Bed Bugs

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs – An Integrated Pest Management Bed Bug Action Plan

Bed bugs have exploded in prominence in recent years and Pest Management Professionals and scientists have answered the call. We now have innovative methods and procedures that help to control bed bugs without the overuse of pesticides. While they haven’t been shown to transmit disease, bed bugs not only have a massive economic impact both to households and businesses, but they severely influence public health by triggering anxiety, depression, insomnia, not to mention the dreaded bed bug bite. This public health threat must be managed in a way that solves the bed bug infestation and prevents the overuse and misuse of pesticides.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process that includes confirming pest identification, monitoring, inspection, devising and implementing a management strategy using IPM tactics, and evaluation. IPM procedures do not automatically jump to the most lethal pesticide on the market. Rather, a step-up approach is encouraged. By monitoring the infestation levels to determine the success of your treatments, you can adjust your treatment plan to use the least amount of pesticide necessary to solve the pest problem. You also waste less time on ineffective treatments by learning what is and is not working. IPM is considered a safer and more effective method to treat bed bugs and promotes both public and environmental health.

Bed Bug Identification and Key Characteristics

Bed bugs are small but visible with the naked eye. Adult bed bugs are 1/4 to 3/8 inches in length, about the size of an apple seed. Before they feed, adult bed bugs are flat, almost circular, and brownish in color. After they feed, their bodies swell and become more cylindrical in shape and appear to be reddish in color. Nymphs, or immature bed bugs look similar to adults but are smaller and lighter in color. Bed bugs do not have functional wings so they cannot fly, but they can walk very fast (up to 6 feet per minute). They have been known to walk from room to room in a home or even into a neighboring apartment.

Bed bugs hide away in dark places during the day and feed at night. Bed bugs feed on blood of humans and other animals. Bed bug bites often show up a day or two after you have been bitten and appear as small red itchy bumps. Once you realize you have active bed bugs in your home, take calculated steps to find them and eliminate them.

Where Do Bed Bugs Like to Hide?

Bed bugs hide during the day in dark places, especially in crevices, baseboards, and furniture. Common bed bug daytime hiding locations also include mattresses, bed frames, dressers, nightstands, behind pictures, wallpaper and electrical switch plates, around door and window casings, inside radios, telephones, and clocks.

  • Bed bugs prefer to feed on sleeping hosts. In an infested home 70% of bed bugs are found in the bed. Once introduced to your home, bed bugs locate you, a possible meal, by sensing your heat, and following the carbon dioxide trail as you exhale.

Once they have determined that they can regularly feed in your bed, they often hide in or near your bed. Cracks and crevices of your bed frame and the seams, folds, and tufts of your mattress and box spring make excellent daytime hiding spots for bed bugs.

Bed bugs are easily moved from one place to another; they are excellent hitchhikers. They are often introduced into your home or apartment on a purse, suitcase, or briefcase or a piece of furniture. You can bring bed bugs into your home from any public place including:

  • Schools
  • Airports and Airplanes
  • Hotels
  • Movie Theaters
  • Public Transportation

Bed Bug Eggs and Life Cycle

Bed bugs are prolific breeders, and a single bed bug introduction can quickly turn into a full-blown infestation. It is believed that if a single pregnant bed bug is brought into your home, this can escalate into 5,000 bed bugs within 6 months. Understanding the life cycle of the bed bug is an important factor in effective bed bug control as eggs, nymphs, and adults must be addressed.

Studies show that one female bed bug can lay between 100-500 eggs in her lifetime. The number of eggs she produces depends upon her access to blood meals. If she can only feed once a month, she will produce less than if she can feed every week. These eggs are very small (approximately 1mm in length) and slightly curved. The female bed bugs attach these eggs with a sticky substance to tight crevices near where the adults are hiding. Bed bug eggs are difficult to see with the naked eye. Depending upon conditions, these eggs hatch in one to three weeks and nymphs or immature bed bugs emerge.

