Taking the steps every night to reduce bed bug bites doesn’t make them go away. Bed bugs are very adept at being ignored and surviving. Many bed bugs can live for 400 days without fresh blood.
In fact, in one lab experiment, scientists were able to keep bed bugs alive for almost 3 years without fresh blood. Part of this is because bed bugs can go into a state of near hibernation.
It’s called diapause and it means that they can go without food a very long time.
Sadly, bed bugs aren’t going to go away if you ignore them. They will continue to grow and to spread.
There are several things you can do to get rid of bed bugs. This article will go over the steps you must take if you have a limited income and want to get rid of bed bugs.
I will also cover the steps you should take if you have a little more money to get rid of them.
Even if you have the funds to pay for an exterminator, it isn’t always effective. Plus, you might want to learn how to do it yourself so that you can take control of your own situation. Later, this article will discuss how you can keep bedbugs away permanently.
Let’s discuss the three ways to get rid of bed bugs:
- Bronze: Takes more time and more effort (energy). It also takes the longest to succeed but is the cheapest method. (Takes up to a year to completely get rid of bed bugs)
- Silver: More money, but under $1-200 for a single bedroom. Faster, but needs monitoring. (Takes about 6 months to get rid of bed bugs)
- Gold: Gets rid of the majority of bed bugs within a few weeks. Complete elimination within a couple of months. Costs about $1,000, but repeat treatments can be done without much additional cost. You own the most important equipment to kill bed bugs hiding.
Bronze Method: Ged Rid Of Bed Bugs With Minimal Expense
If you need to rid yourself of bed bugs, the first thing you will need to do is to become clutter free.
Everyone has clutter. While each of us collects and loves different stuff, bed bugs aren’t particular.
Clutter gives bed bugs places to hide.
Even nicely organized stuff, such as bookshelves lined with organized books, provides a wondrous haven for bed bugs.
Bronze Step 1: Bag Up Or Toss All Excessive Clutter
Consider using free apps to capture images of your documents and important papers. Get rid of anything that you can store electronically.
Birth certificates, passports, and marriage licenses are some of the few documents where originals should be kept
Consider what items you don’t use and what items you don’t enjoy or need anymore. Get rid of any excess you have.
Anything that you want to keep but need to clear out, seal in a trash bag.
Many people suggest bagging up bed bug contaminated items for only 2-3 months. That won’t kill the bed bugs and can start a whole new infestation.
You will need to keep it sealed for as long as 1-2 years so that all bed bugs found in the bag will die off.
If you throw it out, be sure to either throw it away or label it as having bed bugs so that you don’t spread the epidemic.
Bronze Step 3: Keep Bed Bugs Off Your Bed
Put the legs of your bed into plastic containers such as sour cream or yogurt containers.
Make sure that nothing but the legs of your bed is touching anything else such as the walls or floor.
Next, keep your bed moved away from the wall. At least 1 foot is needed.
The plastic containers keep bed bugs from traveling up the bed, but you can go one step farther. Wrap athletic tape mid-way up the legs of your bed. In step 4, you will add some Diatomaceous Earth to kill any living bed bugs that attempt to leave your bed.
It is essential that you keep bed bugs away from your bed if you are trying to kill bed bugs. Professor Changlu Wang, at Rutgers University, has done extensive research on bed bugs. He found that bed bugs who are able to feed are much more likely to survive both natural and chemical pesticides longer.
Since bed bugs reproduce and adapt so quickly, easy feeding may affect their ability to become immune to bug poisons. No studies have been done on this particular topic yet.
Bronze Step 4: Use Diatomaceous Earth To Kill Bed Bugs
Purchase food grade diatomaceous earth. DE is taken from the ocean beds and is a dust made of the shells of sea animals. It kills many insects by acting like broken glass.
It cuts through the protective oil that keeps them safe.
But, it’s not 100% effective. It can be as low as 50% effective. However, it has the highest success among very-low-cost options.
Diatomaceous Earth is usually used as a replacement for bed bug dust. Professor Changlu Wang found that it works equally well as a residue duster that will kill bed bugs traipsing through it.
But it doesn’t work as effectively against pesticides and other on-contact and residue pesticides. Since insecticides and pesticides are more costly, using DE is an affordable option, but it will take more time to be effective.
