Natural methods and Remedies overview
We have a healthy bit of skepticism when it comes to recommending ways to get rid of bed bugs naturally. While we have not seen research that supports the use of natural bed bug sprays or remedies, we do believe in methods such as heat or thermal mediation, freezing, food grade diatomaceous earth powder, or mechanical and physical methods such as vacuuming or traps.
The pros and cons of each method is reviewed below so that you can make your own judgement.
Fundamentally, when killing bed bugs you have two choices:
Call an exterminator to confirm you have an infestation and for treatment (usually takes 2 to 3 attempts) or
Treat them yourself. The natural bed bug products you can use are described below in detail. We suggest that you use more than method to ensure that bed bugs and eggs are initially killed and then another method such as powder is used to kill any you might have missed.
Our Favorite Methods to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally Include Heat, Freezing, Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth and Vacuuming
How to get rid of bed bugs naturally
Listed below are our top eco-friendly ways to naturally get rid of bed bugs naturally.
Bed Bug Heat Treatment options
Bed bugs and their eggs are killed at 114F. Higher temperatures are used on the surface to make sure that enough heat penetrates any crack where bed bugs may be hiding.
Use Heat From A Hair Dryer
Heat can be safely applied to areas such as a mattress seam with a hair dryer on the high heat setting. Hold the hair dryer for 10 seconds on each spot to ensure that the proper amount of heat is applied.
This method works well along mattress and box spring seams, around the headboard and along wall baseboards.
Use A Portable Heat Chamber
How To Kill Bed Bugs With Heat
Video that explains the benefits of using a portable bed bug heater to kill insects before unpacking your luggage.
Like the use of a hair dryer, you can purchase a small portable vinyl case that can be heated to the temperatures needed to kill bed bugs. Just place your items that can withstand heat, such as clothing and linen, into a Thermalstrike, turn it on, and all bed bugs will be eliminated.
Hand Held Steamer
A professional grade steamer will product heat at about 200+ degrees, a level that will kill all bed bugs can eggs that come in contact with the steam. This is a very safe and effective method.
Differences between steam models include the amount of water they can hold and the ability to adjust the steam pressure. Prices range from $99 for a model such as the Vapamore to $2,100 for professional grade equipment.
Learn more about bed bug steam treatment.
Tip: We suggest that after the steamed areas dry, a coating of natural diatomaceous dust be applied to kill any bed bugs you might have missed along with bed bugs that hatch after treatment.
Heat A Room Using thermal mediation
In cases where there is a large infestation, it may pay to bring in a thermal remediation company or to purchase the equipment to do it yourself. Thermal mediation works by heating an entire room or even home to the temperature required to kill all bed bugs and eggs.
This method is highly effective and requires no other treatment such as insecticides. The downside of thermal mediation is that it can be expensive with entire houses costing approximately $4,000 for treatment.
You can also purchase a heat treatment starter kit that includes everything you need for around $1900. The kit is designed to eliminate bed bugs from one room and it works using existing electrical outlets.
Only use approved equipment to avoid the risk of fire.
natural bed bug sprays
Natural bed bug sprays take two forms, an essential oil or a combination of ingredients. We have not seen research on these natural products, so we suggest buying one that has a money back guarantee such as Bed Bug Patrol, which is described in the first section below.
Natural Bedbug Sprays with Multiple Ingredients
Several manufacturers sell organic bed bug sprays. These sprays use plant extracts such as Coconut, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Mentha Pipenita and Euginia Carophylla.
We suggest buying a brand that offers a 100% money back guarantee such as Bed Bug Patrol, to make sure that the bed bugs you are treating are not resistant to a natural method. This particular brand is also child and pet safe.
We suggest that sprays be used alongside other methods for getting rid of bed bugs naturally such as diatomaceous earth. Simply start by spraying areas to be treated according to the manufacturers directions. When the sprayed area dries, follow with a thin coating of diatomaceous earth powder. The powder will kill any bed bugs that you may have missed with the spray.
Powders are best applied with an applicator designed for powder. Wear some type of mouth covering to avoid breathing in the dust. Note that products labeled bed bug dust usually contain an insecticide. Instead buy pure diatomaceous earth.
Natural Remedies: Two Essential Oil Sprays
For essential oil sprays, mix with water as indicated below.
Spray Tea Tree Oil Solution
Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle with water and spray the pests. Tea tree oil is toxic so keep away from your children and pets, especially cats.
The theory is that tea tree oil is similar to creosote, a natural insecticide. It is also similar to turpintine. Plants make the oil to protect the plant against insects. Be sure to only use the product in the diluted form since it may burn the skin.
