Bed Bug Control Methods – What Works and What Doesn’t


Over the past 15-20 years, bed bugs have suddenly gone from being a myth to a harsh reality for many.   Bed bugs in urban areas of the world have unfortunately become very common.  Not to the level of roaches, or mice, but certainly high on the list of household pests.

Bed Bug Control Methods

People get bed bugs through visited infested homes or hotels, by bringing infested used furniture into their homes, or just through bed bugs wandering into their home from another infested home or apartment nearby.  You can get bed bugs by simply sitting next to someone how has them.

Due to the high cost of hiring professional exterminators, many people choose to treat their bed bug problem themselves.  

While "do it yourself" home treatments can certainly work, especially when done correctly, hiring a professional exterminator is the best and most effective option.  Professionals have the knowledge, time, equipment, and insecticides to do the job, and do it right.

Bed Bugs Confused

While you'll only find bed bug treatment solutions here on the Bed Bug Treatment Site, that truly work, there are thousands of websites and internet forums full of "treatment solutions" that just don't work, at all.  In fact, finding out what works, and what doesn't can be very difficult due to all the mis-information.  

We created this site to help people just like you, people who are suffering from bed bugs, and looking for help.   The information below will tell you "straight up", what treatment solutions work, and which don't.  

We hope this information will help you make the right choices and ones that help you resolve your bed bug problem quickly and safely.

Bed Bugs - What Works and What Doesn't

What Works

  1. Encasing your mattress and box springs
  2. Installing Bed Bug Traps
  3. Reducing Clutter and cleaning up
  4. Use Heat Treatments
  5. Wash and dry clothing and linens frequently
  6. Vacuum your bed, furniture, and rooms often using a bed bug vacuum cleaner
  7. Steam Treatment
  8. Diatomaceous Earth
  9. Bed Bug Sprays (the right ones)
  10. Throw away heavily infested items
  11. An experienced Professional Bed Bug Exterminator

What Doesn't

  1. Moving or switching sleeping locations
  2. Electronic Pest Repellents
  3. Essential Oils
  4. Dryer Sheets and other similar items
  5. Moth Balls
  6. Foggers 
  7. Rubbing Alcohol
  8. Throwing out your mattress

Effective Bed Bug Treatment Options (What DOES Work)

  1. Encasing your mattress and box springs - Encasing your mattress and box springs will immediately eliminate a large number of bed bugs in your home, and help keep you from being bitten.  This is a highly effective and easy option.
  2. Installing Bed Bug Traps - "Pitfall" traps are very inexpensive, and not only help you detect bed bugs in your home (which helps you know when you solved your bed bug problem) but also work as a line of defense against bed bugs coming into your bed to bite you.  Traps are best placed under your bed posts and under furniture legs.  They are also a key tool in finding out where in your home the bed bugs are hiding.
  3. Reducing Clutter and Cleaning Up - Many people think bed bugs only infest dirty homes.  NOT true.  Bed bugs do not discriminate and infest any home that has people to feed on.  Reducing clutter isn't about being clean, it's about eliminating and reducing places for bed bugs to hide and reproduce.
  4. Use Heat Treatment - Heat Containers are very good at treating smaller items that cannot be washed.   Larger Heating Containers and even available for furniture sized items.  Heat is highly effective at killing bed bugs at all stages, including bed bug eggs.  Generally, items should be treated for 4-8 hours.
  5. Wash and dry clothing and linens frequently - Bed bugs will often hide in linens and clothing, in addition to laying eggs.  Running linens and clothing through the dryer (and wash if so desired), will kill bed bugs and their eggs.  This is an easy and inexpensive option, especially since many of these items cannot be treated with sprays.
  6. Vacuum your bed, furniture, and rooms often using a bed bug vacuum cleaner - If you have a bad infestation, where you can actually see bed bugs, using a bed bug vacuum or a Vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter works really well at eliminating bed bugs.  They also work very well at removing dead bed bugs, bed bug skin, and bed bug fecal remains.  Be sure to remove the bag immediately when you are done, and throw it away, outdoors and in a plastic bag.
  7. Steam Treatment - Our personal bed bug treatment strategy is Steam.   Steam not only kills bed bugs on contact but penetrates into difficult to reach areas as well.  Best of all, it's natural, and safe to use on many items in your home, if used properly.  Repeat steam treatment every few days until the bed bugs are gone.
  8. Diatomaceous Earth - Use of this inexpensive and natural powder, has proven very effective at killing bed bugs and also keeping them under control.  Diatomaceous Earth (DE) alone is generally not enough and should be combined with either heat treatment or steam.  Never apply DE without a safety mask.
  9. Bed Bug Sprays (the right ones) - Some argue that bed bug sprays are ineffective.   Our research and use have shown otherwise.  When one of the top-rated sprays is used, bed bug sprays are highly effective at killing bed bugs on contact, and also over time.   Bed Bug Sprays are effective, but should not be used as the sole treatment for bed bugs.  Bed Bug Sprays should be used in conjunction with other treatment methods such as steam, heat, or Diatomaceous Earth.
  10. Throw away heavily infested items - Items in your home that are heavily infested with bed bugs, and are difficult to treat, should be disposed of.  Couches are a common example.  Couches are easily infested and difficult to treat.  In cases where the furniture or other items are severely infested, and difficult to treat, the items should be properly disposed of.  Keeping the items in your home are just not worth the risk.  Unfortunately, the reality of having a bed bug infestation is that some personal items are going to need to be thrown away.  
  11. An experienced Professional Bed Bug Exterminator - Hiring a professional does work, and is money well spent if you can afford them.  But you need to be sure to hire a professional exterminator with prior experience treating bed bugs, and with experience in different treatment strategies.   Don't forget, that multiple treatments by a professional are often required.

