Professional and Do It Yourself
Bed Bug Eradication
Methods for bed bug eradication includes a combination of mechanical
(vacuuming, heat, steam, carbon dioxide/freezing) and
non-mechanical (chemical, bedbug pesticides, organic) approaches. We
review the many methods used for
bedbug eradication with the pro's and cons of each listed here.
approach, with rare exception, 2 to 3 bed bug treatments are needed
to remove bed bugs from the home, apartment or office. It is preferable
to use a bed bug exterminator, since they have the experience needed to
identify and kill the bed bugs. We also provide travel tips to avoid
spreading the problem.
According to a recent poll of bed bug exterminators, killing bedbugs is
the most difficult
challenge they face. The reason is that they are difficult to find and
are resistant to many
insecticides that historically have been effective at killing the
insects such as DDT (which was banned) and many commonly used products.
there are bed bug insecticides, organic products and mechanical
approaches that when used in combination, can help to eliminate a
bed bug infestation from a home
basic principle of bed bug eradication is to use products which can
immediately reduce the bed bug population in a home or apartment.
This is combined with products such as residual bed bug
pesticides or bed bug dust, which provides residual or lasting
These quick links to Bed Bug Eradication
Information will get you to the bed bug information required to either
hire a bedbug exterminator or to treat a room, home or apartment
and Working with a Bed
Eradication Using Do It
How to Hire a Professional
We always recommend the use of a professional for bed bug eradication.
They have the knowledge, equipment and access to bedbug pesticides
that are not always available to homeowners. The downside of hiring a
bedbug exterminator is the cost, which can include $50 - $500 for the
in-home inspection and over $1,000 for the bed bug treatment itself.
Get Quotes from Several Bed Bug Exterminators
It is very easy to get quotes from reputable companies that have
experience with bed bug eradication in your area:
- Call Home Advisor
Advisor is a network
of local bed bug exterminators and other contractors that are
pre-screened by the network. They will provide up to 4 free quotes,
either online or when you call.
- Search our Database: We
have an online
database of qualified bed bug exterminators that can be
Methods used by BedBug
Professionals (and do it yourself home owners) will use a variety of
methods to kill bedbugs. These include:
- Bed Bug Sprays:
Sprays fall into two broad categories.
- Knock Down
Bedbug Sprays: These bed bug sprays are
formulated to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact. They do not
have a lasting or residual bed bug killing effect, so they will not
any bed bugs or bed bug eggs that were missed.
Bed Bug Sprays: These Bed Bug sprays keep their
ability to kill bedbugs after they dry. Products are often IGR's or
insect growth regulators which interfere with the bed bug life cycle.
Because they interfere with the bed bugs
ability to reproduce, they take at least 7 days to work, and then kill
bed bugs for several weeks. Because they take time, they are often used
in combination with a knock down bedbug spray.
- Heat Treatment:
There are two types of heat treatment for bed bug eradication, air heat
and steam. Bed bugs and
bed bug eggs are killed at temperatures above 113F. Higher
temperatures are used when the heat needs to penetrate an object such
as a wall or piece or luggage.
steamer generates enough heat to kill bed bugs. The steamer
is used prior to the use of any sprays to knock down or reduce the bed
bug population. It is a convenient way to treat the mattress, box
spring and other areas that water will not stain.
- Hot Air:
thermal remediation system is designed to super heat a sealed room or
building. Temperatures in the room/building are heated so
that all items, both inside and out, reach 113F.
The pro's of this method is that it is 100% effective for bed bug
eradication, only takes a few
hours and is chemical free. No household items need to be thrown out.
The negative is that it is expensive and can cost more than
insecticide based treatment.
Many bed bug exterminators believe in the use of a freezing spray made
up of carbon dioxide (dry ice). In New York it goes under that trade
Freeze. It penetrates surfaces and uses freezing
temperatures to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs. This method
is also effective at bed bug eradication, but relies on the knowledge of the bed bug
exterminator to locate and treat all bedbug hiding places.
The advantage of this method is that it is also chemical
free. The negatives include the risk of missing bed bugs and
- Organic Pest
Control Bed Bugs: Organic and chemical approaches are
frequently combined for bed bug eradication, depending on the use. One of the most popular
organic methods is the use of Bed Bug Dust (also called fossil
dust or diatomaceous
earth). A thin layer of dust is applied to cracks, crevices
and around the mattress. As long as the dust stays in place,
it provides a lasting barrier against bed bugs. The bed bug
or fossil dust clings to the outer layer of the bed bug, eventually
killing the insects.
