How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Janis

By Janis | Updated January 8, 2024

Bed bugs can be a nightmare when they invade your home. Not only are their bites itchy and irritating, but their ability to hide and multiply makes them notoriously difficult to eradicate.

If you suspect bed bugs have taken up residence in your living space, it’s crucial to act fast in order to prevent a full-blown infestation. Early detection is key, as it’s much easier to treat a smaller infestation than a large one. 

Following a comprehensive plan that incorporates both chemical and non-chemical treatments is the most effective approach for elimination.

Understanding Bed Bugs

Gaining a deeper understanding of bed bugs, as well as their life, habitats, and the myths surrounding them, can empower you in tackling and preventing infestations.

Bed Bug Life Cycle

Bed bugs undergo a fascinating life cycle. They start as tiny, milky-white eggs, hatch into nymphs, and progress through five stages to adulthood. Each stage requires a blood meal.

Their entire lifecycle, from egg to adult, typically spans a month, influenced by factors like temperature and food availability.

Preferred Environment and Feeding Patterns

Contrary to popular belief, cleanliness doesn’t deter bed bugs. They’re drawn to human warmth and carbon dioxide.

These pests hide in tiny crevices, seams of mattresses, and furniture during the day.

At night, they emerge to feed on human blood, often leaving patterned, itchy bites in their wake.

Myths and Misconceptions

One prevalent myth is that bed bugs transmit diseases. Research assures they don’t. Another misconception is that they only infest dirty places.

Bed bugs can thrive anywhere, from pristine homes to upscale hotels. It’s their opportunistic nature, not the environment’s cleanliness, that dictates their presence.

They may also hide in your bed frame and headboard cracks. In heavily infested rooms, bed bugs may venture to seams of chairs and couches, in between cushions, folds of curtains, or even drawer joints.

Bite Patterns on the Skin

One of the most common signs of bedbugs is itchy, inflamed bites on your skin.

These bites often appear in a rough line or cluster, primarily on exposed areas like your face, neck, arms, and hands.

Dark Spots on Bed Sheets

Another indication of bedbugs is small, dark spots on your bed sheets, which are their fecal droppings.

You may also notice tiny, shed exoskeletons – a sign of their growth.

Use of Tools for Detection

Spotting bed bugs can be challenging, given their size and secretive nature. UV flashlights enhance visibility by revealing bugs and their fecal stains, while bed bug detectors act as traps, capitalizing on the bugs’ behaviors.

Additionally, passive monitors utilize the bugs’ quest for shelter and food, making detection easier, and inspection kits combine multiple tools for comprehensive checks.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

Once you have identified the presence of bed bugs in your home, you can eliminate them effectively with these proven strategies, ensuring a peaceful and bug-free environment.

Isolate the Infested Items

Effective containment is a crucial step in dealing with a bed bug infestation. Start by isolating the affected areas. Seal off your mattress and box spring in special bed bug-proof encasements to prevent their escape. 

Additionally, use double-sided tape or sticky traps around the legs of your bed and furniture. This will help capture any bed bugs attempting to climb up to reach you, making it easier to monitor the infestation and prevent them from spreading to other parts of your home. 

Regularly inspect and replace these traps as needed to ensure their continued effectiveness.

Clean and Prep for Treatment

Before starting any treatment, thorough cleaning and preparation are essential to maximize its effectiveness. Begin by decluttering the affected areas and removing any unnecessary items that could provide hiding spots for bed bugs. 

Additionally, consider sealing any cracks or gaps in walls, baseboards, and furniture to reduce potential hiding places for bed bugs. 

By creating a clean and well-prepared environment, you set the stage for effective bed bug treatment, increasing the chances of eradicating the infestation successfully.

Bed Bug Spray

There are multiple methods for killing bed bugs. One effective method is to use a bed bug spray that’s specifically designed for treating these pests. Chemical treatments such as pesticides and insecticides are often used to combat bed bug infestations.

Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are common chemicals found in these treatments. They can be applied to furniture, mattresses, and crevices where bed bugs hide.

Be sure to follow the product’s instructions carefully, and pay special attention to treating cracks, crevices, and hiding spots where bed bugs are likely to be hiding.

Use of Diatomaceous Earth

Another approach is to use diatomaceous earth (DE), a natural and non-toxic substance that can be sprinkled in areas where bed bugs are found.

DE works by damaging the exoskeleton of bed bugs, leading to their dehydration and eventual demise. 

