How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs : The Ultimate Guide

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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

The first step to figuring out the best way to get rid of bed bugs is to learn more about bed bugs themselves.

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of sleeping humans and animals. They used to live on bats but shifted their attention to humans when our ancestors began taking shelter in caves.

While they do not spread diseases, bed bugs are a nuisance and can even turn your life upside down.

If you suspect or discover that your home has bed bugs, how to get rid of them will probably be the first thing on your mind. Don’t worry though; we’ve got your covered.

This quick guide contains all the bed bug basics you need to know along with the most practical tips and effective solutions that will lead you to the best way to kill bed bugs.

 

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From ? and Where Do Bed Bugs Hide

How do you get bed bugs out of your home? Start by finding out where they are hiding in your home.

Bed bugs go in hiding when they are not feeding.

Unlike bees or ants, however, bed bugs do not have nests. But they do tend to live and hide out in groups.

Where do bed bugs hide? And where do bed bugs live?

Their initial and main hiding place is in or around beds, or any area where people sleep and rest (hence their name).

But besides the bed, they can be found in other parts of the bedroom and even in other parts of your home.

It doesn’t matter to bed bugs whether their hiding places are clean or dirty. You can have the cleanest home but still get bed bugs.

If it’s not uncleanliness that draws them, what causes bed bugs then? Bed bugs live on blood and are thus focused on finding a warm host.

This is why you can find common bed bugs in almost any place where there is a potential host.

Of the different possible hiding places, it’s best to search your bed first. Here’s how.

  • Inspect your mattress. If there’s a box spring, turn over the mattress and closely examine the top part.
  • Look in and around edges, including seams, folds, piping and tags.
  • Remove the box spring’s underlying gauze fabric or dust cover so you can check the framing.
  • Examine cracks and crevices on the headboard and bed frame. Headboards and frames made of wood are especially susceptible (more than metal and plastic versions are).
  • Dismantle the bed if necessary so you can take a better look at each component.
  • Remove and carefully check all bedding.

Next, inspect other objects and areas in the bedroom as well as other rooms. Over time, bed bugs tend to spread throughout the home.

Make sure your checklist includes:

  • Clutter near or under the bed
  • Cushions, tufts, skirts and seams of upholstered furniture
  • Curtain rods and folds of curtains
  • Nightstands and dressers, including woodwork underneath
  • Drawer joints
  • Closet and clothing
  • Electrical outlets and appliances
  • Laptops, netbooks and DSL ports
  • Loose wallpaper, wall hangings and peeling paint
  • Carpeting near baseboards
  • Air conditioners and fans
  • Junctions where wall and ceiling meet

 

How do bed bugs get in your house

Before you take on a bed bug infestation, it’s also important to understand how it started.

How do you get bed bugs in your house? And how do bed bugs spread?

Where bed bug hide? where bed bug lives ?

Where bed bug hide? where bed bug lives ?

Think of bedbugs as hitchhikers. They move on to the next site by hitching a ride on anything they can cling on.

That includes clothes, luggage, bedding, computers and furniture such as used beds and couches.

Say you went out of town for the weekend. If the place you stayed at had bed bugs, those bed bugs could tag along as you leave and you might end up bringing them home with you.

Or perhaps you’re moving to a new home. Bed bugs could crawl into your moving boxes and join you during your move.

In apartment buildings, bed bugs travel from one apartment to another by making their way through wire or pipe holes and cracks or crevices between walls.

Because of their flattened bodies, bed bugs can actually squeeze into any space that can fit or hold a credit card (including the head of a screw).

Bed bugs spread around your home the same way. But in other instances, the answer to “How do you get bed bugs in different rooms?” lies in the portable objects you carry around.

If you bring your laptop from your bedroom to the living room, for example, you may be inadvertently transporting bed bugs.

In occasional cases, birds and bats are responsible for introducing bed bugs into households.

 

How to know if you have bed bugs

Bed bug identification can get tricky because they have lookalikes, a number of which are also frequently found on beds or in surrounding areas. Plus, their bites can be easily mistaken to be from other insects. So how can you tell if you have bed bugs?

