How To Properly Use A Bed Bug Fogger

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Should I Use a Fogger?

While we can’t tell you whether or not to use a fogger, we can explain some things about foggers and how to use them safely to help you decide.

We register all pesticides to ensure they are safe to use, presuming you follow the label directions. This includes foggers (the full name is "total release foggers," to distinguish them from pesticide application equipment that is designed to emit a fog-like pesticide spray, but is under the control of the user).

When and How to Use a Fogger

To use a total release fogger, you place the canister in an appropriate location, activate it, and leave the room (perhaps even leave the building if directed by the label).

Total release foggers are approved for use against a variety of indoor pests, including bed bugs. Not all foggers are labeled for use against bed bugs, so you need to read the label before purchasing a fogger to ensure you are getting one that lists bed bugs on the label.

Effectiveness of Foggers

Questions have been raised about the effectiveness of total release foggers against bed bugs. Bed bugs often hide, especially during the day. Foggers should not be used as the sole source of bed bug control. The pesticides used in total release foggers must contact the pest to kill it. If the material does not reach the cracks and crevices where bed bugs are hiding, they will not be killed.

Fogger Safety Tips and Videos

If you are considering using a fogger:

  • Read the label before purchasing it to be sure to buy a product registered for use against bed bugs.
  • Read the label before using the product, to ensure you use it correctly.
  • Only use the number of foggers required for your space. More is not better and too much could cause an explosion.
  • Turn off pilot lights and unplug appliances to reduce the potential for an explosion.
  • Leave the room or the building as directed by the label and don’t return until the amount of time listed on the label has passed.
  • View our videos on fogger safety for some tips.
  • Is Using a Fogger to Kill Bed Bugs a Good Choice?

    Y ou’re waking up with itchy red bites in clusters on your body. Your bedding has dried blood spots and little black spots on it. You realize with horror that bed bugs have moved in. You immediately make a trip to the nearest store and look for something to kill them. There are several brands, all promising to eradicate your bed bug infestation. Which ones keep that promise? Which products work the best? The shelves contain dusts, sprays, and a bed bug fogger. You don’t want to spend another night getting bitten, and a fogger seems to be a good choice. Keep reading. We have helpful tips for you.

    Table of Contents

    Are Bed Bug Foggers Effective?

    If you decide to eliminate your bed bug problem yourself rather than calling an exterminator, you have a big job ahead of you. Bed bugs are crafty little creeps, and most people consider them the most difficult pest there is to eradicate.

    You have a variety of products and brands to choose from. A bed bug fogger is the first choice for some people. Foggers are also known as fumigators. Another name is bed bug bomb, and you can learn more about them here.

    All of the products contain a pesticide or insecticide. Bed bugs have munched on humans for as long as humans have existed. People have used everything they can think of to kill them. One of the earliest bed bug killers was pyrethrin, which was extracted from a plant.

    Pyrethroid Is the New Pyrethrin

    Today, many bed bug killers contain pyrethroids. Pyrethroids are chemical synthetics that imitate pyrethrin. Bed bugs, and other pests, have become resistant to the first versions of pyrethroids. New formulations come on the market frequently.

    You can tell if your product contains a pyrethroid, because the last part of the toxic ingredient will end in “thrin.”

    Examples are:

    • Bifenthrin,
    • Cypermethrin,
    • Deltamethrin,
    • Permethrin.

    Not all pests are resistant to all formulations. If the bugs seem to be coming in from the outside, you can learn more in this article about using Tempo SC Ultra for Bed Bugs outdoors.

    Like all pesticides or insecticides, bed bug products must be used with care. They kill bugs by disrupting their nervous systems. Minimal exposure is usually harmless to humans and animals, but pyrethroids are used in far more products than the general public realizes. Limit your exposure as much as possible, and avoid all pyrethroids if you’re pregnant.

    How Do I Use Foggers

    They are easy to use. You simply place the fogger in the room, activate it, and leave. The instructions will tell you how big a room the fogger will treat so that you will know if you need more than one canister.

