Kill Bedbugs

"Kill bedbugs is a rallying cry for many homeowners and apartment dwellers. This goal requires knowing where to look for the bugs, and having the right tools to get the job done. This includes a good mattress safe spray, hand steamer, dust product, vacuum and access to a washing machine.  Other helpful items include a bed bug approved mattress cover and box spring cover. Optional items include a rug disinfectant to kill bedbug eggs and an anti itch cream, assuming you are having an allergic reaction to the bed bug bites. The first decision is to do it yourself or hire a professional.  All of this is covered in the bed bugs handbook."  

The desire to kill bedbugs requires knowledge and the products needed to remove them from your home.  First some basics.

How Did Bedbugs Enter Your Home?

Unlike other insects, bedbugs cannot enter the home from the outside.  They need to be dropped into the home after either hitching a ride in luggage after traveling or from an adjacent apartment.

In terms of apartments, bed bugs travel 20 feet at most from where they are dropped.  In an apartment, this can be from above, below and any side of the room where the infestation occurs.

Bedbugs are not due to filth, clutter or someones bad living habits.  They do come from hiding places in used furniture, or if picked up by a person from one location and dropped in another.

80% - 90% of bedbugs in any room can be found in and around the bed, since this is where their human host lives.

How Do You Know You Have Bedbugs?

Bedbugs are similar to several other bugs.  The easiest way to know, is if you are suffering from single or multiple bites, that occur in the middle of the night.  The red marks that surround the area that a bed bug punctures the skin varies by individual, depending on their allergic reaction to the bedbug saliva.  Reactions to the bed bug bites can worsen after each biting episode as the body becomes increasingly more hypersensitive to each bit.

kill bedbugs
Picture Bed Bug Bites on Arm

To be sure, if you are able to catch a bedbug, you can send a bug in the mail to IdentifyLLC (pdf download), who for a small fee will examine the bug and let you know. 

Bedbugs are 1/5 of an inch long before feeding and grow longer after feeding.  Each feeding lasts 5 to 10 minutes and will occur every 10 days.

picture of bed bugs
Picture of Bed Bug Before and After Feeding

You Need to Find Them to Effectively Kill Bedbugs

One reason for hiring a bedbug exterminator or expert such as Terminix vs. doing it yourself, is  knowing where to look for the pests.  Here are some common hiding places:

Around the Bed:

  • Mattress 
  • Seams 
  • Tears in the mattress 
  • Box Spring 
  • Inside the box spring 
  • Around Edges 
  • Frame 
    • Look at joints, where one piece meets another 
    • Note: bed bugs prefer wood frames and do not like hard surfaces such as metal frames
Near the Bed

  • Behind Clock Radio
  • Carpet seams (where it meets the wall)
  • Behind Pictures
  • Behind cable and electrical wall plates
  • Inside books, papers and magazines located near the bed

Other Areas to Look for Bedbugs:
  • Clothes 
  • Wall paper seams
  • Around door locks
  • Molding cracks
  • Drapes
You get the idea. Here's helpful chart that summarizes where you look:

kill bedbugs
Picture of Bedbug Hiding Places

Another sure sign are brown or red stains on the mattress or sheets.  This is feces left behind by the bedbug.

kill bedbugs
Picture of Bedbug Stains on Mattress

What Does it Cost to Kill Bedbugs?

Kill Bedbugs Yourself with a Kit

Doing it yourself will cost approximately $175 for all the needed products. One of the  most popular organic kits is sold by Dermisil for Bed Bugs.   Kits contain several or all of  the following products.  It's the same basic approach used by professionals:

  • Mattress Safe Spray: will kill bedbugs on contact.  Does NOT kill bedbug eggs.  
  • Fossil Dust: sprinkled around the room to kill any bedbugs on contact that hatch after treatment.  Bed bug eggs are the size of a pin head and easy to miss.
  • Hand Steamer: heat will kill both bedbugs and bed bug eggs.  Steaming cracks will kill any eggs before they hatch
  • Mattress Covers: after treatment seal mattresses that are in good condition.  You do not have to throw out a mattress.  Sealing it will trap any bedbugs that you missed.  Without being able to feed they will eventually die inside the mattress.

kill Bedbugs with a Bed Bug Exterminator

Bed Bug pest control experts have the experience needed to know where to look for bedbugs.  Be sure to ask for a written estimate, a guarantee (bed bug removal can take 2 to 3 treatments) and for specifically what you need to do to prepare (eg; remove everything from closets etc.).

