When you lay down in bed at night, the last thing you want is to wake in the morning covered in itchy bites.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what can happen if you have bed bugs in your home.
At Pest Dude, we help people resolve pest infestations every day, and we understand what it takes to get rid of bed bugs.
- Bed bugs are common pests that can be difficult to identify and eliminate.
- Bed bugs don’t only infest homes with poor hygiene – they can be found in the world’s top hotels, on cruise ships, or anywhere else they can find shelter and food.
- Controlling bed bugs requires a combination of non-chemical methods like exclusion and conventional methods, like treatment with targeted insecticides.
- If you’re struggling to eliminate bed bugs on your own, we recommend contacting a professional pest management company to help.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: A Step by Step Guide
1. Identify bed-bug-infested areas
Bed bugs are tiny, and they multiply rapidly. Because of this, infestations can spiral out of control rapidly.
To identify areas in your home that require treatment, follow these steps to find bed bugs:
- Gather a few supplies, including a bright flashlight (like this one), magnifying glass, and latex or rubber gloves.
- Start looking for bed bugs within 15-20 feet of where people sleep.
- Using your flashlight, inspect cracks, crevices, and upholstery.
- Look at and under the box spring, bed frame, headboard, footboard, and mattresses of all beds. Carefully inspect crevices and cracks under the box spring and check all cracks in the plaster or drywall near the bed. You should also inspect damaged or lifted wallpaper edges and seams, and gaps between wall surfaces and molding.
- Examine nightstands, wardrobes, dressers, and other containers.
- Check window coverings, including drapes, curtains, blinds, and shades.
If you find any insects, use your magnifying glass to inspect them. Bed bugs are tiny, red-brown, and likely to be hidden deep within cracks and crevices in or around the bed.
2. Contain bed bugs
You’ve found bed bugs in your bedroom or guest room.
Now, it’s time to contain the infestation before it can spread. Fortunately, that’s easy to do with equipment you probably already have at home.
Here are our tips:
- Vacuum your mattress. Using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter (we recommend this one), vacuum the furniture in your bedroom, including your mattress, the seams and joints of your bed frame and box spring, and the inside of your dressers, nightstands, and bureaus. Don’t forget to vacuum the carpets thoroughly, as well.
- Dispose of the vacuum contents. Once you’ve finished vacuuming, empty your vacuum canister into a plastic bag, seal it tightly, and throw it away. If you want to add an extra layer of safety, empty the canister into a hot bucket of soapy water (this will kill bed bugs) before disposing of it.
- Wash and dry textiles. Next, wash and dry all linens, including sheets, curtains, clothing, and other fabrics. Use hot settings for both the wash and dry cycles. If there’s an item you can’t wash, like a couch cushion, use a portable steam cleaner like this one to kill any remaining bed bugs instead.
- Install a barrier to stop bed bugs from climbing into your bed. Bed bugs can’t climb smooth surfaces, so it’s easy to install barriers to prevent them from climbing from the floor into your bed. We recommend these ClimbUp Insect Interceptors.
Now that you’ve identified and contained the living bed bugs you can find, it’s time to kill the bed bugs you can’t see. More on that in the next step.
3. Eliminate bed bugs
Containing bed bugs is essential, but it doesn’t actually resolve an infestation or kill all the bed bugs in your home.
With that in mind, use these tactics to kill bed bugs once and for all:
Natural Home Remedies to Kill Bed Bugs
1. Use steam or cold
Steam is a great way to kill bed bugs and other pests that may be living in your mattress and furniture, and steam cleaners like this one will kill bed bugs quickly.
You can also use cold, though. If you have bedbug-infested textiles like curtains or clothing, seal them in a plastic bed and put them in a 0-degree freezer for four days.
This will kill all remaining bed bugs, eggs, and larvae.
2. Cover your mattresses
One simple, chemical-free way to kill bed bugs is to use a mattress cover to create a bedbug-proof seal around your mattress and box spring.
This will prevent new bed bugs from entering and kill all bed bugs that are trapped inside. In the meantime, it will provide a protective barrier between you and live bed bugs, so they can’t bite you while you’re sleeping.
This mattress encasement is a great option that comes in many different sizes for every bedroom in your home.
Conventional bed bug treatments
1. Bed bug insecticides
While non-chemical treatment options can be effective, most bed bug infestations ultimately require treatment with a targeted insecticide.
