Bed Bug Extermination

"Bed bug extermination is best left in the hands of a professional. However, if an infestation is small, or if you can't afford an exterminator, it can be accomplished with some hard work and importantly, the right combination of products. Multiple products are needed to kill bed bugs on contact to knock down or reduce the bed bug population, followed by the use of products that provide longer lasting protection.  There is no silver bullet for most home owner applied or professionally applied solutions.  Professionals dog have higher cost options such as fumigation and heat treatment (thermal remediation) that can get rid of bed bugs in one step, however, these are the most expensive approaches to bedbug extermination. Most methods require multiple bed bug treatments , with the second and third treatment used to kill any bed bugs and bed bug eggs that might have been missed.."  

What can be found on this page:

Bed Bugs Removal Is Difficult:

Bed bug exterminators were recently polled and agree that bedbug infestations are the most difficult to treat.  There are several reasons for this:***below-paragraph-1.shtml

  • Be bugs can hide in spaces as thin as a credit card, and only come out when they need to feed.
  • They are showing resistance to several commonly used bed bugs prays or  insecticides.  Bed bug spray products referenced below have been independently tested and work against insecticide resistant bed bugs.
  • There is no one single insecticide that can be used for treatment, at least two are needed.
  • They quickly multiply at room temperatures, with a single female able to lay 500 eggs.  Bed bug eggs make treatment difficult as they are hard to spot (small pear shaped, white and the size of a poppy seed.  Bed bug eggs adhere to surfaces with a glue like substance.

    bed bug extermination
    Magnified Picture Bed Bug Eggs.  They are hard to locate and are often the reason why 2 to 3 bed bug treatments are often needed.
  • Adult bed bugs can live for just over a year without feeding.

    bed bug extermination
    Bed bugs pictures before and after feeding.  Bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye. They change in appearance at each life stage and before/after feeding on a host.

Professional Bed Bug Extermination

Professional bedbug exterminators often charge for both the in-home inspection and for the treatment itself. 

BedBug Extermination Cost

 In-home inspections can range in cost from $50 to several hundred dollars if a bed bug sniffing dog is used.  The bed bug treatment itself can range from $1,000 for an insecticide based approach to $6,000 if portable heaters are used.  

How to Find and Hire a Bed Bug Exterminator

Given the high cost, and the differences in experience and treatment methods between companies, it pays to call a few.  We suggest starting with the Service Magic Network (1.877.233.1145) which is a network of pest control professionals that are pre-screened, licensed and insured. They will provide up to 4 free quotes,.

Next, search our listings of local bed bug exterminators.  This is an easy way to identify firms with bed bug experience.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Professional for BedBug Extermination

As mentioned, each bedbug exterminator uses different methods and has varying levels of experience.  Here are some questions to ask:

  • Experience with bed bugs?
  • Can they provide references?
  • Cost for in-home inspection and treatment?
  • Do they use bed bug sniffing dogs?
  • Do they provide a guarantee, and for how long? (2 or more bedbug treatments are common)
  • What are the bed bug treatment methods used?
    • Chemicals (insecticides)
    • Mechanical (vacuuming, steam)
    • Heat (thermal remediation - portable heaters)
    • Freezing (carbon dioxide spray)
  • What do you need to do to prepare for treatment?
  • Pet and child safety of methods?
  • Do you have to leave the home and for how long?

Prepare Bed Bug Extermination - What You Need to Do

Be sure to check with your exterminator as steps needed for preparation vary based on the method used.  These are the general steps:

1. Collect all Linens and Seal in Plastic Bags; Take all blankets, towels, sheets, pillow cases and place into a plastic bag or bin that seals with a snap lid.  Ziploc Big Bags are prefect for this purpose.  

2. Wash and Dry Linens: Wash all items in hot water. Dry linens on highest heat setting in the dryer.  Throw out bags after emptying and use new bags with the clean linens. Some exterminators will suggest washing any clothing in night tables and treating items in drawers.

3. Reduce Clutter: Clutter provides hiding places for bedbugs It also can prevent pesticides and other treatment methods from reaching the bedbugs. Bag all clutter and dispose outside of the home. Dispose of loose items such as newspapers and magazines. As your exterminator about throwing away items such as pillows.  

4. Vacuum: Vacuum all surfaces.  Be sure to use the crevice tool around the baseboards, and around cracks and crevices.  Also use the crevice tool around the mattress, box spring and other areas of the room.  Note that many bed bug exterminators as part of the bed bug extermination effort will do the vacuuming for you.  When done, take out the vacuum bag in the room being treated, seal in a plastic bag and dispose.

This should be all that is needed before the treatment effort begins.  Unless the mattress and box spring are in bad condition, they usually do not have to be thrown out.

Steps to Take After Bed Bug Treatment

1.Seal the Mattress, Box Spring and Pillow: Buy mattress and box spring covers that were made to trap bed bugs that were missed during treatment.  It might be cheaper to buy a new pillow.  It is equally important to buy covers for both the box spring and mattress as both are hiding places for bed bugs.

