Bed Bug Treatment

"Bed bug treatment  can be done by either a professional or as a do it yourself project. Bed bugs can hide in spaces the width of a credit card, making the insects difficult to find and kill. Advice is provided below on both hiring a bed bugs pest control expert and on how to kill bed bugs yourself. Don't be surprised if it takes 2 to 3 bed bugs treatments before the problem is eliminated."   

Bed bug infestations are becoming more common across the United States and most of the world. If your home or apartment has a bed bug infestation treat the problem as soon as possible, since bed bugs can rapidly multiply causing a more difficult and costly problem to eradicate.

On this page you will find bed bugs information on:

Selecting a Bed Bug Exterminator

Using a bed bug pest control professional is the preferred bed bug treatment method. These bed bug exterminators are licensed to use the multiple chemical and non-chemical methods used to kill bed bugs.

If you live in an apartment or rent a home, check with your landlord or building management company.  Most localities require prompt action on the part of the building owner.  This is particularly important in an apartment since there is a chance that a bed bug infestation spread from an adjoining apartment that is above, below or next to yours.

Tips for Finding a Low Cost Bed Bug Exterminator:

Find a company with bed bug treatment experience.  We provide several resources below  that will quickly connect you with a list of local experienced bed bug professionals.  We suggest you try all three since each referral source is free to use.  Also, getting rid of bed bugs is expensive and with the many approaches it is important to get several  bids and information from several companies.

  1. Bed Bug Handbook Referral Service: Click Here to get our list of local bed bug experts.  The entire process can be completed in under a minute.  Each company will provide a free quote.
  2. Contact Service Magic (phone 1.877.233.1145): This is a national network of local pest control companies where each company is pre-screened by the network before being allowed to join. The network will provide up to 4 free quotes. Connect to Service Magic Here  or call via the 877 phone number toll free.

Between these three bed bug treatment resources, you can quickly connect to experienced bed bug treatment professionals and get a good idea of cost and how each firm approaches the problem.  It's a fast way to get educated on a bed bug problem.

Choosing a Professional Bed Bug Exterminators

Here are some tips for choosing a professional bed bug exterminator:

  • Find a company that has experience and that can provide referrals.  Makes sure that the bed bug exterminator being sent to your home has experience specifically.
  • Interview a few companies.  Ask how they were trained to kill bed bugs and how they go about killing bedbugs.   For example, some firms use freezing, some use heaters,  while others rely on bed bug insecticides or organic products or a combination of approaches.
  • Get a bed bug inspection plan and pricing in writing.  Make sure they provide a guarantee.  Also ask about the implications for pets, children etc. (do they need to be out of the house, toxicity).

DIY Approach Bed Bug Treatment

Hiring a professional bed bug exterminator can be expensive.  For this reason, many home owners and apartment renters decide to treat the problem themselves (note renters should contact their landlord/management company first).  If you catch a bed bug problem early, this can be a viable approach to bed bugs treatment.

For a DIY bed bug treatment approach to be effective, multiple products should be used.  What follows are step by step instructions for bed bug treatment and the bed bug control products that are required to do a thorough job.

Bed Bug Control Products Needed:

Purchasing the right products for bed bug treatment can be confusing.  Our recommendations of the best bed bug products are as follows:

  • Bed Bug Sprays:
  • Sterifab for the Mattress (safe to treat mattress and furniture)
  • Phantom Spray for Cracks and Crevices (lasting effect, apply every 10 days for 3 weeks)

    You can save money by buying both in a bed bug kit.

Here's a complete list and more detail on each type of bed bug treatment product and why it is needed for bedbug control..

  • Vacuum: Bed bugs can be vacuumed up via the crevice tool that comes with most vacuum cleaners.  Use a brushless attachment to avoid getting bed bugs caught in the brush, which could then be dropped off in other areas of the room or home.  Note that this form of bed bug treatment does not vacuum up bed bug eggs, only bed bugs that have hatched.
  • Mattress Safe Spray: A mattress safe bed bug spray is essential for killing any bed bugs that are hiding in and around the mattress.  These sprays come in insecticide and organic formulations.  Both types kill bed bugs on contact with the difference being that insecticide sprays kill bed bugs and their eggs. Organic methods require one spray to kill bed bugs on contact, and another disinfectant spray to kill the eggs.

    Mattress Safe Bed bug spray suggestions:

    • Insecticide Based: Sterifab . Sterfab is a disinfectant that kills bed bugs and bed bug eggs. It dries in 15 minute and leaves behind no residual. It is recommended for mattresses, box springs and furniture, cracks and crevices etc.
    • Organic: Bug Patrol (purchase Bed Bug Fossil Dust and Benzarid from same company). Use in combination with a disinfectant that kills bed bugs such as Benzarid to provide a 1-2 punch.
  • Box Spring, Crack and Crevice Spray: We suggest purchasing 2 types of bed bug sprays to treat a room. The first is a spray that will kill bed bugs on contact such as Sterifab, plus the use of a bed bug spray that has a residual or lasting effect such as Phantom.  

