Bed Bug Treatment

This page is a compilation of bed bug treatments offered by visitors which have worked for them; it’s about how to exterminate these bugs yourself. We have a separate page for those looking to treat bites from these bugs .

When we hear of a treatment that works, we list it here. If you are not sure you have bed bugs, but need to know how to spot them, then check out our Bedbug Checklist ; this short but concise list is a great way to quickly spot infestations.

And, if you’re convinced that you have bugs but couldn’t find them, make a bed bug trap using dry ice or Alka-Seltzer. it’s amazing what you’ll catch!

If that doesn’t work, read how a bed bug sniffing dog helped Mimi find bugs when professional exterminators said she was bug free!

If you find a treatment that works for you, please, take a few moments and leave a comment so that others may benefit from your experience.

How to Treat Bed Bugs – Visitor Suggested

The top rated and most common solution for killing bed bugs (from visitors and entomologists alike) has been to use Diatomaceous Earth aka Bed Bug Dust ; it works by dehydrating the bugs and it has fantastic results!

One of the visitors (Leanna) suggested this:

Go to a pet feed store and buy food grade Diatomaceous Earth. It is 100% safe, chemical free, and all natural. God bless mother earth for that. It is also very cheap. The parasites have a waxed shell and the powder (diatomaceous fossilized earth) sticks to their bodies and dehydrates them. They eventually dry up and die.

Leanna also suggested using this powder in the follow areas:

  • Under your mattress
  • Along the baseboards in your place
  • On your bed frame
  • Under all your furniture

Krista stated that she had a hard time finding Diatomaceous Earth, that it is also referred to as Silicone Dioxide and found that ChemFree Insect Killer is the same thing, inexpensive and available at any store.

Sherry says that Neem Oil works great as a bed bug repellent.

You can spray a mixture of 3 parts rubbing alcohol with 2 parts water on the bedbugs to get rid of the ones you see. This won’t do much for the bugs that remain hidden, but it will kill the ones you spray.

How Professionals Exterminate Bedbugs

The method most used by pest control companies is a mixture of steam treatment and insecticide, usually a solution with d-Phenothrin mixed in. d-Phenothrin is a non-systemic insecticide which is effective by contact and as a stomach poison. Used for power-spray, mist, thermal fog, aerosol and ULV applications. The major use of d-phenothrin is in the control of nuisance insects such as bed bugs and human lice.

There is mixed opinions on the bed bugs ability to detect insecticide; because of this, some companies are now using Chlorfenapyr which is non-repellent and effective for a period of ti

Below, we cover steam treatment and what you need to know, plus mention a few other methods of pest control.

Steam Treatment

Steam is the most common method of pest control and will eliminate all stages of the bed bug, but not necessarily all bedbugs. Studies suggest that steam treatment followed by insecticides is a better solution than insecticides alone; the bugs that steam misses will be have to make it through the insecticide increasing your odds of success.

Not all steam cleaners work and it’s suggested that you select a cleaner that has the following:

  • Produces ‘low vapor, high temperature’ steam.
  • Dry steam (it will still be damp. Air out after to prevent mold).
  • Use a machine that has continuous flow to avoid ‘reheat’ downtime.
  • Steam should not be too powerful so that bed bugs are not blown deeper into cracks.
  • Use a steamer with multiple jet steam heads

When steaming, you need to be as close to the bugs as possible and move about 1 inch per 10 seconds; just a few centimeters is all it takes to decrease the temperature to a non lethal dose. The steam head should be moved along at a rate of only 30cm per every 10-15 seconds.

Start with the mattress making sure to treat the seams, labels and any other attachments. Next, move to the chairs and sofas taking care with cushions, seams and buttons. Pull out beds should be treated just like a mattress. Continue to surrounding areas and then move out.

Do not steam electrical outlets as the steam head may make contact through steam or by directly coming into contact with wires.

Heat Treatment

Bed bugs are very sensitive to heat and are rapidly killed when exposed to temperatures over 45°C. If your are using heat to kill the bed bugs, it needs to happen as fast as possible or the gradual temperature increase will cause the bugs to scatter and possibly lead to further infestation, such as to the room next door or the floor above, etc.

When using heat to control your infestation, remember that some material is more resistant to heat than others, such as your mattress or couch; if they are in there, the temperature may not be as hot as the surrounding area.

WARNING: Also be aware that some items will explode, such as aerosol can which state on the label of the container to not store them in temperatures greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 114 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended for bed bugs and care should be taken not to exceed this temperature! Also consider photographs and heat sensitive materials when considering this type of pest control.

Cold Treatment

If you’re looking for a completely chemical free non-toxic solution to eliminating bed bugs, then Cold Treatment is answer. Bed bugs can become resistant to pesticides over time, but when using cold treatment, the bugs die, regardless of how resistant they are.