    The instructions also advise you on how long you need to be out of the room, and how far away you need to be. Most products tell you to turn off pilot lights and disconnect any appliances to avoid potential explosions.

    Do They Have Good Reviews?

    Bed bug foggers tend to have poor reviews. That’s often a result of not following the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. The foggers often must be used in conjunction with other eradication products. They are rarely effective if used alone.

    Many people envision a bed bug fogger as releasing a mist that will penetrate into every crack, crevice, or corner where bed bugs hide. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Foggers release a mist into the air, which settles on whatever it touches.

    Bed bugs hide during the day. They can squeeze their flat little bodies into tiny places that foggers can’t reach. Bedbugs have to come into physical contact with most poisons before they die. The fogger mist has to actually land on a bed bug to kill it. You can try to do the fogging at night when they’re out, but any light you need will send them scuttling to their hiding places.

    Bed bug foggers may not be effective because:

    1. They can’t get into the places where bed bugs hide.
    2. The insecticides used in them only kill on contact.
    3. Consumer products contain small amounts of insecticides.

    Exterminators use products with high concentrations of insecticides that kill on contact and also leave a residue that can kill days later.

    How Effective Is Hot Shot?

    Hot Shot makes a complete line of bed bug eradication products. Two that are often used together are their bed bug spray and fogger. The spray efficiently gets in the crevices where the bed bugs hide, where they are killed on contact.

    Hot Shot Bed Bug Fogger is made with a different pesticide than what’s in the spray. It will kill any bugs that either escaped the spray or were resistant to it.

    The fogger releases the insecticide into the air in your room. Although the insecticide isn’t as strong as what’s in the spray, it is still toxic and it can cause a breathing problem. It’s essential that you wear a mask while using it and leave the room afterward.

    Does Hot Shot Kill Bed Bugs?

    Like all aerosol foggers, Hot Shot kills bed bugs on contact. The mist it emits settles on whatever is in the room, rather than penetrating behind or under baseboards or bed frames. Bed bugs that are deeply hidden are able to escape the toxic mist.

    Unless you can completely seal off a room before using the fogger, you will also probably need to place a fogger in each room. That keeps the bugs from escaping the insecticide in one room by running into another room.

    Hot Shot has detailed instructions for use on the label. You must read and follow those carefully, both for your safety and to ensure that the fogger is effective. Hot Shot has a reputation for excellent customer service and maintains a toll-free line for consumers needing advice or help.

    What Do Reviewers Say?

    Hundreds of consumers have used Hot Shot. Those who have posted positive reviews emphasize following the instructions to the letter.

    It’s also important to understand the life cycle of bed bugs because the fogger does not kill the eggs. You need more than one treatment to kill the new generation after the eggs hatch. Reviewers that complained that they had bed bugs again a few days after treatment hadn’t understood the necessity of repeat treatments.

    Consumers report that the fogger is affordably priced. Some find that the odor is unpleasant, and others say they didn’t notice a lingering odor.

    What Do I Need to Know About Raid

    Raid Max® Concentrated DEEP REACH™ Fogger promises to kill bugs on contact and with residual action. The label doesn’t specifically mention bed bugs, but the fogger contains cypermethrin, which is known to kill bed bugs.

    The instructions emphasize the following:

    • Don’t use in an area smaller than 5′ by 5′.
    • Don’t use more than one fogger per room.
    • Turn off fans, air conditioners, and pilot lights.
    • Close windows and doors.

    You will also need to leave the area for at least four hours.

    Does Raid Work?

    Like most foggers, Raid is most effective when used in conjunction with their bed bug spray. In their reviews, consumers have noted that Raid works well when used according to the directions. Others mention that the fogger works fine one year, but is less effective in succeeding years. That is an indication that the bed bugs have become resistant to the insecticide.

