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The following step-by-step instructions will guide you in eliminating bed bugs found in residential or commercial areas such as homes, apartments or hotels. These steps are the foundation of effective bed bug control and are the same guidlines used by pest control professionals.
Reduce clutter off the floor so that all areas can be thoroughly treated. Be careful not to transfer bed bugs from room to room by carrying things throughout the house. If the mattress and box spring are in very bad shape or heavily infested, they should be replaced or covered with a Protect-A-Bed AllerZip Bed Bug Proof Mattress Cover. Infested bed sheets and garments should be washed and dried in a household dryer on high heat (the heat will kill bed bugs), or discarded since these items cannot be treated with insecticides. In really bad infestations, where the bugs may be infesting Personal items (stuffed animals, soft toys, blankets, books,
2. Vacuum & Use Heat Treatments (optional)
Vacuum the floor and infested areas such as seams, tufts and edges of bedding and mattresses, inside the bed frame, and the perimeter edge of wall-to-wall carpets. Because bed bugs and their eggs cling tightly to surfaces, it is best to scrape the end of the vacuum attachment repeatedly over the target area. Do not use a brush attachment, as some bed bugs and eggs will remain alive in the bristles and be transferred to other areas of the home. Afterward, dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed trash bag.
In severe infestations, clothing should be removed from dressers and chests. Utilize a vacuum crack & crevice tool to remove bed bugs from deep harborage such as: under baseboards; under carpet edges (pull up along the tack ); around switch plates (you may have to remove the plate first); from the bed frame; inside box springs; inside furniture; and from floor cracks. Larger jobs may require a professional bug vacuum, such as our Atrix Express Plus Bug Vacuum.
Heat Treatments using a bed bug steamer are also very effective. Most steamers have tip temperatures of 220 degrees F, meaning the temperature at the end of the wand. Temperatures of 120F and higher are immediately lethal to bed bugs and their eggs. Bed bug steamers can treat almost any environment, furniture piece (such as a crib), bed or clothing without the use of insecticides. Many professionals and hotel owners are starting to supplement their bed bug treatments with steam/heat treatments.
3. Inspect and Treat Each Room Carefully
The key to successful bed bug control is to thoroughly treat all of the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. You should be spending at least 1-2 hours inspecting (see our bed bug inspection guide) and treating each infested room. Adult bed bugs are about 3/16-inch long and reddish-brown, with oval, flattened bodies. Immature bed bugs are smaller and lighter in color, making them difficult to see. Bed bugs feed at night, but during the day their tiny flattened bodies allow them to hide in very tight cracks and crevices, along the tufts and seams of mattresses, and in the cracks of bed frames and other areas. Initial infestations tend to be around beds, but the bed bugs may eventually become scattered throughout a room, occupying any crevice or protected location. They can even move under walls to adjacent rooms. Treating all of the hiding areas and cracks is the key to getting rid of bed bugs. Look for dark fecal spots (digested human blood), light brown skin moltings, tiny white eggs and egg shells, or even the bed bugs themselves in all of the following areas:
Use professional bed bug products or one of our bed bug kits to treat all of the following areas:
Pictures and wall hangings – remove from the wall and treat cracks and crevices of picture frames and behind pictures and wall hangings.
Wall fixtures, lamps and table-top lamps – remove fixtures from walls and treat behind. Treat under table-top lamps and standing floor lamps.
Electrical faceplates – Remove faceplates and use a dust to dust inside of wall voids.
Drawers and furniture – Remove drawers and treat the cracks and crevices and inside corners and edges of the interior of the cabinet, as well as the tracks and support of the drawers. Don’t forget to treat the undersides of the cabinets and furniture.
Headboard – Remove headboards from the wall or dismantle to allow thorough treatment of the cracks, crevices and voids located on or behind them.
Mattress – Treat along the corners, folds and seams of the mattress. Note: Most products do not allow you to spray the top sleeping surface of the mattress. After treatment, encase the mattress in a Protect-A-Bed Bed Bug Proof Mattress Encasement.
Box spring and bed frame – Treat the undersides, corners, seams and under stapled fabric and even the internal areas of box springs. Also spray the cracks, crevices, voids and screw holes of the bed frame. After treating, encase the box spring in a Bed Bug Proof Box Spring Encasement (recommended).
Upholstered furniture – Inspect and treat any furniture in the bedroom in a way very similar to the mattress and box spring. Pay careful attention to underneath the cushions, along the seams, folds, legs and dust liner on the underside of the furniture.