In Europe and Australia, they use a product called Cryonite. This looks like an oxygen tank on wheels with an attached nozzle. Cryonite is really carbon dioxide snow that once in contact with the bed bug, it causes their insides to freeze; death occurs when the snow crystals land on the bug and convert to CO2 gas, a reaction that requires energy that is taken from the bug causing their cell water to crystallize to ice.

Because this method of bed bug control is poison free, it has the following advantages of other methods:

  • No need to evacuate the area
  • In kitchens, pest control can actually happen while food prep continues
  • Can be used on surfaces in direct contact with food
  • Hotels can rent as soon as treatment is completed
  • No chemical smell or dust to attach to surfaces
  • No cleaning after treatment necessary (can’t hurt)
  • Hospitals and nursing homes can function during treatment

Most of all, this is discreet bed bug treatment unlike other methods such as smoke treatment which can draw attention as smoke escapes from windows.

You’ll still have to bag clothing and wash with hot water (120+), clean up areas, vacuum before treatment, etc – something you should do with any method of pest control.

Note that you can also freeze the bed bugs by placing items in the freezer with a target temperature of -26 F for a few days. It takes less time the colder you make it.

Smoke Treatment

You may hear pest control companies talk about smoke treatment for controlling bed bugs. This is a canister that generate a large amount of smoke which contains Permethrin Synthetic Pyrethriod Insecticide.

One the bedbug smoker has been activated you will not be able to return to the property for at least four hours (each product has a different time). I’m not sure how effective this is.

See our Bedbug Checklist for a list of areas bedbugs love to hide!

Treating Bug Bugs Yourself – What Works

A visitor, Marie, has fought the war against bedbugs more than once and won without having to call a pest control company! It’s a great example and well worth reading if you are going to do this on your own!

Two years ago, I had a group of foreign exchange students visiting. After they left, I had a young American man here tell me about my bedbugs. I didn’t know what he was talking about. So he showed me. I spent the next ten days doing research on line, The American kid wanted to treat immediately, and picked up cockroach spray. That served to spread them to another bed in the same room. I told him to stop it, what he picked out was shown online to be ineffective in anything but causing them to run and spread. They run so fast.

What I discovered in the local hardware stores (sprays and bombs), and local chemical store (a spray), did not work, even though they were advertised as bedbug killers. They were very expensive, and even with direct contact did not kill all the adults. The local fumigators wanted $700 to $900 to come and put a bag on my home and fumigate. I would have to vacate, taking pillows and food things out of the house for three days. And then I was going to have to do it again in ten days, and again, in ten days. So for $2100-$2700 in fumigation, plus 9 days in a hotel, i was going to have the opportunity to have someone else take care of my problem.

The 20 Mule Team Borax I have found useful

in treating for fleas over the past thirty years did not make a dent in the bed bugs, I haven’t tried the salt / borax mixture I’ve read on this website.

In doing research i discovered that malathion is one of the pesticides on the market that still works, and it it not available in my county. I found it online from a plant nursery in the north, and had it shipped in to Florida. The first thing i did was the edges of the room, the doors frames, the window frames, and then the a/c vents. I turned off the power to the room (best to turn off all power!) and took off all electrical covers, phone line cover and the cable tv jack cover. I sprayed Malathion into all the openings in the wall. I sprayed along the baseboards. I sprayed the spline edges on the screens.

Then I spread food grade diatomaceous earth all over the floor. I sprayed bleach on the mattresses, and the bugs did not die. I put three adults on a paperplate and sprayed different things on them and 1 out of 3 would die, and the other 2 would get up, wave at me, and attempt to walk away. I crushed them. I then mixed Dawn for Dishes 1/5 soap and 4/5 water. I got an immediate 100% kill rate on the adults.

Having isolated the creatures in the one bedroom, taken out the exits with poison (yes, I hated it, but i wanted a quick, thorough kill, not a gradual die off that would allow the females to drop eggs as they were running to other parts of my home to die. I then caulked every floorboard, window frame, and the frames in the bed and furniture. I caulked and painted the furniture to completely seal the furniture. I put two new layers of paint on the walls and ceiling. I vacuumed daily for six weeks. The war lasted 6 weeks, eighteen hour days. Thank God i am self employed and was able to carve out that time, more than ten percent of that year, to handle the bug problem.

After six weeks, I was bug free. I was so relieved.

Two months later, I had a young college come and stay with me to start school in my community. He only stayed a month because he took to bringing home street people to sleep on an air mattress on the floor of the bedroom. He was feeling virtuous that he was helping the less fortunate. I was not comfortable with his charitable activities, and he left. As I was pulling the sheets from his bed I discovered three adult bed bugs. There were no sheds or obvious eggs, there was no blood load or blood trail. These bed bugs were MUCH larger and more ovular in shape than the bedbugs i did battle with downstairs. I didn’t know there were different types of bed bugs like there are different types of than the cockroaches.

