How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Effectively

by | Feb 15, 2024

Effectively eliminating bed bugs requires a multifaceted integrated pest management approach that combines different treatment methods due to the pests’ resilience and ability to hide. Bed bugs reach sizes between 5 – 9 millimeters and are experts at avoiding detection due to their thin bodies that can fit in cracks and crevices the width of a credit card. If that wasn’t enough, they can survive for months without feeding and females can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime. The complexity of effectively treating bed bugs depends on several factors including the severity of infestation, available hiding places, and cooperation among all residents in a household or building. Key steps involve identifying the problem, developing a comprehensive plan, containing the infestation, preparing for treatment, and applying targeted measures to eradicate the bugs. 

Table of Contents

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What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs, scientifically known as Cimex lectularius, are tiny, wingless insects with a flat, oval-shaped body that is reddish-brown. They are typically about the size of an apple seed. The name ‘bed bugs‘ stems from their common habitat in and around sleeping areas that include beds, mattresses, and box springs. These pests gravitate to these locations because they feed on human hosts while they are asleep. While they are believed to be completely nocturnal, their activity at night increases due to the presence of a nearby sleeping host rather than the time of day [1]. Bed bugs will feed during the daytime if a host is close by, and they are hungry enough or when infestations are severe. Although they are not known to transmit diseases, their bites can result in red, itchy welts and swelling on the skin. 

Can You Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Your Own?

Eliminating bed bugs on your own is possible, but it often requires patience, persistence, and a combination of various strategies. However, DIY bed bug management isn’t recommended because the process can be particularly lengthy and challenging if you’re dealing with a sizable infestation. If DIY strategies are attempted, it is important to use multiple treatment methods to ensure a well-rounded attack that targets bed bugs and their eggs. In addition to implementing effective strategies, proper preparation is needed before treatments to minimize the spread and on-going monitoring is needed after treatment to ensure complete extermination. It isn’t uncommon for initial DIY methods to fail and for additional time and resources to be spent to reimplement previously attempted treatment strategies. If self-applied methods do not yield success, or if the infestation is extensive, enlisting the services of a professional bed bug exterminator becomes a practical and often necessary step. They bring expertise and specialized equipment that can more effectively and comprehensively address the bed bug problem.

Why You Should Consider Professional Bed Bug Treatment

Considering professional bed bug treatment is crucial due to the complex and resilient nature of bed bugs. Here are key reasons to opt for professional pest control services:

  • Pesticide Resistance: Bed bugs have developed resistance to many commercially available pesticides [2]. Effectively treating bed bugs using chemical options often requires professionals to use varied and more effective treatment methods. Improper use of professional grade chemical treatments can be unsafe or ineffective if they are not implemented properly. 
  • Thoroughness of Treatment: Professionals ensure comprehensive treatment. Bed bug exterminators know where to seek out bed bug aggregation points in order to reach all bed bug hiding spots. These areas are often overlooked during DIY attempts.
  • Prevent the Spread: Bed bugs might not be able to fly but they are surprisingly fast and can cover much more space than one would expect. This means that bed bugs can easily spread to new locations after treatment options have been applied which can introduce bed bugs into new areas of a home. Professional bed bug exterminators also know how to effectively contain the spread through properly preparing a space for bed bug treatment. 
  • Effectiveness on Eggs: DIY attempts at bed bug eradication usually overlook the stages of the bed bug life cycle. Untrained individuals do not realize that effective bed bug treatments typically require multiple treatment sessions to ensure that newly hatched bed bugs that emerge after initial treatment are also killed. 
  • Rapid Reproduction: Professionals bed bug exterminators will ensure the most efficient treatment strategy which will help cull bed bug populations at regular intervals until an infestation is completely eradicated. Failed DIY attempts may allow populations to proliferate to unmanageable levels.
  • Specialized Knowledge and Equipment: Pest control experts possess the necessary knowledge and equipment to deal with bed bugs’ secretive behavior and hiding places. This includes heat, steam, and cold treatments that are not usually available to homeowners.
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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Step by Step 

The following steps are generally the only way to guarantee that bed bugs are completely exterminated. 

Step 1: Identify the Problem

The first crucial step in addressing a pest problem is accurately identifying the pest. Conduct a thorough inspection of all possible areas where bed bugs could be present, including adjacent living spaces to gauge the full extent of the infestation. If you suspect bed bugs, begin by gathering a sample of the insect or identify the signs of bed bugs for confirmation. If a bed bug can be secured, it can be compared against images online for proper identification. Professional pest control experts can also help with identification because they are knowledgeable in pest control as well as familiar with the specific pest challenges in your area. This comprehensive assessment is vital for developing an effective treatment plan.

