OK, so you have bed bugs. It’s embarrassing. Somehow they got into your bed. But let’s not worry about that for now. Let’s focus on getting those blood suckers out of your bed! This post shares how to get rid of bed bugs on your own using chemical-based solutions, natural-base sprays you can buy or using natural home remedies to get rid of bed bugs first? You may think natural remedies will be lame for an infestation of bed bugs. It’s my job in this post to convince you that it’s not lame, it’s just safer for you and your family.
It’s not always easy to know if we have bed bugs. We think we have bed bugs due to bites, but those could also be caused by fleas and mites. And sometimes spiders. But don’t run away. We’re just talking about bed bugs in this blog post and, more specifically, using natural home remedies to get rid of bed bugs.
What Is A Bed Bug?
First, let’s answer what is a bed bug. They’re flat, wingless insects that range in color from almost white to brown. They turn a rusty red color after feeding on blood from animals or people. And they’re about 0.6 cm (0.25 in) in length. That’s approximately the size of an apple seed.
These bugs hide in the bed during the day and are active at night looking for food. And unfortunately, that’s you!
Do You Have Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are amazingly good at hiding in the tiniest areas. They are most common in areas where large numbers of people come and go. So, that’s like hotels, motels, hostels, etc.
A bed bug bite can red and itchy on the skin.
They’re usually on the arms or shoulders.
And they tend to leave straight rows of bites. It’s like they take a chomp, hop a bit, and take another chomp. Given you are already uncomfortable with your skin being inflamed, red and itchy, try and use all natural ways to get rid of bed bugs first before using chemicals. The chemicals may be toxic.
Most other insects randomly bite. Some people react to a bed bug bite like it was a rash. And what really is crazy is that some people don’t react to bed bug bites at all.
The only way to really know if you have a bed bug is if you can find them. Here is how you can spot where the bed bugs live:
- Tiny bloodstains on the sheets and mattresses
- Dark spots of insect waste where bedbugs may be hiding
- A sweet odor from their scent glands.
4 steps to track down bed bugs
- You will need to take off the sheets and inspect your mattress carefully for any signs.
- Then you can pull back the mattress and examine the box spring.
- Then you’ll want to examine the bottom of the box spring where the dust cover is stapled to the frame. This is really important and may be the grossest step of all. Many bed bugs love to hang out under the dust cover since it’s easy for them to move around from there.
- Finally, examine the bed rails and the headboard of your bed. You will want to look for any signs of the bugs or any eggs. It may just look a little like dirt.
You now have all your bedding exposed. What’s next?
- Wash your sheets, pillowcases and mattress cover in hot water. Air your comforters, blankets etc in the hot sun.
- Vacuum your mattress and under the bed.
- Vacuum or dust your bed rails and headboard.
The last thing you want to do is to use conventional chemical-based bed bug sprays in your bedroom with your mattress and pillows exposed with no covers. As a first step, try some all natural ways to get rid of bed bugs. Open the windows in your bedroom and leave enough time for these remedies to have an impact.
Remember, the bed bug is tiny and a great disappearing artist. They’re about the thickness of a credit card and can slip into the tiniest spots.
And whilst you are at it…
Give your bedroom a good clean too with your vacuum cleaner and a dusting cloth.
Do You Need To Treat Any Bed Bug Bites?
Here are 4 natural ways to treat the bites:
- Wash the bite with soap to lower your chance of getting an infection. Calamine lotion is a good and natural method to sooth the itching feeling.
- You can also use oatmeal. Cook about 1 cup of oatmeal in a cotton cloth and then boil it for a few minutes until it’s soft. Then let it cool a bit.
- Another method is to soak some oatmeal in water and then put it into a washcloth. Then hold the washcloth on the bite for about fifteen minutes.
- Ice packs are another easy way to reduce swelling and ease the itching.
Plan A – 3 Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs
These natural home remedies are great if you have sensitive skin, asthma or chemical sensitivities or young children in the house. You can easily apply these remedies yourself at home.
- Lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint or tea tree oils have been used for ages as an insect repellant against bugs and mites.
- You can also use neem oil. Neem oil is pressed from the seeds of the Neem tree which is a tropical evergreen found in Southeast Asia and Africa. The oil has insecticidal and medicinal properties. What’s really great about Neem oil is that it destroys all three life cycle levels of the bed bug – adults, nymphs and eggs. Create a 2% solution of the natural oil and lukewarm water in a spray bottle.
- 3. My next tip comes from Joan Clark who shared this home-made bed bug removal recipe. View the whole recipe
When you use the natural home remedies to get rid of bed bugs, spray your mattress lightly (using a circular motion) and then blot excessively with a dry paper towel or clean rag/towel (again using a circular motion). Mattresses don’t like getting wet, especially memory foam.
Although this blog post is all about how to get rid of bed bugs on your own, if you apply too much of the natural or neem oil plus water solution, your mattress will get too wet and start to smell over time and then you will have to bring in the steam or deep cleaning professionals. A damp mattress is a breeding ground for mold and you don’t want that problem on top of killing the bed bugs.
Plan B – How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs On Your Own Using Chemicals
If the natural home remedies to get rid of bed bugs don’t work for you, you may be wondering how to get rid of bed bugs on your own using other method. Here are some chemical-based alternatives to use as a Plan B.
Here are 3 ways to get rid of bed bugs on your own using chemicals at home:
- Use a Pyrethrum extract. Pyrethrin is a botanical-based extract from the chrysanthemum flower family. The US Environmental Protection Agency says this extract has the ability to destroy the nervous system of a bed bug which kills them. It’s not 100% natural remedy but if you want to how to get rid of bed bugs on your own with chemicals, it’s a good solution. Buy your certified organic pyrethrum powder from the biggest supplier in the U.S. by clicking here. You powder will be shipped discretely so your neighbors won’t gasp in horror when they see a box labelled “The Best Bed Bug Killer Around”!!
- Diatomaceous earth and boric acid. They dry out the bed bug and kill it because it dehydrates them. Be careful to get EPA registered powders that are specifically labeled for bed bug control. There are, believe it or not, food grade desiccants. Those are used for swimming pools. And wear a mask since you don’t want to inhale this. Boric acid is also a great way of getting rid of ants.
- Bed Bug sprays. This is by far the easiest way to get rid of bed bugs without calling in the professionals. You can pick up many types of beg bug killers. I tend to prefer the “eco” and organic varieties.
What Else To Do During the Bed Bug Infestations
To maintain a bed bug-free bedroom environment, it’s best if you vacuum your mattress at least once a week. You will want to do a serious deep cleaning vacuuming until you are absolutely sure the infestation is beaten.
It helps if you have a canister or stick vacuum for this. You’ll want to use the wand or upholstery attachment and the highest possible suction to vacuum off the mattress. Then you will want to vacuum the box spring. And vacuum the rails that hold the bed. And vacuum under the bed.
Once you have vacuumed your mattress, it’s a good idea to spray down the bed with the 2% neem oil solution we discussed before.
Washing your bedding
The hotter the water the better the results for getting your bedding clean. When heading off the bed bug infestation, you’re best off owning sheets that can be washed in hot water. If you prefer satin sheets, pop them into a hot dryer for an extended period of time, and then put them away until you’re sure that you’re pest free.
If you prefer satin sheets, pop them into a hot dryer for an extended period of time, and then put them away until you’re sure that you’re pest free.
You may find it easier to take the bedding to a local laundromat where you can use the larger capacity washers and dryers.
Wash your bedding (sheets, mattress cover and pillowcases) once a week until your bed bugs are clear. If you live in a warm climate or it’s summer and you’re bedding will dry quicker, wash twice a week.
Maintenance – What To Do When The Infestation Is Over
Hooray! Those blood sucking creep crawlies are gone.
Keep your mattress clean on an ongoing basis. This will go a long way to ensure there is no repeat bed bug infestation.
To keep your mattress lasting longer, rotate it from side to side every 6 months if you have a once-sided mattress. If you have a double-sided mattress, flip your mattress from top to bottom every 6 months. When you do this, take the opportunity to spring clean your mattress. A simple spring clean involves vacuuming your mattress with the upholstery or wand attachment. For extra hygiene, step up your mattress cleaning routine by following the detailed step-by-step instructions video below from Peter Walsh from the Rachael Ray.
Wash Your Bedding in High-Temperature Water
Just like I recommended you start a new mattress cleaning routine every 6 months, I am also recommending you wash your sheets once or twice a week on an ongoing basis. Read about why this frequency provides the best hygiene in my article How Often Should I Wash My Sheets.
Don’t Forget the Headboard and Bed Frame
We already mentioned the need to vacuum the frame and the rails of your bed. The little critters often hang out there.
After vacuuming, use natural remedies to get rid of bed bugs we’ve discussed already or re-read the section on how to get rid of bed bugs on your own and apply some chemicals at home (diatomaceous earth, pyrethrum extract) or rub alcohol and wipe down all the surfaces. Rubbing alcohol dehydrates the bugs.