  • Check for bed bug bites.

You could have bed bugs in your bedroom if someone if your household complains of an insect bite during the night or wakes up with an itchy rash.

The bites could be on the face, neck, shoulders, arms or any area of the skin that was exposed—and thus easy to reach— while sleeping.

At first glance, they may resemble rashes, hives or mosquito bites.

But unlike a mosquito bite, a bed bug bite swells and spreads out. In some cases, it also comes in clusters or rows.

Most bites start out painless and then burn and become itchy. Reactions, however, vary depending on one’s immune system.

Some people only develop reactions two weeks after they’re bitten. Some don’t exhibit any reaction at all.

This is why you can’t rely solely on bed bug bites as an indicator of an infestation. Answering the question “How do you know you have beds bugs?” requires finding proof of the bed bugs’ presence.

  • Look for physical signs.

How to identify bed bugs correctly is critical. The last thing you want is to spend time and money on the wrong bug.

Here are some tips on how to detect bed bugs in different life stages.

Adult bed bugs

When adult bed bugs haven’t fed for some time, their bodies are brown, flat and oval-shaped. At about one-fourth of an inch long, they’re the size of an apple seed.

Note though that bed bug size increases after feeding.

How big do bed bugs get? The bodies of bed bugs that have just fed actually swell, becoming ballon-like and more elongated.

They also turn a reddish-brown color. So if most of those you see are round and red bed bugs, that means you caught them post-feeding.

Young bed bugs

Spotting young bed bugs, or nymphs, is not as simple due to their color and size.

They are either whitish-yellow or translucent and are as small as a speck of dust. Yes, that makes them practically invisible to the naked eye.

Molted skins

As part of the bed bug life cycle, nymphs will shed their skins five times before they mature. To complete each shedding and enter the next life stage, they also need to feed (at least one blood meal).

Baby bed bugs are about 1.5mm at the first life stage and grow to 4.5mm by the fifth stage.

The skin from the shedding process, otherwise known as molting, is light brown or pale yellow in color. You can find the molted skins of nymphs in the same places that they hide.

Eggs and eggshells

Think bed bugs are small? Their eggs are even smaller!

Bed bug eggs measure about 1mm and is similar in size to a pinhead. They have a pearl-white color and, if more than five days old, are marked by an eye spot.

On average, each female lays between one and three eggs a day and from 200 to 500 eggs over a lifetime. So if you miss out on these during your inspection, chances are your home’s bed bug population will multiply fast.

Fecal staining

If you’re learning how to check for bed bugs, you also need to keep an eye out for bed bug excrement. It’s not as bad as it sounds though.

When bed bug excrement dries, it leaves a dark brown or reddish spot. Sometimes, this bleeds on the fabric, much like a marker would.

Because of this, fecal staining is quick and easy to identify. You can find them on bed sheets, pillowcases, mattresses and walls near the bed.

Blood stains

Also be wary of rusty or tarry spots. These could be bed bug blood stains.

Such spots could be blood from bed bugs that have been crushed. Or it could be from large nymphs or adults that discharge what’s left of their earlier blood meals as they feed on a new host.

Musty odor

Bed bug identification is not only about what you can see. What you can smell also counts.

Bugs’ scent glands tend to give off a musty odor, so infested areas can smell pretty offensive.

In some cases, the odor is a lot like the smell of dried blood or rotten raspberries. When there’s heavy infestation, the stench might remind you of coriander.

 

What feeding habits to take note of

Understanding how bed bugs feed helps too in finding and fighting an infestation.

  • Bed bugs are fast.

They crawl at about the same speed of ladybugs. And when they catch sight of a host, they come out of hiding and quickly travel anywhere from 5 to 20 feet in order to feed.

Now you might be wondering, “Do bed bugs fly?” While they have wings, bed bugs do not use these for flying.

Even so, moving around and over floors, ceilings and walls comes real easy for bed bugs.

  • Bedbugs are active primarily at night.

They often strike while you’re sleeping. But this doesn’t mean you’re safe from bedbugs during the day.

