​​How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs ​With Home Remedies

Bed bugs are a growing problem in many countries. It’s a problem that almost every pest control company faces. 

With so many experiencing bed bugs, people wonder if there are ways to get rid of them without relying on expensive professional treatments. Professional support is probably your best option. However, there are other less expensive and simpler ways to try to eradicate bed bugs from your house or apartment, through at-home treatment methods - as long as the infestation isn't too out of control.

If you're in need of a little assistance, this article covers some of the basics of bed bug infestations, as well as advising you on some of the most effective home remedies for getting rid of bed bugs, before it's too late!

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Home Remedies For Bed Bugs

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

How to Know if You Have a Bed Bug Infestation

A 2015 study showed that 99.6% of pest professionals treated bed bugs in the past year, and that number continues to be problematic as time goes on. Unfortunately, many of these cases were already pretty heavy before the poor victims even realized they had bed bugs.

Bed bugs can be hard to find. You may wake up with a bug bite and fear the worst, only to find out that it was a mosquito nipping at you while you were asleep. Don’t overreact to an overnight bug bite, but if there’s a reason for concern, take immediate action.

Bed Bug Bites

Finding bed bugs in a piece of used furniture is common. If you recently acquired a used piece of furniture as bed bug symptoms start, you can reasonably assume that they came from there. Especially if you have a potential source, it’s essential to identify and eradicate the bed bugs as soon as possible.

Traces of Bed Bugs

If you don’t see any bed bugs, that doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing an infestation. Bed bugs are fantastic at staying hidden, leaving you to find traces of them without locating the bugs themselves.

CC Image courtesy of British Pest Control Association

Mistaking a bed bug bite for a mosquito bite is easy. They’re usually painless, but eventually, itch like other bug bites. Unlike flea bites, though, the red bumps you see don’t have a red spot in the center of them. If you experience these bites, chances are you have bed bugs.

Another indicator of a potential infestation is blood stains on your sheets or pillow. Bed bugs feed while you’re asleep, and it’s possible for one to leave a trail of blood when making its way back to its favourite hiding place.

You may also see some dark spots on your sheets, pillows, furniture, or walls. These are signs of bed bug excrement and could mean the bed bugs are roaming freely while you sleep. It’s also possible to find bed bug eggs, or even smell the bed bug infestation. The odor in relation to a bed bug infestation has been described as similar to the scent of 'coriander.' If you experience any of these symptoms, chances are you’re dealing with bed bugs.

CC Image courtesy of AFPMB

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

People tend to think that bed bugs are always too small to see with the naked eye. It’s true that the bed bug infestation is most likely worse if you see a bed bug, but that doesn’t mean that all bed bugs are microscopic.

Baby bed bugs are often translucent and too small to see, but you can certainly see adult bed bugs.

Baby bed bug - CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Adults are only about 4 or 5 mm long, but you may see them scurrying across your bed, wall, or body. These bugs are brown and only slightly translucent. After feeding, they take on a red color.

CC Image courtesy of British Pest Control Association

Adult bed bugs are wingless and oval-shaped. They can’t fly, but they can move quickly across surfaces.

CC Image courtesy of AFPMB

Younger bed bugs frequently shed their skin, which is another sign of a possible infestation. If you come across patches of bed bug skin, you’re likely infested with a host of bed bugs too small for you to see.

How to Find Bed Bugs in Your Home

If you suspect you have bed bugs, the first step should be finding out where they are. If you have an idea, it’s best to start where you think they originated. As we stated above, used furniture is a common culprit, so if you’ve recently bought a used couch or chair, try checking the cushions for traces of bed bugs.

Be careful with secondhand furniture - especially if it's been dumped on the street. It may have been thrown out due to harboring an infestation.

Used furniture is far from the only way bed bugs enter your home. They’re exceptional travelers, and if you’ve recently spent the night in a cheap motel, there’s a chance your bed bugs came from there.

Travelling via luggage is a preferred mode of transportation for bed bugs

The bugs attach themselves to luggage and clothes for transportation. These aren’t their preferred environments, but allow them to move to new houses and spread their infestation. Just because you keep your house clean, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from a bed bug invasion.

Where Do Bed Bugs Live?

Bed bugs are sneaky when it comes to habitat. They’re small enough to hide in the cracks of walls and behind wallpaper. People usually find them in beds or cushions, but this isn’t the only place they like to dwell.

For that reason, checking your mattress and couch cushions alone won’t necessarily tell the whole story. It’s important to complete a visual inspection before you decide on your next move, but there’s a high chance you’ll miss some of their preferred living spots.