In the case of rental properties, if bed bugs are confirmed, it’s important to inform your landlord immediately so they can inspect and potentially treat neighboring units. Landlords often have legal responsibilities [3] to address such infestations. 

Signs of Bed Bugs

Recognizing the signs of bed bug infestations is essential for timely and effective treatment. Here are key indicators to watch for:

  • Live Bed Bugs: Adult bed bugs are reddish brown insects that are spotted moving around infested areas or hidden somewhere in mattresses or box springs.
  • Dark Fecal Spots: These dark points are usually found in common bed bug hiding places and will bleed out giving them the appearance of a brown marker stain.
  • Reddish Blood Stains: Bed bugs can be crushed which can cause their engorged bodies to burst or leak blood.
  • Shed Skins: Look for small, transparent, pale yellow skins that bed bug nymphs shed as they grow. 
  • Whitish Eggs: Small, whitish eggs about 1 mm in size can sometimes be seen in bed frame crevices and other hidden spots.

Upon discovering a suspected bed bug, it’s best to contain it in a sealed jar with a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol for proper identification. 

Make Sure You Are Dealing with Bed Bugs

Ensuring that you are dealing with bed bugs is critical before attempting treatment because treatments for different pests vary significantly in approach and cost.

No Visible Insects – If you haven’t found any insects resembling bed bugs, there may be no need for bed bug-specific treatment. However, continued vigilance is key. Keep an eye out for early signs of infestation, such as bite marks or small blood stains on bedding. If suspicion persists despite no visible insects, consider consulting a professional for a thorough inspection. Bed bugs are experts at hiding and not seeing them doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not there. Professional expertise can be invaluable in detecting their presence because they can inspect common hiding places and implement traps to monitor for live bed bugs.

Potential Bed Bug Sightings – In cases where you’ve found insects that might be bed bugs, accurate identification is essential. Many bugs, including some species of beetles and cockroaches, can be mistaken for bed bugs. Similarly, flea and mosquito bites can be mistaken for bed bug bites. Misidentification can lead to ineffective treatment methods. In this scenario, it’s beneficial to consult professionals that can help distinguish bed bugs from other common household pests. 

Step 2: Identify All Infested Areas

Identifying all infested areas is a critical step in effectively dealing with bed bugs. These elusive pests can hide in various places, so a thorough inspection is necessary. Here are key areas to check:

  • Mattresses and Box Springs: Focus on folds, seams, labels, buttons, and the area between the mattress and box spring. Look for blood stains, shed skins, and live bugs.
  • Bed Frame and Headboard: Inspect cracks, crevices, and where the headboard attaches to the bed frame or wall.
  • Furniture Near the Bed: Nightstands, dressers, chairs, and any other furniture close to the bed should be examined, including inside drawers and furniture joints.
  • Walls and Baseboards: Check behind electrical outlet faceplates, in cracks and crevices behind paneling and trim, and along baseboards.
  • Textiles: Examine quilts, blankets, bedspreads, pillows, and curtains for signs of bed bugs.
  • Upholstered Furniture: Look in seams, folds, tufts, and under cushions of sofas, chairs, and other upholstered furniture.
  • Electrical Appliances and Decor: Inspect around clocks, phones, televisions, computers, and decor items like picture frames and wall hangings.
  • Window and Door Frames: Search gaps between moldings and wall surfaces as well as cracks in windows and doors.
  • Closets and Clutter: Examine clothing and any cluttered areas in the room including piles of books or magazines.

Bed bugs are known for their ability to squeeze into tiny spaces as thin as a credit card, so it’s important to inspect every possible hiding spot thoroughly. 

Step 3: Create a Plan

Creating an effective plan is crucial in successfully tackling a bed bug infestation. Start by setting up a detailed schedule that outlines the necessary steps and timelines and ensures it aligns with your personal commitments like vacations or business trips. This schedule should include all planned treatments, inspections, and follow-up actions.

Maintaining detailed records throughout the process is equally important. Document the dates and specific locations of where bed bugs are discovered. This information will be invaluable in tracking the progress of your efforts and in pinpointing areas requiring focused treatment. Consistent monitoring is key so continue to check for bed bugs regularly, even after the main treatment phase is over. This vigilance should ideally extend for at least a couple months with periodic checks for up to a year post-treatment to confirm that the infestation is completely eradicated and to prevent any potential re-infestation. Keeping a log of these checks will help ensure that you remain bed bug-free in the long term.

