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How to Check for Bed Bugs and Kill Them On the Spot

If you suspect a bed bug infestation, the first thing you need to know is how to check for bed bugs. But we’re going to take it a step further than that and reveal both the bed bugs’ favorite hiding places as well as how to kill them in every location you spot them.

So grab your fighting gear and get ready to find out exactly where bed bugs like to hide and how to check for traces of these buggers.

You’ll be looking for signs of bed bugs that can be pretty hard to spot, especially in dark areas like the insides of dressers so have a flashlight and magnifying glass handy.

And if you find bed bugs in any of the below bed bug hiding spots, stop the inspection and follow the instructions on how to get rid of bed bugs to prevent the infestation from getting worse.

Controlling the infestation right after detection is crucial since bed bugs will move from their hiding places once disturbed, which can can cause the infestation to spread. And trust us – you don’t want that.

How to Check for Bed Bugs

Ready to roll up your sleeves and let’s get started? Here’s how to check for bed bugs and kill them on the spot!

1. Mattresses

You knew this would be high on the list, didn’t you? After all, bed bugs do like to stay real close to their human blood meals.

How to check mattresses for bed bugs: Begin by removing all your bedding so you have a bare mattress. Check the cracks and crevices on the surface of the mattress as well as the seams lining the edges of the mattress. Also check the mattress label – that’s another favorite hiding spot for bed bugs.

Here’s a helpful video on how to check your mattress for bed bugs:

Also, switching to lighter-colored sheets will make bed bug inspection easier – you’ll be able to better spot bed bug signs like blood spots and fecal matter this way.

How to get rid of bed bugs in mattresses: Having bed bugs on your mattress is a gross feeling, but the good news is that they’re not too difficult to kill. Here’s how to get rid of bed bugs in your mattress!

2. Box springs

True to their name, bed bugs like to live in your bed. And since they prefer dark, undisturbed places, the undersides of box springs make the perfect living space – protected, unexposed and close to you.

How to Check for Bed Bugs

How to check box springs for bed bugs: Remove all sheets and bedding from your bed and then lift your mattress and stand it up against a wall so you can properly inspect the box spring.

Next, remove the box spring and flip it over. Prime real estate for bed bugs is the underside of the box spring, right where it rests on the bed frame so you’ll need to carefully look for bed bugs in these areas.

Use a magnifying glass and a flashlight to shine through the gauze fabric for bed bugs. If the fabric is too dark to see, you might have to remove the stapled fabric so you can check for bed bugs inside.

How to get rid of bed bugs in box springs: We won’t lie to you – the sight of finding bed bugs living so close to where you sleep is skin-crawlingly disgusting. You’ll probably get the urge to kill them immediately. Here’s how to get rid of bed bugs in a box spring!

3. Bed frames or headboards

Anywhere near the bed is a likely place for bed bugs to shack up – and bed frames and headboards provide plenty of livable nooks and crannies.

How to check headboards and bed frames for bed bugs: These little buggers can hide in the tiniest of cracks so check for bed bugs everything. If you have an upholstered headboard, check the seams and the nooks and crannies around buttons. For wooden headboards, look for signs of bed bugs hiding in the etches or carving designs.

Check the corners of bed frames and alongside the edges of the beams that support your box springs. Any holes are usually popular with bed bugs – entire communities can live in something as small as a screw hole so check everywhere!

Bed bugs and eggs living in the crevices of a headboard.
Bed bugs and eggs living in a screw hole.

How to get rid of bed bugs in headboards and bed frames:

  • Vacuum. Vacuum the headboard and bed frame, focusing on seams, edges, corners, and holes. Once you’re done vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum bag in a sealed tight plastic bag and dispose of it outdoors.
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – get it here. Sprinkle food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) on metal or wood headboards and bed frames. Use a paint brush to evenly distribute it into the holes, crevices, gaps and all nooks and crannies and then lightly coat the insides of the bed frames (where the frame meets the box spring), as if you’re “painting” them with DE.
  • Bed bug spray. Another option is to spray these areas with a bed bug spray that will kill adult bed bugs as well as the eggs. Even better if it provides residual protection. We recommend Bedlam Plus if you want to go the pesticide route and Proof Bed Bug Spray if you’d prefer to keep things natural.
  • Duct Tape. To ensure bed bugs don’t get back in (and the ones still in, die), cover holes with duct tape.