    Raid Bed Bug Spray is formulated with different insecticides than used in their fogger. The spray will kill adults as well as the eggs. If you use the spray first, you’ll eradicate a significant part of the bed bug population. Follow the spray with the fogger to eliminate the remaining population.

    The Best Available From Home Depot

    Home Depot features Hot Shot Bed Bug Fogger. As well as the fogger, Home Depot carries a full line of Hot Shot bed bug killer products. The eradication process sometimes requires more than one product to ensure success. It’s safer to use products made by the same company rather than mixing brands.

    If you want to try other brands, Home Depot also offers:

    • Black Flag,
    • Harris Bed Bug Kit,
    • Raid Bed Bug Fogger,
    • Real Kill Indoor Bed Bug Fogger,
    • Spectricide.

    Not all products are available in all stores. Some states don’t allow certain products within their border.

    Home Depot also has bed bug interceptors, traps, and dusts. Lethal dusts usually contain diatomaceous earth for bed bugs, which is described in this article.

    I Want the Best Fogger for Bed Bugs

    You can choose from a variety of products made by different companies, all designed to kill bed bugs. The reason for this is that bed bugs go through six cycles of growth before they become adults.

    Different insecticides are required for the three main cycles, which are:

    • Eggs,
    • Nymphs (Juveniles),
    • Adults.

    The eggs mature into fertile adults in 45 to 60 days.

    Life Cycle of the Bed Bug

    Because bed bugs often become resistant to insecticides, you may have to experiment with various brands of bed bug foggers before you find one that is effective. There isn’t a particular brand that is the best fogger for every bed bug infestation. The best brand is the one that quickly and efficiently kills every single one of the repulsive little bugs that invaded your home.

    You don’t have to live with bed bugs. Used correctly, bed bug foggers will help you eradicate the pests. Just be sure to use the fogger more than once, so that you kill any bugs that hatch after each treatment.

    You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.

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    The 6 Best Bed Bug Fogger of 2019

    Bed bugs are insects whose main diet is human blood. They are known human parasites that usually come out at night, thus the name. Their bites can have lots of adverse effects like allergic symptoms, psychological effects, disturbed sleep, and skin rashes. The bites can even form prominent blisters that, in some cases, may even cause pain. Itchiness is also a common symptom of the bite, while some people may get a fever or feel fatigued.

    They have two main primary species called the Cimexhemipterus and the more common Cimexlectularius. They are really small insects of about 1 to 7 mm in length. They spread throughout the home by crawling between nearby places or being carried along with personal items. Bed bugs are common in high-density areas where they are able to spread more quickly. They spend most of their lives hidden in locations like the cracks of the wall or the seams of the mattress.

    Eliminating bed bugs can be quite difficult since they can survive up to a year without any need for feeding. There are various treatments that people all over the globe employ to get rid of bedbugs. However, in order to truly get rid of them, it is important to choose a highly effective method like the best bed bug bomb or fogger so that you can stop a bedbug infestation right in its tracks!

    Table of Contents

    How to Identify Bed Bugs?

    Bed bugs are really small, which is why they mostly travel undetected. They can travel through couches, beds, clothing, luggage, or any other personal belongings. They have really flat bodies that make it really easy for them to fit into small spaces, even if it is a width of the credit card. The insects don’t form nests like bees or ants but rather just live in groups in dark, hidden places. If you are looking to identify it, you need to look in headboards, mattresses, bed frames, and box springs. These places give them ready access to people to bite in the night.

    Bed Bugs close up

    It is best to find the bed bug infestation as early as possible so that you can remove them with the best bed bug bomb. Treating a minor infestation is easier and less costly than treating an infestation that has spread across the home.

    However, it can be really hard for homeowners to find low-level infestations since they are so conspicuous. It can be challenging to find and identify it correctly. Some people can also mistake the bed bugs for other insects like carpet beetles. If you mistakenly identify the wrong bugs as a bed bug infestation, it will give the real bugs more time to spread through your home. You may even waste your best bed bug bomb in the wrong places.