  • Bed bug eggs are an important factor in getting rid of bed bugs. Many products that you will use in your treatment, do not kill the eggs, thus a second or third treatment is often necessary to get rid of all the bed bugs.

Nymphs, or immature bed bugs emerge from the egg and require a blood meal. The first stage nymphs are very small at first, but they grow as they feed. They typically go through 5 instar (immature) stages, and they must take a blood meal to move to the next stage. After the bed bug nymph takes at least one large blood meal, he grows and sheds his exoskeleton. On average, most bed bug nymphs will develop to the next instar stage within 5 days of taking a blood meal. Depending upon the conditions and availability of food, it takes approximately 35-48 days for a bed bug nymph to complete the nymph stage and become an adult capable of reproduction.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live?

Recent laboratory studies show that a well-fed bed bug, in the lab, can live 300 days. However, the picture is less clear when trying to determine the life span of a bed bug in your home or apartment. Bed bugs in homes have a more difficult existence; they are subject to temperature and humidity variations, searching for food, avoiding being crushed, and exposure to pesticides. Adult bed bugs can survive for months without a blood meal, but if available, they prefer to feed about once a week.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs require a blood meal to progress to their next developmental phase and to produce viable eggs. As stated above, bed bugs locate their host by following a trail of the carbon dioxide that we exhale and the heat that our bodies produce. Bed bugs feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they suck blood. Interestingly enough, this “bite” is not painful and rarely wakes people up. It takes approximately 10 minutes for the bed bug to fully satisfy its dietary requirement. Once they have had their fill, they return to their hiding spot to digest the meal.

Physical reactions to bed bug bites generally show up a day or two after the bite. They often manifest as red itchy bumps. Sometimes these bites occur in a cluster or may occur in a straight line or a zig zag pattern. Bed bugs are most likely to bite an exposed area of skin that makes contact with the bed such as your arms, legs, shoulders, and neck.

Not every person reacts to bed bug bites in the same way; some people do not have physical reactions at all while others have allergic reactions to bed bug bites. The most typical reaction to bed bug bites is raised itchy welts that appear similar to a mosquito bite. It is easy to misidentify the bite and assume it was caused by mosquitoes or fleas. All the while, bed bugs are reproducing and spreading throughout your home. On a positive note, there is no conclusive proof that bed bugs bites transmit disease.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs From Your Home

To manage bed bugs, it is vital to identify the source of the infestation and then design an appropriate IPM plan to eliminate the bed bug population to prevent spread to other locations. IPM bed bug protocols emphasize a methodical and orderly approach to dealing with bed bugs. The procedure begins with a thorough inspection, monitoring, and sanitation efforts. Next you will implement physical or mechanical control measures, ie not applying pesticides. This may include a combination of vacuuming, applying steam or heat, or freezing temperatures. If after all of the above procedures have been utilized, other pesticide treatments may be used. Each of these steps will be discussed in detail below. When using any pesticide, you must follow the label on the product you have chosen.

Due to the life cycle and habits and bed bugs, a combination of treatment methods are often necessary to achieve complete control. Ongoing monitoring is crucial to your success.

NOTE – It is easy to make a bed bug infestation worse and facilitate the spread of bed bugs to new areas if treatment is not approached carefully. TAKE CARE when inspecting and preparing rooms for treatment not to broaden the infested area. NEVER move items from an infested area into an uninfested area unless they have been thoroughly inspected or treated to remove the risk that they will cause a new infestation.

Preventing Bedbugs by Inspection, Sanitation, and Monitoring

Bed bugs are nocturnal and so may not be easily detected during a daytime inspection. They also hide in tight cracks and crevices where they can digest their food in relative safety.
When you inspect, look for the following:

  • Bed bug feces – spots or smears of digested blood on your sheets, mattress, or anywhere else bed bugs are hiding.
  • Bed bug eggs – very small (you may need a magnifying glass), pearly white, and oblong shaped. Likely located near the host or harborage area.
  • Shed bed bug skins or exoskeletons – empty shells or casings in various sizes. Often found in the bed bug hiding spot.
  • Live bed bugs – Adult bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, especially against a white mattress or white sheets. You may find live adults and nymphs together.

