Bed bugs can survive without feeding for up to a year. They are also very good at hiding. In short, they are simply not easy to get rid of. And so it is normal to wonder whether it is worth trying to get rid of them on your own.
Yes, you can get rid of bed bugs yourself. To do so effectively, you will need to kill the bed bugs and their eggs by:
- Exposing them to high temperatures
- Exposing them to cold temperatures
- Destroying their exoskeletons
- Poisoning and killing them
There are some other free bed bug removal options to consider, but here is everything you need to know about getting rid of bed bugs yourself.
Here are the steps that you should follow if you want to get rid of bed bugs from your home.
Step 1: Declutter
Bed bugs thrive in cluttered areas because these areas provide more opportunities for hiding.
Cluttered sections are also harder to clean. They also shield bed bugs from chemicals, heat, and other compounds that are typically used to kill bed bugs.
Therefore, you should always start the removal process by decluttering the rooms or areas that have a bed bug infestation.
- Remove any items from cabinets and any furniture that is in the room
- Remove any moveable furniture and place it outside
- Dispose of or donate any items, rugs, or furniture pieces that you don’t plan on using
- Dispose of any hard-to-treat furniture. This may include wicker furniture, old recliner chairs
- Collect bedding and clothing. Place them in an air-tight bag and take them to the laundry room
- Eliminate traces of unnecessary newspapers, cardboard boxes, and magazines
- If there are any shoes, bags, or clothes on the floor, remove them too
Step 2: Isolate
Bed bugs can easily spread from one room to another. They can also move across apartments. This mobility makes getting rid of them challenging.
Therefore, to guarantee an easier removal process, you need to make sure that you isolate any infested items.
Here are isolation tips that you should definitely consider using.
- Place any plush toys, shoes, beddings, and clothing inside plastic bags
- Any collected debris or dirt should also be placed in air-tight bags
- Keep your bed off the wall to avoid cross-contamination
- Keep sheets, blankets, and any other pieces of clothing off the floor
- Use encasements and liners to keep any bed bugs on your box springs and mattresses contained
- Use door sweeps to restrict movement to other rooms or homes
- If there are huge cracks on walls and floors, you should seal them.
- Seal any gaps that exist under light sockets
- Arm the legs of your furniture with bed bug interceptors to keep them from climbing up your furniture
However, you should keep in mind that isolation isn’t just for items that are already infested. You can also make your work easier by isolating and sealing off items that are already bed bug-free.
Step 3: Get rid of pest-friendly spaces
Bed bugs can easily hide in cracks, loose joints, and damaged sections of both furniture and walls. To make it harder for them to hide, and to also make it easier to eliminate them, you need to get rid of these bed bug-friendly spaces.
Here are the things that you should do.
- Tape around electrical outlet plates
- Repair cracks on walls or furniture
- Follow any repair work by applying paint or any other finish
- Caulk crevices and cracks on baseboards, and walls
- Repair or replace loose or torn wallpaper
- Seal spaces under molding by caulking them
Step 4: Vacuum and wash
There are two main recommended methods of cleaning an infested home:
- washing with hot water
Steaming bed bugs especially in hard to get areas such as mattresses and carpets are the way to go. This can be expensive to hire a professional but you can also hire the machine yourself.
Vacuuming is important because:
- it removes bed bugs
- it removes bed bug eggs
- it removes dirt and debris
Vacuuming removes bed bugs and their eggs. By doing so, it reduces their population. It also, slightly, restricts their ability to multiply. This leaves you with fewer bed bugs and eggs to deal with.
By removing dirt and debris, vacuuming also makes it harder for the bed bugs to hide. It also makes it easier to apply a pesticide, or any other compounds or chemicals, directly to the bed bugs.
What you should do
Here are the steps that you should take when vacuuming an infested home.
- Start by vacuuming floors. Focus on corners and cracks. And also on any seams.
- After you are done, move to your bed. Vacuum box springs, your mattress. Pay special attention to crevices, joints, and other hard-to-reach areas in which the bed bugs may be hiding.
- The next step is to vacuum your recliners, chairs, and couches. Vacuum them thoroughly along the seams, joints, and gaps. Turn them over and also vacuum their underside.