    Most people rely on the bites on the skin to indicate whether you have a bed bug infestation or not. However, bed bugs bites can look a lot like other bites from chiggers or mosquitoes. Even rashes and hives can be from allergies, eczema, or fungal infections. Some people do not even get reactions to bug bites at all. This is why it is harder to identify a bed bug infestation with bites.

    A more accurate way to locate bed bugs is by looking for possible physical signs for bed bugs. When you are changing your bedding or cleaning, you should look for:

    • Reddish or rusty stains on mattresses or bed sheets that may appear when bed bugs get crushed during the night.
    • Dark, small spots where a bed bug may have bled or excreted in the beddings.
    • Really small (about 1mm) eggshells and eggs from bed bugs. You may even find small pale yellow skins that a nymph shed when as they began to grow bigger.
    • Live bed bugs

    Bed bugs can hide in all sorts of places where you may need to use your best bed bug fogger on them. If severe enough, it can include all the locations below:

    • Around piping, tags, and seams of the mattress
    • In the cracks of the headboard and bed frame
    • In the folds of the curtains
    • Between on in cushions
    • In the seams of couches and chairs
    • In drawer joints
    • In appliances and electrical receptacles
    • Under wall hangings or loose wallpaper
    • In the junctions where the ceiling and the wall meet
    • In the heads of screws

    When and How to Use The Best Bed Bug Fogger?

    Once you have a successfully identified that you have an infestation of bedbugs, you can employ a DIY project to get rid of them. Most people recommend that you find the best bed bug fogger in the market and use it in your home to get rid of the irritating bed bugs in your home.

    There are some foggers that don’t work on bed bugs, which is why you will have to find the best bed bug fogger in your local area before you purchase it. Read the label to see if it will get rid of the bed bugs for you. If you have bought a total release fogger then you will need to place the canister in the best place possible. Do make sure that it is near the infestation and will cover the entire infected area. Read the instruction carefully on how far you have to be from the best bed bug fogger when you activate it. Activate it carefully and promptly leave the room or building as per the instruction.

    The Effectiveness of Best Bed Bug Foggers

    Foggers are a really great option for those homeowners who don’t want to call an expensive pest control company for their home. If the infestation isn’t severe and you find the best bed bug fogger in the market, then it can be a really effective tool to get rid of the bugs once and for all. You will have to make sure that you find a bed bug bomb that will reach all the cracks and crevices that the insect could be hiding in.

    Best Bed Bug Foggers

    There are some easily available best bed bug foggers that you can use at home very easily. They are a cost-effective way to get rid of the bed bugs in your home.

    1. Hot Shot 95911 Bedbug and Flea Fogger

    The Hot Shot 95911 is one of the best bed bug foggers in the market and it can also get rid of lice, fleas, ticks, and other small insects. It can inhibit re-infestation for a long time, ensuring that you won’t have to suffer through bites during the night while sleeping. This best bed bug bomb should be used in closed spaces where bed bugs may have developed like bedrooms, apartments, attics, basements, cabins, condos, homes, kitchens, garages, and other closed spaces. They can treat up to 2,000 cubic feet of unobstructed spaces.

    Here are some bed bug fogger reviews that you should read before you make the decision to buy this product:

    “My mobile house was full of these tiny creepy crawlies. Finally, I got disgusted and ordered a dozen of these and let them all loose in my 1000 sqft home. I returned after a few days and cleaned and vacuumed the entire place. I didn’t notice any live insects crawling around and they haven’t appeared since. Good Riddance!”–Lindsay Lou

    “I am a huge germaphobe so my apartment is always clean. You can imagine how surprised I was when I began to wake up with welts and bites all over my arms, legs, and back. It was a nightmare! I sprayed every corner with an insect repellent but nothing worked and I still got around 12 bites the next day. I bought two Hot Shot foggers and released them both in my room. I left them there for about 10 hours while I was at work. I came back and washed my sheets and there was no smell in my room from the fogger. I thought it wouldn’t work but I haven’t had a bite in three days so I guess it did work!” –Emily

    don’t use a bed bug fogger!