Ineffective Bed Bug Treatment Options (What DOES NOT Work)

  1. Moving or switching sleeping locations - Many make the mistake of thinking they can move out, or change sleeping locations to avoid bed bugs.   While moving can work, it often doesn't, and changing sleeping locations never does.  When moving, bed bugs are often moved as well, bringing the infestation into your new location.  Changing sleeping locations will just cause the bed bugs to find you again, and infest additional areas of your home.
  2. Electronic Pest Repellents - These devices are cheap, easy to install, and unfortunately do not work.   A research study by Arizona University tested various, popular models.  None of them proved to deter bed bugs or influence their behavior.  Do not waste your money on these.
  3. Essential Oils - While we would all love these natural products to kill and deter bed bugs, they just don't.   There are a few bed bug sprays that contain essential oils and are very effective, pure oils themselves don't have any influence on bed bugs, nor do they kill them.
  4. Dryer Sheets and other similar items - Some claim that placing dryer sheets around your home, and on furniture repels and prevents bed bugs.  While this may be true, there is no evidence or research to suggest they do.  We recommend sticking to proven treatments.
  5. Moth Balls - Moth Balls are a common repellent for killing and repelling insects that infest and attack fabric and in particular clothing.   Many claim that moth balls work for bed bugs as well.   They do, but not well at all.  A research study done at Rutgers University found a less than 50% kill rate for bed bugs exposed to mothballs.  
  6. Foggers - Foggers are a popular and effective treatment for indoor pests, like flies, gnats, and bees.  They do not work on bed bugs.  A specific research study was done by Ohio State University that proved foggers to be completely ineffective at killing bed bugs.  In fact, Foggers have been proven to just cause bed bugs to spread out into other areas of your home.  Foggers are also very dangerous when not used properly.
  7. Rubbing Alcohol - Many bed bug websites highly recommend the use of rubbing alcohol, either the 70% or 91% varieties. While Rubbing Alcohol does kill bed bugs and is inexpensive, it is not a very effective treatment option.  A research study done at Rutgers University showed a less than 50% kill rate for bed bugs sprayed directly with rubbing alcohol.  It additional has no residual kill rate and is highly flammable as well.  Again, there are much better and safer alternatives.
  8. Throwing out your mattress - An unfortunate, and commonly distributed myth is that you can just throw away your mattress and be done with bed bugs.   While a large percentage of bed bugs can live in your mattress and box springs, not all of them do.   Many live in furniture, walls, and inside other items in your bedroom.   A better option is to just encase your mattress.

Wrapping Up

The most effective way to treat bed bugs, is a combination of proven treatment methods, alongside ongoing detection and prevention measures.  The most critical part of a successful bed bug treatment plan is repetition.  Even bed bug professionals often have to make multiple visits to a home to fully get rid of bed bugs.

Treatment should be stopped, only when no sign of bed bugs are found, in multiple areas of your bedroom and home for 4-6 weeks.  Bed Bug Traps and visual inspection are critical steps in determining if bed bugs are truly gone.

Unfortunately, if you live in a multi-housing situation, like apartments, an entire building approach is almost always required.  While you can treat your individual space, the chance of bed bugs returning is high, as long as they are in other areas of the building.  

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