If you want a quick, thorough solution to get rid of bed bugs, look no further than popular bed bug insecticides like pyrethrins and pyrethroids.
These insecticides are popular for a few reasons, including that they have low toxicity for pets and people, so they’re safe to use in homes and bedrooms. They also work quickly and kill pests with a very low dose.
The only drawback is that bed bugs sometimes develop resistance to some pyrethroids, so it’s essential to use various products to eliminate bed bugs.
Because of this, we recommend using a bed bug kit like this one, which contains a variety of insecticide formulas to eliminate bed bugs quickly.
Desiccants are products designed to kill bugs by compromising and destroying the protective coating on their bodies.
When bugs come into contact with desiccants, they dry out and die. Two popular options include silica aerogel and diatomaceous earth (DE).
Because bed bugs can’t develop desiccant resistance, these substances kill the pests quickly and efficiently.
3. Whole-room treatments
To kill all bed bugs present in an area, we recommend using a concentrated insecticide to treat the room where bed bugs have been living.
For best results, use an insecticide designed to kill bed bugs, like Temprid FX. When mixed with water and dispensed from a pump sprayer, this formula will kill bed bugs on contact and stop eggs and larvae from developing.
As you treat the room, pay special attention to carpeting, door and window frames, and bed and furniture legs, including wheels and casters.
Here’s a story from Zachary Smith, aka “The Pest Dude,” about why it’s so important to treat the infested area (the bed) and the entire room around it:
“I recently had a call from a retirement home where a family member discovered their mother had bedbug bites on her skin. We arrived the next day and performed a thorough inspection of her apartment. Sure enough, we found bed bug droppings in the texture of the popcorn ceiling and behind the headboard.
With the customer out of the room, we pulled all the furniture away from the walls and applied a spray treatment to the ceiling, walls, mattress, and baseboards. We then installed bedbug barrier traps to the bed legs so any reintroduced bedbugs cannot climb onto the bed from the floor.
A month later, the customer still had no more bites or indication of bedbugs. Success!”
4. Hire a bed bug exterminator
Last but not least, hire a bed bug exterminator to help you eliminate these pests.
Professional treatment by a skilled exterminator is the most efficient and effective way to get rid of bedbugs and prevent re-infestation.
How do Exterminators Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
What can you expect if you hire a pest management professional to get rid of your bed bugs?
Most extermination teams follow these steps:
The first step in every bed bug treatment is inspection. The team will inspect affected rooms, identify bed bug harborage areas, determine the species of bed bugs present, and make treatment recommendations.
Next, the exterminator will deploy bed bug treatment for your room, including targeted and whole-room insecticides, eliminating bed bugs at every stage of their life cycle development.
The exterminator will focus on exclusion methods to protect you from contact with bed bugs and prevent future infestations.
Usually, this involves using mattress and pillow encasements and insect interceptors to prevent bed bugs from accessing beds and furniture.
4. Follow-up and education
Finally, the exterminator will work with you to provide client education on how to prevent bed bug infestations in the future.
They’ll also schedule follow-up treatments, as needed, to eliminate remaining bed bugs and monitor treatment progress.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs
Keep bed bugs out of your home with these bed bug prevention tips:
- Remove clutter in your rooms to reduce the number of bed bug hiding places. Avoid storing items under the bed unless they’re encased in bed bug-proof storage containers.
- Use bed bug covers and encasements on mattresses, pillows, and box springs to create a bug-proof barrier around your bedroom furniture.
- Regularly wash and dry (with heat) your bedding, including all blankets, bedspreads, sheets, and clothing.
- Store out-of-season clothing and textiles in airtight plastic containers or vacuum-sealed bags.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to vacuum your carpet, mattress, and textiles frequently.
- Inspect and wash all clothing, luggage, and textiles after traveling.
- Be careful about purchasing used furniture – thoroughly inspect any used furniture or textiles you bring into your home.
1. What are Bed Bugs?
While there are about 90 species of bed bugs in the world, only two – the common bed bug and the tropical bed bug – (Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus) become common household pests.
Today, bed bugs are a relatively widespread problem – an estimated 1 in 5 Americans has either had a bed bug infestation or knows someone who has.
Bed bugs have wingless bodies that are red-brown in color and about 1-7mm long. They’re most active at night when their hosts (you and your pets) are lying in bed and readily available for a blood meal.