Inspections should focus on pest vulnerable areas where bed bugs are most likely to be congregating:

  • Seams, tufts, and folds of mattresses and box springs
  • Cracks and crevices of the bed frame
  • Bedside table drawers and crevices
  • Behind framed pictures, peeling wallpaper, and electrical switch plates
  • Crevices near the baseboard and other molding
  • Around door and window casings
  • Inside radios, phones, and clocks

As the infestation becomes more severe, bed bugs may be found further and further away from the bed. Bed bugs may be transported to living room couches, chairs, and other furniture. Dog and cat bedding are known to hide bed bugs. Do you have special needs equipment in the home, such as a wheelchair? Thoroughly inspect any such equipment. Bedbugs love to hide in the metal tubing of medical equipment such as wheelchairs, oxygen carts, hospital beds, and/or IV racks. Thoroughly inspect anywhere that people tend to sit or sleep for extended periods of time, including your car.

If a suspected bed bug is found it should be carefully placed in a sealable bag or container and taken to someone that has been trained to identify bed bugs. During your inspection, take precautions not to spread bedbugs throughout the house. For example, do not dump the contents of your nightstand onto the couch or take the sheets off your bed and throw them on your recliner.

Vital to your success in your battle against bed bugs is having good records. As you progress through your levels of treatment, you will need to assess the success of your treatments. At your initial inspection make notes as to where you found bed bugs, the life stages you identify, and the level of severity. These logs will help you in your future monitoring and treatment efforts.

Bed Bug Monitors

There are many commercially available bed bug monitors, and they should be utilized when dealing with bed bugs in your home. Bed bug traps come in different designs and attractants. The most effective design is called an intercept trap. This trap is placed under the legs of furniture and beds and traps bedbugs as they attempt to gain access to your bed or couch. These simple, pesticide free traps help to monitor an existing infestation or quickly detect a new bed bug infestation. Other bed bug monitors actively attract and lure bed bugs by using CO2 or by mimicking the chemical smell on people’s skin. These should be used according to the label.

Both active and passive traps capture bed bugs that are looking for a host upon which to feed. In low to medium infestations monitors that simply trap wandering bed bugs can highlight a hot spot of bed bug activity. Always keep good records of bed bugs found in your traps. Your notebook should include the date, location, and quantity of bed bugs found in the trap. Replace monitor if it becomes full, wet, or covered in dust. After a battle with bedbugs, many homeowners choose to keep passive monitors in place long-term. By periodically checking these traps, you may catch a reintroduction early.

What kind of information can monitors give me? Finding:

  • One bed bug should trigger a response to determine the source of the bed bug.
  • The presence of one bed bug indicates that you are most likely dealing with a new introduction.
  • The presence of all life stages of bed bugs is an indication that you are dealing with an established infestation.

Bed Bug Sanitation

Unlike many other pests we deal with, bed bugs are not in your home because you don’t do your dishes or take out your trash quickly enough. Bed bug infestations do not mean your bed or body is dirty or stinky. Bed bugs are present because we have something that they need to survive… blood.

That being said, bed bug inspection, monitoring, and treatment is much more effective if you reduce clutter in the bed bug infested areas. By eliminating bed bug harborage areas (hiding spots) you will gain an edge against the bed bugs. Take care when cleaning infested or previously infested areas not to spread bed bugs. Seal items to be thrown away in a zip top plastic bag and take them to the outside trash can.

General cleaning

  • Clean on a schedule including high risk areas such as mud rooms or where coats and bags are left upon entry to the home
  • De clutter. Bed bugs can hide more easily in a cluttered room.
  • Vacuum cracks and crevices and around the edges of the carpet, where bed bugs and other pests may take refuge. If you think there is a bed bug problem, dispose of the vacuum bag afterwards.
    • This is especially important if bed bugs have been found and other treatments are being attempted.

