If you have bed bugs in your home, then bed bug extermination is probably what you dream about when you are finally able to get some sleep! So, in this post, I’ll explain to you several methods of killing bed bugs that will ensure you’re able to once again enjoy the sanctity of your home.
Bed bugs are difficult creatures to kill, so if you have bed bugs invading your home, then you must institute a complete and comprehensive bed bug extermination plan.
Just utilizing one extermination method will NOT be enough!
Below, I’ve detailed a variety of methods for getting rid of bed bugs and put together a simple plan for you to follow.
Please make sure to follow it through as it can be really painful to think that you got rid of all those bed bugs only to find that they came back again.
This is an easy way to get rid of some of the bed bugs in your home. Most of us have a vacuum, so that’s why this method is number one on the Bed Bug Extermination List. However, let me tell you straight up that this is not a very effective method of killing bed bugs.
Many vacuums blow out more air than they suck in and many vacuums have brushes that sweep bed bugs away thereby spreading the infestation rather than cleaning it up.
Also, bed bug eggs (which you have to get rid of in order to get to the root of the problem) stick to surfaces so you need to use a scraper while you vacuum to make sure you get all of those.
Then when you’re done vacuuming your entire house, you’ll need to empty your vacuum into a plastic bag, seal the bag carefully, and then clean your vacuum pipes with hot water to ensure it’s not going to breed bed bugs.
This is another easy method to get started with since most of us have washing machines and tumble dryers.
Place all your clothes and your sheets into the washer and wash them on high heat. For any clothes that can’t be washed on high heat, just put those into the dryer on high heat (make sure they can be dried on high heat as some clothes change shape). The high heat should kill many of the bed bugs and bed bug eggs on them.
If a dry steamer is not part of your bed bug extermination plan, then it really should be.
These devices are amazing for killing bed bugs. They emit “dry” steam, which is very low levels of steam but at a very high temperature so that bed bugs can be killed. This is the most important aspect of how a dry steamer works – they can emit steam at hot enough temperatures to kill bed bugs.
As an added benefit, these dry steamers also kill bed bug eggs so you can prevent new bed bugs from being born and infiltrating your home again.
The way you use dry steamers is to pass the nozzle over surfaces and fabrics that may be infested by bed bugs. Pass over the surfaces slowly so that they will be heated up to the high temperature by the steam. That way any bed bugs or bed bug eggs even under the surface of the material will be killed. This is great for use on mattresses or sofas or pillows where bed bugs might be hidden deep in the material.
Hot steam will be emitted so you need to be careful when you use the device. Also, if you have a respirator, that will help prevent you from inhaling any vaporized chemicals (e.g., paint from your walls).
You can also use dry steamers for non-bed bug related uses like cleaning your shower tiles or your granite counter tops. So, even though a good dry steamer, like the Vapamore one we recommend, costs $300, it’s a very useful investment.
This is a very safe and natural method of killing bed bugs and preventing future bed bugs from infesting your home.
Diatomaceous earth is a white dust that’s naturally occurring. It’s commonly used as a pest killer – just scatter it and any bugs that walk over it will be dehydrated and killed.
To use this method of killing bed bugs, we recommend you buy food grade diatomaceous earth (like this one on amazon.com) and then scatter a thin layer of it around the corners of your home, under your bed, and around the base of your furniture. Use a brush to do this if you need to.
We don’t recommend using bed bug sprays much as they’re not very effective and who really wants a bunch of chemicals doused in our homes. However, bed bug sprays are an easy method of killing live bed bugs.
We used to recommend Bed Bug Bully, which is made using natural essential oils. It’s a very safe spray to use in your home, but unfortunately it’s not very effective, and so we’ve stopped recommending it.
Instead, we recommend the Eco Defense bed bug spray right now. It’s more effective at killing bed bugs.
This method only works for your bed of course, but it’s where bed bugs are most likely to be, and it is quite effective at starving the bed bugs to death.
Bed bugs need to feed (hence why they bite you at night), and the mattress encasements work by covering up the entire mattress where they hide out so that they can’t escape and come out again. This then prevents them from biting you and feeding. After a long time (approximately 1 year), they’ll die of starvation. So if you choose this method, you must make sure that the mattress cover wraps the entire mattress securely, that there are no cuts or scratches on the mattress cover through which bed bugs can crawl out, and that you don’t open the mattress encasement for at least 1 year.
This is also a bed bug preventative method of course. Bed bugs are also prevented by the mattress encasement from entering and taking root in your mattress. So if you get a new mattress, then get one of these covers for it so that you don’t end up ruining it. (The mattress covers can also prevent you from staining your mattress e.g., spilling drinks on your bed or a pet or baby peeing on your bed.)
A box spring encasement is also available to protect your box springs from bed bugs in a similar fashion. The same precautions apply for that.
There are plenty of methods of killing bed bugs, but you need a simple plan to execute that has the highest likelihood of getting rid of bed bugs. So, here is that plan:
STEP 1: Wash all your clothes and bed sheets. This is something you can go do today easily and cheaply. It’s a great start on getting everything bed bug free and you’ll need to keep doing this throughout the treatment period.
STEP 2: Buy a dry steamer and steam your entire home. This is the main part of the treatment plan. It’s also the most essential component because a dry steamer is what’s going to kill the majority of the bed bugs and bed bug eggs in your home. So, please don’t skip this method even though it’s the most expensive component.
STEP 3: Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your home. This will kill any leftover bed bugs in your home that didn’t get killed by steps 1 and 2. It’ll also kill any new bed bugs that come into your home.
STEP 4: Buy a mattress encasement to protect your mattress against future bed bugs. This is an easy step.
The question of whether you should hire a professional to get rid of bed bugs for you always comes up, and it’s a personal choice in the end. Many people get rid of bed bugs themselves using methods like the ones I’ve detailed above, but many people don’t want to deal with the hassle of doing it all themselves and have the money to hire a professional instead.
If you hire a good professional, then bed bug extermination can often be faster than with you doing it haphazardly yourself. However, not all professionals are good. And also, professional extermination doesn’t guarantee that bed bugs won’t return, so you’ll need to use many of the preventative measures like diatomaceous earth and mattress encasements anyway.
One note of caution though. If you do plan to use a bed bug professional, then please do so initially before you try anything else. This is because they will come up with a comprehensive treatment plan for you, and if you do something yourself initially then it could interfere with their plan. For example, if you spray certain chemicals in your home, then it could prevent them from using a dry steamer in your home immediately as they won’t want to vaporize the chemicals.
For more information about hiring an exterminator, please check out our section on How To Hire A Bed Bug Exterminator where we’ve put in detailed questions about what to ask an exterminator before you hire them to make sure they’re good!