Learn How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast
Getting rid of bed bugs has proven to be a challenging task for hundreds of years. Most people would love to hire a pest control company to come into their home and spray a special mixture of “bed bug whoop ass” to solve the problem. Unfortunately, this mixture does not exist. Bed bugs (and eggs) are highly resistant to insecticides. Humans make matters worse by providing the perfect cluttered spaces for insects to thrive in. Mattresses, furniture and bedding make ideal nesting areas because we are not able to treat them with harsh chemicals.
The bottom line is that bed bugs are resilient. Insecticides can not be relied on to kill an infestation. In this guide, I am going to teach you how to get rid of bed bugs yourself with an integrated pest control approach.
How to Detect and Identify a Bed Bug Infestation
Bed bug bites are commonly mistaken for bites from spiders or mosquitoes (and vice versa). *Making matters worse, some people do not have any reaction to bed bug bites at all. Therefore, it can be misleading to identify an based on bite marks. The most accurate method to identify an infestation is to search for physical signs. The important areas to monitor are bedding, mattresses, carpet edges, crevices and furniture. If a crack or crevice is large enough to fit the edge of a credit card inside, then it can nest bed bugs and eggs. If you suspect that you may have bed bugs or want to check your hotel room before you can rest comfortably, look for the following signs (also see the photos below):
- Dark spots about size of the period in this sentence. This is what bed bug excrement looks like.
- Skin that younger bugs shed as they grow
- Tiny white eggs or shells
- Live bed bugs
- Rusty or reddish stains on bedding or mattress (caused by crushed bugs)
Detection Tool for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
This is a neat tool that will make your life much easier as you complete the treatment plan below. Bed bugs, eggs and their droppings are tiny and easy to miss. Use this tool to detect infested areas. It comes with a UV light source as well as a built in magnifying glass. It uses a specific UV frequency that causes bed bug eggs and excrement to illuminate. This will allow you to quickly scan bedding, mattresses and all of the hot spots listed below. This tool also comes in handy for detecting head lice.
Bed Bug Hot spots
Bed bugs are capable of living in almost any small crevice that provides protection. During the early stages of the infestation, they are mostly found in close proximity to your mattress. However, as the problem grows, they venture into other locations. Learning how to rid of bed bugs at this stage is very difficult. Below is a list of hot spots where you will want to concentrate your efforts. Please remember that if a crevice is large enough to penetrate with the edge of a credit card, it is large enough to hide bed bugs and eggs.
*Note: This is an extensive list but there is not way to predict with 100% certainty where bed bugs will decide to nest. Use your best judgement and do a thorough search of all possible areas.
- Seams, folds and tags of mattresses, box springs
- Cracks in the bed frame and head board
- In the folds of curtains or bed skirts
- Dresser drawer joints
- Electrical receptacles
- Woodwork inside and underneath of nightstands and dressers
- Under loose wallpaper
- In the cracks of drywall
- In the seams and folds of chairs, recliners or couches
- *Bed bugs tend to prefer wood and fabric more than metal or plastic surfaces (but there are exceptions)
- Screw holes and knots in wooden bed frames, headboards and other wood surfaces around the infected areas
- Behind wall-mounted pictures, mirrors, switch plates and anything else on the wall
- Items stored underneath of the bed
- Carpet edges along the walls
- Cracks in wood moulding
- Clothing and clutter
- Inside clocks, television or other appliances
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Yourself: Step # 1
Using Heat to get rid of infestations on bedding and fabrics
- Remove bedding, pillows, curtains, clothes, bed skirts and any other fabric that can be washed and dried.
- Place items into a sealed bad to prevent the infestation from spreading to other areas of your home.
- Since these items can’t be treated with insecticides, they need to be washed and/or dried at a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash everything on the highest heat setting and the longest cycle.
- Place these items in the dryer and set it to high heat for 30 minutes.
- You can skip the washer for dry-clean only items. These garments will fine in the clothes dryer as long as they are completely dry before they enter. Use medium heat for these items and increase the dry time to make sure you kill all of the bed bugs and eggs.
- *It is very important that you don’t send infected items to the dry cleaners. We do not want the infestation to spread to other families. After the insects and eggs are eliminated, you can send the dry-clean only items to the cleaners.
- If you have any items that can not be washed and dried, wrap them in plastic and place them outdoors. For this to work it needs to be hot and sunny. The plastic will help the internal temperature to reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also increase temperatures by putting the items inside a parked vehicle. If you are forced to use this method, leave the items in the sun for a few days to make absolutely sure that everything has been eradicated. *Tip: Pack each bad loosely and elevate it off of the ground. This will help the heat to permeate and reach the targeted temperature.
- Using this same process in cold weather MAY work also. The process will take longer and I recommend that you expose the items to freezing temperatures for at least 1-2 weeks.