Controlling Bed Bugs Naturally (Physical/Mechanical Control Methods)

The next phase of IPM bed bug procedure is the implementation of physical or mechanical controls. This is simply altering the environment to reduce or eliminate the pest without the use of chemicals. Many of the control methods listed in this section are not used as a stand-alone bed bug treatment. For the best chance of success, these non-chemical control methods are often combined with others and sometimes repeated. Persistence and detail-oriented application is necessary to completely get rid of bed bugs.

Vacuum for Bed Bugs

Prior to initiating any treatment, utilize a HEPA filter vacuum to physically remove as many adults, nymphs, and bed bug eggs as possible. Slow, methodical, and thorough vacuuming can immediately reduce your bed bug infestation and bring some level of relief. Since this is a chemical free control measure, you can use your vacuum anywhere your inspection revealed bed bugs. Use the crevice and pinpoint tools to remove bed bugs from the tufts of your mattress, the joints of your bed frame, behind the wall outlets, baseboards, and other furniture. Repeat often as new eggs may be hatching out every day. Vacuuming alone can be a time consuming method of bed bug control, but is a perfect complement to additional control measures. Remember to seal and throw away the vacuum bag or the contents of your canister after using your vacuum for bed bug control.

Mattress and Box Spring Encasements for Bed Bug Control

When confronted with a bed bug infestation, we do not recommend you throw your mattress out and purchase a new one. This will not eliminate the infestation and your brand new mattress will likely become infested as well. Once you have treated the mattress and box spring and eliminated bed bugs from it, a simple chemical free tool in the fight against bed bugs is investing in mattress and box spring encasements. These products fully envelop your mattress and box spring and zip around the perimeter to ensure a seal. Many of these products have fine zippers that bed bugs can not fit through, and impenetrable zipper end stops. The mattress encasements designed for bed bugs also have a locking mechanism at the end to seal the encasement and prevent it from sliding open and allowing bed bugs access to the mattress. With a properly sealed and encased mattress, bed bugs can not get into the folds and tufts of the mattress. This provides for easier and more accurate inspection and treatment if necessary.

Encasements range from $10 to almost $100 each. Remember, you will need one for the mattress and one for the boxspring. Any encasement designed for bed bugs can work. The main difference is the more expensive encasements are often made of better materials. This allows them to “breathe” better so they are cooler and provide you a better nights sleep. Also the materials are more tear resistant. Encasements made of very thin materials often tear easily rendering them useless.

Heat or Steam Bed Bug Treatment

Most heat or steam treatments are not do-it-yourself options, but they can be highly effective pesticide free bed bug treatments. Bed bugs and their eggs die immediately at 122℉. During a whole room heat treatment, a Pest Management Professional will utilize specially designed equipment to elevate the temperature in your room above this point. Heat monitors are placed throughout the room to ensure the temperature is high enough to kill the bed bugs. Depending upon conditions in the room, a bed bug heat treatment takes between 6-8 hours. Whole room heat treatments, if performed properly, can be an effective bed bug treatment, however it leaves no residual. If just a single bed bug burrowed deep into a harborage that did not reach the requisite temperature and survived the treatment, the bed bug life cycle may begin anew. Reintroduction is also a possibility. If you have bed bugs in your car, workplace, purse, etc you may unknowingly reintroduce bed bugs immediately after the treatment. Many professionals will apply a residual insecticide after a heat treatment to prevent this possibility.

