we visit all the places we write about personally. All our content is based on our own first hand travel experiences, and we take all the photos you see on our sites. Read more about us here.
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There are 9 comments on this post
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Does regular bug spray kill them? I’ve gotten bit in Sarajevo and no clue where to find bed bug spray for my luggage.
As far as I know, no it doesn’t. They are tough critters to kill!
I have read all sorts of post about bedbugs and none of them say anything about bedbugs being in your vehicle so my question is if you Go to someone’s house for a couple hours that has bedbugs and then get in your vehicle are you and your vehicle contaminated
Laurence Norah says
It’s hard to answer this. Bedbugs are more likely to be transported on luggage rather than people, so if you don’t take anything into the house, it is unlikely they will jump on you and then into your car and then on into your house. And as there isn’t a source of food in the car, it’s not an attractive place to live for them either. So I would say that the chances are low, but not impossible of course.
Thank you for telling a blog about dealing with bed bug as traveler. It is very much a serious issue. The information provided is very relevant.
Laurence Norah says
Great tips on how to clean a room with suspected bugs – would love some recommendations for those who have been bitten in hotels and are now fearful of bringing them home! I am covered in bed bug bites after backpacking through South America and now am terrified I will introduce them to my own bed and have no idea what to do!
Laurence Norah says
So the only thing that really works is heat – bugs can’t handle temperatures higher than 117F – 122F. So your best option is to wash everything you can (clothes, bag etc..) at a high heat. If you have items you can’t heat to that temperature, the safest option is to throw them out 🙁
The Top 10 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally
If you notice that you have small itchy spots, red rashes or blisters when you wake up, it could be a sign that you have bed bugs. These tiny little pests can infest the seams of your mattress, bed frames, box springs, and headboards. It can be a challenge to get rid of bed bugs because they are hard to detect and they multiply rapidly. Bed bugs should be destroyed as quickly as possible because they can infest other areas of your home and cause a major problem.
Actually, bed bugs are not a sign that you have a dirty home, but they can be brought into your house through luggage, used furniture and beds, clothing and other household items.
Fortunately, there are many ways to naturally get rid of bed bugs. Bed bugs can’t survive extreme hot or cold temperatures, so, methods like steam cleaning, hot washes, and drying on a high heat are natural home remedies to eliminate bed bugs from clothing and bedding. Placing small items in the freezer is another way to kill bed bugs.
For larger areas, you can make your own natural bed bug sprays from tea tree oil, lavender oil, or eradicate bed bugs by sprinkling diatomaceous earth powder in crevices that bed bugs like to inhabit.
Before we look at the best home remedies to eliminate bed bugs naturally, let’s look at the symptoms of bed bugs and the problems these tiny insects can cause.
The Problems Bed Bugs Cause
Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and gorge on the blood of humans and animals. Although bed bugs don’t spread disease or cause infections, they cause a lot of personal discomfort.
Bedbugs can also quickly infest beds, couches, furniture and are difficult to find and kill because they like to hide in dark cracks, crevices, and gaps.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian onWebMDsays that bed bugs reach adult maturity within a month and can produce 3 or 4 generations a year. 1
According to theNational Pest Management Association(NPMA), the problem of getting rid of bed bugs and bed bug control is growing every year. A survey carried by the NPMA found there is a resurgence of bed bug infestations in hotels, movie theaters, public transportation, and even medical facilities. 2
Signs and Symptoms of Bed Bugs
There is no doubt about it – bed bugs are a nuisance and exterminating these tiny pests should be a top priority. One of the first symptoms that you may have a bed bug infestation is bites on your skin. These bites can appear anywhere on your body that the bed bug can crawl to. According to theNational Health Servicein the United Kingdom, some of the other symptoms of bed bug bites are: 3
- itchy red bumps on the skin
- a red itchy bed bug rash
- fluid-filled blisters or welts
- a skin infection caused by scratching the itchy skin and allowing bacteria to enter the wound
There will also be some signs around your bed that indicate you need to think about some effective methods of bed bug control. For example, with a flashlight, you may discover the tiny bugs in seams around the edge of the mattress or in the bed joints or spring box. You may also notice dark or red spots on your bedding or mattress. This is their dried feces or blood from a killed bed bug.