    A bed bug fogger (bug bomb) seems like a quick-fix for those nasty little suckers, right?

    Here are 3 reasons they don’t work and 5 ways they make things worse and prolong your agony. Even worse, there are two ways they can bedangerous.

    This information is critical!

    The page is pretty long, but this ismust-knowinformation. So if you just need the main points, here they are in bullet form:

    • They can’t reach the bed bugs to kill them
    • The ingredients in foggers are primarily contact killers
    • They have a low concentration of pesticide
    • It spreads the infestation – wideranddeeper
    • It creates/increases pesticide resistance
    • It delays the effectiveness of other bed bug treatments
    • It helps the bed bug population grow
    • It makes getting professional help difficult and costly
    • They can make you sick
    • They can cause explosions and house fires

    If you are not easily convinced or want links to the scientific research, please read the whole article.This is really important!

    (The headers above also link to that section of the page if you just want to read specific parts.)

    3 Reasons Foggers Don’t Kill
    Most Bed Bugs

    1. Foggers can’t reach the Bed Bugs to Kill Them

    When most people think of foggers or “bug bombs”, they think they are something akin to gas fumigation which penetrates all of the voids in the treatment area.

    But, that’s not really how foggers work.

    They use an aerosol propellant to disperse the contents through the air in a very fine mist, which settles onto all of the surfaces in the area. It’s true that they do get the pesticideall over everythingthat is out in the open.But it doesn’t get inside, underneath or behind anything.

    That’s bad news becausebed bugs hidewhen they aren’t feeding.So most of them just don’t come into contact with it.

    2. The ingredients in foggers are primarily contact killers

    Even so-called "Bed Bug Foggers" have been proven to have low residual effectiveness.That means they lose much of their power to kill once they dry. They contain pesticides that need tomake contact with bed bugsto be most effective.

    Since we already know they can’t reach the majority of bed bugs in their hiding places, that’s more bad news.

    3. Foggers have a low concentration of pesticide

    So what about the few theydoreach?The pesticides in foggershavebeen shown to kill bed bugs under certain conditions. But there’s not ahigh concentrationof those chemicals in foggers.

    A controlled study by the Entomology Department at the University of Ohio demonstrated that the ingredients in foggers were ineffective at killing even some of the bed bugs they did reach.

    To sum it all up, foggers contain pesticides that primarily are contact killers, but they can’t reach the places where most bed bugs hide to kill them. And even if they do come into contact with some bed bugs, the concentration of pesticide is so low it still won’t kill some of the ones it reaches.

    Still don’t believe that foggers don’t work on bedbugs?You don’t have to take my word for it.

    Read the abstract of the landmark OSU Entomology Department study on the ineffectiveness of bed bug foggers that was published in Pest Control Technology Online.

    Are you convinced they’re a bad idea yet? If not, you should know that using foggers to treat a bed bug infestation, will make the situation worse.

    5 Ways using a fogger Makes it harder
    to get rid of Bed Bugs

    1. Foggers spread the infestation wider and deeper.

    Typically, bed bugs remain fairly close to (albeit hidden in) the places where they most frequently feed. So in the beginning at least, bed bug infestations are usually concentrated in and around where people sleep or sit for long periods of time.

    But, releasing a fogger can change all that.

    Foggers cause bed bugs to scatter (to avoid contact ). As a result, the infestation is spreadwideras they try to get away from source of the offending chemicals.

    But it doesn’t stop there. They also godeeperinto the nooks and crannies of your home, trying to find safer shelter.

    This is bad for two reasons.

    First, it means that rooms (or units in a multifamily dwelling) that were previously unaffected are now more likely to be infested.

    Second, it means that because they’ve gone deeper into hiding in cracks and crevices, they are harder to find.

    2. Foggers create/increase pesticide resistance.

    More bad news.The chemicals in foggers have been shown to create or increase pesticide resistance in bed bugs.