Step 4: Contain the Bed Bug Infestation

Once a bed bug infestation is identified, containing it effectively is crucial to prevent further spread. Here are some strategies to achieve this:

  • Start With Areas That Don’t Show Signs of Bed Bugs: Any areas that are known to already have bed bugs should be addressed last. This is important to ensure that you don’t accidentally spread bed bugs from a contaminated area to a clean area.
  • Vacuum: Use a vacuum on your bed, dresser, carpets, and electronics. Seal the vacuumed contents in a plastic bag and dispose of it outside, then clean the vacuum thoroughly.
  • Wash and Dry Linens: Seal all linens and affected clothes in plastic bags until they can be washed. Throw items in the dryer for the longest setting with the highest heat possible first before washing items using the hottest water setting. This is because the hottest temperatures in dryers can reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit [4] vs the washer which reaches 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This way the minimum temperature threshold is sustained long enough to kill the bed bugs and their eggs before the items are washed. Items that can’t be washed should be dried on high heat for 30 minutes.
  • Separate Cleaned Items: Be sure to separate cleaned items and keep them quarantined from any areas or items that are infested.
  • Seal Non-Washable Items: Double bag items that can’t be treated in the washer or dryer in vacuum sealed plastic bag for several months to ensure all bugs are killed.
  • Dispose of Furniture Safely: If furniture can’t be cleaned, dispose of it responsibly. Make sure to tear it up and label it with “bed bugs” to prevent others from taking it.
  • Mattress Encasements: Use encasements for your mattress and box spring to trap bed bugs inside. 
  • Bed Bug Traps: Implement bed bug traps called interceptors at the feet of bed and furniture to catch and contain these pests.
  • Seal Cracks and Crevices: Use silicon caulk to seal any potential hiding spots to make it harder for bed bugs to find shelter.

Remember, bed bugs are highly resilient so these containment measures should be part of a broader integrated pest management strategy to ensure effective treatment. It is also important to note that bed bugs can move rapidly within wall cavities which can allow them to spread to units that share walls in apartment buildings or townhouses. It is important to notify your landlord or neighbors if there are bed bugs in your space to ensure that preventative steps can be taken before treatment is applied to stop the spread of bed bugs to other units. 

Step 5: Prep for Bed Bug Treatment

Preparation is a vital step in effectively treating bed bug infestations. Begin by ensuring all linens, carpets, drapes, and clothing are either cleaned or disposed of, as detailed in the previous step. This reduces potential hiding places and breeding grounds for bed bugs and ensures that mattresses and box springs can be treated. Next, focus on decluttering and organizing the infested areas [5]:

  • Declutter: Remove books, magazines, clothes, and other items from the floor and under the bed. Discard unnecessary items and contain the rest in large plastic tubs for treatment. Avoid transferring these items to clean rooms to prevent spreading the infestation.
  • Clear walls: Remove hanging items like picture frames, posters, mirrors, and clocks and place them in the center of the room to be treated. Also remove outlet covers and switch plates. 
  • Empty Dressers and Cabinets: All items that are stored in wooden furniture like dressers should be removed and properly laundered or contained. 
  • Rearrange Furniture: Move your bed and any furniture at least 18 inches away from the wall to prevent bed bugs from accessing it while also allowing exterminators to treat the walls and the furniture.

These preparation steps are necessary to ensure that bed bugs are addressed in all of the areas they may be hiding. 

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Step 6: Treat for Bed Bugs

Treating bed bugs typically requires a combination of different strategies to ensure complete eradication. It can be a meticulous process, and it’s important to treat all potential hiding places. Repeating treatments and ongoing monitoring are often necessary afterwards because populations can reemerge if all stages of the life cycle are not killed off properly.

