How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

An image of a bed bug up close

Have you discovered bed bugs in your home or have bites from bed bugs? A treatment by a professional pest control company or exterminator may not be in your budget or work with your schedule.

Luckily, it is possible to treat a bed bug infestation yourself without spending a fortune. You must be diligent and committed to the treatment process, but you can eliminate bed bugs yourself! Read our guide below for the 4-step DIY bed bug treatment process.

Not sure if you have bed bugs or where to find them? Read our guide on what bed bugs look like and our guide to finding where bed bugs hide in the home before you begin to treat.

Before you begin your own bed bug treatment, you will need to prepare the room or rooms where bed bugs have been found, in addition to rooms that share walls with the infested rooms. Remove any items in the room that you absolutely cannot treat or that have already been treated. Cover items that will be removed from the room in plastic bags before moving to the next room to prevent any unseen bed bug from infesting another room.

Remove any paintings or art from the walls. Be sure to thoroughly check any item that is removed from the room to prevent bed bugs from being transferred from room to room.

Step 1 – Prepare the space that needs to be treated. This is probably the hardest part for most folks, but whether you hire a pest control operator or do your own bedbug treatment, THIS STEP CANNOT BE SKIPPED. It’s time to take a hard look around the room. Grab a few trash bags and bag up anything you have decided you do not want to keep. Remember, every item left in the room must be treated in some way to get rid of hidden bedbugs so if you don’t need it or love it , TOSS IT! Be sure to seal up the bags before carrying them out of the room to avoid transferring bedbugs to other parts of the home

If you have a mattress that is heavily infested, we recommend covering it with a bed bug proof mattress cover or bed bug mattress encasement before moving. You will also need to cover your box spring with a box spring encasement.

If your mattress needs to be disposed of and replaced, be sure to cover the mattress with plastic before disposing to protect sanitation workers. Labeling a mattress or covering with “Bed Bugs” is also helpful.

Infested sheets, linens, and garments should be washed and then dried in a household dryer on high heat (over 120 degrees F), as the heat will kill bed bugs. Any garments that cannot be washed may need to be dry-cleaned or discarded as insecticides cannot be used on these materials.

If stuffed animals, books, or soft toys are infested, place those items in an air-tight bin along with vapor strips to kill the bed bugs.

Products needed for Step 1

Some bed bug products cannot be used where others can. Also, bed bugs can build up a resistance to certain pyrethroids, making them difficult to treat. This is why using a variety of products to kill and control bed bugs will produce the best results. We recommend using one of our bed bug kits. These kits include our most powerful and effective products for a variety of applications to save you time and money.

Products needed for Step 2

To get rid of bed bugs in a mattress, use an aerosol spray labeled for bed bug treatment, such as Bedlam Aerosol Spray, and spray or mist the insecticide onto the mattress. Focus on the seams, tufts, and folds of the mattress and spray until the mattress is damp. Allow mattress to dry before remaking the bed with freshly laundered sheets that have been run through a dryer on high heat.

After treating a mattress or box spring for bed bugs, we recommend encasing each in a bed bug proof cover. This will prevent re-infestation and will make future inspections and treatments easier. Be sure any product that has been sprayed or applied to your mattress is dry before you cover the mattress with a bed bug proof cover. You can make the bed with your freshly laundered linens over a bed bug proof mattress cover.

After encasing, you will not need to re-treat your mattress or box spring further. If you are not encasing your mattress or box spring, you will need to reapply the aerosol spray every 7-10 days until you do not see any further bed bug activity.

You can follow the initial aerosol spray treatment with an insecticide dust. Dusts are great for hard to reach areas like the corners of mattresses and where mattresses and box springs meet. Dusts also last for several months.

Don’t forget to dust your box spring as well. Remove the dust cover from the bottom of the box spring and dust in corners and crevices.

Again, we highly recommend encasing your mattress and box spring to avoid having to re-treat.

