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If you have bed bugs in your home right now, then your first thought is probably “how can I kill all of the bed bugs.” And when you first start reading about these creatures, it may seem like they are impossible to kill – they can survive for over a year without feeding and can sustain fairly high and low temperatures without dying.
But, rest assured, there are ways to get rid of them, and below I’ve detailed 10 ways to kill bed bugs. (If you truly want to know how to kill bed bugs, follow multiple of these ways.)
One of the best ways to kill bed bugs is with high heat. Just regular heat won’t do – you can’t just turn up the radiator in your house. You need temperatures above 120F to kill bed bugs (of course, the higher the temperature, the better your chance of killing them). But you also need it to be safe as high temperatures can be very dangerous to you and your family. So, below are some safe methods that can heat things up enough to kill bed bugs.
Dry steamers are devices that heat water up and expels a very small amount of high temperature steam from nozzles you attach to the device. When you purchase a dry steamer you should always make sure the tip of the dry steamer will reach temperatures above 200F. This is because, the steam will quickly cool down once it leaves the device, and you want it to hit the bed bugs when it’s still over 120F in temperature so that it can kill them.
Dry steamers are also great in that the high heat can kill bed bug eggs too, which most other methods (like chemicals) can’t do anything about. You will want to use your dry steamer slowly, moving it over anywhere where bed bugs might be (including on your mattress, sofa, in the corners of your rooms).
Plus, dry steamers are a one-time investment. While $300 may seem steep, it will do a lot to help you get rid of your bed bugs infestation. If bed bugs return, then you can get the device out again without incurring extra costs. Best of all, dry steamers have a ton of other uses that aren’t related to bed bugs. For example, they can be used to clean your sofas, to clean the area around your bathroom tiles, to clean around your faucets, to clean your carpets and more!
Another easy way to apply heat is using your washer and dryer. We suggest putting your clothes and bed sheets into the wash as soon as you think you might have bed bugs. Wash them on the hot setting (check you don’t have delicate clothes that cannot withstand those temperatures before putting them in – some colors can also run at high temperatures). Then dry everything also at a high temperature (again check your clothes to make sure they’re ok with heat as some clothes will shrink when dried at high temperatures).
This isn’t the best method of killing bed bugs as the temperatures may not be high enough in a washer and dryer. And the bed bugs may have laid eggs elsewhere that you didn’t know about so you may think you killed them all, but you might have missed many.
The cold has been shown to kill bed bugs too, although generally you’d have to keep the items below 0F for several weeks to kill them off.
Unfortunately, most freezers that we have at home are unable to reach temperatures below 0F, so it’s usually suggested that you keep the items in the freezer for longer in order to kill the bed bugs. If you have a commercial freezer that can reach lower temperatures, then use that.
To use this method, place your clothes into a plastic bag, and then place the bag into the freezer for 1-2 weeks.
Diatomaceous earth is a white powder made naturally from rocks that kills bed bugs by drying them out.
This powder can be scattered on parts of the ground near furniture where they won’t be disturbed for several days and where bed bugs are likely to walk over. We suggest making sure you put some around your bed and under your bed as well as the corners of your room too. This powder is safe to use, but just be careful not to inhale the powder when applying it.
Whenever someone asks us in person how to kill bed bugs, this is always the first thing we start with. It’s not the most effective at killing bed bugs (a dry-steamer is better), but it’s a necessary step, because it keeps the leftover bed bugs from coming back.
Yes, alcohol can kill bed bugs! But you want to get some form of rubbing alcohol (91% isopropyl). Put this in a spray bottle and spray where bed bugs or bed bug eggs are likely to be. Unfortunately, it will only kill bed bugs or bed bug eggs that come into direct contact with the alcohol right then. If bed bugs walk over a patch that you sprayed but that had already dried (and alcohol dries quickly), then they won’t be affected.
You can buy rubbing alcohol in most pharmacies (even Walmart) or online on Amazon.com.
These have traditionally been our savior in this battle against bed bugs. DDT nearly caused bed bugs to go extinct before it was banned. However, pesticides do have draw backs. Bed bugs have developed resistance to many pesticides, and some pesticides can be dangerous to pets and small children if used in large amounts. You should always follow the instructions on the packaging when applying any pesticides.
We used to recommend Bed Bug Bully, but this bed bug spray doesn’t seem to work anymore. Now, we suggest Eco Defense instead if you’re looking to find a bed bug chemical spray to deal with your bed bug problem. They use natural ingredients, although we can’t determine exactly what the ingredients are. A non-natural pesticide that is still highly effective against bed bugs is Steri Fab, so if you’re looking for something to spray on mattresses and around your home, then give this a try (however, it is not recommended if you have cats).
Bed bugs survive by feeding off human blood. That’s why they’re found on and around your bed and they bite you (they suck up your blood to feed on). So, if you can keep them away from feeding on your for a long time (probably around 1 year), then they will die from starvation.
Bed bugs that are living in your mattress can be kept inside the mattress for 1 year and will then die from not being able to feed on anything. So, mattress encasements like SafeRest are used to ensure the mattress is covered and that bed bugs inside your mattress cannot get out. These mattress encasements are specially designed to ensure bed bugs can’t escape from them (e.g., there are locks on the zips to make sure the zipper doesn’t come open easily). Similar box springs encasements can also be bought to do the same with your box springs.
With this method, you’ll be able to kill the bed bugs on your bed but also not have to throw away or destroy your expensive mattress. When using this method, just make sure to check the mattress cover regular to make sure there are no tears in it and that the zipper hasn’t come loose. And also make sure to keep the mattress and box springs enclosed for at least a year! You definitely don’t want to open them early. We also highly recommend using other methods as well as mattress covers to deal with bed bug issues. Don’t rely on this method alone for prevention or protection.
Obviously, if you throw items away, then you also get rid of bed bugs that way. This is not a recommended method of course, but it may be the best option in some cases.
Vacuuming can help kill bed bugs and get rid of bed bug eggs in your home. However, most bed bug eggs stick to things (like with glue – in fact, they do have a chemical on them that makes them stick to materials better), so you may not be able to vacuum them up well.
This is not a very effectively method as it’s easy to miss many of the bed bugs, but it’s a good first step.
If you use a vacuum though, please make sure that the vacuum bag can be sealed and thrown away after use. Also make sure to clean the vacuum thoroughly after use in case any bed bugs or bed bug eggs get trapped in it.
This is clearly a more expensive method of killing bed bugs, but a professional exterminator can help you design a treatment plan for getting rid of bed bugs for good. They will likely use many of the methods we’ve described here, but they can help you ensure that the methods are implemented correctly. They will also likely have access to chemicals that are stronger and more able to kill bed bugs than those available to you regularly. Exterminators will also help you get rid of bed bugs faster, but any good exterminator will need to come to your house more than one time.
With so many options for killing bed bugs, which one should you go for? If you’re not planning to hire a professional exterminator, then we recommend using a combination of methods for killing bed bugs.
A comprehensive treatment plan needs several methods to be implemented together.
So, here’s our how to kill bed bugs treatment plan:
1. Carefully vacuum your home.
2. Get a dry steamer (like this one) and use it to clean all areas of the home that could have bed bugs (in particular, the mattress, all around your bed).
3. Place all your clothes and bed sheets into the washer and dryer on high heat.
4. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your house (in all the corners and under the bed).
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