Heat Treatment

Heat treatment is a highly effective, non-chemical method for eradicating bed bugs and their eggs. It exploits bed bugs’ vulnerability to extreme temperatures. Here’s how you can use heat treatment for bed bugs:

  • Wash and Dry Infested Items: Bedding, clothing, and other washable items should be dried on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes to raise the temperatures above the bed bugs thermal threshold. This ensures that the bed bugs and their eggs are all terminated. Then continue to wash these items in hot water for at least 30 minutes, followed by drying again on the highest heat setting until dry.
  • Heat Exposure: In climates with extremely hot days, items can be packed in secure containers or black plastic bags and left outside for several hours to cook in the direct sun. The internal temperature needs to be raised above the thermal threshold of 130°F to kill bed bugs and their eggs [6].
  • Heat Chambers: Specialized heat chambers can be constructed or purchased online. These box-like structures are attached to a heating element that rapidly heat the inside of the container to above 140°F to kill off any bed bugs that may be hiding inside the items placed inside the heat chambers. These are good to use for items that can’t be laundered on high heat.
  • Whole House Heat Treatment: Professional pest control services offer whole-house heat treatments, where rooms are heated to temperatures between 135°F (57.2°C) and 145°F (62.7°C) using specialized space heaters and fans. These temperatures have to be maintained for several hours to ensure that the heat permeates even the hardest-to-reach hiding spots of bed bugs like furniture joints and inside wall cavities. While these treatments are often the best solution to bed bugs, these treatments can be costly and require careful planning to ensure effectiveness, especially in larger or concrete-heavy spaces. 

Heat treatments are advantageous because they are non-toxic, and they guarantee results if the proper temperature is reached and maintained. However, if heat is not applied properly or the temperature is not maintained long enough, they offer no residual protection against re-infestation. 

Steam Treatment

Steam treatment is another effective, non-chemical method for killing bed bugs and their eggs. This strategy is particularly useful for treating mattresses, couches, carpets, bed frames, and other upholstered furniture. The steam must reach a temperature of at least 130°F to be effective. A slow, methodical application is recommended, with a rate of about 1 inch per second. This ensures the steam penetrates into cracks, crevices, and soft surfaces while also not scattering the bed bugs from the pressure caused by released steam.

Professional pest control services often use steamers that emit temperatures that far exceed the bed bug temperature threshold which instantly kills bed bugs and their eggs. However, steam treatment has its limitations:

  • It only kills bed bugs that are directly exposed to the steam, which means that multiple treatments may be necessary to completely eradicate an infestation. 
  • Steam treatment also doesn’t offer any residual effect against future infestations.
  • Steam must be used carefully around electrical outlets, electronics, and certain furniture finishes.

Cold Treatment

Cold treatment is another non-chemical approach to eliminating bed bugs that leverages extreme cold to kill these pests. This method can be effective but requires specific conditions to work properly:

  • Freezer Treatment: Infested items can be placed in a plastic bag and then into a freezer set to 0°F or lower. Items should remain in the freezer for at least three days [7] to ensure all bed bugs and their eggs are killed. It’s crucial to maintain this temperature which can be problematic, as many household freezers may not reach the necessary coldness. Always use a thermometer to verify the freezer’s temperature.
  • Cryonite Treatment: A more advanced form of cold treatment is Cryonite, which involves the use of specialized equipment to spray CO2 snow at temperatures of -110°F. This method rapidly freezes and kills bed bugs and their eggs. Cryonite is particularly useful for treating sensitive areas like schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, as it leaves no residue, is non-toxic, and poses no risk of chemical resistance. The downside to this is that Cryonite needs to be applied directly to bed bugs and their eggs to be effective. 

While effective at killing bed bugs on contact, cold treatments offer no residual protection. This means that if bed bugs survive or are reintroduced shortly after treatment, their populations can proliferate unchecked. 

Desiccant Treatment

Desiccant treatment is a strategic option in the battle against bed bugs that employs substances that cause bed bugs to die from dehydration. This method has the advantage of being effective against bed bugs that have developed resistance to other pesticides but it’s important to note that desiccants can take several months to fully eradicate an infestation.

When opting for desiccant treatment, it’s crucial to use products specifically registered by the EPA as pesticides:

  • Silica Aerogel: This drying agent covers bed bugs and acts like a sponge to draw moisture from the bed bugs’ bodies. Once enough moisture has been extracted, the bed bugs cease to function. 
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE): This fine powder is actually the fossilized remains of diatoms [8]. Once fossilized, these tiny creatures become silica-based particulates that have tiny sharp edges. When bed bugs are exposed to DE, the powder covers their bodies and gets into their joints. As the bed bugs move, the abrasive surface of the DE causes micro abrasions that cause the bed bugs to lose fluids and eventually die. It is important to avoid using pool or food-grade diatomaceous earth, as it can be harmful when inhaled. The pesticide versions of diatomaceous earth are designed with a different size of diatoms which reduce the risk to humans while remaining effective against bed bugs.