How to use Diatomaceous Earth against bed bugs:
Sprinkle it liberally around your mattress and box springs. Be careful breathing it in. Use a mask to help prevent inhalation of DE.
Sprinkle it into your carpets as outlined in step 6.
Dust it into the baseboards and into the outlets. Dust it into other small crevices and cracks.
Dust it onto the athletic tape that you wrapped around your bed and furniture legs. While the plastic containers can keep new bed bugs from getting onto your bed, old bed bugs might attempt to leave.
When they can’t get out past the plastic containers, they will crawl again past the athletic tape.
Brushing DE onto the tape will help to kill those remaining pests. It will only affect those that attempt to climb down.
While DE can kill bed bugs, it’s not fast or thorough. Bed bugs must be exposed to it. Those inside walls and in other areas continue to grow and repopulate.
But, it is cheap.
It may also cause some reactions in people who breathe it in, especially those with asthma or allergy issues.
Bronze Step 5: Wrap Mattress With Saran Wrap
After you have coated your box springs and mattress in DE, wrap it with several layers of saran wrap. The coating should be tight.
Bed bugs can crawl through very tight spaces and saran wrap is better than nothing but less effective than other methods.
Wrap any other furniture in saran wrap that is contaminated with bed bugs. Pay special attention to the joints and small crevices to keep them covered.
Bronze Step 6: Vacuum As Many Bed Bugs As Possible.
Next, use a HEPA vacuum to vacuum around your bed, in the crevices of your room, and along the edges of your carpet near the walls.
Vacuum chairs and couches where bed bugs have been found. Seal the vacuum bag in a trash bag and dispose of outside.
Spread DE into the carpets. Vacuum at least every 1-2 weeks and reapply diatomaceous earth into the carpets.
Continue to keep any extra items, clothes, and other things out of the bedroom.
Don’t introduce new things that can become a haven for bed bugs.
Bronze Step 7: Continued Maintenance
Wash and dry your bed sheets daily or at least every other day. Dry on high heat for 30 minutes or longer. If you use a laundromat, carefully check the washing machine and dryers for signs of bed bugs.
Avoid machines that can cause contamination. Don’t put your laundry on the floor or near walls in the laundromat.
Continue to check the areas of your living area for bed bugs. Check along baseboards, in the seams of furniture, and in all small crevices. Bed bugs can easily crawl up to 5 feet in a single night so don’t sleep in multiple rooms to avoid them.
Getting rid of bed bugs will take diligence and consistent monitoring.
- Keep bed at least 1-2 feet away from walls, curtains, and other furniture or personal items
- Place legs in plastic containers to keep bed bugs from climbing up the legs
- Use Dichotomous Earth and spread on mattress and box springs
- Take special care not to breathe it and have kids out of the house during this process
- Wrap mattresses and furniture in saran wrap to seal bed bugs inside.
- Heat sheets in the dryer daily for 30 minutes to kill any bed bugs in the sheets
- Vacuum weekly and respread DE into carpets
- Continue to monitor bed bug activity throughout the house and living rooms
- Use steps on other furniture and rooms affected.
Silver Method: Get Rid Of Bed Bugs More Effectively With Reasonable Expense
If you have some available money to throw at the bed bug issue, you can be more effective and get rid of the problem quicker. Bed bugs cause emotional scarring for many people.
They become the unseen pest always hiding out. Many people are filled with shame for having bed bugs, and peaceful sleep becomes elusive.
The faster you get rid of the bed bugs, the more effective you can be and the less stress and emotional toll it will take on you and your family.
Silver Step 1: Understand Where And How To Fight Bed Bugs
First, understand that bed bugs are probably anywhere within 5 feet of your bed. They may be more widespread if you have had them for a while and haven’t been aware. They can be hanging out in living room furniture, multiple bedrooms, and in your walls. Think 5 feet, even if it takes you into another room.
You should also realize that bed bugs move much farther with time. Professor Changlu Wang at Rutgers University did a study and found that often the largest populations of bed bugs live off the bed. It’s just that the most visible populations are on the box springs and mattress.
So you will see more on your bed, but that’s just a small sampling of the total number in your house!
Unfortunately, houses are not airtight, which means that bed bugs can move through them almost as well as ghosts.
They can crawl under baseboards, under and through insulation, and in through electrical features.