2. Unpack Anything you Washed and Return to Room: it's safe to return items to the bed. If you would like to be sure that bed bugs are gone, you can buy inexpensive bed bug traps called Climbup Interceptors.

As noted above, bed bugs removal usually takes 2 to 3 treatments, since it is very easy to miss bed bug eggs.

Bed Bugs Treatment Methods Used by BedBug Exterminators

Bed bug exterminators have several tools at their disposal for killing bed bugs.  Ask your exterminator which methods they prefer to use in your area.  These include:

  • Vacuuming: You can see bed bugs with the naked eye.  A good vacuum can be used to begin to reduce or knock down the bed bug population.
  • Steam: Heat kills bed bugs at temperatures above 113F. A professional steamer will kill both bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
  • Heat: A technique called thermal remediation uses portable heaters to heat rooms or an entire building to the required temperature.  This method is effective, but expensive ($2,000 to $6,000 per treatment). Portable heat chambers or heat rooms are also used to treat items from the home. A vinyl heat chamber called a PackTite can be used to treat electronics, household items and is large enough to treat luggage when returning from a trip.
  • Freezing Spray: A carbon dioxide spray (dry ice) is used by many bed bug exterminators.  If is effective at killing bed bugs and bed bug eggs and can be used on all surfaces such as couches and electronics.  
  • Bed Bug Pesticide: While many bed bug insecticides are showing bed bug resistance, many do not.  Two types of products are used, one to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact, and others to provide longer lasting protection.  Most of these are called IGR's (insect growth regulators) which take up to 7 days to work.  Knock down products combined with residual IGRs are an effective approach to bed bug treatment.
  • Fossil Dust (also called diatomaceous earth or fossil dust): This is a natural product made of ground fossils. The dust is applied in a thin layer and clings to the bed bug, causing death.
  • Fumigation: Bed Bug pesticides such as vikane are effective fumigants.  A room or home is sealed, and then fumigated. One company offers portable fumigation chambers for treating household items such as electronics.
  • Freezing Temperatures: Freezing temperatures will kill bed bugs.  There is some debate as to how long is needed. While 5 days is probably enough, waiting 2 weeks will ensure that all bed bugs and bed bug eggs are killed. The Canada Department of Health suggests 3 days.  This will work outdoors or in a freezer.   

Do It Yourself Bed Bugs Treatment

Homeowners will need a combination of products and methods to effectively kill bedbugs. You can save money by purchasing what  you need in a kit.  You can buy an organic bed bug kit or one that is an insecticide based bed bug kit.  The choice is based on your preference and the knowledge that more independent research is typically done on insecticides.

Bed bugs treatment products that are absolutely necessary include:

  • Knock Down Bed Bug Spray: A knock down spray will kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact. It is used to reduce the size of the bed bug population.  We suggest the insecticide based pump spray Sterifab or the aerosol Bedlam as both are shown to work against insecticide resistant bedbugs. An organic alternative is Bug Patrol Spray.
  • Residual Bed Bug Spray: These sprays provide lasting protection, with most working by interfering with the bed bug life cycle. These types of products can take as long as 7 days to start working. We recommend the aerosol spray Phantom, as it also works on insecticide resistant bed bugs.
  • Vacuum with Crevice Tool
  • Hand Steamer (optional)
  • Plastic Garbage Bags (we prefer a bed bug proof bag such as Ziploc Big Bags)
  • Bed Bug Dust: This product is applied to cracks and crevices to kill any bed bugs that hatch from eggs that might have been missed.
  • Mattress and Box Spring Covers: Mattress covers for bed bugs and box spring covers are important as they trap any bed bugs and bed bug eggs that you might have missed.

Step by Step Instructions for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

The key to killing bed bugs is to know where to look an to be thorough, particularly when working around the bed.

bed bug extermination
Typical Places Bed Bugs Hide

1. Select a Safe Area: Choose an area just outside of the room that will be treated. This area should be large enough to hold the mattress and other items after they are treated.

2. Wash the Blankets and Linens: Fold the blankets, sheets, bed pads ad pillow cases. Place into a plastic bag or ideally something that seals such as a plastic bin or Ziploc Big Bag.  Bring items to washer and wash in hot water followed by 20 to 30 minutes in the dryer.

3. Dispose of Clutter Near the Bed: Dispose of any items such as magazines and newspapers that are near the bed.  Other items such as items in drawers should be place in snap lid plastic containers or sealed plastic bags.  Every item is suspect for hiding bed bugs.  They can be treated:

  • In the washing machine and dryer...or
  • 30 minutes in the dryer...or
  • 5 days in the freezer, or outdoors in freezing temperatures...or
  • inside a heat chamber such as a Packtite...or
  • with the use of bed bug spray
4. Vacuum: The vacuum is a helpful tool for any treatment effort.  Vacuum floors, carpets, cracks and crevices thoroughly.  Use the crevice tool  around baseboards and any cracks and crevices. Use brushless vacuum attachments if you have them to avoid bed bugs getting caught in the brush hairs and then being spread to other areas. When done vacuuming, remove vacuum bag in room being treated, seal in a plastic bag and dispose of the bag outside of the home or apartment.