What are the best ways of getting rid of bed bugs from your bed, mattress, headboard, couches, or anywhere else that they might be living? Here are some of the best tried and tested bed bug natural remedies.
If you have bed bug bites, make sure to read my article about the best natural ways to get rid of bed bug bites.
Here are some of the best home remedies to get rid of bed bugs:
10 Best Natural Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Find the bed bug Infestation
One of the first steps to completely eliminate all traces of bed bugs from your home is to find all the infested areas. Bed bugs are usually found in bedrooms but they can inhabit any room in the home where people and pets sleep.
TheUS Environmental Protection Agencyrecommends carefully checking the seams of mattresses and other soft furnishings in your home. Examine the spaces between cushions, your mattress and bed frame and any other possible hiding place in your bedroom. Don’t forget to check drawer joints, behind loose wallpaper, and even in electrical appliances. 4
Any space the thickness of a credit card is a potential home for bed bugs.
Use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of bed bug naturally
Using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bed bugs is a very effective and simple method to eradicate bed bugs from your bedroom.
A vacuum cleaner is a common household item so you can use it right now to kill bed bugs. To make sure and get rid of any eggs around the seams of your mattress, use a stiff brush to loosen any bed bug eggs from the material.
Bed bugs can be hiding everywhere, so you’ll need to vacuum all chairs and other soft furnishings, carpets, box springs, and mattresses and even curtains.
Regarding bed bug control, the journalClinical Microbiology Reviewssays that vacuuming can quickly get rid of a large number of bed bugs and their eggs. When using a vacuum cleaner to control bed bug infestations, it’s essential to use a disposable bag. As soon as you have vacuumed the infested area, remove and seal the bag before disposing of it. 5
Freeze items to kill bed bugs
Kill bed bugs in smaller items by placing them in a freezer. Although bed bugs can’t withstand freezing temperatures, they can live for up to a year in a cool room without any food sources.
To naturally kill the bedbugs you need to place infested items in a freezer that has a temperature below 1°F (-17°C) for at least 2 hours. 5
Hot steam kills bed bug
Hot steam is a great home remedy to destroy bed bugs and their eggs without damaging the environment.
The hot steam method for bed bug eradication can get rid of bed bugs from small crevices and cracks. The steam can also penetrate through the mattress lining and eradicate bug infestations inside the mattress.
Scientists have found that bed bugs are quickly killed when exposed to temperatures above 140°F (60°C). 5
So, if you have a steam cleaner, you can use it to exterminate bed bugs quickly without using harmful chemicals.
To kill bed bugs fast on your own using steam do the following:
- Thoroughly vacuum all the areas you plan to steam.
- Use the steamer on all surfaces where you see bed bugs and areas where you think bed bugs may be hiding to completely get rid of them.
- After using the steamer, the fabric may be damp, but it should not be wet. If the fabric is too wet decrease the amount of steam produced by the steamer.
- After you are finished, use a fan in the area to circulate air to help dry the items you have steamed.
- Repeat the steaming procedure a couple of times until all the bed bugs are completely gone.
You need to be aware that steaming will only kill bed bugs that are exposed to the heat, so any bed bugs that do not come into contact with the steam will survive.
What is the best type of steamer for bed bug eradication?
The general recommendation is to use a powerful and heavy duty steamer with a large water tank, preferably with a steam volume control. Small steamers may not be effective in eliminating bedbugs. Small steamers require constant refilling and may cover less surface area so they can be less effective in eliminating bed bugs. They may also not get hot enough to eliminate bedbugs on and around the mattress.
Hot wash bedding and clothing
You can also get rid of bed bugs from infected clothing and other fabric items by placing them in the washing machine and wash them at a temperature of over 60°C.