Visual Search

The best and most definitive way to search for bed bugs is to look for them. Carefully look through your beds, couches, and chairs to find out if any of them are scurrying around.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

For beds, take off all the sheets and covers to make your search as thorough as possible, taking meticulous care along the seams or around any labels. If you don’t find any bugs or eggs, take off the mattress and check the box spring. Remove any fabric that may be covering your mattress or box spring.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Bed bugs are tiny, and it’s possible you’ll miss them when you’re searching your house or apartment. Just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If the visual inspection didn’t net any results, it’s still worth taking measures to try to get the pests out of your home.

Mattress Encasement Inspection

A mattress encasement provides multiple benefits when it comes to identifying bed bugs. First and foremost, it’s a way to ensure that bed bugs don’t infest your mattress in the first place. Second, it takes away a large hiding area where these pests love to live.

With a mattress encasement, you can see bed bugs much easier and ensure that they don’t take over the inside of your mattress or box spring. The earlier you catch bed bugs, the better! Mattress encasements are crucial when it comes to early detection.

Bed Bug Mattress Cover

Once you’re sure about the bed bugs in your home, it’s time to contact a professional or explore home remedies for bed bugs.

What You Need To Know About Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs Yourself

Getting rid of bed bugs can be an expensive undertaking. For that reason, many people try to find an adequate home remedy for bed bugs first. If you decide to go this route, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you start.

Getting rid of bed bugs on your own can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Even more commonly, there’s a high chance you won’t get rid of all the bed bugs, and they’ll come back with a vengeance.

Throwing Everything Away

If your bed is infested with bed bugs, you don’t need to throw it out, but it’s probably a good idea. Still, you shouldn’t waste thousands of dollars buying a new mattress and furniture for your home. If bed bugs are living in other small cracks, they’ll just come out and infect your new furniture.

If you decide that your current mattress is too far gone, take precautions when you’re getting rid of it. Dragging a bed bug infested mattress through your house will only spread the infestation to separate rooms.

If you have a safer way to get your mattress and box spring out to the curb, make sure you place a note on the mattress, so people know what they’re dealing with. Spray paint the mattress, so people know not to take it home with them. Don’t just hand-off the headache to another unsuspecting person.

Always be responsible when disposing of infested items, and if in doubt, contact your local government office for further advice with regard to safe disposal.

Stay Where You Are

Finding out your bed is infested with bed bugs is disgusting. It can make you want to move to another room, or even sleep on the couch until you take care of the problem.

You need to resist these urges. Find a mattress cover, and continue sleeping on your bed until you get rid of the bed bugs. If you start sleeping somewhere else, the bed bugs will eventually find you and infest that piece of furniture as well.

Be Careful With Pesticides

Pesticides are the most effective way to eradicate bed bugs from your home. Unfortunately, according to a 2013 study, bed bugs have evolved to resist certain insecticides. You need to stay on top of effective treatments for bed bugs as the sneaky pests continue to develop immunities.

It’s critical that you read the label before using any pesticides on your home bed bug problem. Not all pesticides are intended for bed bugs - and many aren’t designed for indoor use at all. If you use one of the outdoor pesticides, you’re putting your health at risk, and the bed bugs likely won’t be affected.

We recommend that you don’t use pesticides as a home treatment for bed bugs. Pesticides can have several harmful effects on your health, and even EPA certified pesticides shouldn’t be used directly on your bed.

If you use one of these pesticides to get rid of your bed bug problem, it means you’ll be sleeping on chemicals. Additionally, most of these pesticides work better on contact than they do over time. This means that you may eradicate some bed bugs when you apply the pesticide, but those that come after will survive because they aren’t affected by the dry chemical.

Getting Rid of All Your Bed Bugs

Whether you’re taking care of bed bugs yourself or you’re hiring a professional, you want to be sure that all of the bed bugs are gone from your home. There’s nothing worse than spending time and money on bed bugs, only to find the little pests back in your furniture a few weeks later.

When Do Bed Bugs Come Out

Best Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Although a pest control professional is your best bet, hiring one can be expensive. Home remedies are most people’s first option, so ahead are a few effective methods for treating bed bugs without the help of trained professionals.

Clearing the Clutter

Before you start any home remedies, you need to clean the infested area. Clean, fold, and put away any piles of clothes you may have. Make sure every piece of clutter is put away before you begin any treatment.

If you neglect this step, bed bugs will probably linger after you’ve finished. You can treat your mattress as perfectly as a professional, but if bed bugs still linger in cluttered messes around your room, they’ll just come back again.

