If you notice that you have small itchy spots, red rashes or blisters when you wake up, it could be a sign that you have bed bugs. These tiny little pests can infest the seams of your mattress, bed frames, box springs, and headboards. It can be a challenge to get rid of bed bugs because they are hard to detect and they multiply rapidly. Bed bugs should be destroyed as quickly as possible because they can infest other areas of your home and cause a major problem.
Actually, bed bugs are not a sign that you have a dirty home, but they can be brought into your house through luggage, used furniture and beds, clothing and other household items.
Fortunately, there are many ways to naturally get rid of bed bugs. Bed bugs can?t survive extreme hot or cold temperatures, so, methods like steam cleaning, hot washes, and drying on a high heat are natural home remedies to eliminate bed bugs from clothing and bedding. Placing small items in the freezer is another way to kill bed bugs.
For larger areas, you can make your own natural bed bug sprays from tea tree oil, lavender oil, or eradicate bed bugs by sprinkling diatomaceous earth powder in crevices that bed bugs like to inhabit.
Before we look at the best home remedies to eliminate bed bugs naturally, let?s look at the symptoms of bed bugs and the problems these tiny insects can cause.
The Problems Bed Bugs Cause
Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and gorge on the blood of humans and animals. Although bed bugs don?t spread disease or cause infections, they cause a lot of personal discomfort.
Bedbugs can also quickly infest beds, couches, furniture and are difficult to find and kill because they like to hide in dark cracks, crevices, and gaps.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that bed bugs reach adult maturity within a month and can produce 3 or 4 generations a year.1
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the problem of getting rid of bed bugs and bed bug control is growing every year. A survey carried by the NPMA found there is a resurgence of bed bug infestations in hotels, movie theaters, public transportation, and even medical facilities.2
Signs and Symptoms of Bed Bugs
There is no doubt about it ? bed bugs are a nuisance and exterminating these tiny pests should be a top priority. One of the first symptoms that you may have a bed bug infestation is bites on your skin. These bites can appear anywhere on your body that the bed bug can crawl to. According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, some of the other symptoms of bed bug bites are:3
- itchy red bumps on the skin
- a red itchy bed bug rash
- fluid-filled blisters or welts
- a skin infection caused by scratching the itchy skin and allowing bacteria to enter the wound
For other symptoms (including images), read the article: What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like (And How To Get Rid of Them Faster).
There will also be some signs around your bed that indicate you need to think about some effective methods of bed bug control. For example, with a flashlight, you may discover the tiny bugs in seams around the edge of the mattress or in the bed joints or spring box. You may also notice dark or red spots on your bedding or mattress. This is their dried feces or blood from a killed bed bug.
What are the best ways of getting rid of bed bugs from your bed, mattress, headboard, couches, or anywhere else that they might be living? Here are some of the best tried and tested bed bug natural remedies.
If you have bed bug bites, make sure to read my article about the best natural ways to get rid of bed bug bites.
Here are some of the best home remedies to get rid of bed bugs:
10 Best Natural Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Find the bed bug Infestation
One of the first steps to completely eliminate all traces of bed bugs from your home is to find all the infested areas. Bed bugs are usually found in bedrooms but they can inhabit any room in the home where people and pets sleep.
The US Environmental Protection Agency recommends carefully checking the seams of mattresses and other soft furnishings in your home. Examine the spaces between cushions, your mattress and bed frame and any other possible hiding place in your bedroom. Don?t forget to check drawer joints, behind loose wallpaper, and even in electrical appliances.4
Any space the thickness of a credit card is a potential home for bed bugs.
Use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of bed bug naturally
Using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bed bugs is a very effective and simple method to eradicate bed bugs from your bedroom.
A vacuum cleaner is a common household item so you can use it right now to kill bed bugs. To make sure and get rid of any eggs around the seams of your mattress, use a stiff brush to loosen any bed bug eggs from the material.
Bed bugs can be hiding everywhere, so you?ll need to vacuum all chairs and other soft furnishings, carpets, box springs, and mattresses and even curtains.
Regarding bed bug control, the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews says that vacuuming can quickly get rid of a large number of bed bugs and their eggs. When using a vacuum cleaner to control bed bug infestations, it?s essential to use a disposable bag. As soon as you have vacuumed the infested area, remove and seal the bag before disposing of it.5
Freeze items to kill bed bugs
Kill bed bugs in smaller items by placing them in a freezer. Although bed bugs can?t withstand freezing temperatures, they can live for up to a year in a cool room without any food sources.
To naturally kill the bedbugs you need to place infested items in a freezer that has a temperature below 1?F (-17?C) for at least 2 hours.5
Hot steam kills bed bug
Hot steam is a great home remedy to destroy bed bugs and their eggs without damaging the environment.