Hot washing is probably one of the easiest and fastest natural ways to kill off bed bugs from clothing and other items using a common household item.
Use a hot dryer
After putting infested items of clothing or bed linen through a hot wash, you should dry the items in a dryer set to a hot setting. This will make doubly sure that the bed linen is sterilized from bed bugs.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian onWebMDrecommends the hot wash and hot dryer method to de-infest fabric items like curtains, bedding, shoes, and stuffed toy animals from bed bugs. 1
You could also use a hair dryer together with your vacuum cleaner to drive bed bugs out of crevices. Set the hair dryer to the hottest setting and direct into the crack. The hot air will kill the bed bugs and also force them out. Any bug not killed by the hair dryer can be sucked up with the vacuum cleaner.
Encase mattresses and pillows
Another natural way to prevent bed bugs from biting you during the night and stop them infesting other parts of your home is to encase mattresses and pillows.
Encasements for mattresses, spring boxes, and pillows are tightly woven covers that prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping. The encasements should be kept on for at least a year to ensure that all the bed bugs die naturally.
TheNational Pesticide Information Centerrecommends using encasements to protect your bed from bed bug infestations. In addition to encasing your bed items, they also recommend placing bed bug traps (such as this one) under your bed legs to stop bed bugs crawling up. 6
Other Natural Home Remedies to Eradicate Bed Bugs
While the above home remedies are excellent ways to eliminate bed bugs from your home, it is also necessary to treat areas with natural insecticides to kill bed bugs and eggs in hard to reach places. Here are some natural insecticides that you can make yourself to get rid of bed bugs.
Tea tree oil bed bug spray
The insecticidal properties of tea tree oil make it a great natural treatment to get rid of bed bug infestation. You can use the homemade tea tree spray to kill off bed bugs in hard to reach places, like cracks, crevices, and furniture joints.
A study from 2014 found that a tea tree oil solution is an effective and natural insect repellent and also acts as an insecticide. 7
To make a natural insecticide with tea tree oil, put 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with water and shake well. Spray liberal amounts of the natural insecticide in all areas where you think bed bugs are living. Use the tea tree oil bed bug spray daily until all the signs of bed bugs have disappeared completely. Remember to shake the natural spray well before each application.
Tea tree oil is also a great natural remedy to cure any skin itching caused by bed bugs.
Lavender oil pesticide spray
Similar to tea tree oil, lavender essential oil can be used to make an effective natural DIY pesticide spray to kill bed bugs.
The insect-repellent properties of lavender oil are toxic for bed bugs but completely safe to use around the home.
One study into the effect of essential oils and their use for insect and bug control found that a combination of lavender oil and peppermint oil effectively kills off insects. 8 Lavender oil also helps to destroy insect eggs and larvae as well as repelling bed bugs. Peppermint oil also has a strong repellent action. 8
To make a natural bed bug spray, add 10-15 drops lavender essential oil and 10-15 drops peppermint oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Use the natural spray to treat areas infested with bed bugs. Use the natural pesticide spray daily until you no longer have any signs of bed bug infestation. Shake well before each application.
There are many other effective sprays to eliminate these nasty critters – read about them in my article about the best bed bug sprays to kill bed bugs fast.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) for bed bug control
Diatomaceous earth powder helps to kill off bed bugs by causing them to dehydrate because it destroys their outer protective membrane. Some people also call it bed bug powder. Because vacuum cleaners may not remove all bed bugs in deep crevices, diatomaceous earth powder is an excellent way to control bed bugs and prevent further infestation.
A study into the use of diatomaceous earth in bed bug eradication found that it is a safe, non-toxic way to rid your home of bed bugs. Even though diatomaceous earth (DE) is slow acting, the study found that this was an advantage. This is because the bed bugs transfer the powder to other bugs and help to distribute the natural insecticide to their habitats. The study found that within 4 days, 80% of all the bed bugs had been killed. Complete eradication was achieved in 12 days. 5
To naturally eliminate a bed bug infestation with diatomaceous earth, dust the bed bug powder around all areas where bed bugs may be hiding. Repeat the process every 3 days for 2 weeks to ensure complete removal of all the bed bugs.