Pro Tip

As mentioned above, high heat kills bed bugs. A bed bug or bed bug egg must have direct contact with hot steam to be killed. We recommend using a bed bug steamer to steam your mattress, box spring, and other furniture.

Steaming is a great option in rooms and areas where the use of pesticides must be limited due to health or other concerns. When using the steamer, take your time and slowly move the steamer across the item you are treating for the best possible treatment. We still strongly recommend you follow-up with an insecticide labeled for bed bugs in areas where it is permissible to do so. All steaming should be done prior to covering a mattress or box spring with a protective cover and applying insecticides.

Products needed for Step 2A

After your mattress has been taken care of, it’s time to treat the rest of the room or rooms where bed bugs have been found and the rooms that share walls with infected rooms.

Mix an insecticide labeled for use on bed bugs, such as Temprid FX, with water in a pump sprayer using the ratio found on the product label to create a bed bug spray. Spray onto baseboards, in corners, around door and window frames, around bed frames, and under furniture. Do not broadcast spray an entire carpet or floor. Allow the spray to dry before moving on to the next step.

Some areas to pay special attention to:

  1. Bed and Furniture Legs – Treat the wheels, casters, posts, and legs of all furniture as bedbugs may be harboring there.
  2. Wall-to-Wall Carpets – Treat and spray along the edges of carpets and where carpets meet baseboards.
  3. Door and Window Frames – Spray around all door frames, window frames, and thresholds.

Repeat as needed. Be sure to read the product label for how often you can safely re-apply.

Bed bug traps can be placed under the legs of furniture and bed frames to trap bed bugs before they can climb onto furniture. This is also a good way to monitor an infestation.

Products needed for Step 2B

Once Step 2B is complete and the insecticide mixture is dry, you can follow up with a bed bug aerosol spray. Bed bug aerosol sprays are insecticides that have fine particles that get deep into cracks and crevices. By using both a liquid concentrate insecticide mixture and an aerosol spray, you can treat bed bugs that may have built up a resistance to one product but not the other.

Bed bug aerosol sprays come with a straw applicator to make it easier to apply into the cracks and crevices of furniture and mattresses around the affected rooms. Don’t forget to apply in drawers, picture frames, bed frames, and any other cracks you can find. Again, you will want to allow this part of the treatment to dry before moving on.

Some areas to pay special attention to:

  1. Upholstered Furniture – Inspect and treat any furniture in affected rooms. Much like a mattress, any tufts, seams, or folds will require special attention. Pay careful attention to the furniture legs and dust liners. Spot test an inconspicuous area first before applying to the rest of the furniture piece.
  2. Baseboards – Treat where the baseboard meets the wall, where the baseboard meets the carpet or floor, and any cracks in the baseboard. This will prevent bed bugs from crawling along or under the baseboard to access other rooms of the home.
  3. The Entire Bed, Not Just the Mattress – Don’t forget the box spring, bed frame, and headboard (especially if the headboard is fabric). Treat along the corners, seams, stapled dust cover, and internal area of a box spring. Voids and screw holes in bed frames are a common hiding place for bed bugs, so be sure to inspect each one.
  4. Pictures and Wall Hangings – Remove from the wall and treat the back and corners of each. If needed, treat the cracks and crevices of any affected wall hangings. Wait until the spray is dry to rehang.

Products needed for Step 2C

After spraying with an insecticide and following up with a bed bug aerosol, the next step in eliminating bed bugs is to apply a bed bug dust insecticide. As the name implies, bed bug dust is insecticide in a powder form. Because the dust is a slow kill, we recommend using other products in addition to the dust (see steps 2B and 2C).

Bedbug dust can be applied with a hand duster into cracks, crevices, behind wall outlet covers or faceplates, and other hard to reach spaces. While the application of dusts in hard to reach spaces may be tricky, dusts are ideal because they last for months or even years, depending on the product.

