How to get rid of bed bugs. That has got to be one of the most unfortunate questions you’ve ever had to ask. And we guarantee you that by the end of this article, you’ll have the most effective action plan to rid yourself and your home of these bloodsuckers once and for all.
However, successfully getting rid of bed bugs requires a little more than a simple action plan. Yes, we know. You’re eager to hunt down bed bugs and kill, kill, kill.
But in order to be the most fearsome bed bug slayer these pests have ever encountered, there is one weapon you must have in your arsenal.
And that is information.
More accurately, you need to know the most pertinent bed bug facts and up-to-date bed bug research that will help you defeat these buggers. And you need to know what information is based on pseudo-science and Internet myth so you can safely ignore it.
Your bed bug education starts now. Let’s get started.
Can You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs have gotten a lot of press in the past decade. And as is characteristic of the news, they love to report on the most dramatic, sensationalist stories.
It also doesn’t help that most of us have heard horror stories of a friend of a friend who had his life destroyed by bed bugs. And it certainly doesn’t help that the worst bed bug infestations have resulted in serious bodily harm and even death.
So it’s not surprising that many of us regard bed bugs with the same sort of fear we used to reserve for the boogeyman. And like the boogeyman, we almost believe that this foe cannot be defeated.
Well, the good news is that getting rid of bed bugs can definitely be done.
The bad news is that it is not an easy process. And there are a couple factors that get in the way of solving the bed bug riddle, like…
Bed bug resistance to insecticides
It’s true: bed bug pesticide-resistance is on the rise. Various bed bug populations have developed resistance to DDT, organophosphates, neonicotinoids, deltamethrin and pyrethroid insecticides.
New York City bed bugs have grown 264 more resistant to deltamethrin than Florida bed bugs. Bed bugs in Cincinnati and Michigan are hugely immune to neonicotinoids – to kill them, it requires concentrations 1,000 times larger than needed to eliminate non-resistant creatures.
Even scarier – not only does DEET no longer kill bed bugs in Africa, but it was shown to make these bed bugs more active.
So simply busting out the most potent pesticides isn’t the answer.
Bed bugs are pretty clever
They may never get full marks on the SATs, but these aren’t dumb bugs we’re dealing with. They have strategies. And they know things about you.
They know how to find you by your breath and if they’re not able to crawl directly to you, they will go so far as to crawl up the walls to the ceiling and free fall to where you are.
They know that you’re at your most vulnerable in the deepest sleep state which is why they often feed around 2 hours before sunrise. And they know that when their hiding place has been disturbed, they’ve probably been discovered – which is why when you find bed bugs during an inspection, you should also de-bug the areas nearby since they’ve most likely moved.
Bed bug misinformation is rampant
One big thing that gets in the way of successfully wiping out a bed bug infestation is simple misinformation. And there’s a lot of it when it comes to bed bugs. Here’s a little sample of all the bed bug myths floating around out there. The truth is in italics.
Myth: Bed bugs can fly. Actually, they can’t. Bed bugs crawl.
Myth: Bed bugs are invisible to the naked eye. Not true. If you can see a sesame seed or an apple seed, you can see a bed bug.
Myth: Bed bugs only bite at night. They prefer to operate under cover of darkness, but if they’re hungry – they’ll bite you even in a brightly lit room.
Myth: You have to be dirty to get bed bugs. Bed bugs happen to clean, dirty, rich and poor alike. If you have warm blood, you’re fair game.
Myth: Bed bugs only live in beds. It’s true that beds are a bed bug’s most common hiding place but they can also infest couches, clothes, chairs, ceilings, and even electronics.
Myth: I don’t have bed bug bites so I can’t have bed bugs. Here’s the thing about bed bug bites: they only show up on around half the population.
Myth: If I throw away my infested bed, the bed bug problem will disappear. Sorry to break it to you, but bed bugs can and will live anywhere so getting a new bed before you solve your bed bug problem is just gifting the bed bugs in your home a new place to infest.
It’s safe to say that you should take the bed bug advice your well-meaning friends give you with a handful of salt. And read up on what to do – and what NOT to do – if you have bed bugs.
What to Do If You Have Bed Bugs and More Importantly – What Not to Do
We may never get rid of bed bugs
Okay, we lied – this bed bug fact is the worst.
Combine all of the above disturbing qualities that bed bugs have and what do you get? A crazy irritating bug that’s also really, really hard to get rid of. Pest management professionals agree that bed bugs have become the most difficult pest to control.
We’re still plotting against them, of course – a bed bug conference was recently held in Chicago for entrepreneurs trying to find the best way to get rid of bed bugs.
But while there were many differing ideas on what the best approach would be, they all agreed on one thing – bed bugs as a species are here to stay and unlikely to be eradicated completely.
Depressing, yes – but just because we as a species can’t wipe them off the face of the earth doesn’t mean that you can’t remove them from your life.
Again, bed bugs are a challenging pest but you can win this battle. You just need to get started as soon as you can.
Why You Need to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast
The worst has happened: you know that you have bed bugs. Maybe you actually found one bed bug – hint: that almost always means you have more.