In cases of serious infestations, bedbugs seek hosts and feed in broad daylight.

  • Bed bugs feed for 3 to 10 or 12 minutes.

They use their elongated beak to pierce the skin. Once they’re full and engorged, they simply walk away without the host noticing.

 

How to get rid of bed bugs at home

You’ve found their hiding places, and you’ve confirmed that they are indeed bed bugs. What to do next?

Infographic: How to prevent bed bug

how to present beg bug and get rid of bed bug

how to present beg bug and get rid of bed bug

It’s time to take action. We recommend trying the following methods.

  1. Use heat

How do you kill bed bugs with heat? Bed bugs die once their body temperature reaches 113 degrees F or 45 degrees C.

Put them in an environment that’s even hotter, and you can ensure they won’t survive.

  • Machine-wash infested items, when possible, in hot water (minimum 122 degrees F or 50 degrees C). Dry on the highest heat setting.
  • Place non-washable items straight in the dryer. Run for 20 to 30 minutes using the highest setting.
  • Wrap small non-washable items in plastic then leave in a hot, sunny location for a few days. Or coat with non-toxic bed bug spray (e.g., diatomaceous earth) then leave sealed in a plastic bag for a few months.
  • Install special heaters at your home, or purchase portable heating chambers that can be used to treat affected items.
  • Hire bed bug laundry and dry-cleaning services if need be. They not only use effective bed bug–killing methods but also store or bag cleaned items to protect these from becoming re-infested.
  1. Vacuum your house

Vacuuming removes bed bugs and eggs clinging on the surface of mattresses, couches, drapes and carpets.

  • Start with your bed, but tackle the surrounding area as well.
  • Scrub surfaces with a stiff brush before vacuuming to make it easier to suction the bugs.
  • For mattresses and box springs, focus on the edges, tufts and seams.
  • If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, make sure you cover the entire perimeter.
  • Use a HEPA filter with your vacuum cleaner for best results.
  • Dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed trash bag.
  • Discard of the vacuum cleaner bag and filter too. Place these in a plastic bag and throw them in an outdoor trash can.
  1. Use steam

Steam, like heat, can kill bed bugs. So how do you get rid of bed bugsusing steam?

  • Simply point or spray steam at the affected area.
  • Get a basic steam-generating device at your local hardware store.
  • Attach a flexible tube to an electric kettle to come up with a makeshift steam machine.
  • Steam-clean bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting after vacuuming to kill any remaining bed bugs.
  1. Put on a cover

Encase your mattress and box spring in a protective cover and keep this on for over a year.

The cover traps bed bugs so they won’t be able to feed. What kills bed bugs in this case is starvation.

How long do bed bugs live without feeding?

Bed bugs normally feed every five to ten days but can last up to a year without a single meal. So to effectively starve them, the cover has to stay sealed for at least 400 days.

To ensure the bed bugs don’t escape, use only high-quality covers with heavy-duty zippers. The fabric should be tightly woven, tear resistant and thick enough to prevent bed bug beaks from piercing through.

Also check the cover regularly for rips or holes. Should you find any, seal them shut with duct tape.

  1. Minimize hiding places

Fewer potential hiding places may discourage bed bugs from staying at your home.

As part of this strategy, you can:

  • Fill in cracks along wood molding, baseboards and ceiling-wall junctures.
  • Seal crevices on the wall that bed bugs sneak through to move between rooms.
  • Cover holes on the wall that wires and pipes pass through.
  • Get rid of clutter around your bed. Bag affected items that can be discarded and throw the bag out right away.
  • Look out for and remove roosts, which is where wild birds and bats settle and rest.
  1. Spray insecticides

Cleaning infested areas and affected items can’t completely solve your how-to-eliminate-bed-bugs problem. At some point, you may have to use chemical treatments.

Residential insecticides, called pyrethroids, come in the form of aerosol sprays and are readily available. They are derived from pyrethrum powder, an ancient treatment that uses crushed up chrysanthemum petals.

The best way to use pyrethroids is for spot treatment, with crevices and cracks as target areas.