    Through the low level exposure, they develop a degree of immunity to the pesticide. It’s kind of like how we get flu shots to prevent the flu.

    And to make matters worse, it’s a progressive process. The bed bugs keep getting stronger each time they are exposed in that way.

    Sadly, many people use a bed bug fogger hoping it will do the trick. Then. when it doesn’t work (orseemsto work for a while). they use one again.It’s a vicious cycle.Each time one is released, it increases pesticide resistance.

    If you have already used a fogger/bug bomb,please stop now.Each time you do it you are making them harder and harder to kill!

    Since repeated use of foggers makes bed bugs stronger and stronger. doesn’t this photo seem a little ironic?

    3. Using a fogger delays the effectiveness of other bed bug treatments.

    The ingredients in foggers act as a repellent, causing bed bugs to stay hidden more than normal. That could sound like a good thing, right? Well it’s not.

    Repelling bed bugs is a BAD IDEA.

    Sure, you might not be getting bitten as much. You might even think they’re gone altogether. But adult bed bugs can live up to 18 months without a blood meal under the right circumstances.

    Theunfortunate side effectis that many of the other options for killing them require that bed bugs to come into contact with them to work. So if they are hiding deeper andlonger, it will delay the effectiveness of those treatments.

    In fact, if you’ve been trying to get rid of bed bugs for a while, and they keep coming back, this is probably the reason.

    4. Using a fogger ultimately helps the bed bug population grow.

    For all the reasons above, using a fogger to try to kill bugs just prolongs the problem. That’s very bad news, and not just for the obvious reason that is sucks to have bed bugs (bad pun intended, sorry!)

    Here’s the real kicker:

    As all this time is passing.your infestation may be getting worse.The longer you have an active bed bug population, thebiggerit gets.

    5. All this makes getting professional help difficult and costly.

    If you’ve used a fogger to try to take care of the problem yourself, now youreallyneed professional help. Here comes the worst part.

    Some exterminators(not all of them)will refuse to treat your home if you have used a total release fogger.

    Professionals know that if a fogger has been used, the situation will be much harder to handle because of all of the factors above. At the very least, it’s probably going to require more treatments – and therefore more money out of your pocket.

    If you’ve already used a fogger or “ bed bug bomb” to try to get rid of bed bugs, STOP.And don’t do anything else yourself.

    Your best bet is to try to find an experienced exterminator that really knows about bed bugs and is willing to treat environments where total release foggers have been released. You can find more help on how to find a good one in the section on working with bed bug exterminators .

    By the way, if you think it might be a good idea to just not tell them.think again.

    You’ll be wasting their time and your money by keeping it a secret.

    It’s extremely important that you let any exterminator you work with know exactly what you’ve already done. That way they can take the after-effects into account when they design a pest control strategy for your particular situation.

    At this point, a few questions might be entering your mind.

    But what if it’s specifically labeled for Bed Bugs?All of the information on this page applies toalltotal release foggers –even the ones like Hot Shot Bed Bug Foggerthat have bed bugs on the label.

    Then why are these things all over the store shelves?That’s a very good question, and one I can’t really answer factually. If you want speculation – I suspect it has to do with powerful corporate lobbying. But, that’s just my opinion.

    I can definitely tell you this:The National Pesticide Information Center, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Controlall have warningsabout the ineffectiveness of foggers in for treating a bed bug infestation, as well as the dangers associated with using them posted on their websites.

    two Ways Bed Bug Foggers
    Can be Dangerous

    If all that you’ve read so far isn’t enough to make you stay far, far away from that spray can. or you don’t have bed bugs, but you’re thinking of using a fogger/bug bomb to try to get rid of some other pest. then please consider the health risks and dangers associated with them.

    1. They can make you sick.

    When the fogger is released, it spreads the pesticide to everything in your home – or the outside surfaces of it anyway. While the bedbugs can hide inside, underneath, and behind things to avoid the pesticide –you will be exposed to it by everything you touch.

