How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

“Help! I need to know to how to get rid of bed bugs!”

Do you wake up with bites every morning or continuously itch all day? Or perhaps you can’t even sleep because you’re so scared of getting bitten? I’ve been there! If you’re like me, you probably daydream about the day that you’ll be able to sleep in peace again, when you will no longer itch or be continually scared of getting in bed. With that in mind, here’s a brief synopsis of how to get rid of bed bugs…


Creative Commons License photo credit: Ariel Grimm
First of all, bed bugs are not easy to get rid of. You need to understand that the more effort you put into getting rid of bed bugs, the more likely you will be successful. We know and have talked to or helped many people take what they consider to be drastic measures (e.g., moving to a new apartment or house or spending a lot of money on an exterminator), only to find a few weeks later that they either brought bed bugs with them to their new home or else failed to destroy all of the eggs in their current home. I tried that, and it didn’t work! Don’t be one of those unfortunate people!

Get rid of bed bugs and get rid of them for good!

There are numerous possible solutions for bed bugs, but some are definitely more likely than others to be successful. I see so many websites touting certain products, but I doubt they’ve actually ever tested or used those products. Here are 3 solutions I’ve had success with, as well as tips from my experiences with the horrors of bed bugs. You can click on any of the links below to read more about particular methods, and if you’re in a hurry, you can skip to the bottom and find the 2 solutions that we have found to be most successful for the largest number of people.

  1. Home Remedies that Work. There are several things you can do at home to fight bed bugs, but our experience, you absolutely must use several of these methods in conjunction with each other. You can start by first performing a few very simple tasks, including vacuuming infested areas and thoroughly washing and/or dry cleaning your clothes and bedding many times. These simple and easy actions will help ameliorate an infestation, but you will need to do a lot more to actually get rid of all bed bugs permanently.

    By far, the remedy that is the most effective (and which is used by most professional exterminators) is a dry steamer. With a dry steamer, you can safely steam your mattress, box springs, and any carpet or other fabric or wooden items in your home. Doing so kills all of the bed bugs in such areas and also destroys their eggs, which is the biggest benefit of using a dry steamer. You can either rent or buy a dry steamer (we actually recommend buying, as you’ll probably need to use it more than once, which means you’d need to rent it multiple times). If you’re looking for a good dry steamer, try the Vapamore MR-100, which is the product that I ended up buying and using with great success.

    There are also several other options that we encourage you to read about in the Home Remedies for Bed Bugs section of our site. Briefly, such remedies include getting a bed bug mattress cover, using rubbing alcohol or diatomaceous earth in infected areas, using extremely hot or cold temperatures to treat infected items, or discarding infected items. In particular, we highly recommend the use of diatomaceous earth. This product is very safe, and can be sprinkled pretty much everywhere inside your home. The benefit is that it lasts for a long time, meaning that any bed bugs you don’t kill in your first couple treatments will likely be killed at a later time by the remaining diatomaceous earth.

    Remember that these methods need not all be used independently of one another. Our best suggestions would be to dry steam your entire home, use a bed bug mattress cover, and then sprinkle diatomaceous earth throughout your home.

  2. Bed Bug Spray. If you’ve looked around the internet at all, you’ve certainly seen many different types of chemicals and sprays being advertised to get rid of bed bugs, so we feel like we should address this topic separately. Below is what I’ve discovered about these chemicals and sprays. If you want a more in-depth review, please visit the bed bug spray section of our site.

    First of all, you may have seen that there are various non-pesticide, “all-natural” products on the market. We love eating organically and using chemical-free cleaning products in general, but, unfortunately, the bed bugs also like the pesticide-free products. I found that a few bed bugs died, but my infestation remained.

    On the other hand, pesticides do work, albeit to varying degrees. Part of the problem is that bed bugs are actually developing immunity to some of the chemicals in the sprays. Moreover, spraying will not destroy bed bug eggs, so you’ll need to keep spraying for weeks or months. That said, bed bug sprays and pesticides are certainly the cheapest place to begin, although they may not necessarily solve your problem forever.

  3. Bed Bug Exterminators. Some of the most successful treatments are carried out by professionals. Unfortunately, this route is also the most expensive. With that in mind, if you have a serious infestation, then it might be in your best interest to spend the money up front instead of suffering for months while you test out less expensive methods.

    If you do decide to hire an exterminator, please visit the bed bug extermination section of our website first. Among other questions that you should ask a potential exterminator are how many treatments will be required and included in the price, what types of extermination they will use, what type of insurance they carry, and what preparations will need to be made on your part. It is also very important to check with any exterminator that you hire before you undertake any other home remedies, as there are many home remedies that will actually interfere with or hinder the success of an exterminator’s measures.

A Bed Bug-Free World

Above all else, if you know that you have bed bugs, please take action as soon as possible, since the problem will only get worse, no matter how bad or not bad you think it is right now. Bed bugs do not just go away, and the longer you wait, the harder it will be to completely eradicate them.

Our Top 2 Suggestions:

diatomaceous earth from Amazon.com
vapamore steamer from Amazon.com

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Wil May 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Thank you, very helpful. One YouTube video recommends Clorox Clean-Up. How does that compare to alcohol? Just curious. I’m starting the “fight” today or tomorrow.
Aloha,
Wil

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Admin July 13, 2012 at 1:04 am

It will work about the same. If it comes into contact with a bed bug, then it will kill it. The problem is that it doesn’t necessarily kill eggs, nor does it stay around for long to kill bed bugs that either hatch or that you don’t get the first time. That’s why we recommend diatomaceous earth.