Silver Step 2: Eliminate Bed Bug Havens And Force Them To Come Out Of Hiding
Move your bed out from the wall. Let nothing touch it from the bottom. If you have under-the-bed storage, move it. Don’t let curtains, dressers, or other furniture be within 1 foot of your bed.
Pick up all the clutter and any misc items in your room. Bag up everything that you can live without for a while. Seal it in a trash bag. It will need to remain sealed for 13 months. Bed bugs will take that long to die off.
Everything you can’t live without will require extra diligence and caution to ensure that you don’t continue to transport bed bugs around your house. Move those items to a far walk away from the bed.
Silver Step 3: Make The Battle Fair By Having Your Own Hiding Spots
You can do the same with other furniture in the room. Raise the legs so no fabric is touching the ground and use plastic containers to stop access vía the legs.
Strip all bedding off your bed and dry on high heat for at least 30 minutes. Just like in the previous steps, vacuum around the crevices of your mattress, box springs, and bed frame.
Put the legs of your bed in bed bug traps or plastic containers. Bed bugs can’t climb up smooth plastic. Sour cream containers often work well for this purpose. Check them periodically and make sure the bottoms don’t crack from the weight of the bed.
Silver Step 4: Protect Your Bed and Mattress From Bed Bugs
At this point, you can add a bed bug killer to your mattress and box springs. Make sure that it is approved for use on the mattress.
This is important because using the wrong insecticide can be dangerous for your health. Check out this page for my recommended bed bug treatments.
Seal both the mattress and the bed frame in a mattress cover. Make sure that you are using one that is rated high against bed bugs as many covers don’t protect against bed bugs. Check the ratings and consumer reviews.
The one I recommend has over 2 thousand positive reviews. Bed bug mattresses will seal the bed bugs living in your mattress and box springs. They won’t be able to get out and they will starve and die.
If you didn’t use an insecticide for your mattress, you will need to keep your cover on and not remove it for at least 13 months. That’s how long it will take for most off your bed bugs to die off.
Next, vacuum in all the places around your bedroom with a HEPA certified vacuum. Anything that can, should be wrapped in plastic and frozen for 2 weeks in the freezer.
This method isn’t as effective as steaming bed bugs but is less costly.
Silver Step 5: Kill As Many Adult Bed Bugs As Possible
If you can afford it, spray with a proven bed bug killers. Use sprays that are safe for internal use. Check out this page for my favorite spray.
You may also want to dust for bed bugs. The sprays only kill living bed bugs on contact. Bed bug dust will stay behind and kill the mites and adults. That way newly hatched bed bugs will be killed as they hatch and come out. Some dust can be purchased at little cost.
Another option is to use diatomaceous earth instead of a duster.
Silver Step 6: Dust Crevices, Cracks, And Walls To Kill Bed Bugs
Use a duster, air bulb, or paintbrush to dust into light switches, electrical covers, and under baseboards. Dust into screw and nail holes in furniture, the joints of all furniture, and anywhere even a piece of paper can slide into.
If you can, use a HEPA certified vacuum to avoid further contamination of bed bugs. If you don’t have one, then dust your vacuum to make sure that it doesn’t get infected with bed bugs and spread the problem elsewhere in your house.
Continue to monitor for bed bug activity. Pay special attention to other rooms in the house and make sure they don’t spread.
If you see a further infestation, make sure that you have paid attention to all little nooks and crannies bed bugs can hide in. Take care of those areas. They can hide in between the pages of books, in the seams of sneakers, and in a socket hole of tools.
It can be very easy to miss hiding spots.
If your patience wears thin, consider which steps in the gold treatment plan you can afford.
- Move bed at least 1 foot away from wall, furniture, and other items.
- Place the legs of the bed in bed bug traps to keep bed bugs in the room from accessing the bed. Do the same with other furniture.
- Strip all linens and blankets and heat dry for 30 minutes
- Vacuum along the seams with a HEPA vacuum
- Add a mattress-approved bed bug insecticide to the mattress and box springs.
- Cover both with a bed-bug specific mattress cover
- Replace bedding and clean all other items in the room
- Check furniture crevices and spray probably hiding spots
- Check electrical outlets, baseboards, and shelving and treat for bed bugs
- Continue watching for bed bugs and treating immediately
Gold Method: Fight Bed Bugs Like The Pros, But With Less Expense
The gold method applies the latest technology and science to fight bed bugs in your home. It includes killing the majority of adult bed bugs so that the growth rate can be dramatically slowed.