    A detailed article about frequency and range of illnesses and injuries related to total release foggers was published by the Centers for Disease Control.You canread it here.

    2. They can cause explosions and house fires.

    For more information about foggers in general and the risk of explosions and house fires, check out the п»їCan Bug Bombs Really Explode?п»ї podcastor read thetranscripton the National Pesticide Information Center website.

    Note:On this particular podcast, they don’t speak towhy you shouldn’t use foggers for bed bugs.Instead, they focus on thedangers of using them at all.

    Bottom Line?

    Bed Bug foggers (also called “total release foggers” or “bug bombs”) are a BAD IDEA if you truly want to get rid of bed bugs.

    Unfortunately, there just is no magic trick or cure-all that gets rid of bed bugs.It’s simply not a one-shot deal. Sorry folks, that’s just a fact.

    The good news is that you can get rid of bed bugs, even if you can’t afford an exterminator.

    But to do it effectively, you have to get educated about what does and does not work and learn how to take an integrated pest management (or IPM) approach.

    Don’t worry! You can learn all about that in the Bed Bug Pest Control section of this site.

    What’s Next?

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    • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

    Bug bombs, or total release foggers, fill a confined space with pesticides using an aerosol propellant. People tend to think of these products as quick and easy fixes for home insect infestations. In truth, few pests can be wiped out using bug bombs. The devices aren’t particularly useful for controlling infestations of cockroaches, ants, or bed bugs, and for this reason, it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to use them.

    Used incorrectly, bug bombs can be downright dangerous.   Each year, people ignite fires and explosions by misusing insect foggers. Bug bomb products can also cause respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, which in the young or elderly can be fatal. If you are planning to use a bug bomb in your home, make sure to do so safely and correctly.

    Why Bug Bombs Alone Are Not Effective

    Bug bombs—sometimes called roach bombs—can be a useful part of an integrated pest management program. Alone, however, they are not especially effective. The reason is simple: The pesticide in a bug bomb (which is not always particularly effective against roaches, fleas, bedbugs, or silverfish) kills only those bugs with which it comes in direct contact. Most household pests are well known for their ability to hide under baseboards, inside cupboards and mattresses, in drains, and along baseboards.

    Set off a fogger and you’ll kill off only those bugs that happen to be out in the open at any given moment. Any pests that are inside or under a protective covering will survive to bite another day. Meanwhile, your counters and other surfaces will have been coated with pesticide, meaning you’ll have to scrub them down before cooking or sleeping on them.

    If you are serious about eradicating an infestation, you’ll need to do much more than simply set off a bug bomb. Because it does take work and know-how to safely and effectively rid yourself of pests, you may want to hire a pest control company. Experts may use bug bombs as part of their arsenal, but they will also:

    • Set bait traps
    • Spray directly into areas that are protected and likely to harbor pests
    • Use chemicals that are specifically intended to eradicate particular pests; pyrethrin, the main pesticide in foggers, is most effective against flying insects—but not cockroaches or fleas.  
    • Return to reapply pesticides as needed

    How to Use Bug Bombs Safely

    Bug bombs are somewhat risky as they contain flammable materials including potentially harmful pesticides. To use them safely, follow all of these instructions.

    Read and Follow All Directions and Precautions

    When it comes to pesticides, the label is the law. Just as the pesticide manufacturers are required to include certain information on their product labels, you are required to read it and follow all directions correctly. Understand the risks of the pesticides you are using by reading carefully all label sections beginning withdanger, poison, warning,orcaution. Follow instructions for use, and calculate how much pesticide you need based on the package directions.

    Most foggers are intended to treat a specific number of square feet; using a large bug bomb in a small space can increase health risks. In addition, most foggers have information about how long to wait before returning to the sprayed area (typically two to four hours).

    Use Only the Number of Bug Bombs Specified

    Contrary to popular belief, more is not always better. Manufacturers test their bug bomb products to determine the safest and most effective number to use per square foot of living space. If you use more than the specified number of bug bombs, you only increase the health and safety risks that come with using them. You won’t kill any more bugs.