Bed and furniture legs – Inspect wheels, casters, posts, and legs of all furniture as bed bugs may be harboring there. Posts of the bed can be placed in Climb-Up Insect Inteceptor traps to trap bed bugs before they gain access to the bed.
Wall-to-wall carpets – Inspect and treat along the edges of carpets and along the wall. Sometimes the edge of the carpet can be lifted away from the wall and treated underneath with a dust and/or spray.
Baseboards – treat any cracks in the baseboard and then treat underneath the baseboard to prevent bed bugs from crawling underneath and accessing adjacent rooms in the house.
Curtains – Remove and heat treat in a dryer, steam clean or launder. You can spot treat the curtains with bed bug products but be careful to test treat the fabric first to avoid staining.
4. Retreat at least 2-3 times
All infested areas need to be retreated at least 2-3 times within the next two months. Usually you will do the first treatment, then wait two weeks, then treat again, then wait two weeks and treat again. These retreatments allow you to inspect the rooms again to monitor activity, retreat previously treated locations and treat new cracks and crevices that you may have passed over the first time. Consecutive treatments of the infested areas are ESSENTIAL if you want to get rid of the problem. In addition, treating again will help eliminate new bed bugs that have hatched since the last treatment. Re-treating all areas every two weeks for at least 2-3 times will continue to kill the new bed bugs until all the eggs and bugs are gone.
Bed Bug Products
DoMyOwnPestControl.com sells the most effective bed bug control products available, based on the most current research. Our products are the same ones used by professionals.
TIP: When deciding which bed bug products to buy, we've made the choice easy for you: choose one of our bed bug control kits. Our kits contain the perfect selection of professional products that will allow you to do a thorough and complete bed bug treatment, with less cost.
Here are some of the other top-selling bed bug products we carry:
Bedlam Aerosol – Bedlam is an excellent bed bug spray, is easy to use, and doesn’t require any mixing. Great for treating the mattress folds and seams and spraying in cracks and crevices such as drawers, bed frames, picture frames, underneath baseboards, etc. Use the included red crack and crevice straw tool to get into really tight cracks. Bedlam kills all stages of bed bugs including the eggs.
Steri-Fab – Excellent ready-to-use bed bug spray with alcohol that leaves no residual. Steri-Fab kills bed bugs within hours and is great for treating almost any surface, including the sitting and laying surfaces of furniture and mattresses and other sensitive areas. Treat tufts, folds and seams of the mattress, sofas, sitting areas etc. that you aren’t able to treat with other products. Use to spot treat throughout the week where you see signs of bed bug activity.
Equil Lambda 9.7 CS, Demand CS, Temprid SC – These products are liquid concentrates that are mixed with water. To use, mix 12 mL of Demand CS/Equil Lambda 9.7 CS or 8 mL of Temprid SC in one gallon of water in a plastic one gallon sprayer (sold separately). Apply as a coarse, low-pressure spray to harborage areas including crevices, baseboards, loose plaster, behind bed frames and headboards, beneath beds and furniture, and to box springs and bed frames. Equil Lambda and Demand CS are NOT labeled for use on mattresses. DO NOT spray these products on bedding linens, pillows, clothing, sitting areas or over the entire carpet.
Phantom Insecticide - Phantom is one of the best professional bed bug products on the market and is available in a Phantom ready-to-use aerosol spray can or a bottle of Phantom liquid concentrate. Phantom in the aerosol form will kill all stages of bed bugs including the eggs (Phantom liquid concentrate only kills adult bed bugs). Phantom works best if it is sprayed alone, and not on top of or with other liquid sprays such as Demand CS, Equil Lambda, or even Bedlam. To use the liquid concentrate version: Mix 3 fl oz. of Phantom in one gallon of water in a plastic one gallon sprayer. Adjust the nozzle on the sprayer until you have a coarse, low-pressure spray and apply Phantom to cracks and crevices such as behind the head board, in the cracks of the bed frame, underneath furniture, under baseboards, along the walls, etc. Apply to the tufts, folds and seams of the mattress until they are moist. Spray along the seams and corners and inside of the box spring. DO NOT spray this product on mattress tops, bedding, pillows, clothing, sitting areas, or over the entire carpet.