Insecticides

Insecticide treatment is a common approach to tackling bed bug infestations, but it is important to understand that modern bed bugs have become resilient to several pesticide types. When using chemical treatments, it is recommended that bed bug exterminators are enlisted so they can apply professional grade pesticides properly to maximize the effectiveness of treatment. The following are all common bed bug insecticides that have varying degrees of effectiveness:

  • Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids: These are widely used insecticides derived from chrysanthemum flowers or their synthetic equivalents. While effective, some bed bug populations have developed resistance to these chemicals.
  • Pyrroles and Neonicotinoids: Pyrroles disrupt the cells of bed bugs while neonicotinoids affect their nervous system. These chemical options are particularly useful against pesticide-resistant bed bugs [9].
  • Botanical Oil-Based Products: Certain plant-based options are available for bed bug treatment. These options are less toxic than other insecticides but need to be applied properly to be effective.

When using insecticides, it’s important to:

  • Follow Safety Guidelines: Always read and adhere to label directions to ensure safe and effective use.
  • Use Proper Protective Gear: Applying insecticides can expose individuals to harmful sprays that can cause respiratory problems or skin irritations. It is recommended that masks and the proper attire is worn during application. 
  • Consider Professional Application: For severe infestations, professional pest control services can ensure thorough application and use of a wider range of products.

Keep in mind that while chemical treatments can be effective, they often require multiple applications and may not always provide a complete solution on their own. Additionally, bed bugs’ increasing resistance to certain insecticides necessitates a multifaceted approach for effective control.

Treatments to Avoid

When dealing with bed bug infestations, it’s crucial to steer clear of certain treatments that are ineffective or dangerous. Some commonly suggested remedies can do more harm than good and should be avoided:

  • Hazardous Substances: Strong chemicals like rubbing alcohol, kerosene, and gasoline are not only ineffective against bed bugs but also pose significant risks to health and safety. These substances can be highly flammable and can create a serious fire hazard in your home.
  • Foggers and Bug Bombs: These treatment methods rarely provide an effective solution to bed bugs. They fail to permeate the deepest hiding places where bed bugs can reach [10], and they can be harmful to children and pets if exposed to the fumes. 
  • Sticky Traps: While sticky traps or glue boards are often used for catching various insects like spiders or cockroaches, they are not effective for bed bug control. Bed bugs are not typically attracted to these traps and using them can lead to a false sense of security about the severity of the infestation.

It’s important to use treatments that are specifically designed for bed bugs and to follow safe and recommended practices. If you are unsure about a particular method or product, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional pest control service. They can provide guidance on effective and safe treatment options and help to ensure that the infestation is addressed properly without putting your home or family at risk.

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Step 7: Monitor for Bed Bug Activity

Monitoring for bed bug activity is a crucial step in ensuring the effectiveness of your treatment and preventing future infestations. Bed bugs treatments can take multiple attempts over several weeks or even months to completely eradicate them. Here’s how to effectively monitor for bed bug activity:

  • Regular Inspections: Inspect the previously infested areas and surrounding spaces every 7 days. Look for signs of bed bugs, including live insects, eggs, shed skins, or fecal spots. This allows bed bug eggs that were not successfully terminated to hatch and develop into nymphs. 
  • Use of Interceptors: Place bed bug interceptors under each leg of beds and upholstered furniture. These devices trap bed bugs trying to climb onto the furniture which make it easier to spot any surviving bugs. Check these interceptors every few days to a week and dispose of any trapped bed bugs appropriately. Bed bugs that are caught after treatment indicate that treatment was unsuccessful and should be reattempted. 
  • Reapplication of Treatment: If new bed bug activity is detected in the interceptors or during inspections, be prepared to reapply treatment methods. This may include additional insecticide applications, heat treatments, or other methods as needed.

It’s important to maintain this monitoring routine for up to a year to ensure all bed bugs, including those that might hatch from lingering eggs, are eliminated. If bed bug activity persists despite repeated treatments, consider seeking assistance from professional bed bug exterminators that can offer more comprehensive and targeted control methods.