- Note* Do not try to get rid of bed bugs by turning up the thermostat in your home. This will not work.
- Remember that it may be more practical to throw away some of the infected items. It is up to you to decide if the risk is worth it. Some items can be replaced easier than others. Always remember to carefully bag everything you remove from the infested area and handle it with care.
How to Kill Bed Bugs: Step # 2
This step is straight forward. Vacuuming will help to get rid of some bed bugs and eggs. It also helps with sanitation. This will aid the other methods as part of our integrated approach. Be sure to read the list of hot spots above to help you detect the nesting areas. Vacuum all of the hot spots while scraping with a brush or vacuum nozzle as you move along.
*Note: Use care when emptying the contents of the vacuum. Use a sealed bag and dispose of it immediately.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally: Step # 3
Take 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and put it into a spray bottle. Then spray all of the same hot spots with alcohol . Continue to brush while spraying to dislodge anything you may have missed the first time. This step will NOT get rid of bed bugs by itself. However, it is an important step in our integrated approach.
Step # 4 (Option 1): Bed Bug Heat Treatment
Heat treatments are the best way to get rid of bed bugs. Many pest control companies are using this exact method to eliminate infestations in homes and apartments around the world. Steam cleaners are extremely versatile and they give you the ability to treat areas where insecticides are undesirable (or illegal). Steam can kill bed bugs and eggs fairly quickly while leaving zero chemical residue.
- Target temperature range = 150-160 degrees. Make sure that the steamer you rent or buy routinely operates at or above this temperature. The steamer that I own (shown below) is excellent. It meets all the requirements needed to get rid of bed bugs naturally.
- Killing bed bugs with steam is a methodical process and takes a little bit of patience. Move the nozzle at a rate of about 12 inches every 30 seconds to allow each area to maintain the heat concentration over every inch of infested surfaces.
- Avoid holding the nozzle head too close to the surface. The steam may come out at a high velocity and blow the bed bugs and eggs away to safety. Tip* – If this does become a problem, try wrapping the nozzle in a piece of fabric to diffuse the pressure.
Note* This product is 25% off on Amazon.com at the time I am writing this guide.
Step # 4 (Option 2): Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a dust made of the silica-based skeletons of diatoms (microorganisms). It kills bed bugs by sticking to their bodies and eliminating the wax layer of skin that keeps in their moisture. They will usually die within a few days of contact. However, it may take 1-2 weeks to kill the adults in some cases. Diatomaceous Earth is rated for safe use in areas where insecticides are not.
Important note:* There are a few different types of Diamtomaceous Earth. Some types are toxic. Make sure that you purchase this powder yourself to eliminate the risk. We dont’ want to put our family in danger. Below is the correct type of diatomaceous earth to use for getting rid of bed bugs inside of your home. I also did the research for you to find a reputable (and safe) brand at a very good price.
Using the Correct Diatomaceous Earth
This formula is perfect for killing bed bugs yourself. When they come in contact with the powder it will latch onto their body and cut through their exoskeleton. This allows the the moisture in their body to escape which is vital to their survival. They will dehydrate and die within a few days of contact. Safer Brand’s bed bug powder also contains an attractant formula that will kills insects even faster by ingestion. This is the most economical and convenient solution to help get rid of a bed bug infestation. It provides an organic solution with lasting protection.
*Note: Amazon.com is currently featuring this product and offering a 53% discount (at the time this guide was published). This product comes in a 7oz bottle. I recommend that you purchase 2 bottles (14 ounces).
Important: All Diatomaceous Earth is not created equal. I chose this brand to recommend because it uses amorphous diatomaceous earth (also known as silicon dioxide). Amorphous diatomaceous earth is derived from fresh water sources unlike diatomite diatomaceous earth, which can be derived from unnatural sources (and has been linked to cancer). It is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and USDA Certified for use in organic gardening. This means you are using a product that has undergone rigorous testing to make sure it is safe AND effective. –
Step #5: Pest Control with Tempo Ultra SC
When you need an extra punch…
If for whatever reason you decide to use an insecticide, this is the best chemical solution for killing bed bugs quickly. Maybe you don’t have access to a steam cleaner or diatomaceous earth and you need quick relief from these pesky insects. I picked this particular product after reading about it on the NCHH (National Center for Healthy Housing) website. When I did my follow up research, I found nothing but raving reviews about it’s effectiveness when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs (which you can read for yourself here).
– Tempo Ultra SC has no odor, is non- staining and long lasting
– 1- 8 oz. bottle makes approximately 30 gallons
– Effective for indoor and outdoor pest control.