An in person inspection can range from $100 to $500 depending on how it is done.  The higher end includes the use of a bed bug sniffing dog.  Bedbugs have a unique odor, which is why a dog is used (smell like raspberries).  The treatment itself can cost $750++ depending on the size of the residence (number of rooms), approaches used and the extent of the problem.  Ask about chemical and non chemical treatment options.

Because hiring a professional is expensive, we suggest collecting quotes from more than one company.  We suggest the following steps:

1. Call Local Bed Bug Experts: Service Magic (877-233-1145) both online and via phone will provide 4 free quotes from local bed bug experts that are part of their expert.  There is no charge for this service.

2. Check our Bed Bug Exterminator Directory: We have a searchable directory of bed bug experts that can be found here.

Pest control experts may have equipment and chemicals that are not available to the public that are designed to kill bedbugs.  This includes the ability to super heat a room (113 degrees F heat kills bed bugs and eggs), use chemicals to treat a building, and even a super heat truck where household items can be sealed in a chamber.

How to Kill Bedbugs - A Step by Step Approach

Getting rid of bed bugs requires a methodical step by step approach.  It involves cleaning and inspecting every item in the room where bedbugs are found.  Carry NOTHING from the room being treated unless it is in a plastic bag closed with a tie wrap to avoid dropping bugs in others rooms of the home.

1. Remove and wash all linens and clothes.  Bag and wash in hot water followed by 20 to 30 minutes in the dryer at high heat to kill bedbugs.  After cleaning, bag and leave out of the room. Ziploc Big Bags are inexpensive and will kepp bed bugs out of the clothes.  Wash all blankets, linens, sheets and any clothes.  Pay attention to items that are near the bed.  Even sneakers and toys may be able to be placed in the dryer (avoid melting and damage.

2. Loosen carpet along the edge of the room.  Bed bugs will hide along the cracks and the slats that hold the carpet to the floor.  Loosen all cable and electrical plates in the room.  Inspect and bag electronics (after you unplug) .  Check behind picture frames.  

3. Vacuum the room.  Use the suction tool on your vacuum to "suck up" any visible bedbugs.  Vacuum along the edges of the room, the entire carpet and along seams on the mattress.  After vacuuming is complete, dispose of the vacuum bag by removing it in the room being treated, seal in a plastic bag, and dispose of out of doors.

4. Spray the Mattress and in Cracks.  Using a mattress safe spray such as the one offered as part of the Dermisil kit (Bug Patrol) of if you prefer an insecticide based spray use Sterifab.  These are both known as "knock down" sprays, which  kill bed bugs on contact and help to reduce the bed bug population. Lightly spray the mattress, box spring, along the edges of the wall and in all cracks.  Keep a window open to allow for quick drying and to avoid mold.  After the mattress and box spring dries, cover with a bed bug approved zippered cover such as those offered by Walmart or

kill bedbugs
Treating a Mattress with Bed Bug Spray

Bugs may run and scatter when sprayed, as they become disoriented and then die.

In additon to a knock down spray, it is helpful to also buy and use a spray that has a residual effect such as Bedlam and Phantom.  Apply to cracks in the bed frame, around furniture and along baseboards.  If using on furniture, test first to avoid staining.

kill bedbugs
Use a Residual Bed Bug Spray along Baseboards, Cracks and Crevices

Follow the manufacuters direcitonsn and be sure to wear gloves and eye covering.

5. Hand Steam the Cracks and Along Seams.   Steam all areas of the room, including the edges of carpet and into cracks.  The steam is the best offense against killing bed bug eggs, which are "glued" to surfaces with a cement like substance.  This is why vacuuming doesn't help. Steam along the seams of rough surfaces such as any nearby furniture.  You can use a small hand steamer or a more effective industrial grade steamer.

kill bedbugs
Picture of Bedbugs and Bedbug Eggs on Couch fabric

5. Clean Carpet: If you have you have carpeting, use  a carpet cleaning machine with a strong disinfectant mixed into the water.  Test in a small area to make sure that the carpet doesn't discolor the carpet.  One popular disinfectant is  PuraCleenRx.  Be sure to clean along the edges.

6. Spread Fossil Dust: Natural dust products such as Fossil Dust (also called  Diatomaceous Earth) should be spread under furniture, inside cracks and behind the loosened wall plates (avoid liquid products mentioned earlier around electrical products).  Bed bugs often appear to return after treatment, when in fact the bedbugs that appear are those that hatched from eggs you might of missed.  Fossil dust attach to the bugs and cut their shell, causing death.  Many contractors are adding these products inside the walls of new apartment construction to protect against the spread of bedbugs.   It is an all natural organic safe product to use.

 You can also place a few inexpensive disposable Bug Patrol Traps around each bed leg.

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