The hot steam method for bed bug eradication can get rid of bed bugs from small crevices and cracks. The steam can also penetrate through the mattress lining and eradicate bug infestations inside the mattress.
Scientists have found that bed bugs are quickly killed when exposed to temperatures above 140?F (60?C).5
So, if you have a steam cleaner, you can use it to exterminate bed bugs quickly without using harmful chemicals.
To kill bed bugs fast on your own using steam do the following:
- Thoroughly vacuum all the areas you plan to steam.
- Use the steamer on all surfaces where you see bed bugs and areas where you think bed bugs may be hiding to completely get rid of them.
- After using the steamer, the fabric may be damp, but it should not be wet. If the fabric is too wet decrease the amount of steam produced by the steamer.
- After you are finished, use a fan in the area to circulate air to help dry the items you have steamed.
- Repeat the steaming procedure a couple of times until all the bed bugs are completely gone.
You need to be aware that steaming will only kill bed bugs that are exposed to the heat, so any bed bugs that do not come into contact with the steam will survive.
What is the best type of steamer for bed bug eradication?
The general recommendation is to use a powerful and heavy duty steamer with a large water tank, preferably with a steam volume control. Small steamers may not be effective in eliminating bedbugs. Small steamers require constant refilling and may cover less surface area so they can be less effective in eliminating bed bugs. They may also not get hot enough to eliminate bedbugs on and around the mattress.
Hot wash bedding and clothing
You can also get rid of bed bugs from infected clothing and other fabric items by placing them in the washing machine and wash them at a temperature of over 60?C.
Hot washing is probably one of the easiest and fastest natural ways to kill off bed bugs from clothing and other items using a common household item.
Use a hot dryer
After putting infested items of clothing or bed linen through a hot wash, you should dry the items in a dryer set to a hot setting. This will make doubly sure that the bed linen is sterilized from bed bugs.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD recommends the hot wash and hot dryer method to de-infest fabric items like curtains, bedding, shoes, and stuffed toy animals from bed bugs.1
You could also use a hair dryer together with your vacuum cleaner to drive bed bugs out of crevices. Set the hair dryer to the hottest setting and direct into the crack. The hot air will kill the bed bugs and also force them out. Any bug not killed by the hair dryer can be sucked up with the vacuum cleaner.
Encase mattresses and pillows
Another natural way to prevent bed bugs from biting you during the night and stop them infesting other parts of your home is to encase mattresses and pillows.
Encasements for mattresses, spring boxes, and pillows are tightly woven covers that prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping. The encasements should be kept on for at least a year to ensure that all the bed bugs die naturally.
The National Pesticide Information Center recommends using encasements to protect your bed from bed bug infestations. In addition to encasing your bed items, they also recommend placing bed bug traps (such as this one) under your bed legs to stop bed bugs crawling up.6
Other Natural Home Remedies to Eradicate Bed Bugs
While the above home remedies are excellent ways to eliminate bed bugs from your home, it is also necessary to treat areas with natural insecticides to kill bed bugs and eggs in hard to reach places. Here are some natural insecticides that you can make yourself to get rid of bed bugs.
Tea tree oil bed bug spray
The insecticidal properties of tea tree oil make it a great natural treatment to get rid of bed bug infestation. You can use the homemade tea tree spray to kill off bed bugs in hard to reach places, like cracks, crevices, and furniture joints.
A study from 2014 found that a tea tree oil solution is an effective and natural insect repellent and also acts as an insecticide.7
To make a natural insecticide with tea tree oil, put 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with water and shake well. Spray liberal amounts of the natural insecticide in all areas where you think bed bugs are living. Use the tea tree oil bed bug spray daily until all the signs of bed bugs have disappeared completely. Remember to shake the natural spray well before each application.
Tea tree oil is also a great natural remedy to cure any skin itching caused by bed bugs.
Lavender oil pesticide spray
Similar to tea tree oil, lavender essential oil can be used to make an effective natural DIY pesticide spray to kill bed bugs.
The insect-repellent properties of lavender oil are toxic for bed bugs but completely safe to use around the home.
One study into the effect of essential oils and their use for insect and bug control found that a combination of lavender oil and peppermint oil effectively kills off insects.8 Lavender oil also helps to destroy insect eggs and larvae as well as repelling bed bugs. Peppermint oil also has a strong repellent action. 8
To make a natural bed bug spray, add 10-15 drops lavender essential oil and 10-15 drops peppermint oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Use the natural spray to treat areas infested with bed bugs. Use the natural pesticide spray daily until you no longer have any signs of bed bug infestation. Shake well before each application.
There are many other effective sprays to eliminate these nasty critters ? read about them in my article about the best bed bug sprays to kill bed bugs fast.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) for bed bug control
Diatomaceous earth is a natural and safe insecticide to eliminate bed bugs.