Vacuum, Wash, Heat, and Repeat

Vacuum your home meticulously, paying special attention to cracks, crevices, and hiding spots. After vacuuming, dispose of the vacuum bag or empty the canister in an outdoor trash container.

Laundering all bedding, curtains, and clothing in water temperatures of at least 120°F (48.9°C) can kill bedbugs and their eggs. Additionally, drying items on a high setting for 20 minutes is effective.

Remember that patience is key when dealing with bed bugs. It may take several treatments to eliminate them completely, so be persistent and continue monitoring for any signs of their presence.

Safety Standards and Precautions

When dealing with bed bug infestations, safety is paramount. Proper handling, treatment, and disposal methods are essential, not only to eliminate the pests but also to ensure the well-being of all household members.

Sealing Off Items

Avoid spreading the infestation. If you suspect an item is infested, isolate it immediately. Use plastic bags to contain clothes or bedding before moving them.

This prevents bugs from dispersing throughout the home.

Safe Use of Pesticides

Not all pesticides work on bed bugs, and misuse can be hazardous. Always read and follow label directions.

If uncertain, consult a pest control professional. They’ll know the safest and most effective treatments available.

Discarding Contaminated Items

Sometimes, infested items can’t be saved. If discarding, wrap them securely in plastic and label them as infested.

Doing this prevents the spread to others.

Pest Control Services

While some steps in eradicating bed bugs can be taken independently, there are instances when calling a professional exterminator is essential.

One sign you may need a professional is when you find bed bugs in multiple locations. A professional exterminator will utilize an integrated pest management approach to combat the issue, which may include using chemical treatments.

These methods are often necessary when at-home treatments prove ineffective, or the infestation is severe.

Preventing Future Infestations

To safeguard your living spaces, preventing future bed bug infestations requires the implementation of a comprehensive range of strategies.

Clean and Organize Home

Keep your home clutter-free. Clutter provides hiding spots for bed bugs, making it difficult to detect and control infestations.

Regularly clean and vacuum your home to remove any possible bed bug-hiding spots. Pay close attention to areas near your bed, such as nightstands and headboards.

Travel Smart

When traveling, always inspect your hotel room for signs of bed bugs. Check the bedding, luggage racks, and surrounding areas for any evidence of infestation. Keep your luggage off the floor, and never place your clothing directly on the bed.

After a trip, inspect your luggage and belongings for bugs before bringing them inside. Wash and dry your clothing at high temperatures, which can kill any remaining bed bugs.

Bedbug-proof Spray Paint

For additional protection, consider using bedbug-proof spray paint on your mattress and box spring platform.

This can create a barrier that prevents infestations and can make it easier to spot bed bugs.

Inspect Pre-owned Stuff

Purchasing or acquiring second-hand furniture can be cost-effective, but it poses a risk of unknowingly bringing bed bugs into your home.

Before integrating any pre-owned items, thoroughly inspect each piece, especially its seams, folds, and underneath areas. Cleaning and treating furniture with heat or approved pesticides can further mitigate risks.

Educate the Household

Awareness is a potent weapon. Ensure every household member recognizes bed bug signs and understands the importance of early detection.

Sharing knowledge can prevent future infestations and hasten current elimination efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most effective bed bug killer?

There are various effective bed bug killers available in the market. These include insecticides, such as pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, and insect growth regulators.

However, it is essential to read and follow the product label for proper use and safety.

Can heat treatment eliminate bed bugs?

Yes, heat treatment can eliminate bed bugs. Heat is an effective method, particularly for items that cannot be laundered or chemically treated.

Bed bugs die when exposed to temperatures above 120°F (48.9°C) for an extended period.

Is steam cleaning a viable solution for bed bug infestations?

Steam cleaning can be a viable solution for bed bug infestations, especially in areas where chemical treatments may not be suitable or in cases of pesticide resistance.

The high temperature of the steam kills both bed bugs and their eggs on contact.

What home remedies can help in getting rid of bed bugs?

Some home remedies can help in controlling bed bug infestations. These include vacuuming, laundering items in hot water, and using mattress encasements.

However, it is essential to note that these remedies may not be as effective as professional extermination methods.

How long does it usually take to eradicate bed bugs completely?

The time it takes to eradicate bed bugs depends on the infestation level and the chosen treatment method. For mild infestations, it may take a few weeks to eliminate bed bugs completely using chemical or non-chemical treatments.

For severe infestations, multiple treatments or professional extermination services may be required, which can take several weeks to months.