Step 8: Get Professional Bed Bug Exterminators

If attempts to eliminate bed bugs are unsuccessful professional exterminators are most likely needed. Pest control companies offer several advantages:

  • Access to Professional-Grade Treatments: Professionals have access to a range of insecticides and treatments not available to the general public. These include contact-killing insecticides and long-lasting formulas that remain effective within furniture and cracks.
  • Whole Room Heat Treatments: Pest control services can employ whole room heat treatments that use specialized equipment to raise room temperatures between 135 and 145°F (57.22 and 62.78°C). This level of heat is sufficient to eradicate bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Expertise and Experience: Professionals bring expertise in identifying and effectively treating bed bug infestations. Their experience allows them to target treatments accurately and safely.
  • Preparation and Follow-Up: Before the treatment, pest control companies will provide detailed instructions to prepare your home, which is crucial for the success of the treatment. They will likely follow up with two to three additional visits to ensure the infestation is fully resolved.

Professional treatments may be more costly, but they typically offer a much higher success rate when infestations are severe. The cost can vary based on the extent of the infestation and the size of the area being treated but the time and headache saved usually offset the extra costs. After each session, there may be a waiting period before you can safely re-enter the treated rooms.

Step 9: Prevent Future Bed Bug Activity

After successfully eliminating bed bugs, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent their return. Many of the previously taken steps to contain and prepare for bed bug treatment are also useful preventative measures. Here are some effective strategies for maintaining a bed bug-free environment:

  • Minimize Clutter: Reducing clutter in your home eliminates potential hiding spots for bed bugs. Avoid leaving items like clothes, stuffed animals, electronics, books and magazines on the floor.
  • Mattress and Box Spring Covers: Use encasements made of materials that are impervious to bed bug movement on your mattress and box spring. This prevents bed bugs from entering or escaping these common hiding places.
  • Regular Cleaning: Vacuum and wash bedding, furniture, curtains, and carpets frequently. This helps to remove any lingering bed bugs or eggs and reduces the likelihood of re-infestation.
  • Seal Cracks and Openings: Fill in cracks around baseboards, light sockets, and electrical outlets. This reduces entry points for bed bugs into your home.
  • Travel Precautions: Bed bugs are picked up when traveling. When staying in hotels or other accommodations, inspect the room for bed bugs before sleeping or setting your luggage down. Leave luggage on stands or in the bathroom where bed bugs are least likely to be. Check your luggage and clothing upon returning home to prevent inadvertently bringing bed bugs into your house.
  • Routine Inspections: Regularly check for signs of bed bugs like small blood spots on sheets or bites on the body. Pay special attention to areas where pets sleep.
  • Care with Second-Hand Items: Be cautious with second-hand furniture and bedding. It is better off to just forgo secondhand items unless they have been thoroughly inspected or treated.

Remember, early detection is key to preventing a full-scale infestation. Regular monitoring and maintaining a clean, clutter-free environment are essential practices for keeping bed bugs at bay. 

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in a Mattress, Box Springs, and Beds

Eliminating bed bugs from a mattress requires a comprehensive approach, as these pests can hide in just about every little crack and seam in the mattress and box spring. Here are key steps to effectively get rid of bed bugs in a mattress:

  • Direct Treatment: Non-chemical methods like thorough vacuuming followed by steam cleaning or Cryonite freezing are effective and help reduce pesticide exposure. Other methods that rely on the use of chemical pesticides only are not recommended as bed bugs can be resistant. If chemical treatments are used, be sure to use EPA approved materials that are safe for mattresses. Be sure to follow directions closely and give enough time for the chemicals to dissipate before using the mattress.
  • Box Spring Treatment: Address the box spring thoroughly because it has many hiding places for bed bugs. Remove any fabric liners to access and treat the interior wooden frame. You can use chemical treatments more liberally here compared to the mattress. Vacuum, steam, or cold treatment can also be used to eliminate bed bugs. 
  • Insecticide Dust Application: Use silica-based dust in hard-to-reach areas like bed frame joints and interior framework of the box spring. Silica dust causes dehydration and death in bed bugs. Apply carefully and avoid sleeping surfaces to prevent irritation.
  • Mattress and Box Spring Encasement: After treating the mattress and box spring, encase them in bed bug-proof covers and leave the covers on for at least a year. This traps any remaining bed bugs inside which causes them to starve and prevents further reinfestation.
  • Regular Monitoring: Place bed bug traps under the feet of the bed to capture and monitor bed bug activity. This helps in ensuring complete eradication and in preventing future infestations.

Bed bugs are rarely contained to just the bed so these steps should be part of a broader strategy that includes treating other areas of the room and maintaining cleanliness to prevent re-infestation. 

