How To Treat Bed Bug At Home

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control

Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own?

Treating bed bugs is complex. Your likelihood of success depends on many factors, including:

  • How many bed bugs you have;
  • How much clutter is available for hiding places;
  • Whether your neighbors have bedbugs; and
  • Whether all residents of a house or building will participate.

Getting rid of bed bugs completely can take weeks to months, depending on the nature and extent of the infestation. To be successful, everyone will need to cooperate and do their part.

The following steps will help you begin:

You may have to follow these steps more than once to kill all the bugs and their eggs.

Identify the Problem

  • Identify the pest:
  • Collect a sample of the pest to show an extension agentExitor other insect expert.
  • Extension agents can identify the pest at no cost to you. They are trained in pest control and know your local area.
  • If an extension agent or other expert says the pest is a bed bug, notify your landlord if you live in an apartment. The units near yours should be inspected.
    • Landlords may have a responsibilityExit to participate in treatment.
    • Check the housing codes and laws in your area.
    • Inspect all areas that may have bed bugs, plus surrounding living spaces, to find out the extent of infestation.
    • Develop a Strategy

      • Make a schedule for completing the steps below. Be sure to include any personal plans, such as vacations.
      • Keep records through the whole process. Note the dates and exact locations where pests are found. This will help you track progress and better know where to target your work.
      • Keep checking for at least a year after you’re done to make sure all the bed bugs are gone.

      Keep the Infestation from Spreading

      • Remove infested items. Place them in a sealed plastic bag and treat them. Learn more about treatment methods in the sections below.
      • Items that cannot be treated should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and left there for up to a year to ensure any active bugs are dead.
      • Empty the vacuum after each use. Seal the bag as tightly as possible and immediately throw it out in an outdoor trash container.
      • Discard furniture responsibly if you can’t safely eliminate the bed bugs. Destroy it so someone else won’t be tempted to bring it into their home. For example:
      • Rip covers and remove stuffing from furniture items.
      • Use spray paint to mark furniture with "Bed Bugs."
    • Have infested items picked up as soon as possible by the trash collection agency.
    • Don’t discard furniture if you can safely eliminate the bed bugs from it.
    • Prepare for Treatment

      Preparing for treatment is very important; it will make it easier to monitor for bed bugs that haven’t been eliminated. This preparation should be completed whether you are doing the treatment yourself or hiring a professional.

      Kill the Bed Bugs

      • Make sure the methods you select are safe, effective and legal. See What’s Legal, What’s Not.
      • Considernon-chemical methodsof killing bed bugs. Some will be more useful than others depending on your situation. These and other methods can be helpful, but they might not get rid of the infestation entirely:
      • Heat treatment:You can use a clothes dryer on high heat. You can also use black plastic bags in a hot, closed car in the sun, but success depends on your climate and other factors. Do-it-yourself heat treatments might not work. Professionals have access to more intensive and proven methods that can even treat whole houses with heat. You may also purchase a portable heat chamber, which is usually quite effective.
      • Cold treatmentcan be successful in the home environment if the freezer is set to 0 o F. You must leave the items in a sealed bag in the freezer at that temperature for four days. Always use a thermometer to check the temperature, since home freezers are not always set to 0 o .
      • Steam cleaners(wet or dry) can get into cracks and fabrics to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture. The steam temperature must be at least 130 o F but should not have a forceful airflow, or it may cause bed bugs to scatter. Use a diffuser to prevent scattering.
    • If needed,hire a pest management professional or use pesticidescarefully according to the label directions:
      • Look for EPA-registered pesticides that have bed bugs listed on the label.
      • Use foggers (bug bombs) only with extreme care and only if bed bugs are listed on the label. Improper use can harm your health or cause a fire or explosion. Foggers should not be your only method of bed bug control. The spray will not reach the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. See Should I Use a Fogger? for more information.
      • Carefully look for any evidence of bed bugsevery few days after you complete your initial cleanup and control processes.If you see bed bugs, either the initial cleanup missed some bugs or eggs have hatched. Retreatment may be needed.
      • Consider using different types of pesticides if repeated treatments are needed.Desiccants (chemicals that dry things out) can be particularly effectivein some situations since they work by drying out the bug (which means the bed bugs can’t develop resistance).
        • If using desiccants, be sure to use only products registered by EPA as a pesticide.
        • Do not use pool- or food-grade diatomaceous earth(made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms). This type of diatomaceous earth can harm you when you breathe it in. The pesticide version uses a different size of diatoms, which reduces the hazard.
        • Desiccants can be very effective but may take several months to work.
        • Evaluate and Prevent

          • Continue to inspect for bed bugs, at least every 7 days, in case any eggs remain. You can use interceptors, traps or other monitoring methods. Interceptors are placed under the legs of furniture to catch bed bugs and keep them from climbing the legs. Commercial and do-it-yourself interceptors are options.
          • Continue to protect your home from bed bugs.

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          How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs at Home

          A new study shows bed bugs are very hard to kill. Here’s how to get rid of them—or prevent them from ever moving in.

          Two insecticides commonly used to kill bed bugs are becoming less effective against them, according to a study published today in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

          In the past 15 years, there has been a resurgence of bed bugs throughout the U.S., and people often struggle to rid their homes of the hardy pests, known for causing itchy red welts.

          After the bugs developed resistance against many of the most powerful pesticides, such as DDT, exterminators had been increasingly relying on two chemicals—chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin. But until now, no one had looked at whether bed bugs were developing defenses against these chemicals too, says Ameya D. Gondhalekar, one of the study authors and a research assistant professor at the Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management at the Department of Entomology at Purdue University.

          Gondhalekar and his team exposed 10 different groups of bed bugs collected from different parts of the country to each of the chemicals in a glass vial. After several days, they examined how effective the chemicals were at killing the bugs.

          While most of the bed bugs were wiped out by the chemicals, three groups continued to thrive after being treated with chlorfenapyr, and five groups were still kicking after being treated with bifenthrin. That means that while some bed bugs will respond to these chemicals, others won’t—and it’s likely that more and more bugs will become resistant over time.

          “This is just more evidence that this pesticide-only approach to controlling bed bugs isn’t really working,” says Consumer Reports’ senior scientist Michael Hansen, Ph.D. “The take-away is that if you want to control these bed bugs, you can’t just spray.”

          How to Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation

          Prevention and vigilance are key to preventing a bed bug problem. “It’s much easier to control them if they are found early, [when there are only a few of them], as opposed to when they grow to number in the hundreds,” says Gondhalekar.

          Monitor your home.Bed bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices like walls, luggage, boxes, and clothing, but since they feed on humans while they sleep, they’re most commonly found in beds. If you suspect an infestation, or if you live in an apartment building with a bed bug problem, regularly inspect your bed sheets, mattress (including underneath), and box-spring seams for bugs. They’re flat and oval-shaped, with red or brown bodies, roughly the size of an apple seed. Watch for adults, nymphs, and eggs, as well as exoskeletons (casings that the bugs leave behind when they molt) and dark, rust-colored spots (feces).

          Encase your mattress.Enclosing your mattress, pillows, and box spring with a protective cover can block bed bugs from reaching their favorite hiding place.

          Be cautious when you travel.Hotel and motel rooms are hotbeds for bed bugs. When checking in, put your luggage in the bathroom, then inspect the bedding. Stow your suitcases on a luggage rack or a hard surface.

          When you return home, quarantine your bags.Decontaminate your luggage and clothing by putting your entire suitcase into a large chest freezer (if you have one) for four days, suggests Gondhalekar, before bringing them back into your home. Extreme hot or cold temperatures kills bed bugs. You can also put your clothes in the dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes, and try steam cleaning your luggage and clothing.

          How to Treat a Bed Bug Infestation

          Minimize its spread.First, notify your landlord if you rent in a building to control its spread to other units. Thoroughly vacuum any infested areas, including carpets and mattresses, and then empty the vacuum bag into a plastic bag, seal it, and throw it in the trash outside. If you can’t get the bed bugs out of your furniture, discard items in a responsible manner. To avoid someone else from salvaging infested furniture or mattreses, rip, remove stuffing, or spray paint with the words “bed bugs.”

          Bring on the heat.Heating infested furniture or the entire apartment to a very high temperature—more than 100 degrees, in most cases—will kill bed bugs. If you have a hand-held steamer, blast cracks and crevices.

          Use an insecticide alternative.Substances such as diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and silica gel kill bed bugs by damaging their outer coating so they dry out and die. Put these powders into cracks and crevices around your home (being careful not to ingest or inhale them).

          Enlist professional help.Not all bed bugs respond the same way to insecticides, so if you have an infestation that you can’t control yourself, a professional can help you determine the correct treatment or insecticide to use.

          Bedbugs

          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.

          Continued

          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.

          Bedbug Treatments

          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.

          Continued

          Bedbug Extermination

          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.

          Sources

          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 Bedbugs

          Bedbugs measure just 5 millimeters across—smaller than a pencil eraser. These bugs are smart, tough, and they reproduce quickly. Bedbugs know where to hide to avoid detection, they can live for months between meals, and a healthy female can lay 500 eggs in her lifetime.

          No surprise that these tiny bloodsuckers can wreak a lot of havoc in your home. If they get into bed with you, they can leave red, itchy welts all over your body.