This is NOT how your room should look during an infestation. Keep the area tidy to minimize potential hiding places.

Vacuuming the Mattress

Cleaning and vacuuming your mattress and box spring is one of the most effective home remedies for bed bugs. Unlike using chemicals, this is a safe way to remove bed bugs relatively easily. If you complete these steps, there’s a good chance you’ll be getting closer towards eliminating the bed bug infestation once and for all.

  1. Bag and wash all of your bedding. Use two bags if you can, and throw the bags away outside once you’ve finished. Allow the bedding to dry for at least 30-60 minutes.
  1. Use a high-powered vacuum to remove any bedbugs from your mattress and box spring. Pay close attention to the creases, as this is a common place for bed bugs to hide.
  2. Take your vacuum outside, remove the bag, and throw it away. If you’re not careful, these pests will eventually infect the vacuum.
  1. Buy a mattress and bed frame encasement. You can find these at a local store, or buy them online. These trap any remaining bed bugs, preventing them from leaving the mattress and biting you. They also prevent the mattress from getting infested with any bugs left hiding in and around the bedroom.
  1. Make sure your bed is off the floor and away from walls. Any remaining bugs will have an easier time getting back on your bed if it’s on the floor and flush against a wall.
  1. Once you clean your bed and encase your mattress, you can put your washed linen back on the bed.

Washing & Drying Your Clothes

As with above, you should wash any clothing or other materials in which you think may be infested with either bugs or eggs. All infested clothing should be double-bagged and moved very carefully to the washing machine to ensure no bugs escape and re-infest another area of the home.

While the washing machine should kill the vast majority of bed bugs, the eggs are likely to survive as they are more resilient. Therefore, if possible, all washed items of clothing should be carefully transported to a dryer, where the higher heat will be able to destroy all leftover bugs and eggs.

Make sure to keep all treated clothing away from areas where bed bugs may still be a problem to prevent re-infestation. It may be wise to keep most clothing double-bagged until the house is completely free from infestation.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can be a cheap and effective solution for killing bed bugs. While rubbing alcohol will not usually be effective at killing eggs, it can be sprayed on free-roaming bed bugs, dissolving their outer skeleton and killing them over time (although not usually instantly). Rubbing alcohol can also be sprayed around common bed bug pathways to repel them and prevent them from crossing over to certain areas.

The best way to use rubbing alcohol is by adding it to a spray bottle and spraying directly onto visible bugs. However, caution must be practiced, as rubbing alcohol is extremely flammable.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is made from naturally-occurring rock and minerals that have been finely grounded down into a white powder. When this powder comes into contact with bed bugs, the tiny, sharp fragments pierce though the exoskeleton, draining moisture and dehydrating the bugs until they die.

DE is considered an extremely effective method for killing bed bugs as it is cheap, easy to use, and cannot have a resistance built up against it, unlike many common pesticides.

DE should be sprinkled around bed bug hot spots, or common pathways, where the insects will hopefully step across it and kick-start their own demise.

diatomaceous earth

diatomaceous earth

DE should be left for several days to allow as many bugs to come into contact with it as possible. It should also be noted that once the bugs come into contact with DE, it can take several days for them to actually die.

DE in most cases is very safe to use, and the majority of DE on the market is food-grade, meaning that it is edible. However, it can cause irritation to the throat and lungs if inhaled due to being extremely fine, meaning that caution should be taken when spreading the product. Wearing a mask at the time of spreading is recommended.

Double-Sided Sticky Tape

While sticky tape is unlikely to wipe out an entire infestation, it can be of great use when trying to keep bed bugs away from a certain area. For example, if you wish to sleep in peace without the fear of being bitten throughout the night, you could create a perimeter of double-sided sticky tape around your bed, ensuring that any bugs attempting to cross the barrier will become instantly stuck, and unable to advance.

While interceptor cups are a popular choice when trying to keep bugs from climbing a bed, they become useless if the bed has no legs and has all four sides in constant contact with the floor. This is where sticky tape can be a life-saver.

For those of you who are worried about bed bugs climbing the walls and dropping down on you during the night, a rather unauthorized preventative measure would be to line the walls with sticky tape half-way up; thus cutting off the route completely (although you will need quite a large amount of tape in order to line all four walls). Be careful when removing the tape, however, as you don't want to damage any paintwork. 

Insecticides

As we’ve already covered, insecticides can be dangerous when it comes to DIY bed bug removal. Still, they’re sometimes necessary for getting rid of the last remaining bed bugs. Read the label, and make sure it’s EPA certified for indoor use before starting. Additionally, complete the vacuum steps before turning to insecticides, so you don’t have to apply the chemicals directly to your mattress.