– Active ingredient: Cyfluthrin, cyano 11.8% (Cannot be shipped to CT or NY)
Note* You should always use care when handling insecticides (or any chemicals for that matter). ChippTips.com or myself take no responsibility for any negative outcomes that may occur from misusing or mishandling this product. While I am very confident in the effectiveness of this formula, it is an insecticide and should be handled with caution. Please follow the manufacturers directions carefully. If you have any questions or need more assistance, here is a resource from the the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Citizens guide to pest control and pesticide safety
Step # 6: Protecting your Mattress from Bed Bugs
This is another fantastic product that can be a powerful tool for getting rid of bed bugs. It also has value in other areas. This mattress encasement is a wonderful way to treat and prevent bed bug infestations while also providing real health benefits for people who suffer from daily allergy and asthma triggers. The quality, effectiveness and durability of this mattress encasement speaks for itself and the company that makes it backs it up with a 10 year warranty! The price may change but at the time I am writing this guide, they are currently 35-50% off at amazon.com. Prices also vary depending on the size you need. You can view them here. Or, you can read all the great reviews about this product here.
*Correction: In my video I called this a “vinyl” mattress cover. However, SafeRest box spring encasements contain no vinyl, phthalates or PVCs.
- Independently lab tested and certified bed bug entry proof, escape proof and bite proof!
- Surrounds the box spring on all 6 sides with a durable high-grade polyester material. It is also back coated with a water, bed bug and allergen proof membrane layer (great for those with asthma and allergies).
- Exclusive Micro-Zipper technology prevents all stages of bed bugs from passing through the zipper teeth.
- *10-year full replacement warranty and machine washable (registered with the FDA as a class 1 medical device)
Save Your Infested Box Spring! Rather than disposing of expensive box springs, SafeRest encasements can seal off the box spring preventing insects from escaping. This will kill the bed bugs by starvation and dehydration. The encasement will also protect a new box spring from bed bugs entering the mattress in the first place.
*Specifically Designed and Lab Tested for Bed Bugs and Allergy Protection
*Machine Washable with your sheets. Use normal household detergents that do not contain bleach. Tumble dry on low heat. Do not iron.
Another Option: Bed Bug Prevention Tool
It is very important to catch a bug infestation early before it becomes too large to get under control. I found a very useful tool to detect and prevent bedbugs from getting into your mattress. This is a trap that slides under the four posts of your bed frame (or any piece of furniture with legs). Bed bugs become trapped in the tray when they attempt to climb into your bed. What I love the most about this design is that the trap has sections so you can monitor which direction the bugs are traveling from. As far as I know, this is the only one that has this feature. In summary, this device will:
- Trap and kill any new bugs trying to make a meal out of you
- Help to detect the source of the infestation by letting you know which direction they are coming from
- Helps you to monitor the efficiency of the treatments
Here is a list of all the items we talked about that you need to complete your treatment plan. All you need to do is check the items you would like to keep and “x” the items that you don’t want to buy. It doesn’t get any easier than this!
What are bed bugs?
Cimex lectularius (Bed Bugs) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. However, they can live many months without a meal. This makes them extremely hard to deal with.
What has led to the bed bug resurgence?
Once nearly eradicated, bed bugs have returned with a vengeance over the past 20 years. There are many theories regarding their resurgence. One of the major reasons is a widespread resistence to insecticides such as DDT. Here are a few other suspected causes for their population growth:
- Lack of bed bug awareness and prevention
- Increased international travel
- The increased sales and transfer of second hand furniture and clothing. Second hand stores and sites like Craigslist have aided this process.
- Population growth
- A higher turnover of people living in multi-unit housing.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bugs can be found everywhere from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. The presence of bed bugs is not just a problem in developing countries. Their populations are rapidly spreading in major cities of 1st world countries. They can be found everywhere from 3rd world countries to 5 star hotels and resorts. Cleanliness is not always a factor. Infestations occur mostly within about 8 feet of sleeping areas such as houses, apartments, hotels buses, trains, airplanes etc. They remain out of sight during the day and usually feed at night. Getting rid of bed bugs is an important topic regardless of where you live.
Can bed bugs transmit disease?
They have not been know to spread disease and are generally not considered a medical or public health hazard. They are however, a huge annoyance. Having these insects equates to a lot of itching, frustration and loss of sleep.
What are the Health Risks of Bed Bug Bites?
Bed bug bites can affect people in different ways. Some people have no reaction to the bites at all and some can have a serious allergic reaction. In some cases, multiple bites can require medical attention.
Treatment of bed bug bites
Most bites resolve within one to two weeks. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, and include:
- Applying a topical cream, such as cortisone to relieve itching.
- Avoid scratching as this can cause infection.
- If infection does occur an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.
- If there is a severe allergic reaction oral corticosteroids may be prescribed.
- Antihistamines may also help relieve allergic reactions.
How Did Bed Bugs Get Into My Home?
They are experts at hiding! Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a meal. Theyare usually transported from place to place as people travel. They travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location. Once they are in your home, getting rid of bed bugs must become your priority.
Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?
Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and spreading a bed bug infestation.