Or maybe you’re covered in bed bug bites. Or maybe you’ve confirmed that the dark spots on your bedsheets are actually bed bug feces.
How Do You Know if You Have Bed Bugs: 7 Tell Tale Signs of Bed Bugs
It doesn’t matter how you found out or even how you may have gotten these bed bugs. The only crucial thing is that you act now. Because fighting bed bugs is a race against time. Here’s why.
The Key to Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Let’s start with the question: what exactly do bed bugs do? Well, apart from feed on you and drive you crazy, they do little else, actually…except procreate like there’s no tomorrow.
And therein lies the real key to getting rid of bed bugs for good: kill the eggs.
Here’s what happens in an average bed bug life cycle, in a nutshell: A female bed bug lays around 1 to 5 eggs daily. The eggs hatch in about 2 weeks time and the young bed bugs immediately begin to feed although they cannot lay eggs – yet.
In just 5 weeks, the young bed bugs reach sexual maturity and can then start to both feed and lay eggs.
Here’s a disturbing little bed bug fact: a sexually mature bed bug female lays over 200 eggs in her lifetime!
During their lifetime, bed bugs usually spend their days hiding out of human sight. When they get hungry, they crawl out of their hiding places in search of exposed skin. Once their target is found, they feed for around 5 to 10 minutes until full and then quickly scamper away back to their hiding place.
One feeding can fill them up for days and a satiated bed bug may only come out of hiding once a week – spending the rest of their time holed up to digest their blood meal, mate and lay eggs.
And therein lies two crucial pieces of bed bug behavior you need to understand to successfully get rid of bed bugs: hiding and procreation. You can’t get rid of bed bugs without understanding these two components.
What Doesn’t Work for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs spend the majority of their lives hiding and procreating. Those behaviors are exactly what makes them so difficult to get rid of.
Because they are such crafty hiders, most traditional methods of pest control won’t reach all of the bed bugs. That means no matter how many you may kill, if there is even a small population of bed bugs left to continue drinking your blood and laying more eggs, you will still have a bed bug problem.
That’s why in order to completely get rid of bed bugs, you need to go nuclear and wipe out the whole lot of them –
even especially the eggs.
Do bed bug bombs work?
Bed bug bombs and foggers “work” in the sense that if a bed bug comes into direct contact with the pesticide released from the fogger, that bed bug will die.
But when you remember that most bed bugs are absolute ninjas at hiding, the chances are very slim that the fumes from a fogger will manage to seek out every bed bug living in your home to poison it to death.
To add to this, bed bugs most likely won’t just sit around and wait for the release of poisonous fumes to kill them. Instead, they’ll most likely try to escape into new hiding holes, ultimately spreading the infestation and resulting in more bed bug colonies scattered around your home.
Do bed bug sprays work?
In short: yes, the best bed bug sprays can be very effective in killing these bloodsuckers. But the long answer is a little more nuanced than that.
Firstly, when you choose a bed bug spray, you want one that will kill both bed bugs and their eggs as well as one that provides residual protection – that just means that it will continue killing bed bugs and their eggs long after you’ve applied it.
Secondly, using a bed bug spray is not a simple process. If you decide to go this route, you must commit to seeking out every bed bug hiding spot and every crack and crevice they may have laid their eggs. Being thorough and methodical is key.
And this is why we usually recommend that you spring for a professional bed bug exterminator if you’re going to choose chemical pesticides.
Sure, there are a couple bed bug sprays on the market that can work very well for you if you go the DIY route. But the DIY route presents two big challenges:
- Thorough application to wipe out every bed bug hiding spot
- Bed bugs increased resistance to pesticides
Even if you manage to locate every bed bug hideout, it may be the case that the bed bugs you’re dealing with may already be resistant to the pesticides you’re planning on using.
Hiring a pest control specialist will be far better equipped to choose the right chemicals and apply them safely and thoroughly.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Forever
If you’re not in the position to hire a bed bug exterminator or you’d prefer to get rid of bed bugs yourself, you should know that it will take a little more work and patience but it can be done.
Here are the steps to secure your home against the bed bug invasion and wipe out the entire bloodsucking population.
Block off time
We’re going to be very straight with you: getting rid of bed bugs is time consuming. And once you’ve started the war, you want to see it through.
Because once you start, you risk the infestation spreading. Remember: once bed bugs know that their hiding place is exposed, they may seek another hiding spot. Result? Even more bed bug hiding spots for you to seek out and destroy.
Don’t give them that chance.
Choose your weapons
The bad news is that there is no one thing that will completely wipe out a bed bug infestation. The good news is that there are several very effective methods that when used together, will eliminate these buggers from your life and home.
To get rid of bed bugs, you want to use a combination of methods that kill bed bugs and methods that protect against bed bugs. Offense and defense, if you will.
Bed Bug Killers
Let’s start with what kills bed bugs. We will only give you a brief rundown of the best methods here. If you’d like to gain an in-depth understanding of the best bed bug killers (and why they work), check out the article below.