This bed bug eradication approach is often used with organic
bed bug sprays with spray acting as a knock down or a way to
reduce the population and the dust providing a longer lasting or
residual way to kill bedbugs that might have been missed.
Bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye. Often the first
bedbug treatment step is to vacuum them up. The vacuum
crevice tool is used to suck up bedbugs hiding in mattress seams, in
and around the box spring and other areas of the home. Note
that bed bugs eggs are attached to surfaces with a sticky substance
and cannot be removed with this method, which is why it is used in
combination with other approaches such as steam and bedbug sprays.
Questions to Ask Prior to Starting
Bed Bug Extermination Efforts
- Do they charge for an in-home inspection?
- Do they use a bed bug sniffing dog (higher charges apply
- Written Guarantees and for how long?
- Experience of the specific bed bug exterminator that will
be treating the home
- Availability of local references?
- Are payment plans available?
- Chemical and Non-chemical/mechanical bed bug treatment
- Pet and child safety of bed bug extermination methods?
- What preparation is needed before bed bug treatment?
- Do mattresses and box springs require covers?
- Length of time you will be out of the home during bed bug
- How will electronics such as televisions be treated?
- If you live in an apartment building, will they help to
- If you live in a building with bilingual tenants, can they
provide materials in multiple languages?
Do It Yourself Bed Bug Treatment
If an infestation is first starting, you can't afford a bed
bug exterminator or you just prefer to do things yourself, it is
possible to kill bedbugs yourself. The key is to use the
right combination of methods the ensures that the bed bug population is
knocked down or reduced in size, combined with methods that will kill
any late hatching bed bugs.
Bed Bug Products for Bedbug Extermination
We suggest purchasing a Bed
Bug Kit, since it is the most convenient and economical way
implement a bedbug eradication program. Essential bed bug
eradication products include:
- Bedbug Sprays:
There are several insecticide sprays that
are approved for home use and that have been independently reviewed by
the University of Kentucky (download
study PDF) as being effective against insecticide resistant
bedbugs. You will two spray products for bed bug eradication, one that kills bedbugs
and eggs on contact, and another that provides lasting bed bug
- Knock Down
Bed Bug Spray: Our preferred mattress safe knock
down spray is Sterifab
(pump spray) and Bedlam.
If you prefer organic products, then purchase Bed
Bed Bug Spray: In terms of a residual
or longer lasting spray, we recommend Phantom
(aerosol). New York residents cannot purchase Phantom, so we suggest
- Bed Bug Dust:
bug dust, fossil dust or diatomaceous earth product will due.
This type of product is applied after treatment for lasting protection.
- Mattress and
Box Spring Covers: Bed
Bug Mattress and Box Spring Covers are used after
treatment to trap bed bugs and bed bug eggs that might have been missed
during bedbug treatment. They are essential. You can either dispose of
your pillow or protect it with a bed
bug pillow cover as well.
- Bed Bug Traps:
Bed Bug Traps (optional) such as a Climbup
Interceptor are helpful to know when the bed bug problem is
Bed bug sticky traps are also popular.
- Hand Steamer:
As indicated above, bed bugs are killed at high temperatures.
Steam applied with a hand
steamer can be a helpful way to kill bedbugs.
A vacuum with a crevice tool is helpful in the first round of treatment.
Step by Step Instructions
The key to successful bed bug treatment is to be thorough.
Every inch of the infested room needs to be inspected and
1. Designate a
Safe Area: Choose an area outside of the area to be
treated where you can move the mattress and box spring after they have
been treated. When treating bed bugs, do as much as you can
in one are of the room, such as the bed.
Thoroughly vacuum the room. Use the crevice tool to vacuum
around the baseboards/edges of the room.
3., Treat the Baseboard
As bed bugs are dislodged, they might run to hiding places under the
baseboard. This sets of a perimeter around the room for
killing any bed bugs that might try to escape. If you have a
steamer, start by using steam around edges of room. After it dries,
spray around baseboard with knock down spray, followed by residual
Treat all cracks and crevices such as
Baseboards with a Bed Bug Spray.
Bed Bugs can hide in gaps as thin as a credit card.
4. Wash Linens
Fold linens on the bed and move to the washing machine in a plastic bin
with a snap lid, a Ziploc big bag or if all you have is a regular
plastic garbage bag, it will do. Wash linens in hot water followed by
at least 20 minutes in the dryer on the high heat setting.
When done, put in the safe area.
5. Treat the Mattress
Steam the seams and tufts of the mattress.
Can Generate the Heat Needed to Kill Bed Bugs and Bed Bug Eggs.