Our concern beyond the toxicity is that even if the oil kills bed bugs on contact, it does not provide residual protection for any that you might have missed or that are hiding. If you decide to use Tea Tree Oil be sure to followup any treatment with the use of diatomaceous earth.
We have also not seen any research proving that this method works. Tea Tree oil can be purchased on Amazon.
Spray Lavender oil Spray
Mix about 30 to 40 drops of lavender oil with 1.5 ounces of water, then spray it on the areas you want to treat.
Apply Diatomaceous Earth Powder
How To Apply Natural Bed Bug Powder or Dust Video that explains how to apply bed bug dust or powder using an applicator.
This natural powder kills bed bugs by dehydrating them. Apply the powder in a thin layer around the affected area and you'll begin to see more dead bed bugs.
Diatomaceous earth is 100% natural. It works by clinging to the insects body. The product will last for years if left undisturbed, making it ideal for areas such as along wall baseboards.
Powder is applied with an applicator after treating areas with other products such as sprays. The goal is to use the powder field to kill any bed bugs that might not have hatched or that you missed during treatment.
Set Bed Bug Traps and detectors
Bed bug traps are not a complete solution, but they can compliment other approaches. There are several kinds of traps to consider.
1) Interceptors: These bed bug traps are placed under bed legs to prevent bed bugs from crawling up the frame onto the mattress. They serve a dual purpose since they block bed bugs. The interceptors can also be used to monitor the size of the infestation as you treat the problem. If they stay empty, it indicates that all of the bed bugs in the room have been killed.
2) Kairomone Lures: Traps such as the NightWatch use three elements to attract bed bugs into the trap, heat (human body temperature), CO2 (uses the gas we breathe to mimic a person) and a Kairomone Lure (mimics the odor of a sleeping person). It works as an early detector of bed bugs by combining the three elements to stimulate the presence of a sleeping human.
The device will release its lure from 10PM to 6AM to 3 to 4 nights.
Bed Bug Monitor Uses Heat, CO2 and a Kairomone Lure to Attract Bed Bugs and Then Trap Them
3) Empty Room Trap: These traps use heat to lure the bed bugs into the trap. It then uses a sticky floor plate to trap any bed bugs.
One version of the device by BEAP looks like a 6 outlet power bar so that guests will not know that you have a bed bug trap in the room.
Bed Bug Empty Room Trap Uses CO2 to Attract and Trap Any Insects
Shown: Bed Bug Beacon
Mattress, Box Spring and Pillow Covers
Mattress, box spring and pillow covers will not prevent bed bugs. What they do is trap any bed bugs that have not been killed during other forms of treatment. They can also help to protect a mattress and box spring from becoming more infested.
After treating the bed frame, mattress and box spring we suggest using a combination of bed bug mattress covers, one for the box spring and another for the pillow. Also use an interceptor on each bed leg.
Keep the bed at least 5 inches from every wall and keep blankets off the floor, since bed bugs will use them as a way to get up onto the bed.
Mechanical and Physical Methods
Bed bugs are visible to the naked eye and can be vacuumed. Vacuum along all seams, the headboard and other potential hiding places. Bed bugs in the bedroom usually hide within 5 feet of the bed.
When done, do not remove the vacuum from the infested room until you:
- Check any vacuum brush to make sure there are no bed bugs caught in the roller.
- Remove the vacuum bag and place into a sealed bag. Dispose of the bag outside of the home.
Bed bug eggs cling to surfaces using a sticky substance left behind when laying eggs. For this reason a vacuum will not pick up the eggs. Instead, if you see a cluster of eggs use wide one sided tape such as packing tape to pick up and dispose of the eggs.
Freezing is Used to Instantly Kill Bed Bugs Naturally and Permanently
Freezing kills bed bugs. There are two methods.
- Professional: Carbon dioxide under pressure is used to instantly kill sprayed bed bugs and eggs. The process is safe, non-toxic and non-chemical.
- Freezer: Bed bugs are killed when placed in a freezer for several hours.
Getting rid of bed bugs requires an eye for detail and prompt action which also helps you cut down on any unnecessary clutter around your sleeping space.
Bed bugs are hard to kill even for professionals. If you don't want to use chemicals to treat bed bugs, professionals have alternatives such as thermal mediation which uses heat and freezing spray. Both are highly effective. To find an exterminator near you, try our database or call Home Advisor at 866-214-8380. We prefer trying a network like Home Advisor since they certify the quality of local exterminators on the network.
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Each of these free brochures provides more information on how to get rid of bed bugs naturally.
How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally
A personal story and product recommendations for a natural approach to getting rid of bed bugs and removing them from your mattress.
Written by: Sharol Tilgner
Available in a free
University of Nebraska
Questions and answers
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