Best Bed Bug Sprays
We know you don't want to hear it, but no one product or method alone will completely remove bed bugs from your home if used alone.(1)
Instead, if you use a combination of sprays and non-insecticide methods, and apply them according to directions, you can eliminate bed bugs. While this sounds complicated and expensive, it isn't when compared to hiring a professional.
To get the right combination of products, that have been proven to work against insecticide-resistant bedbugs, we suggest purchasing a bed bug kit from a reputable company. The advantage of a bed bug solution kit is that it is lower cost and contains an insecticide and non-insecticidal products required to get the job done correctly.
Kits typically contain:
- The two types of bed bug spray needed. One to kill eggs and bed bugs on contact. Another to have a residual effect.
- Bed bug dust. Dust can be an all-natural product or one that combines insecticide with an all-natural product (diatomaceous earth).
- Dust applicator
If you do not want to purchase a kit, our best solution is to buy either STERI-FAB (pump spray) or Bedlam Plus (aerosol) depending on your preference (aeorsol vs. pump spray). If you can afford it also buy Phantom spray to create an invisible field that kills bed bugs when they come in contact with the sprayed area.. These sprays have been tested against insecticide-resistant bed bugs. Bedlam Plus is formulated to kill the new insecticide-resistant strain found in Ohio and New Jersey.
If you are going to buy only one spray in a local store or from Amazon we recommend products designed to be an "easy bed bug spray" in that they are easy to purchase and easy to apply:
- Home Depot: Harris Egg Kill and Resistant Bed Bug Spray or kit (only buy black labeled products, do not buy other Harris products)
- Amazon: Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer
- Wal-Mart: Raid Max Bed Bug & Flea Killer
What You Absolutely Need to Kill Bed Bugs
Bed Bug Sprays:
- Knockdown spray to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact such as STERI-FAB or Bedlam
- Residual spray to kill any bed bugs you might have missed such as Phantom
- Bed Bug Powder (diatomaceous earth) is a natural product that will kill any bed bugs that come in contact with the powder. You can also use silica dust.
What else you need:
- Vacuum to reduce the size of the bed bug population. Dispose of vacuum bag outside when done. Check the vacuum brush for insects when finished.
- Hand steamer that will heat surfaces to the required 113F that will kill bed bugs and eggs. A steamer will kill bed bugs and eggs, particularly in places where bed bugs hide such as in the bed frame.
- Mattress, box spring, and pillow covers. These will trap any bed bugs that you may have missed during treatment. It is not necessary to throw out a mattress that is in good condition, just cover it to trap any insects.
Where to Buy Bed Bug Treatment Products
We recommend buying a kit online from Bed Bug Supply to treat bed bugs. Kits will save you money and include all of the products mentioned. The company can also provide valuable advice as you attack the problem. The team at Bed Bug Supply can also answer any of your questions.
Bed Bug Spray For Luggage
When traveling, the goal is to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride in or on your luggage. To prevent this from happening we recommend:
- Use a bed bug travel spray product like Bed Bug Control (natural) or J.T. Eaton (insecticide) on luggage before leaving home. The spray bottle has an easy to apply sprayer. It's small size also makes it very portable. To use Bed Bug Control, lightly spray it on the outside of your luggage, especially along the zipper. Even if your hotel or cruise line is not infested, luggage can be in contact with other pieces of infested luggage.
- Inspect all hotel rooms before unpacking luggage. Check the corners of any mattress for stains. If the mattress (remove sheets and coverings from one corner) is 100% clean, probably no bed bugs. If you see stains, call the manager and request a room inspection or change rooms. Ask if you are near an infested room.
- Keep luggage zippered at all times. Keep luggage off the floor and away from walls.
Cost of Spray Treatment
There are advantages to hiring a bed bug pest control expert since they already have the knowledge, know where to look and may have access to products that consumer cannot buy or afford. The big difference of course is cost with an exterminator costing $750+ and a home treatment kit costing approximately $160. If you are just buying a bedbug spray, this of course will be substantially less.
Bed bug kits cost between $70 and $120 and contain everything you need.
Considerations When Buying a Spray
Sprays will vary based on some of the following factors.
- Safe or not safe on mattresses
- How long the spray "field" will kill any bed bugs you may have missed (the residual effect)
- Pet and safety for small children (don't allow into the room until after sprays dry)
- Effectiveness at killing eggs
- Labeled for indoor use
- Check on an out of the way on upholstered furniture to check for risk of staining
- Do not spray liquids into electrical outlets. Only spray around the edges.
- Apply to all areas within at least 10 feet of the bed including inside and outside of night stands
Bedbug spray comes in both an aerosol and pump spray. There are also several types of ingredients including chemical and natural sprays.
- "Knockdown" sprays are used directly on bedbugs, bed bug eggs. Bed bugs prefer to hide in cracks and crevices and tight hiding spots. They are designed to kill on contact.
- Other sprays residual sprays, formulated more for their lasting effect.
Make sure the spray you buy to treat a bed bug problem has been tested against insecticide resistant bed bugs.
Sprays are usually formulated at .03% to .5% concentration of insecticide to water. The sprays are applied to areas where bed bugs are hiding. If the bed bugs or eggs are sprayed, they are killed on contact. Many sprays leave behind a residue which is supposed to kill the insects when they walk through it. Studies show that residual fields are not that effective unless applied in areas where the bed bugs are hiding and sitting on the residue.
When treating a room, sprays should be considered to be only one part of the treatment plan. Other helpful products include a vacuum, hand steamer to kill eggs, a bed bug dust product (DE) (to kill bed bugs that hatch from eggs that were missed) such as Cimexa Insecticide Dust, and mattress/box spring covers. See our step-by-step guide to how to get rid of bed bugs.
Be aware that in some cases, bed bugs might show resistance to the active ingredient in the spray purchased. This doesn't mean you shouldn't use a spray but also be sure to use some of the other approaches mentioned along with the spray such as bed bug dust, vacuuming, and steam.
The best advice is to assume that a bed bug is hiding in every crack, crevice, and an electronic device located in the room being treated. Armed with your vacuum, spray, dust product (for residual killing effect), hand steamer (heat kills bugs and eggs) and some knowledge, and effort, you can treat a bed bug infestation yourself.
Mattress Safe Sprays
Insecticide Bed Bug Sprays for Mattresses
Active Ingredient: Pyrethroid - Phenothrin
Active Ingredient: Pyrrole - Chlorfenapyr
Natural Bed Bug Mattress Sprays
Active Ingredient: Plant Extracts
Products That Are Not Mattress Safe
These products are not mattress safe and should only be used according to the manufacturers directions.
- Talstar one
Recommended Bed Bug Sprays
Any of these bedbug spray products are good choices for killing bed
bugs. If purchasing an aerosol, a thin straw that fits into the sprayer
can help get insecticide into tight cracks and crevices. Recommended products have been tested to kill insecticide resistant insects.
Insecticide Bedbug sprays
Phantom Spray for bed bugs (Recommended)
Many bed bug experts recommend Phantom for bed bugs. It is also a good choice if you have other insect problems as noted below.
This bedbug spray cannot be detected by bed bugs, so that when the insects move into sprayed areas, they will be killed. Only a small amount of the product needs to be applied. Phantom aerosol spray will also kill other insects such as Ants, Beetles, Spiders, House Crickets and Flies, Spiders and Termites.
Phantom spray should be used in cracks, hiding places and especially the box spring./ Also, be sure to look under the mattress label, a common hiding place for bedbugs.
Precautions: Use in a well ventilated area. Do not smoke when spraying. It is safe to use on mattress seams, folds and edges, the places where a bed bug is likely to hide. Be sure to read the entire label in terms of how to apply.
bedlam Plus bed bug Spray
Bedlam is also an aerosol. It is a good choice for treating the mattress and box spring. This product is pet safe (of course don't spray it on your pet and make sure it dries before pet enters the room). It has also been tested against insecticide resistant insects in New Jersey and Ohio.
Bedlam is water-based and non-irritating, and so it can used to spot treat bedding and mattresses when controlling bed bugs. In addition, the product will not stain water-safe fabrics and surfaces. Bedlam is labeled for use in homes, apartments, schools, hotels and healthcare facilities.