  1. Use chemicals to treat your bed-frame and headboard. Most of the bed bugs live in your mattress, but a few stragglers will still be in the surrounding area. Use insecticides to get rid of the ones closest to your bed
  1. Isolate your bed from the rest of the house to prevent any more infestations. You can do this by purchasing pitfall traps for bed bugs. Place one of these at each leg of your bed frame to catch any bed bugs as they try to move. This will help you avoid re-infecting your mattress.

There are dozens of bed bug sprays on the market; some more effected than others. If you'd like to try a spray yourself before getting the exterminators involved, our in-depth guide reviewing the best bed bug sprays currently on the market, might help to give you a good head start.

Temperature Treatments

Bed bugs are rather sensitive to temperature, which opens an opportunity to kill them with extreme heat or extreme cold. You should be careful here, as not all remedies are as effective without the assistance of trained professionals.

  1. If you have access to a professional-grade steamer, steam treat your mattress, carpet and other locations bed bugs may be hiding. Slow and methodically tackle each section of the room. Thicker or deeper fibers may have to be steamed more thoroughly in order to kill any lingering bugs or eggs.

    Be aware that bed bugs love to hide in deep cracks and crevices where they may be out of reach from any form of DIY heat treatment. If this is the case, further help may be required in the form of professional heat treatment options.
  2. Some infested items can be moved to a freezer in an attempt to kill any live bed bugs or eggs via cold treatment. Bed bugs and eggs can survive for several days in sub-zero temperatures so it's recommended to leave each item in the freezer for at least a week (but more ideally, 10 days). However, be sure not to freeze anything that may become damaged by prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures.

Does Steam Kill Bed Bugs


Treating Other Areas

If the infestation has spread to other areas of your home, you’ll have to locate the pests and take steps to eradicate them as well. If you don’t, they’ll just come back and take up residence in your room once again.

  1. Assess which rooms have an infestation.
  1. Separate furniture in infested rooms. If you leave a treated piece of furniture next to an infested piece, the bugs will move and create double the work.
  1. Put all clothes and personal items in bags, separating which items have been treated from those that haven’t. This will isolate any clothing that may be infested. Wash and tumble dry these items on a high heat.
  1. Vacuum the room thoroughly and the furniture to get rid of any adult bed bugs or eggs.
  1. Use safe insecticides to treat extra-small cracks where baby bed bugs could be hiding.
  2. Repeat these steps for any infested rooms, being extremely careful to not re-infest any areas that you have already treated.

How to Make Sure the Home Remedies Are Working

Once the symptoms of bed bugs stop, you shouldn’t find any more fecal matter, blood stains, or eggs in your room or mattress. This is usually an indication that your home remedy has worked, but you can get a better sense if you purchase an interceptor cup.

Interceptor cups help isolate infested areas and they also provide a way to track your progress. Empty the cups regularly, and over time you should see the number of bed bugs decreasing. Eventually, the cups won’t have any bed bugs in them, which is a sign that your home treatment was successful.

Double-sided tape can also be applied around your bed and in previous bed bug hot spots to see if any further bugs become stuck. If the tape traps any further bed bugs then it's a sign you may need to conduct further treatments or seek professional help.

We still recommend that you keep your mattress encasement on your bed to prevent further infestations. If you can, buy a new mattress, but this shouldn’t be necessary for minor cases. Keep the interceptor cups around until you experience a few months of a bed bug-free mattress.

What to Do if You Need Extra Help

Extreme cases of bed bugs won’t go away with these home remedies. If your whole house is infected, cleaning and isolating your bed will do little to fix the problem. In these cases, your best bet is to ask a professional for assistance.

Even if you still want to tackle the problem yourself, we still recommend that you seek professional advice as to what pesticides are safe and effective.

Many pesticide chemicals can be extremely harmful, and some of them won’t even address the problem you’re trying to correct. Read the label, and if you have any more questions, reach out to a pest control professional. Most professionals will give you some free advice without having to commit to their services.

Tackling the Bed Bug Problem

Home remedies for bed bugs can be useful, but they take time and effort to get right. Follow all of these steps for the best results. There’s nothing worse than cutting a few corners, only to find that the bed bugs are back with a vengeance. If home remedies still don’t work, the only option is to seek professional help.

Ridding your home of bed bugs is costly and time-consuming. If you can, try to take preventative measures before an infestation occurs. Mattress enclosures are one of the best preventative measures. If you’re unsure about an infestation, get some interceptor cups, so you know for sure.

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