How to Choose a Bed Bug Killer

" Natural, chemical and mechanical bed bug killer options include insecticide based and natural options. Mechanical methods are also used including steam, freezing sprays and vacuuming. Do it yourself approaches require the use of multiple products to kill bedbugs. Professional heat based and carbon dioxide spray approaches can be used without the use of chemical methods. "  

There are many available methods available for killing bed bugs. The available bed bug treatment methods are described below. To begin, this is a great video from ABC News on types and bed bug treatment cost


Hiring a Professional Bed Bug Exterminator:

Professionals have tools and bed bug products at their disposal that are not available to homeowners due to regulations and the cost of the treatment method. Because each exterminator has different levels of experience and the cost of extermination can be $750 or more, it pays to contact several companies.

We suggest starting with Service Magic (1.877.233.1145) since they offer up to 4 free quotes.

Compare the quote received with firms you find on our bed bug exterminator database.

  • Bed Bug Killer Methods used by bed bug exterminators
    • Heat: Bed bugs are killed at 113F.  Heaters are brought into a structure and superheat individual rooms or the entire building to the required temperature.  This method is 100% effective, but expensive. No chemicals are used and all items are treated.  The downside of this approach is the high expense. Thermal remediation bed bug heat treatment  can cost from $2,000 to $6,000, while chemical bed bug treatment processes can run anywhere from $1,300 to $5,000. 
    • Freezing Spray: Bed bugs and bed bug eggs are literally frozen using a carbon dioxide freezing spray.  This approach is effective and can even treat electronics, a problem area for insecticide based approaches.
    • Bed Bug Insecticides: Exterminators will use a combination of knock down products, which act as a bed bug killer on contact, and a residual spray that provides several weeks of protection. Many of the most effective bed bug insecticides can be purchased on line from companies such as Bed Bug Supply.  
    • Mechanical Methods: You can see bed bugs with the naked eye. A vacuum crevice tool can be used to suck them into the vacuum.  The problem is that bed bug eggs cannot be removed with this method.  Steam will kill both bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
    • Bed Bug Dogs: Bed bug sniffing dogs can be trained to search for and identify bed bug hiding places.  Be sure to accompany the dog/exterminator for visual proof that the bed bug problem exists.  The use of a dog can be expensive with many exterminators charging several hundred dollars for an inspection using a dog. Studies show that bed bug sniffing dogs are 98%  accurate.

Before hiring anyone, ask about their specific experience and which of the aforementioned approaches are used to kill bedbugs.

Become a Do It Yourself Bed Bug Killer

It is possible to treat bed bugs at home, however it takes persistence and the correct mix of products.  We always recommend hiring an experienced exterminator, however we understand that not everyone can afford the fees. The following is a step by step guide go becoming a bed bug killer yourself. 

Bed Bug Products You'll Need to Do the Job Right:

  • Bed Bug Sprays: Here you have a choice of insecticide based sprays and natural spray products. In terms of insecticide based sprays we suggest Sterifab as a mattress safe knock down spray (kills bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact). A good natural alternative that is also mattress safe and that will kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact is Bed Bug Patrol.

    In addition to a knock down spray, it is also recommend for those using an insecticide based approach to use a residual spray as well. These sprays interfere with the lifecycle of the bed bug.  They take a few days to work, but provide protection for several weeks.  For this purpose we recommend using Phantom Spray.  New York residents should use Bedlam instead (Phantom not available in New York).

    When using sprays, test to make sure they don't stain objects being treated.
  • Bed Bug Dust: A bed bug dust is a natural product that is made out of ground fossils.  It is also called fossil dust or diamtomaceous earth. It is applied at the end of the treatment. When bed bugs cross through a thin layer of dust, it sticks to their exterior and eventually acts as a bed bug killer.
  • Mattress and Box Spring Covers: Mattress and box spring covers need to specifically labeled as protecting against bed bugs.  They are applied after the mattress and box spring are treated with a knock down spray and trap any bed bugs and bed bug eggs that might have been missed.  Since over 50% of bed bugs hide in or around the bed, this step is critical.

Bed Bug Killer Money Savings Tip: To save money, bed bug products can be purchased as part of a bed bug kit which have every type of bed bug killer product needed to do a thorough job.