I immediately treated the perimeter of the room with malathion to prevent an escape into the rest of the house (baseboard cracks, window frames, door frames, plus turned off the electric to that room and removed all the electrical covers, cable cover, and phone cover). I replaced the covers, caulked and painted. I sprayed the ceiling fan motor with malathion. I waited a day, again, to turn the power back on to the room, giving everything time to dry. Then I did the entire room as i had done the downstairs. This was a metal framed bed, so i did not caulk and paint it. I stayed out of the room for ten days. The Dawn for Dishes / water mix i had found effective once again killed all the adults with whom it came in contact. After ten days, I returned to the room and checked for bugs. I found another three adults on the edge of the box spring, against the metal frame. I sprayed them with the Dawn for Dishes mix, and they all died immediately. I had no further problem in that room.

It has been two years, and I have been relieved to not deal with bedbugs, again, until 3 days ago. A visiting friend said something about the ticks in his bed. I went to see what was going on, and discovered he had unpacked his entire van, his personal effects had piled up two feet deep around the bed, plus the underside of the bed was stuffed full, plus there were clothing hanging on the curtain rods. The first things i noticed were the discolorations on the creases at the top of the insulated curtains. I didn’t remember my curtains having those dark stains. My friend had been with me six weeks, and I hadn’t been in his room. I had a hard time crawling over his things to get the the mattress and look closely. The first thing I saw on the bed were the speckles of dried blood on the pillow. Not good.

I pulled back the covers and immediately saw two run. I raced back to the kitchen to fill a spray bottle with Dawn for Dishes. I have a fifty pound sack of DE i picked up from a feed store to worm the animals and myself, and to take down the flea and tick problem in the yard. It takes about six weeks to take the flea and tick infestation down to zero. Since the room is already caulked and painted from the bug war two years ago, I put the DE down along the perimeter of the room, under the mattress and box spring, and began pulling all the linens and drapes for washing and drying with Dawn for Dishes and 20 Mule Team Borax. I sprayed the ceiling fans, outlets for the electric, cable and phones with malathion.

Three days ago we had one bed with a huge infestation. Today, I discovered six living adults walking around by day. One was attempting to run through the DE and couldn’t make it to the edge of the thick layer of DE on the floor. That is the first time i have seen them moving around by day. I have another twenty loads of clothing, bedding, curtains, pillows, and towels to wash and dry. We are moving the clean clothing into a safe room, and leaving them there until we make sure we have gotten rid of these bugs, again, in the guest room. They have been there between three and six weeks by the size of the large ones. I assume a visitor brought them in and left them for the next visitor coming into the bedroom.

Now that i know what works for me, and have that room caulked and painted, the bugs didn’t find furniture cracks and crevices to hide and lay their eggs. Instead, they have congregated in the clothing, the suitcase clutter surrounding the bed, and in the clothing hanging from the curtain rods. I will leave the DE down until tomorrow, and will vacuum it up four days after first putting it down for this infestation. It is 4am, I have gone into that room looking for live bugs every hour. There are no live bugs in that room at this time. This is good. This is the quickest i have been able to bring these creatures to a stop. They are so smart and resilient.

I’ve read that the way to to treat luggage is to put it into a car in the sun for an afternoon. Perfect, I’m in Florida. When I want to dry plant specimens quickly, I press them and put them in the car in the sun. Quick dry. Tomorrow I will take the DE covered luggage and have my houseguest put them back into his car in the sun. Teaching him what to do and not to do has been difficult. He was so horrified by the bugs that he started throwing his things from the floor onto another bed. NOOOOO! He wanted to throw all the furniture away, NOOOOO. Drag an infested piece of furniture through the house means it can drop eggs as it goes and causes the risk of infestation of the rest of the house.

I am not as flipped out as the first time I saw them, but i am in the itching scratching response of just seeing them without sleeping among them or getting bit. I have stopped having visitors into the house, and opted not to spend the night at a friend’s home.

During the first infestation, I was traveling for school, and opted to sleep in my car in rest stops rather than in hotels or at friend’s homes because i did not want to risk passing the infestation on. I didn’t know then what i have read on line tonight about the car heat killing the bugs.

I have spoken with cleaning people from the local expensive hotels, and they say that they have rooms that are infested in the bed area, and in the pull out bed area of the living room. They have to spray repeatedly, and they keep coming back.

They told me to NEVER put my luggage on the carpet on a hotel, to put the luggage in a hard surface in the bath area where bed bugs are not likely to travel, on top of a dresser, and to use the luggage stand available in the closet.

I never thought to look at the luggage stand for blood load, but after reading more tonight, i will look closer.

Good luck to all of you in battle with the bugs. You can win this war!

We have a ton of success stories, so many in fact, we had to break the discussions into pages:

Disclaimer: These Bed Bug Treatments are suggestions from people visiting our site and kind enough to leave a comment helping others. I have no idea if they work or not and no idea how safe, if safe at all, any of these treatments are. You should consult a doctor before acting on any of these comments. I’ve listed them so that you can further research them, not act upon them. ALWAYS consult a doctor before acting on any of this information. We are not medical professionals.

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