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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Furniture

Effectively eliminating bed bugs from furniture requires a thorough approach with each piece of furniture requiring its own unique strategy. Here’s how to tackle bed bugs in various types of furniture:

  • Sofas and Chairs:
    • Vacuum the furniture thoroughly using the finest attachment while focusing on folds, pleats, and seams.
    • Use a portable steamer to apply steam to any upholstered areas and wooden joints. Be sure to use slow sweeping movements that are directly above the surface to ensure the proper temperature is applied.
    • Aerosol products are good to reach down into the deep spaces between cushions on upholstered furniture. Be sure to use the crack and crevice straw attachment for deeper penetration.
    • Allow the furniture to dry completely before following up with insecticide dust in otherwise inaccessible areas.
    • If possible and consider using bed bug-proof encasements if they fit your furniture design.
    • Place bed bug traps or monitors under the furniture legs to monitor for ongoing infestations.
  • Bedroom Furniture:
    • Start by decluttering and cleaning the area around the furniture.
    • Launder any removable items like linens on the highest heat settings.
    • Vacuum the inside of drawers and under the furniture and immediately dispose of or clean the vacuum content.
    • Treat cracks, crevices, and the inside of drawers with steam followed by residual spray insecticides.
    • Pay extra attention to furniture legs, joints, and casters and consider disassembling furniture for thorough treatment.
    • Apply insecticide dust if possible and use traps or monitors under the furniture legs for ongoing monitoring.
  • Bedroom Accessories and Picture Frames:
    • Inspect and disassemble picture frames, lamps, and other small items for bed bugs.
    • Treat these items carefully with appropriate products while focusing on tight joints and hidden areas.
    • Steam can be applied to most items while a hair dryer can be used on paintings and other items that are sensitive to moisture.
  • Heat Chamber Treatment:
    • For furniture with inaccessible harborages, consider using a heat chamber. These can be purchased online or rented and are generally easy to set up. The biggest problem with this option is finding the appropriate size container to fit larger items.
    • Some pest control companies offer large heat chambers that can accommodate furniture which can effectively kill any bed bugs hiding inside.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Carpet

Eliminating bed bugs from carpets requires careful and thorough treatment because these pests can hide in the fibers and along the edges. Here are steps to effectively rid your carpets of bed bugs:

  • Vacuum Thoroughly:
    • Use your vacuum’s baseboard attachment to clean along the edges where the carpet meets the baseboards. This is an extremely common hiding spot for bed bugs that requires special attention.
    • Vacuum every inch of the carpet slowly and methodically to ensure you cover all areas.
    • Immediately dispose of the vacuum bag or thoroughly clean the canister with boiling water outside to prevent re-infestation.
  • Steam Cleaning:
    • Rent or purchase a steam cleaner that can reach at least 212°F to ensure effective penetration deep into the carpet fibers.
    • Move the steamer slowly across the carpet (about one inch per second) to ensure the heat effectively kills the bed bugs.
  • Insecticide Dust:
    • Apply silica dust or diatomaceous earth but strictly adhere to label instructions. These products are typically meant for crack and crevice treatments and should not be used as a broad application on carpets.
    • Focus on applying the dust in areas where the carpet meets the wall and other tight spaces where bed bugs may hide.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes

Effectively removing bed bugs from clothes is a critical component of managing an infestation. While laundering won’t eradicate bed bugs from your home entirely, it plays a significant role in controlling their spread. Here’s how to ensure your clothing is bed bug-free:

  • Separate Contaminated Laundry:
    • Keep clothing that may be infested in a sealed plastic bag to prevent spreading bed bugs to other areas.
    • Dispose of the plastic bag outside immediately after transferring the clothes into the dryer.
    • Regularly inspect laundry bins for any remaining bed bugs.
  • High Heat Washing and Drying:
    • Before washing clothes, dry clothing on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes. Follow this up by washing clothing using the hottest water setting before drying again on the highest heat setting.
    • Bed bugs and their eggs are eliminated at temperatures of 122℉ or higher so the initial dryer cycle should kill all the bed bugs and their eggs while the follow up wash and dry are additional safety precautions.
  • Secure Storage:
    • After laundering, store clean clothes in a sealed plastic bin or bag until the infestation is fully treated and cleared.
    • This prevents re-infestation of the freshly cleaned clothes.
  • Handling Dry Clean Only Items:
    • Consult with your dry cleaner about handling bed bug-contaminated garments.
    • Inform them in advance and inquire about their procedures for treating bed bug-infested items.
    • Dry cleaning does kill bed bugs due to the chemicals used rather than the heat of the process.

