How To Treat Bed Bugs In House

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 Bed Bugs in 4 Easy Steps

          Bed bugs: who needs ’em? If you’ve discovered bites on your skin, or found those pesky little things crawling around on your bed or nearby, take action right away! Don’t live with this stressful problem, and don’t spend thousands replacing your mattress or paying an exterminator to perform a treatment that you can do yourself for less. Here’s how you can get rid of bed bugs in just 4 easy steps:

          Stop the Biting

          The first goal in a bed bug treatment is to stop bed bugs from biting you while you sleep. If bed bugs can’t feed, they can’t breed. If they can’t breed, then they can’t reproduce, and the infestation won’t be able to grow any further. This means that as soon as you remove their food source (your blood), you set a timer for the infestation to starve off.

          Kill Bed Bugs in Your Bed

          To begin, strip your bed of all sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding, and seal them in plastic garbage bags to keep bed bugs from escaping and infesting other parts of your home. Take the bags straight to the washing machine, and wash them using the hot water setting. Then, dry the bedding on high heat if their tags allow it. This heat treatment will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your bedding.

          While your laundry cycle is running, use a vacuum cleaner to remove any bed bugs, shells, fecal droppings, or eggs that might be along the seams of your mattress, pillows, box spring, and along the cracks and crevices in the bed frame, headboard, and footboard. Follow up the vacuuming with a high pressure steamer to penetrate deep inside mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and footboards to kill bed bugs and eggs on contact.

          While the mattress and box spring are left to dry, spray down the joints of the bed frame, headboard, and footboard with a contact spray and residual spray. The contact spray will kill bed bugs quickly and then evaporate, while the residual spray will kill bed bugs over several weeks. Remember to follow the sprays’ product labels and MSDS for safe and effective usage.

          Once the mattress and box spring are dry, encase them in sealed bed bug encasements. Encasements are crucial, as they prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping the mattress and box spring, cutting off key hiding places. Remember to leave the encasements on for at least 18 months to ensure that any bed bugs already inside have starved to death. Once the encasements have been applied, you can put your mattress and box springs back on your treated bed frame, and put your laundered bedding back on your bed.

          Make Your Bed Bite Proof

          Now that you’ve killed the bed bugs hiding in your bed, it’s time to put up defensive measures to keep them out. Remember, bed bugs can be hiding in all sorts of cracks and crevices throughout your bedroom – in furniture, along baseboards, and inside of the walls – so you need a way to keep them out of your freshly treated bed. By cutting off the infestation’s food supply (you), you halt their breeding and reproductive cycle, making the treatment a whole lot easier.

          Move your bed away from any other points of contact, like walls, nightstands, and other furniture. Tuck in or remove any hanging skirts or sheets, and remove any storage under the bed that is touching any part of the frame. The only thing your bed should be touching is the floor via its legs. If you don’t have a bed frame with legs, you should purchase one to sleep in, at least until you are bed bug free.

          To complete the isolation, place ClimbUp Interceptors under each leg of the bed. These interceptors will prevent bed bugs from climbing up your bed legs, stopping them from reaching you in your bed. As bed bugs attempt to get to you, they will climb up the edge of the interceptor and fall into the perimeter pitfall where they can’t escape.

          With the bed now fully isolated and elevated, bed bugs hiding elsewhere in the room won’t be able to feed on you or hide in your bed. You can also use the ClimbUps to monitor the changing population of bed bugs in your home. Hopefully, you will see less and less bugs appear in the traps as you go through the next steps. Now that you have created a safe haven in your bed, you can move on to treating the rest of the room.

          Bed Bug Hunt

          Steam and Clean Your Room

          Bed bugs could be hiding in all sorts of tight spaces in your room, like wood cracks, inside books and furniture, and along the baseboards and the edges of the carpet. In this step, we’re going to clean, vacuum, and steam those areas that bed bugs are likely to be. This will cut down on the bed bug population while making it harder for survivors to hide.

          Begin by reducing clutter in the room; things like clothes, books, and other personal belongings shouldn’t be left on the floor, as they make treatment more difficult and add hiding places for bed bugs and eggs. Seal those items in garbage bags and store them away from the room. Any clothing that was picked up or removed from dresser drawers should be dried on high heat for at least 45 minutes. Once treated, clothing that you don’t normally wear should be stored inside garbage bags outside of the infested room.

          Next, vacuum and steam along baseboards, window sills, and the edge of the carpet. When you’re done vacuuming, the bag or canister should be cleaned or discarded to limit exposure of bed bugs to other parts of the home. The steamer can also be used to treat sofas, chairs, furniture, and cabinets. When applying steam, remember to move the nozzle slowly (about one inch per second) to ensure that all bed bugs and eggs are killed.

          If you suspect that bed bugs might be hiding in items that can’t be laundered or steamed, like books, papers, luggage, shoes, and dry-clean only clothing, you can treat those with a portable bed bug heater. Heaters are a popular way to safely heat-treat items during bed bug treatments, or as a preventative tool for travelers who want to ensure that bed bugs can’t escape from their luggage to infest their home.