When using insecticides, remember to:

  • Check if the insecticide is safe to use in the bedroom. The label should indicate that it can be sprayed on bedding and mattresses.
  • Before spraying cracks and crevices, vacuum the spots to get rid of any dirt and debris. This helps ensure that the insecticide will reach and penetrate those spots.
  • Don’t just spray insecticides on every hiding place you find. Otherwise, the bed bugs will just end up dispersing and their complete eradication will be more difficult to pull off.
  • Spray on insecticides again after two weeks, if there are still bed bugs left after the initial treatment.
  • Steer clear of insecticide “programs” that are sold in local hardware stores. These don’t work well, can be toxic, and are messy to use.
  1. Hire a professional

Tired of asking yourself, “How can I get rid of bed bugs?” Call for professional help.

Yes, in most cases, bed bug extermination is best left in the hands of a pest control company.

Experienced firms know how to kill bed bugs using the safest and most effective methods. And of course, they also know where to find them.

Plus, they have access to all the tools and equipment necessary for successful bedbug extermination. You can also request for environment-friendly solutions if you wish.

  1. Throw out affected items

When treatment fails, your home-to-kill-bed-bugs-at-home strategy must include discarding infested mattresses, box springs and other affected items.

Chop up the items, or damage them in some way, before you throw them out. This is so others won’t try to take them home and reuse them, as this would just cause the bed bugs to spread.

Also, before you get a new mattress, make sure your home is bed bug-free. Otherwise, your mattress may be infested all over again.

  1. Apply silica gel

Apply silica gel all over your bedroom, including around your mattress and along the wall.

Before applying crystal silica gel, grind it up until it’s fine. In this form, silica gel will easily stick to bed bugs.

Once the silica gel gets on them, bed bugs won’t be able to shake it off. This will lead to dehydration and eventually their death.

  1. Incorporate tea tree oil

If you want to figure out how to kill bed bugs at home the natural way, tea tree oil is a good place to start.

To eradicate bed bugs:

  • Use tea tree oil as you clean the house.
  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil as you wash affected items.
  • Spray bed components with tea tree oil after you dismantle your bed.
  • Make a pest control spray by mixing 18 drops of tea tree oil in 18 ounces of water. Use this around the house.
  1. Use wintergreen alcohol

How do you get rid of bed bugs instantly? Try wintergreen alcohol.

Wintergreen alcohol is known to burn bugs on contact. It also happens to be easily accessible and incredibly affordable.

If you have a spray bottle, simply pour in the alcohol. Use directly on bed bugs and their eggs.

You can, for instance, spray it on your mattress and box spring until they are drenched in wintergreen alcohol.

Watch this video to see how to get rid of bed bug easily:

How to prevent bed bugs

Your battle with bed bugs does not end at eliminating them. You also need to learn how to prevent bed bugs from re-infesting your home.

Here are some tips:

  • If you acquire secondhand furniture, carefully check for bed bugs before bringing any piece home.
  • If you purchaseused clothing and upholstery, wash them thoroughly at high temperatures.
  • If you are worried that there might be bed bugs on your clothing, undress on a hard-surface floor instead of a carpet so you can wipe off bed bugs that fall off.
  • If you’re back from a trip, inspect for bed bugs in your luggage and belongings before unpacking.
  • Position your bed away from the wall and ensure that the bedding doesn’t touch the floor.

 

The best way to get rid of bed bugs in your home will depend on different factors, including how mild or severe the infestation is. You can also use an integrated pest management approach, which combines chemical and non-chemical techniques.

On the whole, the process of eliminating bed bugs is straightforward but challenging.

First, you’ll need to look for them in different hiding places; to correctly identify them and their eggs; to keep an eye out for their excrement and blood stains; and to distinguish their bite from those of other insects.

Then you’ll need to get to work and try out various DIY solutions, such as using heat and steam, vacuuming, spraying insecticides and encasing your mattress in a protective cover.

But we also highly recommend calling for professional assistance, as pest-control companies know the best way to get rid of bed bugs in specific scenarios.

Lastly, remember that you can beat bed bugs.

It may take some time and effort, and it may be costly.But it definitely can be done.

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