- Vacuum along moldings
- Vacuum inside furniture like drawers, dressers, and stands
- Vacuum any fasteners like nails and screws
After using the vacuum cleaner, you will need to:
- place the vacuum bag into a plastic container, seal it with tape and then dispose of it
- dip attachments into a mixture of detergent and hot water and then clean them
- place the cleaned items in an air-tight plastic bag to avoid reinfestation
After you are done vacuuming, you have to make sure that the bed bugs don’t escape. The best way to achieve this is to drop the vacuum bag into an air-tight plastic bag and then seal it right after.
2. Washing with hot water
Hot water kills bed bugs! Washing also removes a healthy number of eggs, live bed bugs, and any other debris.
Therefore, it is something that should always be included in every bed bug removal process.
- wash your beddings in extremely hot water. This includes pillowcases, sheets, blankets, duvets, and any other type of bedding.
- wash clothes, towels, curtains, and even stuffed animals, with hot water
- place the washed items in a dryer, and then set it to the highest setting. You can also place items that can’t be washed into the dryer and then set it to a high temperature — provided they aren’t sensitive to heat.
- take the washed and dryer-treated items and place them into an air-tight plastic bag – this should protect them from re-infestation.
Step 5: Kill the bed bugs
To kill bed bugs, you have a few options.
You can kill the bed bugs by:
- using cold treatments
- applying chemicals
At 118°F, bed bugs and their eggs will die within 20 minutes. And while it may take about 90 minutes of constant exposure to 113°F, heat exposure is still one of the most effective ways of killing bed bugs.
The following are the two main ways of removing bed bugs by exposing them to high temperatures.
Steaming exposes bed bugs to extremely high temperatures. This is often enough to not only drive them out of hiding but also kill them instantly. And what is even better is the fact that you don’t have to use a specialized professional-grade steamer to kill bed bugs.
As a result, passing a steamer slowly over infested areas is a highly recommended method of DIY bed bug removal.
Heating with portable heat chambers
Portable heating chambers are good for treating small items.
You simply place the items inside the heating chamber and then turn it on. It will heat up, expose bed bugs to extremely high temperatures, and then effectively kill any eggs or bed bugs infesting the item in question.
However, it is not a perfect way of getting rid of bed bugs. This is because not everything can fit into the chamber. Therefore, its application is limited.
Instead of using a steamer’s heat, you can also kill bed bugs by freezing them. This is an excellent option for any items that are not washable or which are very sensitive to heat.
To kill them:
- place the items in a freezer
- set the freezer to the lowest temperature possible
- leave the items in place for about a month.
Extended exposure to the low temperature will kill the bed bugs. However, while this method works, it is not efficient. This is thanks to the extended period that it requires. Also, there is a possibility of some bed bugs recovering from freezing.
The other way you can kill bed bugs is to treat your home with pesticides and other chemicals that can kill them.
Here are the best options for you.
Silica dust is a natural solution to the bed bug problem. It works by destroying their exoskeletons and thereby causing them to become dehydrated and die.
While silica dust is effective at killing bed bugs, it has two shortcomings. It:
- is not as fast-acting as other solutions. It usually takes a couple of days to have any significant impact on an infestation
- can cause respiratory complications when it is inhaled. As a result, you should always use it sparingly.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Just like silica dust, Diatomaceous Earth kills bed bugs by damaging their exoskeletons.
Diatomaceous Earth has a few advantages that will make it a great option for use around your home.
- It works even after immediate application. This is unlike typical pesticides whose strength wear off with time
- There is a negligible risk of bed bugs developing resistance to it
- It is not toxic to human beings
- It has an extremely long shelf-life
- It is still effective even in moist environments
However, DE doesn’t kill bed bugs instantly. It typically requires between 9 days and 18 days to completely kill bed bugs that it comes in contact with.
You can also apply chemicals that kill bed bugs by:
- interfering with their growth and development (insect growth regulators)
- triggering their nerves to malfunction (neonicotinoids)
- disrupts the functioning of their cells (pyrroles)
- controls and repels them (biochemicals like neem oil)
- flushes and poisons them (pyrethroids and pyrethrins)
It is important to keep in mind that bed bugs are adept at developing resistance against pesticides. Therefore, adopting a combined strategy – where you use different pesticides at the same time – is always recommended if you want the best results.