Make sure to usefood gradediatomaceous earth (here is one example), as it is safe to use around the home and it’s an effective home treatment for killing bed bugs and fleas.
Home Remedies for Killing Bed Bugs – Commonly Asked Questions
Can baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) kill bed bugs?
Some people suggest that baking soda is an effective natural bed bug killer as it can dehydrate them or possibly even poison these tiny little pests.
However there is no indication showing that baking soda can eliminate bed bugs. In fact, baking soda doesn’t absorb much fluids so it will not dehydrate the bed bugs.
Baking soda actually breaks down in water quite easily, so its ability to absorb thick, viscous fluids like the wax on a bed bug’s shell is questionable. In addition, bed bugs don’t eat dry items in their environment such as sodium bicarbonate so it cannot poison them.
Can salt eliminate a bed bug infestation?
Salt has been used for decades to kill pests, such as slugs and snails by absorbing fluids from their body and causing them to dehydrate.
Some people believe that salt can eliminate bed bugs in the same way it kills slugs and snails. However there is a very strong anecdotal reference that this doesn’t work.
Does boric acid kill bed bugs?
Boric acid, can be used as a natural pesticide to kill roaches, eliminate ants, and eradicate termites but it needs to be ingested by the pest. Bed bugs have piercing and sucking mouth parts, and they do not ingest material other than blood from living hosts. Hence, there’s no way to get boric acid into the bed bugs’ stomach to kill them.
Does vitamin B1 (Thiamine) repel bed bugs?
Thiamin has been reported to be a mosquito repellent but there is no strong scientific evidence to support the fact that vitamin B1 helps in repelling bed bugs.
What is the best way to kill bed bugs naturally?
The best way to completely eliminate bed bugs for good is to use the following methods together:
- Vacuum all areas where bed bugs can be found.
- After vacuuming, use hot steam to naturally kill the remaining bed bugs instantly.
- Hot wash infected clothing and all fabric items.
- Use hot dryer for items that cannot be washed.
- Encase mattresses and pillows to prevent bed bugs from biting you.
- Use natural remedies such as diatomaceous earth and tea tree oil to exterminate bed bugs in hard to reach places.
How to Prevent Bed Bug Infestations
The best way to make sure that you never have any bed bug bites is to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home in the first place. Here are some top bed bug prevention tips:
- If you notice blood spots or dark marks on your bedding, immediately check all areas of your bed, mattress, and bedding for bed bugs.
- After returning from vacation, thoroughly vacuum your luggage.
- When staying in hotel rooms, take a flashlight with you to inspect the bed frame and mattress for tell-tale signs of bed bugs.
- Before bringing in second-hand furniture, beds, or mattresses to your home, thoroughly examine the items to make sure there are no bugs hiding in corners, joints, and seams.
- If you notice any bed bugs, eliminate them using theseeffective bed bug spraysto get rid of them for good.
Read my other related articles:
13 Responses toThe Top 10 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally
NEEM can TOTALLY Destroy BEDBUGS!
The blood-sucking BEDBUGS are spreading fast all over the world in places of human habitations. They have become a great nuisance, as It is very difficult to eradicate them with the commonly used method of spraying insecticides. Their bites can cause severe itching, sleeplessness, irritability, depression, anemia and other related problems.
Even by using different types of insecticides regularly, I had failed again and again to remove all the BEDBUGS from my room. In desperation, I started using NEEM soap and NEEM detergents to wash my bedsheets, pillow covers, blankets, mosquito net, and also to wash my clothes like the shirts, pants, underwears, banians, nightdresses, caps, socks, handkerchiefs, towels, napkins, etc. Only after I did that, the BEDBUGS DISAPPEARED totally within a few days!