Another mechanical bed bug treatment involving heat is applying steam to bed bug hiding areas. If you can heat the bed bug harborage area to 122℉ or greater, the bed bugs will die. Many commercial steamers get hotter and are stronger than homeowner versions. If the steam comes out of your steamer at a temperature high enough to kill bed bugs, it may cool down before it sufficiently penetrates the deepest harborage areas. However, slow and methodical passes with a steamer can greatly reduce the number of bed bugs and enhance your ability to control these pests. Steam should be applied very slowly, approximately 30 seconds per foot. Steam has its drawbacks. As mentioned, it doesn’t penetrate as well as you might think. Steam can also damage some surfaces and should not be used in or near electrical outlets or electronics. Steam does add moisture to surfaces so be sure items are dry before putting them back in place. For example, it is possible for mattresses and boxsprings to be ruined by mold if put in an encasement too soon after a steam treatment.

Whether you decide to attempt a do-it-yourself bed bug treatment, or you hire an exterminator, your washer and dryer will play a critical role in getting rid of these creatures. The washing machine will kill some bed bugs on the affected laundry, but it is the dryer that will do the heavy lifting. Do not use your regular clothes hampers. Often a few bed bugs can drop off dirty clothes into the bottom. By returning the hamper to your closet or using the hamper to transport clean clothes from the dryer you could inadvertently prolong the infestation. Sort your clothes and bedding and place them in plastic bags. Seal the bag before taking it to the washing machine. Choose the highest level heat the fabric can withstand, unseal the bag, and tip it directly into the washer. Clothes should be in the dryer for at least 20 minutes on high heat. Seal the empty laundry bag into another plastic bag and throw it away outside. Do not return the clean bed bug free clothes to your dresser and closet if the infestation is not under control. Keep the clean laundry sealed in the plastic bag and remove pieces as necessary. By regularly laundering your bedding, you not only eliminate any bed bugs on the bedding, you can easily inspect your mattress and the monitors you may have placed under the feet of your bed.

Freezing Bed Bug Treatment

Just as extreme heat kills bedbugs without pesticides, extreme cold also kills bedbugs. However, don’t just turn the heat off and open the windows in January… that will not work. Your Pest Management Professional can apply pressurized CO2 which kills bed bugs by freezing them. This specialized equipment creates a “snow” that is -108°F. Liquid CO2 is transformed into “snow” which can be applied to the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. This non-toxic control method leaves no residue, takes time to perform properly, and is usually done in combination with other methods.

Aprehend® – A Natural BioPesticide

Aprehend® is a novel approach to bed bug control. Aprehend® is made of Beauveria bassiana fungal spores. This product is considered a biopesticide which is defined by The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “a type of pesticide derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals.” Aprehend® consists of a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium, fungus, virus or protozoan) as the active ingredient and thereby qualifies as a biopesticide. This product is only applied by a licensed Pest Management Professional who is authorized by the manufacturer. Aprehend® is sprayed in areas where bed bugs are known to travel. When bed bugs come into contact with the fungal spores, the spores germinate and get inside of their exoskeleton.

Studies show that before the bed bug dies, it often has time to return to the harborage area and spread the Aprehend® around to the other bed bugs. This transferring of the product enables bed bugs that are not actively foraging to encounter the product and die. There are some downsides. Aprehend is slower to work than traditional insecticides and Aprehend must be handled carefully. If it gets too hot or cold the spore may become deactivated. Aprehend® may also be deactivated by exposure to water in cleaners or future applications of other insecticides.


Desiccant Dusts for Bed Bug Treatment

Desiccant dusts, such as Diatomaceous Earth and silical gel products, are low risk chemical treatments that reduce the risk of unnecessary pesticide exposure. There is research that shows silica gel works even better that standard pesticide dusts to control bed bugs. The most popular silica bed bug dust contains synthetic amorphous silica which is a mixture of sodium silicate and acid. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a natural product, made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic animals called diatoms.

Diatomaceous Earth and silica-based dust products cause bed bugs to dehydrate and die. However, just because they are more natural than traditional pesticides, care should be taken when applying these products. Although often thought of as “non-toxic” bed bug options, any dust can be picked up in air currents and become inhalation hazards. There have been cases where a homeowner applied dust directly to the surface their bed and suffered severe respiratory issues due to inhalation of the dust during the night. Apply only as the label directs and use only as much as necessary.