Some areas to pay special attention to:

  1. Electrical Covers or Faceplates – Remove faceplates from outlets and dust the inside of wall voids.
  2. Baseboards – Dust where carpet meets the baseboard, where the wall meets the baseboard, and in corners and cracks in the baseboard.
  3. Between the Mattress and Box Spring – Dust where a mattress meets a box spring, paying special attention to the head and foot of the bed.
  4. Headboard and Footboard – Remove the bed headboard from the wall and dismantle enough to access crevices, screw holes, and voids. Do the same with the footboard if applicable.
  5. Drawers and Furniture – Remove drawers from dressers, nightstands, and end tables and treat cracks, crevices, inside corners, and edges. Don’t forget to turn drawers over and treat the underside, and the underside of other pieces of furniture as well.
  6. Wall Fixtures and Lamps – Dust beneath lamps and behind wall fixtures.

Products needed for Step 2D

We recommend spraying Steri-Fab in areas where live bed bugs are visible. Steri-Fab combines a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide and isopropyl alcohol to kill bed bugs fast on contact. Steri-Fab also acts as a sanitizer. Steri-Fab does not leave any residual, meaning it can be applied virtually anywhere. Simply shake well, then apply to desired treatment areas. Insect mortality is imminent, generally within 10 minutes of spraying.

Products needed for Step 3

You must repeat the entirety of Step 2 (except for the mattress and box spring treatment if you are encasing) every 7-10 days until no one in the home hasbed bug bitesand there is no further evidence (live bugs, cast skins, or fresh blood spots) found. This is absolutely crucial! Depending on the severity of the infestation it can take a minimum of 7-8 weeks, including repeat treatments. Failure to be thorough can prolong the process of getting rid of bed bugs and can make it harder to eliminate them.

Once you have completed the bed bug treatment process, it is important to prevent a future infestation. Click the right arrow below to learn how to prevent bed bugs from entering your home.

You don’t have to hire a professional exterminator to get rid of bed bugs. All you need are the right tools for the job and the will to see the treatment plan to its conclusion. We get a lot of phone calls asking how do I get rid of bed bugs, and there are several steps that go into this procedure and step one is always going to be inspection and sanitation. What we mean by that is we are going to search the room and we?re going to get rid of anything that we don?t absolutely need to have. That means that we?re going to get rid of extra papers that we have laying around. If we store things under the bed, we?re going to get those things out from under the bed; we?re going to move them out of the way so that we can clear the way toward a treatment path. All clothes should be bagged up. Drawers should be emptied. So your room should kind of like it did when you were first moving in. Everything should be clean and empty. Then we are going to move on to step two, and that?s the thorough treatment. That means every crack and crevice, every nook and cranny has to be treated with some product. Whether it?s an aerosol, a liquid concentrate, or a dust everything must be treated. Step three, you go back and you treat again, and you?re going to treat every two weeks until you don?t have any more bed bugs or evidence of bed bugs for at least thirty days. Okay, some common mistakes folks make when they?re trying to get rid of bed bugs is just not doing a thorough job. A lot of folks want to go in and just kind of broadcast spray all over the room and hope that just does the job. Well the bed bugs like to hide in cracks and crevices so it is very important to treat every crack and crevice. This means cracks and crevices around baseboards, door frames, window frames, picture frames. If you can fit a credit card in there a bed bug can also hide there. Every crack and crevice must be treated. The second common mistake is just not doing the repeat treatments. People want to treat once and move on. Unfortunately the bed bug egg is protected so those repeat treatments are necessary with every product that you use. You may be wondering if you can treat bed bugs yourself versus hiring a professional, the answer is of course you can. You have to be committed to adding a little bit of your own labor into the process, but if you are willing to do that you can certainly treat bed bugs yourself. We do recommend that you use one of our bed bug kits versus trying to choose one single product because there could be a resistance issue with the product that you are choosing and treating the string of bed bugs that you have. If you choose a kit you?ll notice they come with an aerosol, they?ll come with a dust, and may even come with a liquid concentrate. These different products are all chosen to put together into one kit so you can avoid any kind of resistance issue. Bed Bug Treatment Infographic

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