I was astonished to find such an easy solution in such a short period. So, it is NOT surprising why the Hindus worship the NEEM TREE as a GODDESS!
We can use NEEM SPRAYS to kill and repel bedbugs, mosquitoes, mites, lice, fleas, ticks, cockroaches, ants, flies, etc. Washing our clothes with NEEM soap and NEEM detergents repels these insects.
Even if we choose to wash our clothes with other soaps and detergents, we can just dip the clothes in NEEM WATER for some time, then squeeze them and hang them for drying.
BATHING with NEEM soap and using NEEM creams and NEEM lotions too can help our bodies to repel bedbugs, mosquitoes, mites and lice, and to prevent diseases like ANEMIA, MALARIA, DENGUE, CHIKUNGUNYA, SCABIES, etc.
Let us launch a worldwide campaign against bedbugs, mosquitoes, mites, lice and other insect pests by sending many messages like this one to all our contacts.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally
You wake up with everyone’s biggest bedroom fear – red bites all over your body. Could it be bed bugs?
Bed bugs are very small bugs that feed exclusively on the blood of humans and animals. They can live for up to a year without eating, so if you see some it is important to be vigilant.
Bed bugs can be hard to see because they are very small; they grow up to one-quarter of an inch in size and range between 1mm and 7mm in length. They rarely are bigger than a grain of rice and closely resemble an apple seed—they have a wide oval-shaped body that can get as large as one-tenth an inch or 3mm wide.
Like vampires, bed bugs shy away from the light and are often found in mattress seams. They are predatory in nature and are attracted to humans because of our carbon dioxide and warmth.
Even though they are disgusting, they are not a sign of poor hygiene. Even the cleanest of homes can get bed bugs if they bring in an item that’s come into contact with an infestation.
Bed bugs are hard to get rid of and it may take several weeks to rid your home of the problem. In this guide, we will teach you 39 do-it-yourself ways to deal with bed bugs naturally.
While some of these remedies will work on their own, it may be best to utilize a few of them together to ensure that the problem is fully eradicated.
1. Hot Water and Soap
You can use hot water and soap to rid your home of bed bugs. This solution requires you to launder your linens, bedding, curtains, and clothing in soap and the hottest recommended washing setting possible. When done dry completely on the hottest setting the fabric can stand this step is best done after you’ve ensured they haven’t spread anywhere else.
If you have stuffed animals or other small fabric items that cannot be washed, placing them in the dryer on its highest setting for 30 minutes can help to reduce and remove bed bugs and their eggs from the items. This method uses the dry heat of the dryer to kill the bed bugs naturally.
You can use a simple blow-dryer to kill bed bugs with heat. Take a hairdryer on its hottest heat setting but lowest airflow setting and blow the hot air on any area where bed bugs might be hiding.
After 30 seconds of continuous heat, the bugs should be dead. Is great for books and papers that cannot be placed in the dryer.
4. Steam Cleaning
If you have a steamer at your disposal you can use the relatively harmless power of heated water to kill bed bugs. This method uses water, heated to 150°F to kill and drive out bed bugs from cracks, crevices, and soft furniture. Be careful as heated steam can ruin the finish on some furniture items.
5. Bed Bug Heaters
There are special bed bug heating devices that you can purchase on pest control websites that can help to harness the power of heat to help you kill bed bugs.
You can use them with attachments to create a tent oven that will help to kill bed bugs that have infested papers, books, bedding, clothes, and shoes.
6. Place Items in Bags in the Hot Sun
With this method, you harness the heat from the sun to remove bed bugs from your items. Place and seal items in plastic and place them in the sun for a few days. This only works well in hotter climates or during hot summer days as the bags need to get to at least 118°F .
7. A Stiff Brush
You can use a little elbow grease to help you remove bed bugs from mattress seams and other furniture. Take a stiff brush, and rapidly move it across affected areas removing the bed bug’s attachment to the furniture. Follow this up by a thorough vacuuming the surface.