  • NOTE**** There are several types of DE; ensure that you are using a kind that is labeled for insect control and not the kind used for swimming pool filters. Also be sure you know if the product is 100% DE or DE plus another insecticide, commonly pyrethrins.

What Treatments Do Not Work for Bed Bugs

Generally speaking, IPM protocols favor baits in lieu of sprays, however, there are no baits available for bed bug control. Bed bugs feed on live hosts and there is no bait currently that can replicate that necessity. IPM protocols often suggest Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) as well. Research has shown that IGRs and boric acid products are not effective against bed bugs. You may see bug bombs or foggers marketed for bed bugs. These products often do not reach deep enough into the harborage areas to contact the bed bugs. Foggers may also make the problem more difficult to solve by causing the bed bugs to scatter and spread. Ultrasonic pest repellent devices are also not recommended as there is no evidence they work.

Pesticide Treatment for Bed Bugs

Products mentioned are examples not recommendations.

Bed bug infestations are difficult to treat and often require multiple control methods to gain control. In conjunction with vacuuming, steam and heat, countless loads of laundry, and trapping and monitoring, chemical treatments are often necessary to completely get rid of an active bed bug infestation. Pesticide treatments are not a “quick fix” for bed bug infestations. Because of the bed bug life cycle and their adeptness at securing hiding places, multiple pesticide applications are often necessary. Preparing the room for these applications is time consuming and labor intensive. Even if you hire a pest control company to perform the application, they will provide you with a lengthy checklist of prep work that you must do before they can apply the bed bug treatment. Getting rid of bed bugs can be a time consuming and frustrating process.

How to Treat Your Room for Bed Bugs

A typical bed bug treatment utilizes both mechanical and chemical treatments. The treatments performed depends upon your preferences and needs and the recommendations of your Pest Management Professional. When applying chemicals yourself, make sure you read, understand, and follow the label.

  • Insecticidal dusts applied to dry, inaccessible void areas. Care should be taken when applying any kind of dust so that it does not become airborne. Check label for areas where dust use is permitted.
  • Insecticidal aerosols applied straight into cracks and crevices. Check label for permitted areas of application, some should never be sprayed onto fabric surfaces.
  • Liquid insecticide sprays applied into cracks and crevices and along baseboards.
  • If you decide to treat your mattress or box spring with a chemical treatment, follow the label precisely.
  • Targeted application of liquid residual products to known harborage areas.
    • It is important to note that using a product with repellent properties may cause the bed bugs to avoid contact with that area and also to disperse into a previously uninfested area.

Selecting the Best Insecticide for Bed Bug Treatment

One of the many challenges of bed bug control is that many populations are resistant to the more common chemicals used in pest control. Insecticide resistance is when you deliver a toxic dose of insecticide to an insect, but it does not die. Bed bug resistance is particularly documented with regards to the pyrethroid class of chemicals. Many bed bug products found over the counter or at big box stores likely contain pyrethroids and will be less effective than professional products. To combat insecticide resistance, particularly for bed bug control, you must rotate your products.

Every product approved for use by the EPA for bed bug control contains an active ingredient. Each active ingredient acts upon the insect in a different way to cause its death. The Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) assigns a number to each active ingredient. To combat insecticide resistance, choose different products with different IRAC Classification numbers. Unfortunately, most products labeled for bed bug control are assigned number 3, which bed bugs have developed resistance to. There are a few products available with IRAC Classification number 4 and 13. These should be rotated into your treatment protocol if you suspect pyrethroid resistant bed bugs.

See chart for more details:

Bed Bug Pesticide List

Because of this documented resistance, and lack of abundant alternatives, you should thoroughly utilize nonchemical treatments in combating a bed bug infestation.