          Spray and Powder Cracks and Crevices

          It’s time to finish off any bed bugs you may have missed, and to set up a long-lasting defense for any eggs that hatch in the coming weeks. Use a combination of both contact and residual sprays, as well as a residual powder, to ensure that you cut down the population now and continue killing bed bugs over time.

          First up are the contact sprays, like STERI-FAB and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs. These will kill quickly, but evaporate shortly after, leaving no long-lasting protection. Spray along baseboards, below drawers and on drawer slides, behind cabinets, and behind night stands. Follow up with a residual spray, such as Bedlam Plus and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs Plus. Residual sprays will offer long-lasting protection against bed bugs and hatchlings. Bedlam Plus is ideal for cracks and crevices throughout the room, while JT Eaton Plus can be used below the cushions and bases of sofas, chairs, edges of carpets and other fabric items.

          Remember that sprays shouldn’t be applied to areas that you’ll touch, walk on, or sit on. Sprays are designed to treat hiding places that bed bugs are or may be, and bed bugs tend to not want to hang out in open areas like the carpet or the tops of furniture.

          Next, apply a bed bug powder into confined areas where it won’t be stirred up into the air. Places like the edges of carpeting, inside deep cracks and wall voids, and inside electrical outlets and light switches (accessed by removing the faceplate with a screwdriver) are good candidates for powders, as sprays can’t reach into these areas quite as well. We recommend using a professional powder applicator, which offers better control when applying the powder.

          To ensure that all bed bugs are killed, reapply the contact and residual sprays two weeks after the initial treatment, then again two weeks after that, for a total of three applications. These reapplications make sure that any eggs that have hatched will be killed off so that they can’t create a new infestation. Bed bug powders will not need to be reapplied, as they work for as long as they remain dry and undisturbed.

          If you followed all of these steps, including the reapplications, you should be bed bug free in a matter of weeks! You even get to keep the products afterwards for prevention purposes, and it all costs less than hiring a pest control professional to perform the treatments.

          How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in 4 Easy Steps

          Bed bugs: who needs ’em? If you’ve discovered bites on your skin, or found those pesky little things crawling around on your bed or nearby, take action right away! Don’t live with this stressful problem, and don’t spend thousands replacing your mattress or paying an exterminator to perform a treatment that you can do yourself for less. Here’s how you can get rid of bed bugs in just 4 easy steps:

          Stop the Biting

          The first goal in a bed bug treatment is to stop bed bugs from biting you while you sleep. If bed bugs can’t feed, they can’t breed. If they can’t breed, then they can’t reproduce, and the infestation won’t be able to grow any further. This means that as soon as you remove their food source (your blood), you set a timer for the infestation to starve off.

          Kill Bed Bugs in Your Bed

          To begin, strip your bed of all sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding, and seal them in plastic garbage bags to keep bed bugs from escaping and infesting other parts of your home. Take the bags straight to the washing machine, and wash them using the hot water setting. Then, dry the bedding on high heat if their tags allow it. This heat treatment will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your bedding.

          While your laundry cycle is running, use a vacuum cleaner to remove any bed bugs, shells, fecal droppings, or eggs that might be along the seams of your mattress, pillows, box spring, and along the cracks and crevices in the bed frame, headboard, and footboard. Follow up the vacuuming with a high pressure steamer to penetrate deep inside mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and footboards to kill bed bugs and eggs on contact.

          While the mattress and box spring are left to dry, spray down the joints of the bed frame, headboard, and footboard with a contact spray and residual spray. The contact spray will kill bed bugs quickly and then evaporate, while the residual spray will kill bed bugs over several weeks. Remember to follow the sprays’ product labels and MSDS for safe and effective usage.

          Once the mattress and box spring are dry, encase them in sealed bed bug encasements. Encasements are crucial, as they prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping the mattress and box spring, cutting off key hiding places. Remember to leave the encasements on for at least 18 months to ensure that any bed bugs already inside have starved to death. Once the encasements have been applied, you can put your mattress and box springs back on your treated bed frame, and put your laundered bedding back on your bed.

          Make Your Bed Bite Proof

          Now that you’ve killed the bed bugs hiding in your bed, it’s time to put up defensive measures to keep them out. Remember, bed bugs can be hiding in all sorts of cracks and crevices throughout your bedroom – in furniture, along baseboards, and inside of the walls – so you need a way to keep them out of your freshly treated bed. By cutting off the infestation’s food supply (you), you halt their breeding and reproductive cycle, making the treatment a whole lot easier.

          Move your bed away from any other points of contact, like walls, nightstands, and other furniture. Tuck in or remove any hanging skirts or sheets, and remove any storage under the bed that is touching any part of the frame. The only thing your bed should be touching is the floor via its legs. If you don’t have a bed frame with legs, you should purchase one to sleep in, at least until you are bed bug free.

          To complete the isolation, place ClimbUp Interceptors under each leg of the bed. These interceptors will prevent bed bugs from climbing up your bed legs, stopping them from reaching you in your bed. As bed bugs attempt to get to you, they will climb up the edge of the interceptor and fall into the perimeter pitfall where they can’t escape.

          With the bed now fully isolated and elevated, bed bugs hiding elsewhere in the room won’t be able to feed on you or hide in your bed. You can also use the ClimbUps to monitor the changing population of bed bugs in your home. Hopefully, you will see less and less bugs appear in the traps as you go through the next steps. Now that you have created a safe haven in your bed, you can move on to treating the rest of the room.

          Bed Bug Hunt

          Steam and Clean Your Room

          Bed bugs could be hiding in all sorts of tight spaces in your room, like wood cracks, inside books and furniture, and along the baseboards and the edges of the carpet. In this step, we’re going to clean, vacuum, and steam those areas that bed bugs are likely to be. This will cut down on the bed bug population while making it harder for survivors to hide.

          Begin by reducing clutter in the room; things like clothes, books, and other personal belongings shouldn’t be left on the floor, as they make treatment more difficult and add hiding places for bed bugs and eggs. Seal those items in garbage bags and store them away from the room. Any clothing that was picked up or removed from dresser drawers should be dried on high heat for at least 45 minutes. Once treated, clothing that you don’t normally wear should be stored inside garbage bags outside of the infested room.

          Next, vacuum and steam along baseboards, window sills, and the edge of the carpet. When you’re done vacuuming, the bag or canister should be cleaned or discarded to limit exposure of bed bugs to other parts of the home. The steamer can also be used to treat sofas, chairs, furniture, and cabinets. When applying steam, remember to move the nozzle slowly (about one inch per second) to ensure that all bed bugs and eggs are killed.

          If you suspect that bed bugs might be hiding in items that can’t be laundered or steamed, like books, papers, luggage, shoes, and dry-clean only clothing, you can treat those with a portable bed bug heater. Heaters are a popular way to safely heat-treat items during bed bug treatments, or as a preventative tool for travelers who want to ensure that bed bugs can’t escape from their luggage to infest their home.

          Spray and Powder Cracks and Crevices

          It’s time to finish off any bed bugs you may have missed, and to set up a long-lasting defense for any eggs that hatch in the coming weeks. Use a combination of both contact and residual sprays, as well as a residual powder, to ensure that you cut down the population now and continue killing bed bugs over time.

          First up are the contact sprays, like STERI-FAB and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs. These will kill quickly, but evaporate shortly after, leaving no long-lasting protection. Spray along baseboards, below drawers and on drawer slides, behind cabinets, and behind night stands. Follow up with a residual spray, such as Bedlam Plus and JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs Plus. Residual sprays will offer long-lasting protection against bed bugs and hatchlings. Bedlam Plus is ideal for cracks and crevices throughout the room, while JT Eaton Plus can be used below the cushions and bases of sofas, chairs, edges of carpets and other fabric items.

          Remember that sprays shouldn’t be applied to areas that you’ll touch, walk on, or sit on. Sprays are designed to treat hiding places that bed bugs are or may be, and bed bugs tend to not want to hang out in open areas like the carpet or the tops of furniture.

          Next, apply a bed bug powder into confined areas where it won’t be stirred up into the air. Places like the edges of carpeting, inside deep cracks and wall voids, and inside electrical outlets and light switches (accessed by removing the faceplate with a screwdriver) are good candidates for powders, as sprays can’t reach into these areas quite as well. We recommend using a professional powder applicator, which offers better control when applying the powder.

          To ensure that all bed bugs are killed, reapply the contact and residual sprays two weeks after the initial treatment, then again two weeks after that, for a total of three applications. These reapplications make sure that any eggs that have hatched will be killed off so that they can’t create a new infestation. Bed bug powders will not need to be reapplied, as they work for as long as they remain dry and undisturbed.

          If you followed all of these steps, including the reapplications, you should be bed bug free in a matter of weeks! You even get to keep the products afterwards for prevention purposes, and it all costs less than hiring a pest control professional to perform the treatments.

          Bedbugs

          Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

          Check if it’s bedbugs

          Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo

          Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

          Signs of bedbugs include:

          • bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
          • spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
          • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

          Bedbug bites can be red and itchy. They’re often in a line or cluster.

          Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo

          Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.

          How you can treat bedbug bites

          Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

          Things you can do include:

          • putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
          • keeping the affected area clean
          • not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection

          You can ask a pharmacist about:

          • using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream)
          • antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you’re unable to sleep

          Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

          • the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy after trying treatments from a pharmacist
          • the redness around the bites is spreading

          You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

          Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

          It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

          • visit their website
          • use the NHS App
          • call them

          How to get rid of bedbugs

          contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides

          wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes

          put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)

          clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early

          do not keep clutter around your bed

          do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

          do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs

          Page last reviewed: 21 January 2019
          Next review due: 21 January 2022

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