Bed bugs are a horrible nightmare to deal with! They are resistant, sneaky, and very prolific. There are thousands of products on the market that claim to kill or control bed bugs. But, so many of them are only partially effective.
Unless you have unlimited funds, it is very discouraging to purchase products that aren’t effective.
That’s why I have spent hundreds of hours researching bed bugs and the best way to get rid of them.
I have read full publications of studies published by universities such as Rutgers and Texas A&M.
Commercial insecticide companies have many other studies out, but as those studies tend to have a bias toward the sponsoring products, I have mostly avoided them.
This page contains the results of my very favorite products. These are the ones found to be the most effective.
I have included products that cost very little, as well as high-quality equipment.
Best Tools To Kill Bed Bugs
When you are fighting bed bugs, there are some very important initial steps to take. The most important step is to secure your bed and furniture.
Those are the most common places for bed bugs to bite a securing them creates a barrier between bed bug growth.
#1 Secure Your Bed And Mattress With The Right Equipment
The most common place to find bed bugs is in the bed. This includes the bed frame, the mattress, and box springs.
Encasing your mattress and box springs is a vital step to protect against bed bugs. It is also a very vital step in eliminating bed bugs.
There are three reasons it is so important to encase your mattress and box springs:
- It keeps bed bugs from hiding in the seams, crevices, and other hiding spots in a mattress and box springs.
- It seals in existing bed bugs and eggs. They can’t get out to eat and will eventually die.
- It is an important step to ensuring a good night’s sleep
I recommend SureGuard mattress encasements and box spring encasements. They feel like cloth so it’s not uncomfortable like sleeping on plastic.
Mattress encasements are different from mattress covers, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Mattress covers don’t cover the entire mattress and will allow bed bugs to get out and to bite you.
Encasements are designed so that there aren’t hiding spots for bed bugs to hide it, making it easier to spot them. They are also designed so that bed bugs can’t get in or out of the encasement.
That’s a critical feature.
SureGuard offers encasements of all sizes. That includes crib-mattresses, Twin, XL Twin, Full, XL Full, Queen, King, and California King sizes.
They are 100% waterproof and will also protect your mattress from stains. The encasements are washable and machine dryable so they are easy to care for.
SafeRest and Utopia also offer mattress encasements with a decent number of reviews. While they are decent products, there tend to be more little problems and that’s why I chose SureGuard
You may also want to check out some mattress-approved insecticides to add to your mattress before you encase it.
Bed Bug Leg Protectors
Once you secure your mattress and steam your bed frame (step 4), you know that all bed bugs on your bed are dead or trapped.
You need to keep any other bed bugs from getting onto your bed.
You do this with bed bug leg protectors.
Bed bugs can’t climb up smooth plastic surfaces. They need texture to pinch. Leg protectors keep them from accessing the legs of your bed or furniture.
It traps them.
Plastic Sheeting To Do-It-Yourself
You can also go with a do-it-yourself type option. You will need a lot of duct tape, and some really good plastic sheeting.
Wrap your mattress at least 2 layers thick and tape tightly. It will be more work. It will also feel like plastic and sound like plastic under your sheets.
Make sure that you wrap the plastic ends of the mattress back over the body of the plastic. There must be NO mattress showing.
All seams must be sealed with duct tape.
This plastic is a good size for a single mattress while this size is a great size if you have multiple mattresses to wrap.
#2 Heat Dry All Bedding, Clothing, And Soft Materials With A Bed Bug Heater
You will need to heat dry on the hottest dryer setting all of your fabric items. They must be dried for at least 30 minutes to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
This includes clothes, bedding, curtains, stuffed animals, and other material-based items.
But, don’t just throw these items in a laundry basket and take it to the laundry room. You will spread bed bugs all the way to the laundry room!
Use heavy plastic bags that won’t rip or tear while you are transporting your items. I love Glad bags for this, but they are harder to seal at the top. You must make sure that you tie it securely and tightly so there isn’t even a small opening.
Any openings of the bag, even at the top, will let out bed bugs.
Toughbag trash bags are another strong, large bag option for you to use. Simply use a zip tie to seal the bag off.
#3 Vacuum Your Bed, Room, And Furniture To Capture Bed Bugs With HEPA Approved Vacuums
Vacuuming is one of the most critical steps to get rid of and keep bedbugs away. It will capture live populations and clusters of bed bugs hiding in crevices and corners.
But, if you don’t have a HEPA certified vacuum, then you are spreading the eggs out through your vacuum filter.
HEPA certified vacuums are built so that even the tiniest of allergens and dust don’t escape through the vacuum system.
They range in all sorts of sizes and prices. A good-quality and reasonably priced one on Amazon is found here.
I’ve even seen the Atrix vacuum used by some professionals!
There are also vacuums for hardwood floors.
Dyson vacuums are very nice vacuums also but tend to be much more expensive. I haven’t personally purchased a Dyson because although they are very nice vacuums, they can invalidate the warranty on a new carpet. Their strength wears out carpet much faster.
#4 Steaming Rooms Is A Critical Step. Get The Right Steamer.
Steam plays a critical role in killing bed bugs. That’s because they can survive hot and cold temperatures, but steam raises the temperature so quickly that it kills them.
They don’t have time to adjust.
Steam is effective in killing bed bug eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs. It is the most effective killer of bed bug eggs.
It is very difficult to fully get rid of bed bugs in your home without steaming. You can control the population and keep them off your bed and furniture, but you won’t eradicate them without steam.
Bed bugs live in walls, outlets, and other very small areas. These places can’t be put in the dryer and only limited amounts of poison can reach bed bugs.