Finally lightly rub down the bed with a natural oil like lavender to continue to act as a repellent. Lavender oil since it also has a soothing effect on humans. And it may help you sleep better.
Sterilize Your Clothes!
If you think you have infested your home by bringing bed bugs home with you after a vacation, then make sure you also clean and sterilize your clothes and any luggage that may be harboring bugs or eggs.
6 Ways Keep Your Bed Clean And Prevent The Bed Bugs Coming Back
It’s essential to verify you have removed any eggs to ensure you don’t get a second infestation. So do be diligent with keeping the bed clean. Here are my top tips:
- Do your mattress cleaning routine at the start of each season or every 6 months (see video);
- Wash bedding once or twice a week;
- Vacuum your bedroom regularly and under the bed especially;
- Dust your bedroom with special attention to your headboard and bed frame on a regular basis as week;
- Purchase a mattress protector, if you don’t already own one. Protectors protect your mattresses from stains not bed bugs; and
- Invest in a bed bug mattress encasement.
- Investigate whether bed bug traps or bed bug interceptors are for you. Interception devices that go near the legs of the bed frame. Bed bugs fall into a well. They’re unable to climb the smooth surface of the interception device. Then you can be sure that you have a bed bug after capturing one. The difficulty is in getting the bug to fall into the device. You can help this by pulling your bed away from any walls. Also, keep linens, comforters, dust ruffles, etc. off of the floor. This forces the bed bug to go down the leg of the bed frame. Bed bug interceptors are inexpensive ways to ensure your bed bug infestation will be totally gone over time.
Invest In A Mattress Encasement
You can purchase mattress and box spring encasements.
They can be expensive but they’re perfect for anyone concerned about bed bugs. They aid in early detection because you can easily see any trapped bed bugs. Plus you’re now protected from the bed bug and any further infestations with eggs.
As the name suggests, your mattress becomes completely encased or wrapped in a cover. This cover slides onto the mattress and zips up tight to keep the bed bugs.
However, I should point out that it only covers the mattress and box spring. You will still have to follow the guidelines for keeping your headboard and bed frame clean and bed bug-free.
Call A Professional
Sometimes, the infestation is so bad that you need a professional. This may be for you if you find the bed bugs are even living in the walls and coming in through electrical sockets. If it’s really gotten that bad, don’t hesitate to call in the pros.
The professionals use dogs to detect bed bugs. Bed bug sniffing dogs are so reliable. And they’ll be able to identify where the infestation is hiding out. Most canine scent detection firms advertise accuracy rates of 95% or greater. The earlier you find them, the easier it is to get rid of them.
These professionals do have natural ways of killing off the bed bugs. So don’t think that calling in a professional exterminator means that you’ll have poisons all over your home for years to come.
One of the most common solutions these pros use is heat. Bed bugs can’t survive if their body temperature reaches 45°C (113°F).
So a professional exterminator will get the room even hotter for a sustained period of time so the heat will reach the bugs everywhere they’re hiding.
Is It All Too Much?
So you have tried my recommended all natural ways to kill bed bugs.
Maybe you moved onto Plan B and tried chemicals.
Maybe you called a professional in to help you.
Or maybe you did nothing, thinking all of this is way too much effort. You shrug your shoulders and say “It’s time we get a new mattress anyway.”
It’s essential that you rid your home of bed bugs. There is no proof that they can transfer pathogens, so they aren’t considered a serious disease threat. But you really don’t want to deal with the itchy bites that can also cause rash-like symptoms.I wish I could tell you that there’s one simple answer to get rid of bed bugs.
Unfortunately, it often takes multiple applications and multiple treatment types before you’re completely free of an infestation. And then you have to be aware of bringing any back into your home.
I wish I could tell you that there’s one simple answer to get rid of bed bugs. Unfortunately, it often takes multiple applications and multiple treatment types before you’re completely free of an infestation. And then you have to be aware of bringing any back into your home.
Early detection is the best way to get rid of bed bugs, but it’s also the most difficult. There are only a few bugs or eggs present to destroy. So if you have some concerns, and you can’t find any evidence of an actual bug, contact a professional with a bed bug sniffing dog.
I shared how to get rid of bed bugs on your own either using 2 natural home remedies, 3 DIY chemical-based solutions you can mix at home or just use store-bought bed bug sprays.
The key is to be consistent and persistent until you are completely sure that all the eggs are gone. No eggs mean no more infestations.
And do be aware when you go traveling. You don’t want to bring any bed bugs home again.