How to get rid of bed bugs

With the resurgence of bed bugs all across America, many home and business owners are finding themselves infested with bed bugs.  Fortunately, we’re here to help and we will teach you how to get rid of bed bugs and help you to avoid calling an exterminator.  

While using a professional exterminator is the most effective option, it’s also the most costly.  In many cases, home and business owners can get rid of bed bugs themselves, and we recommend only using professional bed bug exterminators when all else fails.

We’ve found that the most effective way to rid yourself of bed bugs is to use multiple different treatment methods, repeatedly until the bed bugs are gone.  Then, immediately put in prevention measures to keep them from coming back.

How to get rid of bed bugs – Be sure you have bed bugs

The first and most important step you can take to get rid of bed bugs is to make sure you have them in the first place.  Many people don’t really know what bed bugs look like, and assume they have bed bugs when they really don’t.

Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that are roughly 4-5mm long.  For some perspective, that is about the size of an apple seed.   They are generally brown to reddish brown in color and love to hide in small folds, creases and hidden areas of your bed and furniture.

Get rid of bed bugsTo the right is a picture of one so you can see exactly what a bed bug looks like.  The one pictured is engorged, meaning it recently fed on human or animal blood.  Yep, that’s right, they feed on your blood – which is why they like to live in your bed. 

Important also is to not only look for the bed bugs themselves but signs of bed bugs.    Bed bug excrement is generally black in color and will smudge when touched.  Bed bug body shells are also commonly found as part of an infestation.  Even grosser right?

But don’t worry, we’ll help you learn how to get rid of bed bugs!  

Vacuum for bed bugs

The first step in treating bed bugs is to thoroughly vacuum the area that you believe is infested.   Using a special bed bug vacuum is recommended, not only to keep from infesting your normal vacuum cleaner but also due to their special design, bags, and filters.

Before vacuuming, first, remove all linens and place them in a plastic trash bag while in the same room.  Then immediately wash them all on high heat and dry at high temperatures.  The high temperatures will kill the bed bugs.  We would also recommend throwing away pillows by putting them in a plastic trash bag and throwing them away in an outside trashcan.

Additionally, anything in the room that isn’t needed should be thrown away.  Anything that you keep, will have to be treated.

Vacuum the entire room, including baseboards, carpet, bed, mattress, box springs, drawers, etc etc.   Make sure you have gone over every possible area with the vacuum cleaner.   Remove the vacuum bag and place it in a trash bag, again in the same room, and dispose of it the bag in an external trashcan.  Oh, don’t forget to vacuum behind picture frames too.

Bed Bug Steam Treatment

Bed bugs do not like heat, and steamers that put out a high enough temperature of steam can kill bed bug bugs on contact.  Steaming, combined with sprays and vacuuming is often the most effective solution.   Be careful though, do not steam after using a bed bug spray.  Doing so can cause the spray to go airborne not only placing you at risk, but also making the spray ineffective.  We recommend steaming first, then using sprays.

Using the right steamer is critical, as some steamers do not have enough pressure or don’t put off hot enough steam.    There are many different steamers on the market.  We recommend reading over our steamers buyer guide to know what features to look for and we even recommend some bed bug steamers for you.  

Again, please make sure you follow manufacturer instructions.  Steam can cause severe burns – we definitely don’t want you to get hurt!

Also, be careful using steamers on furniture and walls as they can remove paint and finish.

Bed Bug Sprays

Many different pesticide based and natural based sprays exist that are designed to kill and prevent bed bugs.  Be careful though, and do your homework.   Many of the sprays on the market don’t work.  

To help ensure that you purchase a product that really works, the EPA has a bed bug product search tool.  While the tool does index all of the good and legit products, including sprays, some of the newer products are not listed.  Additionally, some older products are no longer available and hard to find are still listed.   Just use the tool as a guide.   Here is a list of pesticide bed bug sprays we’ve seen to be effective and are backed by reputable companies.

Pesticide sprays are highly effective against bed bugs and provide a great first attack for getting rid of bed bugs in your home or business.   Critically important is that you read over and follow the product’s instructions exactly!  Failure to do this could cause risk to yourself, your family members or your home and belongings.

Following the instructions, spray down everything you can with the spray.   You may need to repeat this treatment multiple times.  Again, follow the product’s instructions.

Diatomaceous Earth or Bed Bug Powder

Diatomaceous earth (also called Silica Dioxide, Silicone Dioxide or Bed Bug Dust) when spread around correctly attaches itself to bed bugs, dehydrates them, and kills them.  Diatomaceous earth can be purchased online or at your local feed store and at many larger hardware stores.    Just be sure to use feed grade diatomaceous earth, otherwise, it can be harmful.    Also, always wear a dust mask to keep from inhaling the Diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous earth can be spread around using one of those squeeze ketchup containers.  Start with your box spring and spread the dust all over it.  You can even cut a small hole in your box spring to make sure the dust gets inside as well.  Dust along the edges of your carpet, and inside electrical outlets (just be careful!).  

Place dust around the legs of your bed and furniture.  Basically, put the dust anywhere you think bed bugs are living or may be crossing.  Remember, the object is to get the bed bug dust on the bed bugs so it can kill them.

Don’t stop at just one treatment either, continue to spread the dust every 1 – 2 weeks and do at least 3 – 4 treatments.

Diatomaceous earth can work, but you have to use it correctly.  Read more on treating bed bugs with Diatomaceous Earth the right way.

How to get rid of bed bugs using Professionals

heat treatment for bed bugsIf you have the money, a professional is the most effective way of getting rid of bed bugs.   Professionals that have the experience and expertise to treat bed bugs can often solve your bed bug problem in the least amount of time and hassle.  Be warned though, engaging a professional can often involve multiple treatments and often costs thousands of dollars.  I’ve also read many stories about professionals that were unsuccessful as well.  We always recommend that you call and get references.

The cost and possible issues with professionals are why we recommend trying “Do-it yourself ” bed bug treatment options first.  If those don’t work, then engage a reputable professional.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Video

Here’s the first in a great series of videos on bed bugs from Cornell University that will help you learn how to get rid of bed bugs in your home or business.


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