Regular laundering of bedding and clothes using the steps outlined above can significantly reduce the presence of bed bugs in these items. 

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Luggage 

liminating bed bugs from luggage is crucial as they are often unknowingly transported in these items. Here’s how to ensure your luggage is free from bed bugs:

  • Precaution During Travel:
    • Inspect the hotel room’s mattress and headboard for bed bugs before settling in.
    • Avoid placing luggage on or near the bed or on the floor. Instead, use the luggage rack or other hard counter. 
    • If bed bugs are found, the best place to keep luggage is on the toilet or in the tub until alternative accommodations can be arranged. 
  • Post-Travel Treatment:
    • Never assume that because bed bugs were not found where you stayed, that they couldn’t have been picked up during transit. 
    • Upon returning home, thoroughly inspect the luggage using a flashlight, focusing on seams, pockets, folds, and zippers.
    • Before bringing the luggage inside, remove all clothing and seal them in a plastic bag.
    • Launder the clothes on the highest heat settings possible to kill any bed bugs.
    • Steam clean luggage to ensure any hidden bed bugs are killed. Use a steam cleaner with a crevice attachment to steam all parts of the luggage, moving slowly to ensure effectiveness.
  • Heat Treatment:
    • For frequent travelers, consider investing in a home heat chamber. This device can heat treat luggage and its contents to a temperature lethal to bed bugs and their eggs.

By implementing these steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home via luggage. Regular inspection and cleaning of luggage, particularly after trips, are essential preventive measures. 

Contact Absolute Pest Management if You Are Dealing with Bed Bugs

Tackling a bed bug infestation requires diligence, patience, and sometimes a professional touch. While the steps provided can help you manage and reduce bed bug presence, complete eradication can be challenging and may necessitate expert intervention. If you find yourself facing a persistent bed bug problem, don’t hesitate to seek the help of professional bed bug exterminators. Contact Absolute Pest Management for comprehensive, effective solutions tailored to your specific situation. With our years of expertise and advanced methods, we can ensure your home is free of bed bugs. We have offices in Austin and Buda, Texas and serve the surrounding communities. Contact us today to schedule an inspection so you can get on with your lives free of bed bugs.

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Getting Rid of Bed Bug FAQs

  • What kills bed bugs faster?
    • Heat treatment is one of the most effective and fastest methods for killing bed bugs. Exposing bed bugs to temperatures of around 120°F to 140°F for a few hours can eliminate bed bugs and their eggs quickly. This method is used by professional exterminators and ensures that all life stages of bed bugs are eradicated from infested areas.
  • What to do if you slept with bed bugs?
    • If you’ve slept in a place infested with bed bugs, there is a good chance that you can carry them to your next destination or your home. Upon returning home, immediately wash and dry your clothing on the highest heat settings possible because this will kill the bugs and their eggs. Inspect and vacuum your luggage thoroughly and steam any remaining items that were used while traveling if possible.
  • How long does it take to get rid of bed bugs realistically?
    • Realistically, eradicating bed bugs can take several weeks to a few months. The duration of treatment depends on the severity of the infestation and the treatment methods used. Professional pest control services often require multiple visits to completely eliminate bed bugs because these pests are skilled at hiding and can survive for long periods without feeding. Consistent and comprehensive treatment, including follow-up inspections is crucial for thorough removal.
  • What is the most common way to get rid of bed bugs?
    • The most common and effective way to get rid of bed bugs involves a combination of thorough cleaning, heat treatment, and the use of insecticides. This typically includes laundering infested items on high heat, vacuuming, steaming, and applying EPA-approved pesticides specifically designed for bed bugs in areas where they have been found. Professional pest control services often use these methods together to provide a comprehensive approach to effectively eliminate bed bug infestations.

Sources

[1] https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/bedbug.html

[2] [9] https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/pesticides-control-bed-bugs

[3] https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/landlord-responsibility-bed-bugs.html

[4] https://www.whirlpool.com/blog/washers-and-dryers/how-hot-does-a-dryer-temperature-get.html

[5] https://www.cabq.gov/environmentalhealth/documents/sample-bed-bug-treatment-preparation-checklist.pdf

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553552/

[7] https://extension.umn.edu/biting-insects/bed-bugs#what-you-can-do-yourself-49011

[8] http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/degen.html

[10] https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/others/ent-3012/

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