Bedlam bedbug spray can be applied to carpet, around baseboards, floorboards, bed frames, wall hangings, headboards, furniture, door and window frames, mill work and walls. It is also safe for mattresses, box springs, walls, furniture, bedding, floor and floor coverings, rugs, garments, luggage, closets, drapes and other window appointments.
Belman bedbug spray claims to have a lasting effect in areas sprayed for 2 to 4 weeks. The product is also effective on bedbug eggs.
Ster-ifab pump spray
STERI-FAB is a knock down spray that kills eggs and insects on contact. It is a good non-toxic choice for those who are concerned
about using a stronger insecticide, particularly for treating the
mattress. The product uses alcohol as a base and is regarded by the EPA
as being Generally Regarded as Safe.
Sterifab is water based and is safe to use on fabric and bedding surfaces. It can also be used on furniture, carpets, recreational vehicles and most inanimate surfaces. STERI-FAB is a bactericide, sanitizes, fungicide, mildewcide, insecticide, deodorant, germicide, viricide, and disinfectant.
Sterifab has no residual effect after the spray dries. It kills bed bugs on contact only.
Bed Bug Sprays at Amazon
Ortho Home defense dual-action bed bug killer
Many of our readers ask which bed bug spray to purchase at Amazon. We recommend Ortho Home Defense Dual Action Bed Bug Killer since it has been tested to kill pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs.
- Works for 2 weeks after spraying
- Safe for mattress seams
- Works on carpet and furniture
- Non-staining for water safe fabrics (test in an inconspicuous area first for all sprays)
- Good for treating the outside of luggage after traveling (spot treatment or in cracks and crevices only)
Active ingredients are:
- 0% 3-phenoxybenzyl-(1RS, 3RS, 1RS, 3SR)-2
- 2-dimethyl-3-(2-methylprop-1-enyl) Cyclopropanecarboxylate
- 1.00% n-Octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide
- 0.05% Imidacloprid
Bed Bug Sprays at Wal-mart
If shopping at Wal-Mart for a bed bug spray we recommend purchasing Raid Max Bed Bug & Flea Killer (click to arrange for in-store pickup or to order online.) The spray has similar ingredients to Bedlam, one of our recommended products. While we do not have specific test results on the product we can expect it to perform well based on the active ingredients.
- Kills on contact
- Indoor use only
- Vacate room and ventilate after treatment
- Apply as a spot treatment
- Mattress and box spring safe
Ingredients: 3-phenoxybenzyl-(1RS,3RS,1RS,3SR)-2,2-dimethyl-3-(2-methylprop-1-enyl) cyclopropanecarboxylate (0.40%), N-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide (1.53%), Other ingredients (98.07%)
Organic bed bug sprays
Bug Patrol is a natural pump spray that uses significant
concentrations of plant extracts to kill bed bugs. It will kill bed
bugs on contact and as a natural product is safe to use. If you are
looking for a spray to use on live bed bugs without harsh chemicals, this is a good choice.
Spray Ingredients Not Recommended
Insecticides that use pyrethroids are not very effective. Bed bugs are highly resistant to these products. Pyrethroids include:
- Bifenthrin (Wondering if Talstar kills bed bugs? Talstar bed bugs insecticide is manufactured by FMC. In seeking a better performing bed bug product they developed Transport. Talstar will likely work as a direct contact treatment and provide some degree of residual insecticide activity. However, it is not a current leading choice of exterminators.)
- Cyfluthrin (Bayer Advance from Home Depot)
- Deltamethrin (active ingredient in JT Eaton Bed Bug Spray - Kills BedBugs II, Harris Bed Bug Killer, Suspend CS)
- Prallethrin (active ingredient in Hot Shot)
- Sumithrin (d-phenothrin)
- Other products ending in ‘thrin’
Spray Brands Not Recommended
- Hot Shot (active ingredient is prallethrin)
- All bed bug foggers and bug bombs, all brands (foggers and bombs cause bed bugs to move into the walls of infested rooms)
- Harris Yellow Label
Registered for control of bed bugs on surfaces other than mattresses
- lambda-cyhalothrin (brand Demand CS)
- propoxur (crack and crevices only, bed bugs not on label)
- (s)-hydroprene (Gentrol Insect Growth Regulator)
Insecticides registered for control of Bed Bugs on Mattresses
- silica aerogel dust + pyrethroid
- ground limestone
Insect Growth Regulators
Products called insect growth regulators stops a nymph from growing into an adult that can reproduce. The main ingredient in these products is hydropene, which comes as an aerosol or liquid.