4. Bedding

Industry surveys conducted by the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology found that 52% of respondents found infestations in the bedding. The good news is that the bed bugs on bedding are easy to wipe out.

How to Check for Bed Bugs

How to check for bed bugs in bedding: The best way to check for bed bugs on bedding is to use light-colored sheets. If you haven’t already, swap out your sheets for lighter ones!

How to get rid of bed bugs in bedding: Wash and dry the sheet as well as pillow and duvet covers at the highest setting. Washing will only kill some of the bed bugs, but the high dryer heat will kill off remaining bed bugs – find out what temperature kills bed bugs.

If you’re not sure how hot your dryer gets, get some Thermal Dot Stickers so you can measure how long to run the dryer. Otherwise, just let your sheets run in the dryer for 90 minutes, just to be sure you’ve killed all the adults and eggs.

Store all your clean sheets in Ziploc’s Flexible Totes or storage bins with tight-sealing lids marked “Clean” so you know you’re always putting bed bug-free sheets on your bed.

For thicker bedding like pillows and comforters, wash and dry these at the hottest setting and then cover them up. Encase the clean pillow in a bed bug-proof pillow protector.  Same thing with the comforter – into a bed bug-proof duvet cover it goes.

5. Baseboards and carpet edges

Nooks and crannies are a bed bug’s best hiding spots so baseboards that have lots of little gaps and holes in them where they meet the wall is perfect. Let’s make this place inhospitable, shall we?

How to check for bed bugs in baseboards and carpet edges: Get an old credit card and stick it in at the tops of the baseboard – where it meets the wall or carpet – and the bottom – where it meets the floor. See if any bed bugs or any other signs of bed bugs get dislodged.

How to get rid of bed bugs in baseboards and carpet edges: Start by first creating a bed bug barrier around your room so the bed bugs living in the baseboards cannot escape to the rest of the room.


Do this by sprinkling a layer of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) or CimeXa Insecticide Dust around your entire room, at a distance of about 1 to 2 inches from the wall. Make sure you distribute evenly so there is no way for bed bugs to cross over this line without stepping in the dust. 

Next, squirt CimeXa Insecticide Dust into all holes, cracks and spaces in your baseboards with caulk, including gaps in the tops and bottoms of the baseboards. Use a paintbrush to make sure you really rub it into the holes or get a bulb duster so you can inject the bed bug dust deep within the cracks.

Now, seal up the all the gaps with caulk.

Once the caulk is dry, line the bottom and top of the baseboards with a layer of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) or CimeXa Insecticide Dust.

6. Nightstands and dressers

Bed bugs love natural surfaces like fabric and wood and they tend to prefer living in areas that are dark and undisturbed so if you’ve got furniture like a wooden nightstand or dresser close to your bed, those are likely to be prime areas for bed bugs.

How to check for bed bugs in nightstands and dressers: Start by pulling the drawers and cabinets out and carefully inspect all the corners as crevices, including on the bottom and sides.

Check inside the dresser as well, using a flashlight to peek into all the corners as well as the drawer slides.

How to get rid of bed bug in nightstands and dressers: Start by steaming the corners, cracks, crevices, and drawer slides in the pulled-out drawers and then do the same for the inside on the dresser or nightstand itself.

Then take Diatomaceous Earth (DE) or CimeXa Insecticide Dust and a paintbrush to cover these cracks, crevices and holes with a layer of bed bug dust.

Next, disinfect all the items that were on and in your dressers and stands – clothes go in the washer and dryer (high heat!) and you can dry bags and other fabrics as well. For things like shoes, purses, papers, books, tools, etc – use a small heating unit – the ThermalStrike Ranger is great for killing bed bugs.

For electronics and appliances – i.e. phones, radios, alarm clocks  – you might’ve stored in the drawers, seal them up in an airtight plastic bag along with some Nuvan ProStrips and leave them in a section of your house you don’t use for one week – this will kill all bed bugs and their eggs.