5. Treat the Baseboards: Start by vacuuming along baseboards with the vacuums crevice tool.  If you have a hand steamer, start by applying steam to the perimeter of the room.  Hold the steamer for a few seconds in each location. When  dry,, start with the knock down spray (e.g; Sterifab)  along the baseboards.  Follow this with the residual spray (e.g; Phantom - Bedlam in New York only).  This is a good way to start, as this sets up a perimeter in case any bed bugs are jarred loose during treatment and try and hide.

bed bug extermination
Treat along the Baseboards.  An Aerosol Spray such as Bedlam will come with a nozzle attachment that can direct the bedbug insecticide directly into the crack where floor meets the baseboard

6. Treat the Mattress: Start with the vacuum crevice tool. Follow this with the use of a hand steamer to kill any bed bugs using heat.  When dry, Use a mattress safe spray such as Sterifab or Bug Patrol to treat the mattress.  When done, move mattress to the designated safe area.

bed bug extermination
A Hand Steamer is an Effective Method for getting rid of bed bugs (heat) without the use of insecticides. Hold steamer in place for several seconds before moving on to the next area.  Steam can be used alone, or in combination with a mattress safe insecticide spray (Sterifab) or organic spray (Bug Patrol).

 bed bug extermination
Bed bugs Like to Hide in Thin tight Spaces About the Width of a Credit Card.  Be Thorough in Your Treatment Efforts, Treating Around Tufts, Seams and Particularly around any Mattress Labels

7. Treat the Night Tables: Remove drawers from any night tables and place on top of the box spring.  Treat the drawers with a knock down spray followed by a residual spray.  Do the same to the inside of the night tables.  Return drawers after treatment.  Be sure to treat any items in drawers that are near the bed.   Also treat the bottom and possible inside of any light fixtures that are on the night tables.  

Note that electronics such as clock radios, televisions or computers are common hiding places for bed bugs.  The only options for electronics are to

  • throw them out
  • store them away for a year to starve any hiding bed bugs
  • buying a PackTite Heat Chamber and then heating the item to the required temperature (check  with manufacturer to make sure item can withstand the heat).  
  • freezing - place items in freezer for 5 days (also check with manufacturer)
  •  call a local exterminator and see if they either have a heat chamber or fumigation chamber that can treat electronics.

bed bug extermination
Be sure to treat inside furniture with the bed bug spray, particularly along drawer tracks, a common hiding place for bed bugs.  After bed bugs treatment, consider placing bed bug dust into cracks and crevices

8. Treat the Box Spring: It is equally important to treat the box spring as it is to treat the mattress. Start by vacuuming with the crevice tool followed by the use of the hand steamer.  Follow this with the use of a knock down spray and residual spray.  Turn the box spring on its side, and peel back or remove any cloth covering.  Steam/spray the inside of the box spring. Place bed bug dust inside the box spring.  When done, move to the safe area.

bed bug extermination
Bed bugs removal in and around the box spring is important.  This picture shows bed bugs hiding behind plastic corner guards on a  box spring.  To kill bed bugs use the bed bug knock down spray.

9. Treat Bed Frame, Around Windows and other Cracks/Crevices: Continue your bed bugs treatment efforts with the steam, knock down spray, residual spray sequence. Focus efforts in a 5 foot radius from the bed.  Treating the entire room is not a bad idea.  Be sure to treat inside the bed frame legs if they are hollow.

bed bug extermination
Treat around window frames with steam, knock down and residual sprays.

bed bug extermination
Bed Bug treatment efforts require that you leave no stone unturned.  Look behind wall plates such as electrical outlets and cable plates.  Use bed bug dust in areas where it is dangerous to use liquids such as electrical plates.

10. Cover the Mattress and Box Spring: After the mattress and box spring dry, place zippered bed bug covers over both.  This will trap any bed bugs and bed bug eggs you might have missed during the treatment effort. Return the mattress and box spring to the bed frame.

11. Use Bed Bug Dust: Sprinkle a thin layer of bed bug dust in any cracks and crevices.  You can place dust inside furniture etc.  Use a duster to apply dust or purchase in an applicator bottle like this product from JTEaton.

bed bug extermination
A bedbug dust product can be applied to any cracks or crevices as the last treatment step.  Fossil dust is a natural product that kills bedbugs when it clings to the outer area of the insects

12: How to Kill Bed Bugs if you have Carpets: Be sure to vacuum and then steam clean carpets.  For added protection, add a disinfectant formulated to kill bed bugs such as PuraCleenRX to the cleaning fluid.  Test to make sure that you do not stain the carpet with the disinfectant.

Bed Bugs Removal Success

As you can see, getting rid of bed bugs is hard work.  Bed bug treatment can take the better part of a day and requires a combination of products. It can take 2 to 3 treatments for complete bed bugs removal.  If the bed bugs have deeply penetrated the walls, it would pay to use a bedbug exterminator.

It is a good idea to place a bed bug trap under each bed leg such as a climbup interceptor.  If the traps remain empty 2 to 3 weeks after treatment, you know that your bed bug removal efforts have been successful.

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