Step by Step Bed Bug Killer Instructions


  1. Set aside a safe area where you can place items that have been treated.  This can be a hallway or bathroom just off the room being treated.
  2. Treat the baseboards of the room, first with the knock down spray such as Sterifab, followed by a residual spray such as Phantom.  

    bed bug killer
    Spray Baseboards with a Knock Down and Residual Spray.  Spray cans come with a thin straw that inserts into the top of the spray.  Bedlam spray pictured here. Test to make sure it doesn't stain the carpet.  Use Bug Patrol as Natural Alternative Bed Bug Spray.
  3. Start by folding the linen on the bed.  Place into a plastic container, plastic bag, or better yet Ziploc Big Bag, to avoid carrying bed bugs to the washing machine. Wash in hot water followed by 30 minutes in the dryer.
  4. Start by going around the bed with the vacuum and an attached crevice tool to suck up any visible bed bugs.  Follow this with the use of a knock down spray to treat the mattress (Sterifab if using an insecticide spray or Bed Bug Patrol of you prefer natural products).  Follow the manufacturers directions.  After the treatment, carry the mattress to the safe area.

    bed bug killer
    Use a Bed Bug Spray to Treat Seams and Tufts of the Mattress with a Bed Bug Safe Spray. Be sure to spray around labels and any space you can slide a credit card into.

5.  Treat any furniture and other items near the bed. Remove the drawers from any night table and other nearby furniture. Place items in a plastic bin with a snap lid and dispose of what you can.  Treat any headboards, around picture frames and inspect any electronics. Start with the knock down spray and then go around with the residual spray (Phantom). Treat every crack and crevice where bed bugs could hide, including gaps in the floor.

bed bug killer
Treat Around the Window Sills

bed bug killer
Treat the Back of the Furniture

bed bug killer
Spray the Furniture Tracks, a Common Hiding Place

6.  Treat the box spring, first by vacuuming.  Remove or fold back any cloth that covers the bottom. Use the knock down spray on the box spring surface and the residual spray inside the box spring (review and use as per the manufacturers instructions).  Move the box spring into the safe area.

7. Treat the bed frame with the knock down and residual spray. Be sure to treat all cracks where the different parts of the frame come together.

8. Take zippered bed bug covers and after the spray dries on the mattress and box spring, seal in zippered covers. Reasonably priced covers are available from Bed Bug Supply. You can also buy bed bug covers from Amazon.  The pillow should be either disposed of or covered with a zippered case as well.

9. Vacuum the entire room. If you have carpet, use a steam cleaner.  For added protection add a disinfectant to the mixture that is formulated to kill parasites such as PuraCleenRX.  Test in an area of the room to make sure whatever you use doesn't stain the carpet.

10. Return the mattress and box spring to the bed frame.

In terms of electronics and items in drawers, they need to be inspected and possibly treated.  Spray what you can with the knock down spray.  Place other items in a dryer for 30 minutes such as sneakers.  If items can't be treated or place in a dryer, the alternatives are to either seal items in a plastic bin for 18 months to starve any bed bugs and late hatching eggs, to place items in a freezer for 5 consecutive days.

An alternative is to purchase a PackTite heater to heat items to the temperature required to kill bed bugs (113F). PackTite is a bed bug killer that will kill 100% of bed bugs placed into the unit.

If bed bugs have been able to penetrate furniture such as a couch, the only options are to hire a professional for freeze spray treatment, or to hire a heat chamber truck to heat the entire couch.  For this you'll need a professional or dispose of the couch. If you live in areas with freezing temperatures, you can leave items outside for 5 consecutive days, or place them in a freezer for the same length of time.

Bed Bug Killer Steps after Treatment

The most asked question after treatment is how do you know the bed bugs are gone. The simple solution is to place some type of bed bug trap into the room that received the treatment and to look for other signs such as a continuation of any bed bug bites.

One of the more popular bedbug traps is the Climbup Interceptor.  Bowls are placed under each bed leg. The bowls trap any bed bugs trying to climb up onto the bed.  If the bowls stay empty for 2 to 3 weeks, the bed bug problem is gone.

Again, if your do it yourself approach didn't work, you can always call in a professional from the Service Magic Network.

Ask a Question or Share Your Bed Bug Experience With Others

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References for Bed Bug Killer Information:


Ability of Bed Bug-Detecting Canines to Locate Live Bed Bugs and Viable Bed Bug Eggs
MARGIE PFIESTER,1 PHILIP G. KOEHLER, AND ROBERTO M. PEREIRA
Department of Entomology
University of Florida


     


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