    It is important to treat the box spiring, cracks along the perimeter of the room etc.  Again, organic products will kill bed bugs on contact, but not necessarily provide the lasting effect needed without the use of bed bug dust or disinfectant spray.   Bed bug control products which are Insecticide based sprays will kill bed bugs and their eggs.

    Bed Bug Crack and Crevice Spray Suggestions:
    • Insecticide Based: Phantom, Bedlam. Phantom is quickly becoming one of the best selling products since it can't be detected by the bed bugs (doesn't repel them), and will kill bed bugs for 7 to 14 days. Recommendation is to apply every 10 days. It does not kill bedbugs on contact, so use in combination with a spray such as Sterifab.
    • Organic: Bug Patrol
  • Bed Bug Dust:  Dust to kill bed bugs is a natural product also called diatomaceous earth. or fossil dust.  It is very easy to miss the small white pin head sized bed bug eggs when treating a room.  The eggs are attached to each surface with a cement type substance which prevents them from being vacuumed up.  When these nymphs hatch from the eggs, the dust attaches to their body, which kills them.  As a last step it is always a good idea to place a very thin layer of dust in  cracks and in the box spring.

    Only a thin layer of dust should be applied with an applicator brush.  Consider wearing a dust mask to keep from inhaling dust.  Also, if you have pets or children, dust products may be ingested and therefore not a good idea.
  • Hand Steamer: Bed bugs and their eggs are killed at 114F.  A multi hole hand steamer can provide the heat  needed to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
  • Mattress Covers for Bed Bugs (and Box Spring): It is helpful to put treated mattresses and box springs into mattress covers for bed bugs.  The reason for this is that if any eggs are missed during treatment, late hatching nymphs (baby bed bugs) will be trapped and die.  It is important to buy covers for both the mattress and box spring.  You can purchase
  • Plastic Bin with Cover or Double Zipper Bags: When items are removed from the room, such as clothes, it will be helpful to have a bed bug proof container to move them in.  One low cost option is to purchase double zipper Ziploc Big Bags.
  • Climbup Interceptors (optional): These are inexpensive bowls that are placed under each bed leg.  Climbup bowls. When the bed bugs move toward the bed, they are trapped in the bowls.  It is helpful to see how large an infestation you have and if the bowls are empty after treatment, it confirms that you are in good shape.
  • Disinfectant Cleaner for Carpets: Carpeted surfaces should at a minimum be steam cleaned.  For added protection, add a disinfectant such as PuraCleenRx to the cleaning solution to ensure that all bed bugs and eggs are killed.  Test the disinfectant on the carpet to avoid staining.
  • PackTite Heater (optional): A PackTite heater is designed to heat any object to the point where bed bugs and their eggs can no longer survive.  It is large enough to treat luggage after a trip.  It is the only way to treat electronics such as clock radios etc. that may have bed bugs hiding inside.  Check the owners manual of the item to make sure it can withstand the heat before treating.  You can even put clothes in the packtite to ensure that they are bed bug free.

Saving Money on Bed Bug Control Products

Several companies sell bed bug kits that combine many of the products listed above.  While you don't have to buy a bed bug kit, it can be a helpful way to save money on bed bugs.  Some suggestions are:

  • Organic Bed Bug Kit: Dermisil sells a bed bug kit that contains a mattress safe spray, fossil dust, a stronger spray for cracks/crevices, mattress covers and steamer.
  • Insecticide Bed Bug Kit: The New York Bed Bug Kit contains a mattress safe spray, crack and crevice spray, dust and a duster.  Add a bed bug mattress covers and you are all set.  This is another good source for a bed bug kit.

Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

These are the steps for killing bed bugs at home or in an apartment.  Note that if you live in an apartment, it is possible that bed bugs are spreading from adjoining apartments.  That said, these steps will help provide some level of protection against an infestation in addition to the larger bed bug extermination plan being put in place by your building landlord or management.

Be sure to view this diagram so that you know all of the locations where bed bugs can hide and in turn, the areas that need to included when you apply your bed bug treatment.

Bed Bug Inspection Diagram

bed bug treatment
Where to Find Bed Bugs

Steps for Eliminating Bed Bugs from Your Home

1. Define a Safe Area: Once certain items are treated, they should be moved to an area outside the room.  This can be a hallway or another area that can accommodate the mattress.