It also includes eliminating new feedings for bed bugs, and residual killings of eggs and nymphs. It is nearly 100% effective.
Many pest control specialists can and will also achieve these success rates, but sadly, there are also many others who take shortcuts or use untested theory to charge more.
Understanding the science and steps necessary to kill bed bugs can make it possible for you to effectively eradicate bed bugs from your house or apartment. Bed bugs eggs can survive most situations that kill adult bed bugs.
Bed bugs don’t suffer from interbreeding and appear to become more immune under those conditions. Bed bugs today are 1000 times more immune than they were 50 years ago!
They can hibernate for long periods of time, which means that treatments must be regular and effective.
Effective treatments attack the eggs, nymphs and adult bed bug populations.
Good bed bug treatments encompass these parts:
- Isolate bed so bed bugs have a harder time accessing you
- Provide protection against bed bug bites by drying sheets and blankets
- Vacuum Mattress to capture most of the bed bugs around the bed
- Kill off all bed bugs in the mattress and box springs through steam killing
- Dust a residual bed bug killer on the mattress to kill any ultra-resistant bed bugs
- Protect yourself from further bites through a cover that keeps them from gaining access to sleepers
- Keep bed bugs from further accessing the bed
- Protect Nearby Furniture
- Heat personal items to kill bed bugs in hard-to-find places
- Collect and kill all exposed bed bugs through a HEPA certified vacuum.
- Steam kills 99% of all adult bed bugs around the room
- Use a contact spray to kill bed bugs
- Use a residual dust combination to kill remaining bugs and hatched bugs
- Retreat with steam in 2 and 4 weeks to kill newly hatched nymphs and hiding bed bugs
- Monitor For Future Issues
Gold Step 1: Isolate The Bed Against Neighboring Bed Bugs
Bed bugs cannot fly. They don’t jump very far or very well. They do crawl and climb exceptionally well.
As a result, it’s important to make sure to limit the methods that bed bugs can access your bed. First, pull your bed away from the wall. Bed bugs can easily climb walls, fabric, and wood surfaces. Pull out anything under your bed and get rid of any piles of clothing or other items.
Pick up other clothing items, personal items, books, collections and move it away from the bed. Move furniture such as dressers and chairs away from the bed.
Don’t let curtains hang over the bed or within 1 foot. Take curtains down and treat them with the bed linens in Step 2.
Later when the bed has been treated, make sure that the linens and blankets don’t fall to the ground or it will provide a way for bed bugs to find you.
Gold Step 2: Kill Bed Bugs Hiding In Sheets, Pillows, And Blankets
Take all the linens, sheets, pillow and pillow cases and seal in a trash bag. Tie the end or secure with a zip tie so bed bugs can escape.
Do the same with all clothing that was on or around the bedroom on the floor or in the open.
Take everything to the laundry room and wash on hot (this step can be skipped).
Dry everything on high heat for at least 30 minutes. This is a vital step to take as bed bugs will be killed with high heat that lasts at least 30 minutes. This will ensure that your linens and bedding don’t have bed bugs in them.
Gold Step 3: Vacuum up Bed Bugs and Eggs Hiding In The Bed Areas
While you are waiting on your bedding to wash and dry, start reducing the immediate bed bug population on your bed.
There are three main places on the bed that bed bugs hide. They can hide in the mattress, the box springs, and the bed frame.
Most people think that bed bugs are mostly on the mattress, but the majority of them will be found in the box springs and the bed frame.
Reduce the bed population by vacuuming carefully around the seams of the mattress. Take the labels off and vacuum the area. Take off the box springs cover on the bottom and vacuum the inside o the box springs.
Take special care to vacuum crevices, corners, and hard to reach areas.
Use a HEPA certified vacuum. Otherwise, your vacuum could spread bed bug eggs into the air. Bed bug eggs are extremely small and can pass through most vacuum filters. Additionally, non-HEPA vacuums have many crevices that offer hiding spots for bed bugs. Be careful about what vacuum you use.