    Cover All Food and Children’s Toys Prior to Using the Bug Bomb

    Once the bug bomb is activated, the contents of your home will be covered with a chemical residue. Do not eat any food items that were not covered. Young children tend to put toys in their mouths, so it’s best to seal toys inside garbage bags or put them in toy boxes or drawers where they won’t be exposed to pesticides. You may also want to cover sofas, chairs, and other upholstered furniture that can’t be wiped down.

    Tell Your Neighbors About Your Bug Bomb Plans

    Condos and apartment buildings usually share common ventilation systems or have cracks and crevices between units. If you live in close quarters, make sure to let your neighbors know when you are using any airborne pesticide product, and ask them to turn off any ignition sources (stove and dryer pilots, for example) in their units. Your neighbors may prefer to cover their adjacent duct work, too.

    Unplug Anything That Can Spark

    The aerosol propellants used in bug bomb products are highly flammable. A gas flame or ill-timed spark from an appliance can easily ignite the propellant. Always turn off all pilot lights, and take the extra precaution of unplugging refrigerators and air conditioners. To be extra safe, place the bug bombs a minimum of six feet from any potential source of a spark.

    Once You Activate the Bug Bomb, Vacate the Premises Immediately

    Silly (and obvious) as this may sound, a good number of reported incidents have occurred because individuals were unable to vacate prior to discharge of a bug bomb. In fact, a CDC study on bug bomb safety showed a full 42% of reported health issues occurred because users failed to leave the area after activating the fogger, or returned too early.   Before you activate the product, plan your escape.

    Keep All People and Pets out of the Area for as Long as the Label Indicates

    For most bug bomb products, you need to vacate the premises for several hours after activating the product. Do not, under any circumstances, return to the property early. You risk serious health issues, including respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, if you occupy the home prematurely.   Don’t reenter your home until it is safe to do so according to the product label.

    Ventilate the Area Well Before Reentering

    Again, follow the label directions. After the prescribed amount of time to allow the product to work has passed, open as many windows as you can. Leave them open for a minimum of one hour before you allow anyone to reenter the home.

    Once You Return, Keep Pesticides out of Pets’ and People’s Mouths

    After returning to your home, wipe down any surfaces where food is prepared, or that pets or people may touch with their mouths. Clean all counters and other surfaces where you prepare food thoroughly. If you left pet dishes out and uncovered, wash them. If you have infants or toddlers who spend lots of time on the floor, be sure to mop. If you left your toothbrushes out, replace them with new ones.

    Store Unused Bug Bomb Products Safely

    Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of airborne chemicals, and you shouldn’t risk an accidental discharge of pesticides by a curious child. Like all hazardous chemicals, bug bombs should be stored in a childproof cabinet or other secure location.

    If You Are Exposed to a Bug Bomb

    While most people understand that they should leave the house after setting off a bug bomb, there are quite a few reasons why someone might be exposed to pesticide-containing fog. According to the CDC, the most common reasons are related to:  

    • Failure to vacate the premises during the application
    • Returning too soon after setting off a bug bomb, to turn off alarms or retrieve pets or forgotten items
    • Inadequate ventilation or cleanup of residuals after the bug bomb
    • People accidentally sprayed in the face or at close range
    • Bug bombs being set off without warning in apartment buildings with shared ventilation systems

    If you’re exposed to pesticide from a bug bomb, you may experience nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, leg cramps, burning eyes, coughing, or wheezing. These symptoms may be mild or severe; they are, of course, most dangerous among very young children and people who are allergic to the pesticide. If you do experience symptoms, visit the emergency room to avoid complications.

    Product nameRatingPrice
    Ortho 0196410 Home Defense MAX Insect Killer Spray for Indoor and Home Perimeter, 24-Ounce (Ant, Roach, Spider, Stinkbug & Centipede Killer)(2Pack) *

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