          Fortunately, you can get rid of bedbugs. Be patient as removing bedbugs often takes some time and effort. You may have to try a few different chemical and non-chemical approaches, especially if you have a large infestation.

          Certain factors can make bedbugs harder to remove. You may have a tougher time ridding your home of them if you have a lot of clutter, or you travel often and bring new bedbugs home in your luggage.

          If you can’t rid your home on your own, you may have to call in a professional exterminator. Read on for a step-by-step guide on getting rid of bedbugs.

          If you’ve got bedbugs, you want to find them early before they start to reproduce. It’s much easier—and cheaper—to treat a small infestation than a big one. Yet smaller infestations can be harder to detect.

          Search for bedbugs yourself, or hire a professional to do an inspection. Some inspectors use specially trained dogs to hunt down bedbugs by scent.

          Bedbugs’ small, narrow bodies enable them to squeeze into tiny spots—like the seams of a mattress or couch, and the folds of curtains.

          Also look for them in places like these:

          • near the tags of the mattress and box spring
          • in cracks in the bed frame and headboard
          • in baseboards
          • between couch cushions
          • in furniture joints
          • inside electrical outlets
          • under loose wallpaper
          • underneath paintings and posters on the walls
          • in the seam where the wallpaper and ceiling meet

          Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to go over all of these areas.

          You can spot bedbugs by these signs:

          • live bedbugs, which are reddish and about ¼-inch long
          • dark spots about the size of a period—these are bedbug droppings
          • reddish stains on your mattress from bugs that have been crushed
          • small, pale yellow eggs, egg shells, and yellowish skins that young bedbugs shed

          Once you find a bedbug, put it in a sealed jar along with 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Other types of bugs can look a lot like bedbugs. If you’re not sure what type of bug you’ve found, bring it to an exterminator or entomologist to identify.

          Once you know you have bedbugs, you need to keep them contained so you can get rid of them. A quick and easy way to trap bedbugs is with your vacuum. Run the vacuum over any possible hiding places.

          This includes your:

          Seal up the vacuumed contents into a plastic bag and throw it away. Then thoroughly clean out the vacuum.

          Seal up all your linens and affected clothes in plastic bags until you can wash them. Then put them on the highest possible temperature setting in the washer and dryer. If an item can’t be washed, put it in the dryer for 30 minutes at the highest heat setting.

          Anything that can’t be treated in the washer and dryer, place in a plastic bag. Leave it there for a few months, if possible, to make sure all the bugs die. If you can’t clean furniture, throw it away. Tear it up first and spray paint the words “bedbugs” on it so no one else tries to take it home.

          Before you start treating your home, do a little prep work to maximize your odds of success. Make sure all your linens, carpets, drapes, clothing, and other hiding places have been cleaned or thrown out (see Step 2).

          Next, get rid of bedbug hiding places. Pick up books, magazines, clothes, and anything else that’s lying on your floor and under your bed. Throw out whatever you can. Don’t move items from an infested room to a clean one—you could spread the bugs.

          Seal up any open areas. Glue down loose wallpaper. Caulk cracks in furniture and around baseboards. Tape up open electrical outlets. Finally, move your bed at least 6 inches away from the wall so bedbugs can’t climb on.

          Home cleaning methods

          You can first try to remove bedbugs without chemicals. These bugs are pretty easy to kill with high heat, 115°F (46°C), or intense cold , 32°F(less than 0°C

          Here are a few ways to treat bedbugs using these methods:

          • Wash bedding and clothes in hot water for 30 minutes. Then put them in a dryer on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes.
          • Use a steamer on mattresses, couches, and other places where bedbugs hide.
          • Pack up infested items in black bags and leave them outside on a hot day (95 degrees) or in a closed car. In cooler temperatures, it can take two to five months to kill sealed-up bugs.
          • Put bags containing bedbugs in the freezer at 0°F (-17°C). Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Leave them in there for at least four days.

          Once you’ve cleaned all visible bedbugs, make the area inhospitable for their friends. Place bedbug-proof covers over your mattress and box spring. Zip these covers up all the way. Bugs that are trapped inside will die, and new bugs won’t be able to get in.

          If these methods don’t wipe out all the bugs, you may need to try an insecticide.

          Non-chemical and chemical treatments

          Insecticides can help rid your home of bedbugs. Look for products that are EPA-registered, and specifically marked for “bedbugs.”