Steam can saturate walls with heat and kill bed bugs hiding in the walls and floors of houses.
The Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaning System is one of the highest rated steamers on Amazon.
It doesn’t just work for bed bugs, but can be used for all sorts of other steam cleaning projects. It has a wide arm attachment so it covers more area with less work than smaller sizes.
It has numerous attachments, including several specifically for getting bed bugs in hard-to-reach places. You can also adjust the heat setting for delicate items.
I also like the lifetime warranty on all the parts.
The McCulloch Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner doesn’t have a lifetime warranty, but it is also a decent steam cleaner and is effective on bed bugs for a lower price.
#5 Kill Bed Bugs In Personal Items To Stop Infestation With A Bed Bug Heater.
A bed bug heater is a critical tool to stop bed bugs from coming in on newly purchased items. It also kills bed bugs that are residing in personal items.
Heat is the only reliable source to kill bed bug eggs. Bed bugs can reside in between the pages of books and notebooks.
They can crawl in CDs and electronic openings. They hide in the seams of shoes, backpacks, and coats.
Use the heater as part of your strategy against bed bugs. Many personal items can’t be steamed because the high moisture will damage the items.
But, they aren’t damaged by dry heat. A heater is a valuable tool to fight bed bugs.
Plus, you can also use heaters to keep from getting infested in your house. Simply heat used and new items before bringing them inside.
Use it on personal items after traveling to keep bed bugs from hitching a ride. Use it on backpacks when your kids come home from school.
The small Zappabug heater is about 2 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet tall.
The large Zappabug heater is 3.25 by 3.25 by 2.25 feet.
Best Commercial Bed Bug Insecticides & Poisons
There are a lot of bed bug killers. They fall into three main categories:
- On Contact Pesticides: Kill on contact with bed bugs. They usually don’t kill bed bugs once they dry. Only useful for living bed bugs the poison touches.
- Residual Bed Bug Insecticides: Leaves a residue behind that kills bed bugs when they cross the barrier of the insecticide. They are longer-lasting and used for long-term solutions.
- Bed Bug Duster: These are insecticides that are targeted at killing bed bugs. They come in dust form so that they can be pushed into small crevices, walls, and nooks that other wet pesticides can’t reach.
Why I Don’t Recommend On-Contact Bed Bug Sprays
Most companies suggest a multi-tiered approach to bed bug poisons. They use an on-contact bed bug killer and then spray a residual killer and finish off with a duster.
Now, I’m not opposed to pesticides, but I am cautious about what I expose my family too. Many insecticides aren’t safe for home use.
They also aren’t safe for use on mattresses.
The insecticides that I have found are safe for people.
I don’t have a long list of bed bug poisons to buy. If you have already done the previous steps, you have eliminated most of the bed bugs in the reachable area.
You have protected your bed. You have vacuumed and steamed your carpet, room, bed frame, furniture, and walls.
Most of the available bugs are dead.
So, using a pesticide that only kills the bed bugs it comes in contact with doesn’t do a lot of good. If you did a good job, there aren’t many bed bugs out in the open anymore.
That’s why it makes sense to me to use residue bed bug killers and dusters. These kill bed bugs when they come out of hiding.
They kill bed bugs when shot into the walls.
Step #6: Use A Residual Bed Bug Killer To Keep Attacking Bed Bugs
Two insecticides stand out to me.
I personally use Tempo Control in my house. It is rated for bed bugs and is safe for indoor use. I’m not sure if it’s approved for direct use on a mattress and would double check prior to mattress spraying.
But, it is approved for food establishments so it might be ok.
CrossFire Bed Bug Concentration is another effective bed bug killer. It has killed over 90% of bed bugs in some studies.
It is approved for direct mattress application.
Both of these applications are concentrated. They go VERY far. I have a 3400 sq foot home and the Tempo has lasted me several years already.
I spray inside and outside to combat bugs and spiders.
Step #7: Use A Bed Bug Duster To Kill Bed Bugs In Crevices
Bed bugs are very elusive insects. They can fit anywhere a couple of pieces of paper can fit. That means that no matter how hard you have tried to find them, more are hiding.
A bed bug dust is a fine powder that can reach into the nooks and crannies of your home and reach bed bugs where they lay their eggs and stay in hiding.
You should dust for bed bugs under your baseboards. You should also undo the covers over your electrical outlets and light switches and dust behind them.
CimeXa is a powerful duster. It kills bed bugs on contact. It’s approved for use on mattresses, which means you can use it in your bedroom without concern for its safety.
You can purchase it on Amazon in both a large and small size.
You can use makeup brushes, an empty ketchup bottle, or other applicators to spread the dust. But, it will take more time and use more than is necessary. The Harris Powder Duster works really well.
Best Natural Bed Bug BioPesticides
Diatomaceous Earth is often used as a bed bug duster. It comes from the seashells of marine animals and cuts through many insects.
It is effective in helping to control bugs of many shapes and sizes. Bed bugs die when exposed to it because it cuts through their protective coating on their exoskeleton.
But, it can cause some breathing issues in people. So, if you decide to use it, make sure to purchase a food-grade DE.
That will help to keep you and your family safer.
The next two solutions, I haven’t tried, but Professor Changlu Wang from Rutgers University tested and found to be the most effective.
EcoRaider Ant Killer also kills bed bugs. In the studies, it was found to cause a 100% mortality rate in bed bugs after 10 days. EcoRaider also killed 86% of bed bug eggs!
That’s high compared to most commercial products which peak out by killing 17% of bed bug eggs!
Bed Bug Patrol caused a 91% mortality rate in bed bugs after 10 days.
That’s as effective, or more, than most commercial products!