This method works by removing bed bugs from carpets and other objects like couches and sofas. When you employ this method, it is important to ensure that you immediately remove the vacuum contents from the house in a tightly sealed plastic bag. You may need to repeat the process frequently in order to ensure full eradication of the bed bugs.
9. Cover Mattress and Box Spring
Available at the mattress store , these tightly woven covers can be slipped over mattresses and box springs to seal bed bugs inside so that they can no longer feed.
Bed bugs can live without food for up to a year, so you will need to keep these special sealed covers on for at least a year to rid yourself of the problem.
10. Seal Crevices and Cracks
The method will not get rid of a bed bug infestation problem completely but when employed with other methods is quite effective in reducing re-infestation.
For this method, you will need to use caulk or other sealants like glue to repair holes in your walls or peeling wallpaper. Try to seal all places where wires and pipes penetrate as well as cracks around baseboards.
11. Buy a New Mattress
Often it can be best to give up the fight against bed bugs and simply purchase a new mattress . This solution will likely help you get rid of the bulk of the infestation.
Many times, bed bugs come into a home because someone purchases an old or used piece of furniture so you may need to remove that item and replace it. You may need to remove and replace any infested items as well
12. Place Items in Bags with Glue Traps
For this method to work, you will need to place all the items you can in plastic bags with glue traps (also known as sticky traps) to collect the bed bugs.
You will then need to seal the bed bugs in and keep them from getting out, you can do this by using tape to seal the bags closed. The glue traps will capture the bed bugs and you should leave them in these bags for at least two weeks.
13. Double-Sided Tape
This method works by trapping bed bugs as they try to crawl around on items. You can place double-sided tape along the feet of a bed frame or other furniture. This method also works as a great way to determine the extent of the infestation.
14. Duct Tape
Like with double-sided tape, this method will trap bed bugs as they attempt to enter or exit a piece of furniture.
For this to work you will need to wrap the duct-tape around the bed frames feet with the sticky side facing out. You can also use duct tape to remove bed bugs and their eggs from mattresses and the frames by making a loop with the sticky side out and rubbing it along the infested areas, as well as inspect the level of infestation in your home.
15. Bean Leaves
Kidney bean plant leaves have microscopic hairs that can entangle and impale the limbs of critters.
You can place the leaves on floors and areas where bed bugs have been seen. Replace the leaves regularly to ensnare as many of the creatures as possible. This can also be a great way to determine the extent of your infestation.
16. Glue Traps
Stores sell specific bed bug glue traps that can be placed in high traffic bed bug areas to gather bed bugs. Using this method alone will take a long time to work, but it can be a great way to see the full extent of your infestation.
Interceptors are dual-well cups that are placed under the feet of bed frames. These items have a dual-well that not only prevents bed bugs from crawling up furniture but catches them sort of like glue traps. To ensure that the treatment works, you will need to keep the bed and bedding away from floors and walls.
18. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs and their eggs on contact. To use this method we recommend 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
Pour it undiluted into a spray bottle and spray directly on the insects. Make sure you use it in a well-ventilated area and be careful as alcohol is highly flammable.
19. Wintergreen Alcohol
Wintergreen alcohol is a mix of wintergreen oil and isopropyl alcohol together. This natural bed bug killer works by drying out or burning bed bugs and their eggs.
To use this method, spray the undiluted alcohol product directly onto the bugs and eggs. Remember that alcohol is highly flammable.
Take white distilled vinegar and put it in a spray bottle, undiluted. Spraying this will kill bed bugs but not eggs.
One way to use this natural solution is to soak the perimeter of an affected area with vinegar and then spray directly on the bugs. This will ensure that any bugs that are not killed immediately will still come in contact with the vinegar.
21. Baking Soda
Like with isopropyl alcohol this method absorbs moisture out of bed bug bodies and eggs, killing them.