          Here are a few types of insecticides you can try:

          • Pyrethrins and pyrethroidsare the most common chemicals used to kill bedbugs. Yet some bedbugs have become resistant to them.
          • Pyrroleslike chlorfenapyr kill bedbugs by disrupting their cells.
          • Neonicotinoidsare man-made versions of nicotine. They damage the bugs’ nervous system. This type of chemical works on bedbugs that have become resistant to other pesticides.
          • Dessicantsare substances that destroy the bugs’ protective outer coating. Without this coating, the bugs dry out and die. Two examples of dessicants are silica aerogel (Tri-Die and CimeXa) and diatomaceous earth. The advantage to dessicants is that bedbugs can’t become resistant to them, but they work slowly. These products can take a few months to kill off all the bugs.
          • Foggers or bug bombskill bedbugs, but they can’t get into cracks and crevices where these bugs hide. They can also be toxic to humans if you use them incorrectly. Read the label carefully. Leave the room before you set off a fogger.
          • Plant oil-based products likeEcoRaider and Bed Bug Patrol are less toxic than chemical insecticides, and they work well against bedbugs.

          How to Treat Bed Bugs at Home

          If you have reached this page, you have probably done a lot of research by now and it’s possible you are overwhelmed. Don’t fret, we’re here to help! From the variety of chemicals labeled for bed bug treatment or the different techniques you have encountered, we know your choices are varied and vast. Thermal Flow Technologies has the experience and recommendations you can count on! We’ve personally completed thousands of bed bug treatments and have the tried and true methods that are more effective at getting rid of bed bugs the first time around.

          In DIY fashion, this page will teach you how to treat bed bugs at home. Now keep in mind that finding the source of how bed bugs came into your home is an extremely important factor to prevent a future infestation. But we will provide you with the recommended products andmethods to kill bed bugs in one fell swoop without needed follow-up treatments. So what is this tried and true method you ask? The answer is HEAT! With a long history of experience in the industry, the Thermal Flow Technologies’ team has helped countless professionals learn how to treat bed bugs effectively using heat. Now, with new heaters and packages priced and sized for home use, we are bringing the technique of killing bed bugs with heat right to you.

          To learn more about how to treat bed bugs with our industrial heaters, get in touch with us today either online or by calling 833-401-3569 .

          How Heat Treatment Works

          Our DIY bed bug heater systems can heat a room or even a whole home to above 120 degrees. At this heat, also known as kill temperature, bed bugs and their eggs cannot survive. One big benefit of a heat treatment is that the heated air can reach covered areas like the insides of furniture and other favorite bed bug hiding spots that are sometimes missed by chemical treatments. Once the heater has reached the room temperature to our recommendation of 130 degrees Fahrenheit, we suggest to hold that temperature for 4-6 hours. It’s important to use a high temperature air mover to ensure optimal heat penetration throughout your entire space, by directing the heated air to cool spots in the room. While you will see a great deal of debate about how to treat bed bugs once and for all, heat is the clear winner for many reasons! And when you use a heating system from Thermal Flow Technologies, you will have the customer support from our professional team to answer any of your questions on how to kill bed bugs at home.

          Selecting the Best Heaters for Bed Bug Treatment at Home

          In addition to full packages that give you everything you need to pull off a successful one-time extermination, Thermal Flow Technologies also offers a line of electric heaters that are affordable for non-professionals and easy to use. The heaters differ in power and square footage capacity. It’s important to take exact measurements of your space before purchasing a heater. Using multiple heaters and multiple air movers is sometimes a chosen option to achieve square footage requirements and kill temperature. Also, a room can be divided with 6ml plastic sheeting or a heavy tarp in order to save costs by purchasing a smaller heater. Time will be compromised going that route but we understand some financial situations may require these tips and tricks for our customers.

          Our most popular home solutions for how to treat bed bugs include:

          • The DUAH Electric Bed Bug Heater/Fan Combo, which is smaller and can heat up to 75 square feet. For smaller infestations and living spaces, this heater is the way to go. It’s perfect for vehicles!
          • The Single Room Bed Bug Heater, which is good for just that, a single room. It can cover up to 180 square feet of space, with 8’ ceilings.
          • The Eliminator Elite Electric Bed Bug Heater, which is at the bigger end and reaches up to 300 square feet.

          All of these electric bed bug heaters for DIY home bed bug remediation carry a manufacturer’s warranty of up to a year. The recommendations and general steps of preparation above are meant to be a guide, and Thermal Flow Technologies will not be held liable for any damage resulting from performing your own bed bug heat treatments.

          Learn More About How to Treat Bed Bugs Effectively

          If you are stumped about how to treat bed bugs, team up with Thermal Flow Technologies and take advantage of the many years of experience we have in bed bug extermination. Some might claim that it is not possible to effectively treat bed bugs on your own, but that is not the case. With a high quality heating kit and some consultation on how to treat bed bugs from our team, you will be finished in no time – with a bug-free home. Learning how to treat bed bugs is never something you want to have to do, but heat treatments make it a bit easier and less frustrating than other common approaches, and that goes a long way!

          Call us today at 833-401-3569 or contact us online to learn more about our industrial heaters and for help selecting the best option for bed bug treatment in your home.

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