Fumigation for Bed Bugs

It is usually not necessary to fumigate an entire house to eradicate a bed bug infestation. In areas where fumigation is common like South Florida, it may be easier to fumigate the entire structure. Fumigation will eliminate all bed bugs and their eggs in about 2-3 days. Fumigation is the closest to 100% at eliminating all bed bugs in one treatment. However, the drawbacks are it can be expensive, is a hassle being out of the home for three days, and it has no residual. If you bring bed bugs with you when you leave for three days you can easily bring them back after the fumigation.

Vault fumigation can be another useful tool against bed bugs. Some furniture items with bed bugs deep within the crevices may benefit from vault fumigation. Your item is removed from your home and placed in a vault and these items are then treated with Sulfuryl Flouride (Vikane, Masterfume, Zythor). Any bed bugs inside the item will be dead. Usually vult fumigation is done for difficult to treat items like inaccessible ulpolstered livingroom furniture or wicker items. When furniture items are removed and fumigated, the surrounding area (baseboards, wall hangings, built-ins, etc,)should be thoroughly inspected and treated as needed using other methods.

Although this process kills the bed bugs present at the time of fumigation, Sulfuryl Flouride leaves no residual to prevent further infestation. If the treated item is placed back into an infested area, it will become reinfested.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs from Your Car

Personal vehicles, busses, recreational vehicles, and other modes of transportation are subject to bed bug infestations. Because of the transient nature of bed bugs and their ability to hitchhike from one location to another, vehicles are prime bed bug real estate. However, bed bugs do not tend to thrive in vehicles. Vehicles tend to be the manner in which bed bugs get from Point A to Point B.

However, bed bug infestations can and do happen in vehicles. The same IPM approach described above should be applied to vehicles when treating bed bugs. Begin with a thorough cleaning and inspection to determine the breadth of the problem. Use non-chemical treatments to kill or remove live bed bugs and bed bug eggs. If necessary, treat with chemicals that are approved for use in vehicles. Continue to monitor, inspect, and clean the vehicle to eliminate and prevent further bed bug infestation.

  • Clean vehicle regularly
    • Vacuum cracks and crevices
    • Remove seat upholstery and carpets to reduce bed bug harborages
    • Regularly inspect vehicles for evidence of bed bug infestation.
  • To prevent transporting bed bugs from your car to your home, school, work, or gym, remove infested vehicles from service until the infestation has been eradicated.
  • Construct an IPM plan utilizing the following methods
    • Vacuuming to remove clusters of bed bugs
    • Steam or dry ice treatment to kill bed bugs in seats and carpet
    • Heat or fumigation treatment of the whole vehicle
    • Targeted insecticide applications to cracks and crevices
  • Inspect and monitor to ensure eradication
  • Routinely inspect and monitor vehicle to check for re-infestations

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Every person pondering how to treat for bed bugs, has their own definition of natural, green, or home remedy. Many natural, or chemical free, tools used in bed bug control are described above. These are inherently valuable in the fight against bed bugs and have been shown to be effective at killing bed begs. Because of specialized equipment or products some of these natural bed bug tools would not be considered “home remedies.” As previously mentioned, multiple treatment methods are often required to get rid of bed bugs.
These bed bug home remedies include the following:

  • Vacuuming – Thorough, repeated, and methodical vacuuming can significantly reduce the quantity of bed bugs in your home. However, do not expect one quick run of the vacuum to carry the day; this is time and labor consuming.
  • Steam or Heat – Heat does kill bed bugs. You cannot turn the furnace on high and leave for the day. Without specialized equipment, you cannot get the room hot enough to kill bed bugs. The target temperature is 122°F in all areas. The deepest hiding spot must reach this temperature. At the same time, other areas must also be monitored so excessive heat does not destroy items like electronics, pictures, appliances, and other household items. A whole room heat treatment is a job for professionals. However, you can purchase and utilize a home size heat chamber. If you are a frequent traveler, you can place your suitcase in the heat chamber when you come home, and any hitchhiking bed bugs are killed before you bring the suitcase into your bedroom. Applying steam to the mattress and other harborage areas can kill any bed bug that is subjected to a high enough temperature. Consider renting a commercial steamer rather than relying on the steamer you use on your clothing. You need the heat to penetrate deep into cracks and crevices and the folds of the mattress.
  • Freezing – Converting liquid CO2 into freezing cold snow requires specialized equipment and a professional applicator. However, this leads to the discussion of using your home freezer to kill bed bugs. Bed bugs contaminating items placed in a freezer, and brought down to 0°F for a minimum of 4 days will be killed. User error is common when trying to freeze bed bugs. If the item temperature is not lowered enough and for a long enough time, bed bugs and their eggs will survive. Even if you live in areas of extreme cold, dragging your mattress outside in the snow, will not kill the bed bugs. Spots warmed by the sun and temperature variations will prevent bed bug death. In addition, some items are not safe to place in the freezer. Do not place electronics with LCD monitors, valuable or rare books, or anything of value that cannot be replaced. Also be aware when removed freezer items will be temporarily covered in condensation that may cause water damage to certain finishes.
  • Washing and Drying Clothes – Washing and drying clothes is a necessary tool in combatting bed bugs. Heat from the dryer will kill bed bugs, but do not expect to wash and rewash your sheets and bedding and your bed bug problem to be solved. Bed bugs will create additional laundry, but you can’t simply wash bed bugs away in the washer. Most bed bugs will be hiding in other areas such as the mattress, box spring, bed frame, baseboards, and other furniture.

There are many home remedies for bed bugs on the internet; there is no scientific evidence to support many of these home remedies. Some of the home remedies mentioned will kill a single bed bug on contact, but alone will never get rid of a bed bug infestation. If a bed bug infestation could be solved with dryer sheets or tea tree oil, bed bugs would not be the problem that they are.

Should I get rid of my mattress?

Generally no. If you throw out your mattress and bring in another without properly exterminating the bed bugs, your new mattress will quickly become infested. Because bed bugs not only hide in your mattress, but in your dresser, the baseboards, and the other cracks and crevices within the room, if they are present in the room, they will find and infest your new mattress. Consider a quality mattress and box spring encasement that will trap and starve and bed bugs sealed inside them.

If you simply cannot get beyond the thought of sleeping on that mattress again, get rid of it correctly. Either encase it in a mattress encasement or wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent the spread of bed bugs during removal. Mark the mattress somehow so that someone doesn’t take it from the trash and bring it into their own home. Do not bring a new mattress into your home, until you are sure there are no more bed bugs. Consider encasing your new mattress with a high-quality mattress encasement that prevents bed bugs from getting into the mattress.

How long does it take to get rid of bed bugs?

How long it takes to get rid of bed bugs depends upon the treatment method you choose. A correctly performed whole house or room heat treatment can eliminate bed bugs in as few as 8-10 hours. A structural fumigation, correctly performed, will kill anything (including bed bugs) inside the home in 2-3 days. These 2 quick methods offer no residual for a new infestation. More traditional bed bug methods, which combine non-chemical (vacuum, heat, steam, or freezing) and chemical sprays generally take a few weeks to gain complete control. A professional treatment will generally kill the majority of the bed bugs on the first visit, and return a few weeks later to kill the stragglers and the newly hatched bed bugs.

Can I get rid of bed bugs permanently?

You can absolutely get rid of a bed bug infestation, but you cannot prevent a new infestation. Bed bugs often get into your home by traveling in your purse, briefcase, or backpack. If your morning commute bus has bed bugs, you run the risk of continually reinfesting your home. Even chemical treatments that offer a residual eventually wear away. The best way to permanently get rid of bed bugs is to continuously inspect and monitor for bed bugs. Early detection and treatment is the best way to keep your home bed bug free.

Will bed bugs bite my dog or cat?

If humans are unavailable, bed bugs may bite your dog or cat, but they won’t cling to them like fleas and ticks do. When inspecting and treating for bed bugs in your home, make sure to check pet bedding. Dog beds make excellent bed bug harborage areas.

Table of Contents
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about new articles