Diatomaceous earth powder helps to kill off bed bugs by causing them to dehydrate because it destroys their outer protective membrane. Some people also call it bed bug powder. Because vacuum cleaners may not remove all bed bugs in deep crevices, diatomaceous earth powder is an excellent way to control bed bugs and prevent further infestation.
A study into the use of diatomaceous earth in bed bug eradication found that it is a safe, non-toxic way to rid your home of bed bugs. Even though diatomaceous earth (DE) is slow acting, the study found that this was an advantage. This is because the bed bugs transfer the powder to other bugs and help to distribute the natural insecticide to their habitats. The study found that within 4 days, 80% of all the bed bugs had been killed. Complete eradication was achieved in 12 days.5
To naturally eliminate a bed bug infestation with diatomaceous earth, dust the bed bug powder around all areas where bed bugs may be hiding. Repeat the process every 3 days for 2 weeks to ensure complete removal of all the bed bugs.
Make sure to use food grade diatomaceous?earth (here is one example), as it is safe to use around the home and it?s an effective home treatment for killing bed bugs and fleas.
Home Remedies for Killing Bed Bugs ? Commonly Asked Questions
Can baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) kill bed bugs?
Some people suggest that baking soda is an effective natural bed bug killer as it can dehydrate them or possibly even poison these tiny little pests.
However there is no indication showing that baking soda can eliminate bed bugs. In fact, baking soda doesn?t absorb much fluids so it will not dehydrate the bed bugs.
Baking soda actually breaks down in water quite easily, so its ability to absorb thick, viscous fluids like the wax on a bed bug?s shell is questionable. In addition, bed bugs don?t eat dry items in their environment such as sodium bicarbonate so it cannot poison them.
Can salt eliminate a bed bug infestation?
Salt has been used for decades to kill pests, such as slugs and snails by absorbing fluids from their body and causing them to dehydrate.
Some people believe that salt can eliminate bed bugs in the same way it kills slugs and snails. However there is a very strong anecdotal reference that this doesn?t work.
Does boric acid kill bed bugs?
Boric acid, can be used as a natural pesticide to kill roaches, eliminate ants, and eradicate termites but it needs to be ingested by the pest. Bed bugs have piercing and sucking mouth parts, and they do not ingest material other than blood from living hosts. Hence, there?s no way to get boric acid into the bed bugs? stomach to kill them.
Does vitamin B1 (Thiamine) repel bed bugs?
Thiamin has been reported to be a mosquito repellent but there is no strong scientific evidence to support the fact that vitamin B1 helps in repelling bed bugs.
What is the best way to kill bed bugs naturally?
The best way to completely eliminate bed bugs for good is to use the following methods together:
- Vacuum all areas where bed bugs can be found.
- After vacuuming, use hot steam to naturally kill the remaining bed bugs instantly.
- Hot wash infected clothing and all fabric items.
- Use hot dryer for items that cannot be washed.
- Encase mattresses and pillows to prevent bed bugs from biting you.
- Use natural remedies such as diatomaceous earth and tea tree oil to exterminate bed bugs in hard to reach places.
How to Prevent Bed Bug Infestations
The best way to make sure that you never have any bed bug bites is to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home in the first place. Here are some top bed bug prevention tips:
- If you notice blood spots or dark marks on your bedding, immediately check all areas of your bed, mattress, and bedding for bed bugs.
- After returning from vacation, thoroughly vacuum your luggage.
- When staying in hotel rooms, take a flashlight with you to inspect the bed frame and mattress for tell-tale signs of bed bugs.
- Before bringing in second-hand furniture, beds, or mattresses to your home, thoroughly examine the items to make sure there are no bugs hiding in corners, joints, and seams.
- If you notice any bed bugs, eliminate them using these effective bed bug sprays to get rid of them for good.
Recommended reading: How to Quickly Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites
Read my other related articles:
1. How to Naturally Get Rid of Fleas From Your Home, Garden and Pets
2. What Do Flea Bites on Humans Look Like?
3. How to Get Rid of Wasps Naturally
4. How to Get Rid of Flies Naturally
5. How to Get Rid of Ants Cheaply and Naturally
6. Palmetto Bug: What it is and How to Get Rid of It Quickly
7. 8. How to Get Rid of Frogs ? The Best Natural Ways
8. How to Get Rid of Spiders Naturally
9. 10 Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes
10. How to Keep Snakes Away: Effective Snake Repellents
- WebMD. Bedbugs.
- Bed bugs in America
- How to find bed bugs
- Clin Microbiol Rev. 2012 Jan; 25(1): 164?192
- Bedbug control.
- Med Vet Entomol 2014 Aug;28 Suppl 1:33-9
- Essential oil repellents
The Top 10 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally was last modified: December 31st, 2019 by Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer