How to Solve a Bed Bug Problem

"Bed bug problem treatment involves a decision to either treat your home or apartment yourself or to hire a professional. In an apartment building, a coordinated effort is needed among all tenants, as a bedbug problem can spread from one room to the next. In a private home, a do it yourself kit will help with smaller problems, while larger infestations require a pest control professional. A step by step guide to treating and preventing bed bugs is below . "  

Bed Bug Problem Overview:

Bed bugs are typically spread by tourists or anyone that enables a bed bug to hitch a ride from one room to another. Typically, a person will stay in an infested hotel room or apartment, allowing the bed bugs to hide in their luggage. When returning home, the insects jump off. An infestation has nothing to do with cleanliness,with even the best hotels sometimes having a problem.

Once in a room, bed bugs need to feed on a human host in order to move through their life cycle. They do not spread disease, with the most common human symptoms being an allergic reaction that results in a round red raised area on the skin. Multiple bites will result in multiple red bed bug bites. Most people have no allergic reaction to the bites and at best will just show two small skin punctures where the bite occurred.  Feeding occurs at night and lasts for 10 minutes on exposed areas of the body with most bites occurring on the arms and legs.

Treatment involves chemical and non-chemical approaches. The advantage of a pest control expert is that they know where to look, and may have equipment and chemicals that is not sold to consumers. Many professionals, college dormitories and hotels use a heat method to kill bed bugs and their eggs. They seal a room and then super heat it to 120 degrees F for several hours as an effective method for getting rid of bed bugs. Consumers who are treating a home themselves use a combination of sprays, special dust, vacuuming and steam to kill the bed bugs.

Follow this link to see our list of bed bug pest control experts who have the experience to solve your bed bug problem.  They will provide a free evaluation, provide information on how to get rid of bed bugs..

Bed bugs can move approximately 20 feet+ in any direction including rooms next to and above the one being treated, which is why adjoining rooms or apartments need to be inspected.

A professional bed bug treatment can cost up to $100 for a home inspection (more if a bed bug sniffing dog, which detects their distinct odor is used), and then over $750 for the treatment, depending on the size of the home. A do it yourself kit, such as the one offered by Naturasil for Bed Bugs costs approximately $160. Kits are the most economical way to address a bed bug problem as they contain the multiple products needed to do the job right including a spray, bedbug dust, steamer and mattress cover.

If going the professional route, call several bed bug pest control experts for a quote.  A good source is Angie's List which can be called at 1-877-670-3742 for local recommendations and homeowner reviews.  Ask specifically about their bed bug experience, guarantees and specialized equipment including the use of a bed bug sniffing dog.  While not required, a dog can detect a bedbugs raspberry like odor and detect all areas where there might be a bed bug problem.

Bed Bug Problem Identification

Bed bugs have a distinct appearance, although they can be confused with other insects. They change in appearance at each stage of their life cycle, starting as an egg, which is small, white and the size of a pin head, and move on to be an adult. Nymphs or young bed bugs are straw colored while older bed bugs are reddish brown.

If you are not sure you have a bed bug problem, you can send a sample for a small fee to the Cornell University Insect Diagnostic Laboratory for a bed bug specimen examination.

bed bug problem

Picture of Bed Bug Lifecycle

Treating a Room for Bed Bugs

The keys to bed bug treatment is knowing where to look and then having the right tools. The key is to be thorough with the bugs easily hiding in every available crack in the room including the back of the headboard, behind pictures and even inside electronics such as a clock radio. Studies show that approximately 50% of bed bugs in a room will be within 10 feed of the bed. Places to inspect include:

  • Treat the Mattress Seams and Box Spring: Check all over the mattress and box spring. Use a mattress safe spray and lightly treat all seams. If there is fabric covering the bottom of the box spring consider removing it and inspecting the inside of the box spring, also with the spray. Use a pump spray such as Bug Patrol which is all natural and contains plant extracts. It is not necessary to throw out a mattress or box spring that is in good condition. After the mattress dries from the spray, use a zippered mattress and box spring cover which indicates that it is made to prevent bed bugs. This will trap any bugs inside that you might have missed.
  • Sprays will not kill bed bug eggs, only heat or a hand steamer will work. Often, a bed bug infestation returns due to missed eggs.