Vacuum all the screw areas of your bed frame. Vacuum everywhere there is a junction and one part meets another part of the frame. Vacuum all the corners and cracks.
Gold Step 4: Kill Remaining Bed Bugs Through Steam Treatment
Next, get out your steam treater. Steam all corners of your bed and all seams of your mattress and box springs. This will help to kill the remaining bed bugs.
Steam works well to kill bed bugs because the sudden and high increase in temperature kills them. Slow temperature increases send them into hibernation.
As a result, it is not effective to heat a room or house to kill bed bugs.
Gold Step 5: Dust Residual Bed Bug Killer On Mattress To Continue To Kill Unaccessible Bed Bugs
After you have steam treated the surfaces of your bed and frame, use an insecticide that’s approved for mattress use. Not all bed bug killers are approved for use with close contact with people so it’s important to make sure the one you use is EPA approved.
It’s also important to only use ones that are specifically for bed bugs. Other insecticides won’t kill bed bugs and can be harmful to your health.
Residual insecticides will be helpful in killing any bed bugs that hatch from missed eggs and any bed bugs that were hiding well enough to be missed by the vacuum and steam treatments.
Gold Step 6: Use A Certified Bed Bug Cover To Keep Bed Bugs From Accessing Mattress Hiding Spots and You
You will need to protect your mattress from bed bugs with a certified bed bug cover. Regular covers aren’t designed for bed bugs and offer hiding places for them to hide.
A bed bug cover has eliminated hiding places for bed bugs. They also offer a completely sealed cover so that the bed bugs in your mattress can’t reach you and feed.
Bed bugs that do manage to get to you can’t get into your mattress to hide or lay their eggs. This makes it easier to kill them and stop the population growth.
So bed bug mattress covers serve two purposes:
- They keep existing bed bugs from accessing you and being able to eat
- They keep outside bed bugs from hiding spots, making them more vulnerable
After you have put a mattress and box springs cover on, you can replace your sheets and bedding.
Gold Step 7: Protect The Bed From Further Infestation
Now that you’ve protected your mattress, take the steps to keep any bed bugs from getting on your bed. Continue to keep it away from anything and everything bed bugs could climb up.
Keep your covers up and your sheets tucked in. Don’t use a bed skirt, or tuck it up into the mattress.
Don’t move anything close to the bed again.
That will ensure that the only access bed bugs have to your bed is by climbing up the legs and you are going to prevent that.
Get bed leg protectors. Bed bugs use little pinchers on their feet to climb. They can grip walls, wood and especially cloth.
But they have a hard time gripping plastic. Bed protectors are smooth traps that are designed to keep bed bugs from accessing your bed legs. This keeps all bed bugs in the room from getting access to you!
Gold Step 8: Protect Other Furniture
You will also want to protect your other furniture, especially chairs and couches that are in your bedroom or close to your room.
Bed bugs can travel 5 feet or more in a single night so keep them from reinfesting another part of your house by limiting all access they have to food.
Raise couches, chairs and other furniture so that the fabric doesn’t touch the carpet. Use bed leg protectors to protect other furniture.
- Pictures and frames
- Large musical instruments
Some furniture can’t be easily raised without compromising safety (bookcases). Instead, wrap athletic tape around the base of the furniture.
Dust the bed bug dust onto the athletic tape using a makeup brush or a foam painting brush.
Gold Step 9: Kill Bed Bugs Hiding In Personal Possessions
Next, seek to eliminate bed bugs from your room. They are most likely to hide in the smallest of places.
They are pulled to the smell of carbon dioxide. But they can also smell your hormones and other scents.
That means you may have bed bugs in your books, CDs, cell phone, and other personal items. Anything that was within 5 feet of your bed can have bed bugs.
If the bed bugs have gone undetected for a while, you could have them spread throughout your house and in many things.
If it’s fabric or clothing, put it in the dryer for 30 minutes.
If it’s not, then use a heater to heat belongings and to kill bed bugs residing within. This will help to stop the spread of bed bugs to your place of school, work, and car.
You can also use the heater in the last step as a prevention measure. Heat your kid’s school books, backpacks, or shoes in the heater to kill any bed bugs they picked up at school.
Schools, hospitals, nursing homes, airports, bus stations, school buses, and offices have become common places to pick up bed bugs and bring them home.