Studies show that these products do not work well. They will kill some insects, however others will survive.
When Not to Use a Bed Bug Spray
There are certain personal items that bed bugs infest that are difficult to treat with a spray such ass clock radios, and electronics such as bed bugs inside computers. For these, we recommend Nuvan PorStrips. To treat infested items, place items into a plastic trash bag with a Nuvon Strip. The strops are odorless and leave no residue. Items will need to remain in the sealed bag for 14 days to ensure that any bed bug eggs have hatched.
This free brochure provides additional information on bedbug sprays.
Frequently Asked Spray Questions
What Kills Bed Bugs Immediately?
Insecticide-based sprays laboratory tested to work against insecticide-resistant insects will kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs immediately. We specifically recommend products tested by VirginiaTech University including STERI-FAB, Bedlman Plus, and Phantom. Other methods include the use of steam. No single insecticide or product will eliminate a bed bug infestation if used alone!. Exterminators use a variety of products, both insecticides and non-insecticidal methods.
What is the Strongest Thing to Kill Bed Bugs?
We suggest the use of two types of bedbug spray and non-insecticidal methods to kill bed bugs. Specifically, buy STERI-FAB as a mattress-safe "knockdown" spray to kill eggs, baby, and adult bed bugs. Use steam heat and vacuuming as well. Follow these detailed treatment instructions. It is also labeled for indoor use.
How Do I Permanently Get Rid of Bed Bugs at Home?
If a bed bug infestation is just starting and limited to one room of the home, we can treat the infestation using a bed bug kit using these step by step instructions. No one insecticide or non-insecticidal product used alone will eliminate a bed bug infestation. Preferably, you can hire a pest management professional who can recommend the best approach. No matter what you choose to do, it can take up to 3 repeat treatments to reduce and then eliminate the insects from your home. Methods such as heating an entire home with thermal remediation are highly effective and require a professional.
What Can You Spray on Yourself to Keep Bed Bugs Off?
You should not spray anything on yourself to keep bed bugs off or to avoid a bed bugs bite. Instead, minimize areas with exposed skin as bed bugs are not likely to bite through or under the fabric. We suggest wearing mittens or gloves to bed pulled over shirt sleeves and socks pulled high. Studies have shown that repellents do are not particularly repellent to bed bugs after they dry (1). No product can prevent bed bug bites.
Do Bed Bug Sprays Work?
Bed bugs are hard to kill in infested areas, even for professional exterminators. The entire process can take a few weeks regardless of who applies the liquid spray. The initial application will kill the majority of the population, with the next one to two treatments killing any bed bugs you might have missed. Purchasing. a bed bug kit combined with methods such as the use of a steamer and vacuum can be effective for smaller bed bug infestations in an infested room. For larger infestations in a home you own, we suggest getting a quote from an experienced professional.
Always follow the label directions when applying any insecticide for maximum effectiveness.
There are alternative treatment methods available such as cold treatment or high-temperature high heat treatment. it is difficult to judge how many bed bugs you have since they can be hidden in walls and other hard-to-find places. Thermal remediation is the process that is applied by professionals that uses high temperatures to treat an entire room or home.
How Can I Prevent Bed Bug Bites?
It can take multiple treatments (3) to fully remove bed bugs from your home. You will need to repeat treatments until the problem is gone. Until treatment starts, to prevent bed bug bites we suggest:
- Minimizing bare skin areas when sleeping. Wear socks and mittens over exposed skin and the ends of your pajamas.
- Keep the bed inches away from any furniture or the walls.
- Keep blankets off the floor
While bed bugs do not carry disease that is transmittable to humans, they can cause noticeable bed bug bites in allergic individuals. Note that the bites alone are not confirmation of an infestation since they look like bites from other insects.
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(1) Bed Bug Treatment Using Insecticides; Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech
(2) EPA: Pesticides to Control Bed Bugs (Environmental Protection Agency); Bed Bug Treatment Using Insecticides; Written by Dini M. Miller Ph.D.