  • Wash All Clothing and Linens in Hot Water: Wash anything you can in the room in the washing machine using hot water followed by placing items in the dryer for 20 minutes. Before removing clothes from the room, be sure to place in heavy duty plastic outdoor garbage bags to avoid dropping any bed bugs while transporting items.
  • Throw Out What you Can: Bed bugs like to hide in newspapers, books etc. Throw out any disposable item. Place them in a plastic bag and dispose outside of the house.  If you are disposing of a mattress mark it as having a bed bug problem.  In many apartment buildings, homeowners bring used furniture and mattresses back into the building without knowing that they are spreading bed bug problems to others.
  • Vacuum and Disinfect Carpet: The vacuum can be an effective way to pick up any bugs that you can spot. Be sure to use the crevice tool and move along the baseboards of the room, carpet etc. If you have carpet consider using a carpet cleaner on the high heat setting. Mix a quality disinfectant into the carpet cleaner such as PuraCleenRx to ensure that any bedbugs are killed. Test this in an out of the way area of the carpet to make sure that the mixture doesn't stain your carpet.

    Dispose of the vacuum bag outside of the home.  Empty the vacuum in the room that was treated to avoid spreading the bed bugs and creating more bed bug problems.
  • Steam: Use a hand held steamer to kill any bed bug eggs.  A bed bug tends to lay eggs on rough surfaces.  They will look like clusters of white specks.  Steam into cracks, spaces where the bed frame joints meet etc.  Be sure to crack a window open a bit to help with drying and to avoid mold.
  • Inspect: Do one final inspection when complete.  By this time you should have checked every inch of the room including out of the way areas such as behind pictures, underneath dresser drawers, under electrical plates, around the baseboard etc.  When in doubt use the steamer to make sure you treated every surface.
  • Apply Fossil Dust: Fossil dust, which is a natural product (also called diatomaceous earth), can be sprinkled into cracks, along the base of the walls and under dressers. When the dust comes in contact with a just hatched bed bug, it will eventually kill them. It's another layer of protection that is even being placed into walls of new construction or remodeling in Manhattan apartments to help keep bedbugs spreading from apartment to apartment. This product can be purchased inexpensively from

    Only apply a thin layer of dust in a well ventilated room. You may want to purchase an inexpensive applicator which makes sure that the dust spreads correctly.  It it is too think, bed bugs may avoid the area.
Remember, bed bug extermination is hard work and may take 2 to 3 treatments to get any eggs that you might have missed. The only way to kill eggs is with heat or possibly with a strong insecticide applied to an entire sealed room.

Is Your Bed Bug Problem Gone?

Here are some tips to use after treatment to ensure that your bed bug problem is gone, or if you missed a few, how you can be sure they are killed.

  • Move and Protect the Bed: Bed bugs crawl up the wall and then jump onto the bed. Move the bed 6 inches from the wall and any nearby furniture. Use double sided tape on each leg to keep bedbugs from moving up the legs.
  • Put a Bed Bug Bowl or Interceptor Under Each Bed Leg: This is a great way to see if you still have bed bugs. One home bed bug remedy is to place a bowl under each bed leg. Glue a piece of fabric to the outside of each bowel to allow the bed bugs to climb up. When the reach the top they will fall in. Place an inch of rubbing alcohol into each bowel to kill the bugs. After using them, if you see no bedbugs in the bowel, then you are bug free. Leave it for a week or 2 to be sure that no new bedbugs have hatched. You can also buy inexpensive bowls called Climbup Interceptors that are specifically made for this purpose./
  • Use Mattress and Box Spring Covers: Since most bedbugs hide in and around the mattress, putting a zippered cover on the mattress and box spring will trap any bedbugs you didn't kill that are hiding on the mattress. Between the mattress covers, taped legs, and Bedbug interceptors, your bed should be well protected.

When to Hire a Bed Bug Exterminator

The best approach is to call in a bed bug pest control professional, who has the knowledge and experience to do an inspection, assess the extent of the bed bug problem and then recommend a treatment plan.

Don't wait or the problem will get much worse and possibly more expensive to treat. We have a list of pest control companies that are specifically qualified to treat bed bugs. These companies will provide a quote at no charge to you.

Be sure to use a bed bug specialist, as they will know where to look and may have specialized equipment such as heating units.

Follow this link to find a qualified local bedbug exterminator near you.  Please keep in mind that if the bed bugs are not treated correctly, insects missed will begin to multiply and the problem will return.  Don't use a pest control company unless they have extensive experience treating bed bugs.

When hiring a professional, be sure to get a guarantee, a description of chemical and non approaches that will be used, and whether treatment products are pet and child safe. 

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