As baking soda is relatively safe for humans and most animals, you can spread baking soda around in cracks, crevices, furniture, and carpets. Make sure to vacuum up and reapply every few days for the best results.
22. Silica Gel
Often found inside of newly purchased clothing packages or shoes, these little packets are filled with silicon dioxide which is essentially porous sand that works to absorb moisture.
This method works by opening the packets and spreading the powder in cracks and crevices; however, be careful about where you put this substance because it can be harmful to children and small animals.
23. Diatomaceous Earth
A powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms; diatomaceous earth is full of silica. This product works by using its sharp edges to cut the insect allowing the silica to get inside and dry them out.
You can spread diatomaceous earth around in the seams of your mattress and along the rails of box springs without being worried about harsh chemicals. Try to keep the substance away from children and animals so that they don’t ingest it.
24. Cat Litter
Cat litter has silica gel in it to help it absorb moisture. You can place this in cracks to help kill the bed bugs by removing moisture from their bodies as with other methods of this type.
Cat litter tends to be a relatively inert substance and while it should be carefully placed in homes with small children and animals, it typically doesn’t have harsh chemicals.
25. Beauveria Bassiana
Beauveria Bassiana is a parasitic fungus that feeds on insects like bed bugs. This product can be found in stores as a natural home bug killer.
To use this product take the powder and make it into a spray. Spray directly on the areas affected by bed bugs. Keep in mind, it can take a few days to a few weeks to completely rid your home of the problem pest.
Pyrethrum , pyrethrin, is an extract made from mums or chrysanthemums. The way this product works is by attacking the nervous system of a bed bug.
To use this method take the extract and make it into a diluted spray. Spray the solution onto all areas where bugs are present and repeat until the problem is gone.
27. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a natural bed bug repellant. To repel bed bugs from mattresses and other infested areas make a solution of 20 drops of tea tree oil and a cup or two of water.
Put this solution into a spray bottle and spray the infested area. Undiluted tea tree oil will kill bed bugs but is harmful to humans.
28. Scented Dryer Sheets
This method is only a temporary repellant. Scented dryer sheets work to annoy the bed bugs causing them to seek out a different area. This will only repel the bugs and will not kill them.
The way that lavender works to get rid of bed bugs is that it makes them nauseous and they hate the way they smell . Since they dislike the lavender scent they will move out of areas where it is sprayed.
To use as a repellent, take 20 drops of lavender oil and add it to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray the solution in affected areas and anywhere else you wish to deter bed bugs from entering.
Peppermint is also another excellent natural bed bug repellent. The way this method works is you can either take the leaves of a peppermint plant or the essential oil and place it around the areas where you see bed bugs.
The scent of the plant will drive them away. If you are using the plant remember to remove and replace the leaves until your problem is solved. For the essential oil, use it just as you would with lavender.
31. Black Walnut Tea
Black walnut tea works by repelling bed bugs from the locations that they choose to call home. You simply place your used black walnut tea bags in areas affected by bed bugs. Remember to replace every few days and use another method to kill the bugs to get rid of a deep infestation.
32. Sweet Flag
Also known as calamus root or sweetgrass, a sweet flag is a natural bed bug repellant that can help you to rid your home of bed bugs.
You can either take powder packets or the essential oil and add them to water. For essential oils, add at least 20 drops to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray this solution in all areas and repeat until they are completely gone.
33. Indian Lilac
You can either crush the leaves and spread them around areas that you want the bed bugs to leave or you can create a solution by boiling the leaves.
You strain the solution and add it to your bathwater as a personal repellant. Additionally, you can take the solution and add it to a spray bottle and spray in closets, on furniture, and around your home, this will only repel the bed bugs so you will need another method like steam cleaning your home to completely wipe out the problem.
For this method, you take a stick of thyme and wrap it with a thick cloth string. You then burn it, much like you burn sage , near infested areas, repeat this every few days until the bed bugs are gone. When using this method make sure to practice fire safety to avoid burning down your house.