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Dale Tanda July 10, 2012 at 11:00 am

Sir,

I would like to know how long a bedbug and/or eggs live or remain viable. I have placed a box spring and mattress in a bedbug mattress cover about 2 years ago. We would like to start using the set again, but are unsure if the bedbugs/eggs that might have remained on them are still alive/viable after that time. The set was stored in the basement during that period, so there were no temperature extremes that might have aided in their demise.

Thanks much for your time and attention to this matter.

Dale Tanda

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Admin July 13, 2012 at 1:10 am

There is some debate on this. In labs, they’ve seen bed bugs live around 2 years without feedings, although that’s probably about the extreme. Typically, they’ll only live a few months without feeding. If I were you, I would dry-steam the mattress and box springs before I used it, but then again, I’m very cautious about this type of thing.

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Jill July 16, 2012 at 11:31 am

I know I have bed bugs (on and off for over a year now) but I have no idea where they are hiding. I have attempted having professionals (which were no help whatsoever) as well as my own DIY. I have encasements (Have bought 3 sets for my box spring since they ripped) so hopefully the ones in my boxspring are not getting out again. So, after I found the rip in my encasement and bought a third one, I haven’t seen any on my bed but I still see them dead in the climb ups and around baseboards (like, 6 total or so). I don’t know what to do at this point anymore. I have no clothes here at my house, don’t stay here, vacuum and clean constantly and I have a dry steamer, phantom bug spray, and I am trying to get DE.

What steps should I take? I live in a loft apartment – pretty much a studio type apartment. So I feel like they are in my entire house but I’m not sure? I need help!

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Admin July 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

It sounds like you’ve done just about everything. My one suggestion, since you say that you’ve had them “on and off” for over a year is to really be persistent about treatment for a full 3 months. What I mean is that I would treat everything in the apartment with the dry steamer and the DE at least once a week for 3 months.

You may have already done this, and if so, then I apologize, because I won’t have any better suggestions. Diligence is usually the key, and many people relax a bit when they think they’ve gotten rid of bed bugs, but that often just give the bed bugs a chance to build back up.

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Jill July 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm

You know what? That may actually be my problem. Because I have always gotten so relieved when i would stop seeing them so I would relax and be super excited to have my life back. I am getting my shipment today with my DE and duster and more phantom and some nuvan strips. I haven’t seen any since my treatment last week. He told me to apply phantom in 10 days so I am going to do that. So, you suggest that after that I keep putting the DE down once a week?

I think I keep forgetting about the eggs – Damn!

I actually didn’t think about the retreatment and I appreciate your help.

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Admin July 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Yeah – that’s my best advice (to put down the DE once a week). Given how hard they’ve been for you to get rid of, I might even dry steam once a week. The dry steamer should destroy any eggs it comes into contact with, but it’s almost impossible to dry steam everywhere in your apartment that bed bugs may live and breed. That’s why the DE is great, because it tends to kill any stragglers, since it lasts for a longer time than sprays do.

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MKC October 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

How do you apply the DE? What’s the best method? What if you have children and pets? Is it safe?

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Admin October 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

You do want to be careful around kids and pets. Make sure you buy food grade DE, which is generally safe, but that said, try to keep your kids and pets from eating it.

I’d sprinkle it everywhere. The point of DE is that it stays around for a while and kills any bed bugs that aren’t killed by your initial treatment, so you want it to be as many places as possible.

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Felicia October 26, 2012 at 11:44 am

I moved into a house back in Jan. of this year when I moved in I bought all new furniture throughout my house. I didn’t notice anything at first but for the last 5 or 6 months the biting has gotten worse and I’ve even woke up in the middle of the night to find them crawling on my clothes. UGGGGG! I am 9 months pregnant and have three other children 6 yrs and under I am the only on with bites my husband doesn’t have any at all and he sleeps next to me, does this happen? Also I need to be sure that these methods are safe for children and what I can do before my baby arrives. I’m losing my mind trying to get rid of these things please any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Admin October 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Felicia,

It’s entirely possible that your husband may not react to bed bug bites. There is a substantial portion of the population that doesn’t react to getting bitten.

In terms of safety, obviously a dry steamer is only dangerous to the extent that it can burn someone if it comes into contact with them. This is a real concern, and I do recommend being very careful when using a dry steamer.

I suspect that you’re more concerned about Diatomaceous Earth. My thought is that DE is generally preferable to and safer than chemical sprays. Diatomaceous Earth actually comes in Food Grade, which is what you should buy. Many grains like wheat are actually stored with diatomaceous earth in order to keep them dry and keep out some pests. What that means is that you probably eat small amounts of diatomaceous earth on a regular basis. In other words, it’s pretty safe. I’m not suggesting that you let your kids eat any DE that you use around your house, but it’s much less toxic than chemicals.

My biggest tip, as always, is that you have to be thorough and keep treating. If you use a dry steamer on EVERYTHING in your house twice in one week and then sprinkle DE everywhere, you’ll likely feel that the problem starts to go away. That’s when you have to be most diligent. I’d use the dry steamer at least twice a month and keep the DE sprinkled around, both for probably 6 or 8 months. If you let up, they’ll come back.

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