What Kills Bed Bugs? How to Kill Bed Bugs On Everything You Own
Keep in mind that you’ll want to use a combination of bed bug killers for the best results. You can’t win a war with just one weapon, right? Well, here are your best options when it comes to killing bed bugs.
Heat is one of the best bed bug killers because it is all natural and it is highly effective. No matter how hardy your bed bug population may be or how resistant to pesticides, no bed bug can withstand extreme heat.
When it comes to killing bed bugs with heat, you have several options.
You already have a very effective bed bug killer in your very home – your dryer. Run it at the highest setting to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
A steam cleaner costs a fraction of a professional treatment and produces a very hot steam – above 200°F, to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
Bed bug heaters heat up to around 160°F, which is more than enough to kill bed bugs in all life stages. They can be pricey but also convenient.
You may end up using all of the above options to get rid of bed bugs in various items. The washer and dryer are, of course, ideal to de-bug your clothing and bedding.
A bed bug steamer is more far-reaching and will help you kill bed bugs and their eggs on carpet, around baseboards, and even cracks in walls where bed bugs are hiding.
Last but not least, a bed bug heater can be invaluable to completely wipe out bed bugs in bulkier items like furniture. The ZappBug Room can de-bug most of your items in one go so while it may be pricey, it makes things a lot simpler and quicker.
You can use extreme temperatures at both ends to kill bed bugs. Yup, we’re talking about freezing bed bugs to death.
It’s not quite as simple as tossing all your bed bug-ridden items outside in the cold but the process for killing bed bugs with freezing temperatures is still quite simple. And done right, you can treat some of your trickier belongings this way.
>>>Does Cold Kill Bed Bugs? Here’s the Truth About Freezing Bed Bugs
Check out the above article to find out exactly how.
BED BUG POWDERS
Remember what we wrote above about how bed bugs get around? These pesky bloodsuckers can’t fly or jump so their only method of getting from their hiding place to you and your loved ones every night is via crawling.
Which is why bed bug powders are such effective bed bug killers – bed bugs need to crawl through them to get their blood meal. And the best bed bug powders make sure that journey costs them their lives.
The best thing about bed bug killer powders is that many of the most effective ones are natural, aka contain no pesticides.
Our favorite bed bug powders are listed above and they both work in much the same way: by sucking out the moisture from bed bugs’ bodies and slowly dehydrating them to death.
Sounds brutal, yes. But remember: this is war.
BED BUG SPRAYS
As mentioned above, we believe bed bug sprays are best left to the professionals. But there can still be a place for them in DIY bed bug treatment as long as you closely follow instructions, handle the pesticides safely and are methodical in their application.
So what are the best bed bug sprays?
Proof Bed Bug Killer
Bedlam Plus is an aerosol pesticide whereas Proof’s Bed Bug Killer is an all-natural option. They both kill bed bugs and eggs as well as provide residual protection.
Bed Bug Protection
When it comes to most bed bug infestation, it is not enough to simply kill bed bugs. For the best results, you also need to protect against further infestation.
Do this part right and the good news is that the bed bug bites may stop very soon. Here’s what you need to do.
The vast majority of bed bugs are hiding close to where you spend the majority of your time sleeping – your bed. And, to a smaller extent, your couch.
So the wisest thing you can do is to seal up. And by that, we mean use a bed bug-proof mattress encasement to prevent bed bugs from getting in (or out) of your mattress. Ditto for your box springs, if you have them.
It may also be smart to do the same thing for your sofa.
Covering up accomplishes two things:
- The bed bugs that you missed during your killing process get sealed inside your mattress without escape. That means you don’t get bit and the bed bugs are left to starve without a blood meal.
- No further bed bugs can use your mattress as a convenient hiding spot to access you from. Again, no more bites.
Want to know more about the best bed bug covers and how and why to use them?
>>>What are the Best Bed Bug Mattress Covers? Our Top 3 Picks for 2022
Setting bed bug traps is another passive bed bug defense strategy that we recommend for anyone dealing with a bed bug infestation.
This simply consists of placing traps where your bed meets the floor. If you don’t have a bed frame, this will be a good time to get one since having your full bed on the floor makes it a very vulnerable target for bed bugs to climb up on from all sides.
Bed bug traps alone will NOT get rid of bed bugs but they accomplish a couple very important things:
- Keep most bed bugs away from your bed. Bed bugs need to crawl to get to where they’re going and if every part of where your bed touches the floor has a bed bug trap, they won’t make it past the trap.
- Allows you to monitor the declining population. As you wage your war with bed bugs, the number of bed bugs showing up in your traps should decline.
- Makes for early detection should you ever have another bed bug problem. In case you miss a couple survivors, you can catch the problem before it becomes a full-on infestation again.
Want to know more about the bed best bug traps and how to use them?
>>>What are the Best Bed Bug Traps? Here’s What Works and What Doesn’t
And there you have it, the long-but-necessary answer to how to get rid of bed bugs. It won’t be an easy process but you are now armed with the best information and weapons to defeat bed bugs. Now go forth and banish those bloodsuckers from your life!