Hold steam nozzle for several seconds in each section of the
When dry, use a
mattress safe knock down spray such as Sterifab
in the same areas. Treat all sides of the mattress.
Pay particular attention to areas under the mattress labels.
When done, move mattress to the safe area.
Treat Mattress with a Mattress Safe Knock Down Spray Such as Sterifab
6. Remove drawers and
treat items in Drawers in Night Tables
: Pull drawers out
of the adjoining night tables (if any) and place on top of the box
spring (if you have one). Pull contents out of drawers. Items
should be inspected and treated for bedbugs. Options include:
- Place items in Freezer: Items kept in the freezer will be
bed bug free after 5 days.
- Place items in Washer: All washables should be washed in
hot water followed by 20 minutes in the dryer.
- Place items in Dryer: Items that can withstand the heat and
motion, can be place in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes.
- Treat drawers with both the knock down spray and the
residual spray. Test to ensure that sprays do not stain the furniture
surface. Treat all cracks where bed bugs may be hiding.
- Treat inside and outside of night tables with the knock
down spray and the residual spray.
Treat the Outside and Inside of Furniture. Be Sure to Treat
Behind Tracks that Hold Drawers. Be sure to not miss any areas as part
of the bed bug eradication program.
7. Treat Box
Spring: Start by vacuuming with crevice tool. Treat box
spring with steam. Be sure to treat the inside of the box
spring by peeling back or removing the covering fabric. It is
likely that more bed bugs are hiding in the box spring than the
mattress. When dry, follow this with use of the knock down
spray. Residual sprays are usually limited to use on seams
(check manufacturer directions).
Be sure to treat both sides of the box spring. Steam can also be used
prior to applying the spray.
When done, move to the safe area.
8. Treat the
Bed Frame and Head Board: Use the knock down and residual
spray (check to make sure it doesn't stain). Spray all cracks
Remainder of the Room: For successful bed bug eradication,
treat all cracks and crevices with both sprays, such as around the
window, cracks in walls and floors and other furniture that might be
As part of your bed bug eradication effort be sure to treat cracks
around Window Frames, which make convenient hiding places for
Check Behind Electrical Outlets and Cable Wall Plates. Treat areas with
Bed Bug Dust
It is possible that bedbugs are hiding in electronics such as the clock
radio. These items are very difficult to treat yourself.
Options are to purchase a PackTite,
which is a portable heat chamber, assuming your electronics can not be
harmed by temperatures of 120F or electronics can be stored for 14
months in a container with a snap tight lid. Bed bugs will die after
not feeding for this length of time.
10. Apply Bed
Bug Dust: Spread a thin layer of dust
into cracks and crevices such as around the baseboard. It is
an all natural product made of fossil dust. Apply with a duster or dust
application tool. When bedbugs move through the dust field,
it clings to the insects causing death. Caulk or fill in any cracks
where bedbugs might be hiding.
Bed Bug Dust (fossil dust) Can Be Applied to Mattress Tufts to Provide
Another Layer of Protection. After Applying dust, place
mattress into a zippered cover. Bed bug dust can be applied
in a thin layer in any crack and crevice, including the inside of
furniture, inside the box spring and other areas where you think you
might have missed bed bugs. Dust is a natural bed bug eradication
11. Cover the
Box Spring and Mattress: When all sprays dry, place bed
bug proof zippered mattress and box spring covers over the
mattress and box spring. Put both back in place. Buy new
pillows or cover existing pillows with a bed
bug pillow cover.
12. Put Bed Bug
Traps in Place: Bed bug traps such as the climbup
will let you know if your bed bug eradication
efforts have been successful. The bed bugs climb up the outside of the
trap and fall into the well where they are trapped. Empty traps after 2
to 3 weeks
means that your efforts have been successful.
Picture Climbup Interceptor Bed Bug Trap. An Empty trap after 2 to 3
weeks means that your bed bug eradication efforts were successful
Note for rooms
with carpet: It can be helpful to steam clean the carpet.
Be sure to treat along all carpet edges and check sprays in an out of
the way area to see if they will stain. It can also be
helpful to add a disinfectant formulated to kill parasites, such as PuracleenRX
to the carpet cleaner. Larger infestations will require a
professional exterminator to treat hiding places such as carpet tacks.
Efforts Not Successful?
Note that bed bug eradication can take 2 to 3 treatments.
If your do it yourself efforts are not successful, you can
always call in a bed
Ask a Question or Share Your Bed Bug Experience With Others
Do you have a question or great story about bed bugs? Share it!