Gold Step 10: Vacuum Bed Bugs In Carpet and Corners Of The Room
While you are heat treating your personal items, vacuum the rest of your room. Pay particular attention to small areas.
Bed bugs love to hide under loose carpet edges or under baseboards. They love to hide in walls behind electrical covers or light switches.
They will hide in books, magazines, and stacks of paper.
They can even hide in laptops.
Vacuum all the small crevices you can find and access.
Turn chairs on the side and vacuum under and inside of them. Vacuum alone couch cushion seams.
Gold Step 11: Steam Kill Bed Bugs
Run a steamer along all of your baseboards. Run it along the back of picture frames, in couch cushions and around dresser seams.
The steam kills bed bugs and will help to drastically reduce the adult population. It can even kill eggs that are near enough to be heated. Some eggs will be deeper in the walls and harder to reach.
It’s important to be meticulous with this step because it will make a big difference in how quickly you eliminate the bed bugs in the area.
Gold Step 12: Contact Spray To Kill Bed Bugs
Most insecticides don’t treat or kill the eggs. The ones that did, such as DDT, are less effective than they are 50 years ago, not to. That’s because bed bugs have evolved. DDT is also illegal for use.
DDT was found to cause higher rates of cancer and to affect pregnant women severely.
Bed bugs reproduce very quickly, which means that they also evolve quickly to become immune to poisons that previously worked.
As a result, it is vital to use poisons correctly and in the right dosages.
Gold Step 13: Use A Residual Bed Bug Dust To Kill Mites
Residual bed bug dust is used to reach the hard-to-reach areas. It can be applied along the bases of the walls and baseboards. It can also be applied behind picture frames.
Don’t forget to pull off light covers and electrical covers and to dust behind them. Bed bugs love to hide out in the walls and you want to make sure and kill the nymphs when they hatch.
You can dust the tv and computer screens. You can also dust the crevices of dressers, the seams of couches and chairs, and screw holes in all furniture.
Dust bookshelves and even book covers.
This will kill bed bugs that were too deeply in hiding to be affected by either the steam or contact sprays. It will also kill newly hatched bed bugs who come out to feed before molting.
Gold Step 14: Retreat At Weeks 2 and 4 To Continue To Kill Bed Bugs
Because bed bug eggs can take 2 weeks to hatch, it’s important to retreat with contact sprays and dusting 2 weeks later.
Wait another 2 weeks and retreat a third time.
You can also re-steam, launder and take other steps again. This will be more important if the infestation was worse as there will be more bugs that will survive the initial methods.
Gold Step 15: Bed Bug Traps To Protect Against Future Infestations
The last step is to ensure that you don’t get future infestations against bed bugs.
If you live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse, you are more likely to get bed bugs than if you live in a single-family residence.
That’s because bed bugs can travel through walls almost as easily as Casper (the friendly ghost). This means that you are exposed to your daily habits and all the habits of all the residence in close proximity to you.
Large families also tend to fight bed bugs infestations more often because more people are visiting more public places each day.
It’s vital that you continue to monitor for future bed bug populations. You can do this with commercial products or with homemade traps.
Homemade traps use a yeast solution to give off co2 to lure bed bugs. These traps don’t kill the majority of the population, but they are effective in warning you that you have bed bugs.
One of the most popular traps was made popular by Joel Williams.
- Combine 2 TBSP yeast (or a packet) with 1 cup warm water and 2 TBSP sugar. Wait 10 minutes
- After the yeast has doubled in size (about 10-15 minutes) add to 1-quart water. Add 2 cups sugar to the water.
- Put in a 2-liter soda container.
- Drill a hole in the soda lid. Secure aquarium lining inside the hole. Glue it to keep it sealed and tight.
- Add a wire inside the tubing for added strength and shape (optional)
- Thread the tubing down to a ceramic mug so that the tubing doesn’t touch the bottom of the cup.
- Wrap the outside of the cup from the bottom to the lip of the mug in athletic tape so the bed bugs can climb it.
- The C02 will fill the cup and lure bed bugs. Place near the bed or in other suspect areas of your home.
No matter which type of detection system you employ, it is vital to continue to monitor for bed bugs. Professor Changlu Wang from Reuters University found in one study that nearly half of people with bed bugs don’t know they have them!
Fortunately, there is a way to permanently prevent bed bugs!