7. Couches and Chairs

Not all couches or chairs are equally likely to be infested – bed bugs prefer rough surfaces like fabrics and wood over smoother surfaces like plastic or metal – so look for bed bugs in upholstered furniture.

How to check a couch for bed bugs: Prime hiding spots for bed bugs on couches and upholstered chairs is in the seams, but you’ll want to check thoroughly all over.

Here’s a helpful video on how and where to look for bed bugs:

How to get rid of bed bugs in couches: If you found any signs of bed bugs, you’ll want to get started killing them right away. Want an in-depth guide that covers all your DIY options? Here’s how to get rid of bed bugs in a couch!

8. Walls and Ceilings

You’ve checked for bed bugs and eliminated them in all your furniture…but what if they’re living in your walls and ceilings? The good news is that finding bed bugs in the walls and ceilings are much less common and this will usually only happen with severe infestations.

The bad news is that it does happen. In surveys conducted by the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology’s, 14% of respondents reported bed bugs in their walls and ceilings.

How to check for bed bugs in walls and ceilings: Take a flashlight, magnifying glass and an old credit and inspect any cracks and crevices in the walls by using the credit card to dig into the cracks and see what gets dislodged. If you have wallpaper, check under any loose paper for signs of bed bugs.

The ceiling is trickier to check but if you found bed bugs in your walls and the ceiling also has cracks and crevices, there’s a good chance there are some bed bugs up there.

How to get rid of bed bugs in walls and ceilings: Most of us have a lot of stuff on our walls – curtains, paintings, picture frames, etc. Here’s how to eliminate bed bugs on them all – including the walls.

  • Curtains and drapes. Remove them from the wall and wash and dry them on the highest setting.
  • Blinds. Steam them with a heat steamer, moving the nozzle one inch per second until you’ve covered the entire surface. Give extra attention to nooks and crannies.
  • Paintings, picture frames and posters. If you don’t have a large heating unit, opt for a smaller one – the ThermalStrike Ranger is great and it’s big enough to fit a carry-on in there so you can use it to treat pretty much anything that’s smaller than that.

For the actual walls themselves – the best way to get rid of bed bugs that are living in your walls is to prevent the bed bugs from getting into your room, eventually starving them to death within the walls.

Start by vacuuming the cracks and crevices to remove bed bugs and accumulated dirt and debris. This will allow your bed bug killers to better penetrate into these gaps in the walls.

Next, use a bulb dust applicator to squirt Diatomaceous Earth (DE) or CimeXa Insecticide Dust deep into the cracks and spaces where bed bugs are hiding in your walls. 

Finally, repair all the holes, cracks and crevices in the walls. Very minor holes can be sealed with toothpaste or spackle. Seal all cracks and crevices and glue down loosened wallpaper to prevent bed bugs from escaping.

9. Clothing

Hey, you’re almost done with your search and destroy mission! And even more good news? Killing bed bugs on clothes is the easiest thing to do – it just requires doing some laundry.

How to Check for Bed Bugs

The washer will only kill some of the bed bugs, but the high dryer heat is lethal for these buggers as long as you let it run long enough.

Bed bugs die at 113 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s sustained for 90 minutes or more. But they’ll die in just 20 minutes at 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bug eggs are a little more resilient – to get rid of them, you need to expose them to 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes to reach 100% mortality.

If you’re not sure how hot your dryer gets, get some Thermal Dot Stickers so you can measure how long you need to leave your clothes in there for. Otherwise, leave the clothes in the dryer for 90 minutes, just to be safe you’ve killed all the adults and the eggs as well.

To ensure your newly bed bug-free clothes don’t get re-infested, follow a simple system by sealing the clean clothes in clear bags marked “Clean.” Ziploc’s double-zipper big bags are perfect for this.  After you wear clothes, place the dirty clothes in clear bags marked “Dirty” until they’re washed. And so on.

Stick to this system until the bed bug infestation is eliminated.

And there you have it. It is a lot of work but by the end of this process, you will have eliminated a whole of bed bugs. Rinse and repeat until there’s not a single one remaining.

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