During the day, they hide in sheltered places like the seams of mattresses and box springs, bed frames, dresser tables, headboards, and cracks or crevices in walls and ceilings.
Bed bugs are challenging to get rid of:
They can survive for months without a blood meal and will rapidly reinfest a space whenever a food source becomes available.
They’re also widespread:
They exist globally, from North America to Africa, Asia, and Europe.
2. How Did Bed Bugs Get into My Home?
Here are the main ways these pests hitch a ride:
1. They entered your home on infested items
Bed bugs often hitch a ride into homes on luggage, purses, backpacks, and other items brought into the house and placed on upholstered or soft surfaces.
Because of this, inspecting and decontaminating items after traveling, visiting hotels, or staying at an Airbnb is critical.
Sometimes, bed bugs enter a home on new or used furniture. They hide in the seams, tufts, and cracks of the furniture and emerge once they’re safely inside your home.
2. Guests brought bed bugs into your home
If guests have bed bugs in their home, they could introduce them into your space on their luggage, clothing, or other personal belongings.
3. They traveled between rooms (if you live in a multi-unit building)
If you live in an apartment or condo complex, it’s possible that bed bugs entered your unit by traveling from a unit nearby.
While bed bugs tend to live within 8 feet of where people or animals sleep, they can travel long distances – up to 100 feet in a single night, marching from a neighbor’s unit right into your space.
3. What are the Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation?
If you suspect you have a bed bug problem but you’re not sure, look for the following signs:
1. Bed bug bites
Bed bug bites look like tiny red welts. They may also be itchy or painful.
Most bites appear on areas of the skin that are exposed during sleep, including the arms, legs, back, and face – especially around the eyes.
2. Live or dead bed bugs
Another sign of a bed bug infestation is sightings of live or dead bed bugs in harborage areas like mattresses, furniture, and textiles.
Since bed bugs are tiny and good at hiding, it can be tough to see them with the naked eye.
In the next section, we’ll provide more tips on inspecting your space to identify bed bugs.
3. Empty skins
As they grow, bed bugs go through five immature stages before becoming adults.
This means they shed their skin five times, leaving behind tiny exoskeletons that can help you verify the presence of a bed bug infestation.
4. Bed bug eggs
Bed bug eggs are tiny, white, and cylindrical, and you’ll need a magnifying glass to identify them.
You can usually find them in the same places bed bugs hide – the cracks, gaps, and seams of your mattress and other furniture.
5. Fecal stains and droppings
Fecal stains and droppings will look like tiny granules that are black or rust-colored.
You can usually find them in the same places you’ll find living or dead bed bugs or eggs.
These droppings (and the presence of bed bug exoskeletons) will also create a musty “locker room smell” in your room.
6. Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
As bed bugs take blood meals, they become engorged.
If you move in your sleep, you’ll crush them as they feed, creating tiny blood stains on your bedding.
Looking for a Bed Bug Exterminator? We Can Help
You don’t have to live with bed bugs forever! If these pests have taken over your home and your DIY options have failed, we’re here to help.
We have a broad network of reputable pest control partners in your area that can help you eliminate bed bugs.
Get a Free Quote
Give us a call today to receive your free, no-obligation pest control quote.
Bed Bug Control FAQs
It can be tough to identify bed bugs since the signs of a bed bug infestation are similar to a flea infestation.
That said, there are a few telltale signs to look for. While bed bugs are nocturnal insects that stay near the place their host sleeps, fleas are highly mobile.
They’ll leap and jump all over your home. As bed bugs feed, they also become engorged with blood. If you roll over or move, you may crush them, creating tiny blood spots in your sheets.
Bed bug bites cause irritation and welts in some people.
Lab studies have also found that bed bugs carry causative agents for diseases, including tularemia, yellow fever, anthrax, plague, and typhus, among others.
However, there is no evidence that bed bugs can actually transmit these diseases to people through their bites.
There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for how much bed bug extermination costs.
The final bill for professional treatment will depend on the severity of your bed bug infestation, the treatment methods used, and the number of follow-up treatments required.
There are several insecticides, including those that contain pyrethrin, that will kill bed bugs instantly. Steam and heat also kill bed bugs on contact.
While some people associate bed bugs with poor hygiene, that’s not always the case. In fact, bed bugs have been found in some of the world’s top hotels, and experts have found that they can exist anywhere – regardless of the cleanliness of the surrounding conditions.