The idea is to limit the areas where bed but treatment takes place as a way of avoiding the spread of the bed bug infestation. Then clear the bed bug treatment area by moving items to the safe zone so that additional items can be brought into the  area.  We recommend that the bed bug treatment area be the bed, as studies show that most bed bugs in a room will be in and around the bed.

2. Remove and Wash Blankets and Linens: Fold any sheets, blankets, mattress covers and other washable items on the top of the bed.  Place folded items into either a bed bug proof container such as a plastic bin with a lid or Ziploc Double Zipper Big Bags.

Transport these items to the washing machine for bed bug treatment.  Wash in hot water followed by at least 20 minutes in the dryer on high heat.  This will kill all bed bugs and bed bug eggs.

3. Treat the Mattress:  As long as a mattress is in good condition and is not torn, it is not necessary to throw out a mattress as  part of your bed bug treatment plan. Steps for how to kill bed bugs in mattress include treating all seams of the mattress.  Use a mattress safe spray such as the Sterifab (insecticide) or Bug Patrol (organic).

  • Vacuum the mattress: To start, use your crevice tool on the vacuum cleaner to vacuum any bed bugs that you may spot.  
  • Steam the Seams: For added protection follow this with the use of the hand steamer around all seams, buttons and labels.
  • Use a Mattress Safe Bed Bug Spray: Be sure to follow the manufacturers directions.  In general, only apply a thin layer of spray.  Treat all sides of the mattress with extra attention to crevices such as around and under the mattress label.

Once mattress bed bug treatment is complete, move the mattress to your safe area.  Be sure to allow to dry.  Keeping the windows open will help the drying process and ventilate the room during treatment.  When dry, use a zippered bed bug mattress cover.

4.  Treat the Box Spring: Often, more bed bugs are hiding in the box spring, since there are more places to hide.  Treat the sides and  top of the box spring as indicated above for the mattress.  Then turn the box spring over and either remove or peel back the  fabric that covers the bottom.  Treat the fabric and the inside.  Only use a spray product approved for this purpose such as Sterifab or Phantom.

Once treated, for extra protection steam all seams and areas of the box spring.  After treatment, move to the safe area and when dry, enclose in a  zippered box spring cover.

5. Vacuum: Every bed bug treatment plan includes the use of a vacuum. Be sure to vacuum the entire room including use of a brushless crevice tool around the perimeter of the room.  Vacuum around windows, pictures etc.  Empty the vacuum bag in the mattress area, place is  plastic bag and dispose of the bag outside of the home.  Don't leave it inside the vacuum when the bed bug treatment is done.

6. Treat the Furniture and Bed Frame: Remove contents of any drawers near the bed and move contents into a bed bug proof container.  Inspect contents for bed bugs.  Dispose of anything you don't need.  Wash any clothes as indicated in step 1.

Remove drawers and inspect in the area where the box spring used to be.  Treat seams of drawers and around any furniture.  Test sprays to ensure that they don't stain surfaces.  Use the Sterifab, Phantom or Bedlam.

Bed bugs can hide in the thinnest crack.  Either disassemble frame and treat, or be sure to thoroughly inspect and treat all bed frame joints.  Use steam as an added level of protection.  Don't use steam if it will stain wood surfaces.  

If you can afford a PackTite container, use it to safely kill any bed bug eggs and items hiding in items you would like to keep (see above video on bed bug treatment with packtite).

Move items that have been treated to the safe area.

7. Treat the Carpet: If you have carpet, this should be treated in case any bed bugs or bed bugs eggs are hiding in the fabric.   To treat carpet, use a steamer or carpet steam cleaner.  Add a bed bug disinfectant such as PuraCleenRx to the cleaner to ensure a thorough job.  Use a spray product along the edges of the room.  Pay extra attention to areas where the carpet meets the walls, as this is a convenient hiding place for the bed bugs.

8. Treat Around any Outlets: Unscrew any electrical plate covers or cable covers and inspect.  Use a bed bug dust product around electrical outlets (liquid or sprays can be dangerous).

9. Apply bed bug dust: Apply a light coating of dust to kill bed bugs.  Apply the dust with an applicator.  If you have a dust mask, use it as an added level of protection.  Dust kills any late hatching bed bugs from any eggs that you might have missed.

At this point, make sure that zippered covers are on your mattress and box spring and return them to the room.  It is very easy to miss bed bug eggs, so don't be surprised if you have to treat the room 2 to 3 times.  

As you can see, removing bed bugs from a home or apartment is not easy, but can be done.  If you have the money, call a bed bug exterminator such as one of the members from the Service Magic network.

Bed bug treatment is all about being thorough.  Whatever approach you take, be sure to treat every inch of the room having the bedbug problem.

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