Mint is another natural bed bug repellant. To use this method you need to crush mint leaves and place the crushed leaves near entry points and affected areas. This will dissuade bugs from entering. You can also place the leaves on mattresses and in closets.
The acid levels in lemongrass kill bed bugs and their eggs, it also serves as a repellent. To use this method, take a high concentration of the essential oil and make a spray to use on all affected areas. Make sure to repeat until the bugs are completely gone. You can ensure they are gone by using one of the trapping methods from earlier in this article.
Cloves act in the same way as lemongrass. To kill and repel bed bugs from your home naturally with this method, you use cloves or clove oil to make a spray and spray in all areas that you want to get rid of the bugs. You can also place clove oil directly on mattresses and pillows.
38. Cayenne Pepper Solution
To create this solution you need a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ground ginger, and oregano oil. Add the ingredients to two cups of water and then strain out the solids.
This solution will kill and repel bed bugs from areas where you spray it. Spray everywhere that you can. Be careful as you do not want to ruin fabrics or get this solution in your eyes.
39. Essential Oils Mix
Take 10 drops each of lemongrass, clove, peppermint, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and cinnamon and add it into one cup of water.
Put the solution into a spray bottle and spray around your home liberally. This method makes use of a number of different essential oils to create a natural bed bug solution that works effectively .
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Before trying any of these methods, you will want to make sure that you do have an actual bed bug problem and not something else. There are a number of signs that you may have a problem, the list of those signs are as follows:
Look for little red bites on your skin. They will often be in either groups or lines as bed bugs like to feed in groups as they move. Often the bites will itch but some people do not have an allergic reaction to bed bugs so they may not.
If you see red or rust-colored stains on your mattress they may have been created by bed bugs. These stains are made from either bleeding at feeding spots or from crushing bed bugs in your sleep.
Bed bugs lay tiny ivory-colored eggs. Often they will look similar to either sesame seeds or very small pieces of rice. They are typically found in clusters on the underside of mattresses or in the seams.
If you see a lot of tiny oval-shaped brownish colored bugs you likely have a problem. The best places to check for bed bugs are in the seams of your mattress away from the light, you may need a flashlight for this.
Bed bugs give off a musty odor from their scent glands. People have often described the scent as smelling like coriander or cilantro. Others have said that the smell is reminiscent of wet shoes or moldy and wet clothing.
Everybody poops, even bedbugs. If you see a lot of little black dots that resemble ashes or coffee grounds, you may have a bed bug problem. These little black dots are either bed bug excrement or the exoskeletons that come from bed bugs molting as they grow.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Depending on the stage of their life a bed bug will look different. They also have a different appearance if they have eaten recently.
Adult bed bugs tend to be reddish-brown in color but nymphs or young bed bugs are lighter. Nymphs start out translucent in color and become browner as they molt and reach maturity. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump but do have vestigial wings.
When bed bugs have fed they tend to have a bulbous red body, this comes from them being filled with blood. Other bugs that resemble bed bugs are bat bugs, swallow bugs, poultry bugs, baby (nymph) cockroaches, fleas, and spider beetles.
To help you better determine if that bug you saw was a bed bug, here’s a list of characteristics.
- Size of an apple seed
- Long flat oval-shaped body
- Balloon-like and reddish-brown if they’ve fed recently
- Smelly, musty but sweet odor
- Antenna with four parts
- Short golden hairs
- A three-segment beak
- Male is larger than female
Young (Nymph) Bed Bugs
- Smaller than an apple seed
- Translucent, ivory, or white-yellow color
- Red balloon-like back when they’ve fed recently
- Pearl-white color
- Looks like tiny rice or sesame seeds
- If 5 days old has a red eyespot
Dealing with bed bugs can be a hassle and can take a lot of time and effort. Often, it can be easier to get rid of mattresses and furniture that has become infested with bed bugs. If you are looking to replace a mattress, try our mattress compare tool to find the best one for your needs.