PyGanic Dust, Alpine Dust – Dust products last on surfaces for 8 months to a year (and sometimes longer), allowing them to kill bed bugs long after your initial treatment. Dusts don’t kill as fast as sprays or liquids, but they last longer, which is why we always recommend dusting in addition to spraying. Dusts are great for applying under baseboards around the room, for dusting on and inside the box spring itself, and for dusting in cracks and crevices where liquids may not go (such as in and behind picture frames, underneath furniture, in the cracks of dresser drawers, and in the joints/cracks and hollow tubing of bed frames, etc.). Dust products are applied using the bellow hand duster. Fill the hand duster about half full with dust. Shaking first and then squeezing the duster will produce a fine dust that coats almost any surface. Coat surfaces with a very light coat of dust. If you put down piles of dust, then the bugs will likely just walk around it instead of through it. We recommend holding the duster upside down (with the bellows pointing downward) which will expel less dust for a lighter coating on target surfaces.
Bed Bug Proof Mattress & Box Spring Covers - After treating the mattress and letting the chemicals dry, you can protect your mattress and box spring with a Protect-A-Bed Bed Bug Proof Encasement. These high-quality terry cotton covers are certified 100% bed bug escape and bite proof. Any bed bugs you seal up in the covers will eventually die, allowing you to keep your mattress and box spring without throwing them out. In addition, mattresses and box springs covered with a Protect-A-Bed cover are easier to treat and clean and provide fewer areas for bed bugs to harbor and hide. Infested mattresses and box springs should be covered for at least one full year to make sure that all bed bugs hiding within will die. You can spray the outside surfaces (including tufts, folds and seams) of mattress covers during re-treatments, but do not remove the covers.
Climb-Up Insect Interceptors - provide an excellent way to trap and monitor bed bug activity in a room. Climb-Ups can be placed under bed posts, furniture legs, etc. The Interceptors trap bed bugs when they try to gain access to furniture and beds, protecting you while you sleep and allowing you to monitor activity and determine where the bed bugs are coming from.
PackTite Portable Bed Bug Heat Treatment Device - PackTite is a safe, non-chemical device that uses heat to treat bed bugs that may be found in personal items such as clothing, suitcases, books, cds, shoes, purses, luggage, pillows, and countless other items. The PackTite uses patent-pending technology that thoroughly heats your personal items to a temperature that is proven to kill bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle, without damaging your stuff.
When it comes to Bed Bugs, there is no fix-all, easy solution. Complete control requires a carefully planned and designed integrated approach.
Ask anyone who has previously fought the battle of the bed bugs; we all wish there was some quick and easy, one-step program to getting rid of them, or perhaps some miracle pesticide that we could spray once and then be done. We don't want to live with, sleep with, and continue feeding these unwelcome home invaders (with our own blood, nonetheless!) one day longer than we have to! The fact is, bed bug control takes time, patience, and persistence. But take courage! The following 5-step management program can assist in guiding your efforts to rid your home, structure, or other dwelling of bed bugs.
A 5 Step Program for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
The first step in bed bug management and control is to properly identify the pest. Most people know that bed bugs "drink blood", but in addition to this repulsive fact, it is also wise to have an idea of what bed bugs look like so that 1) you can be sure you are using the right control program, and 2) you won't miss them when inspecting other areas of your home for infestation in step 3. Here's what bed bugs look like:
Oval in shape, wingless, and rusty red or mahogany in color.
About 1/5 inch long
Bodies are flattened
Well-developed antennae, small eyes, and, and the area behind the head expands forward on either side of the head
Appearance of nymph is similar to that of the adult except smaller in size and lighter, yellowish white color
The second step in bed bug management and control is to pinpoint, as nearly as possible, the hot-spots of infestation within the dwelling by conducting frequent, detailed inspection. While bed bugs typically thrive in areas where humans sleep and spend large amounts of time at night, they do not always infest human beds. Instead, the source of infestation may be an armchair where a teenager spends time watching television late into the night, a throw blanket, or a well-worn garment. Locating the most heavily infested areas will allow you to focus the bulk of your control effort in the right places for optimum results.
These visual signs of bedbug activity can help point out the favorite hiding places of bed bugs:
Blood lots smears on light-colored surfaces such as walls, bedding, and curtains
Fecal deposits or smears, resembling dark black or brown spots, and sometimes "salt and pepper"
Egg shells and cast skins
Thorough bed bug inspection for both visual signs and live bed bugs should include all the following areas:
Mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards
Anything attached to the wall or ceiling: mirrors, picture frames, electrical conduits, smoke detectors, etc.
Areas where hardware for window finishings mount to the wall
Within the folds of drapes and curtains.
Furniture such as sofas and chairs: Check the undersides, wooden framework, and within upholstered seams.
Remove drawers from dressers and nightstands to inspect all cracks and crevices.
Small cracks and crevices.
Any place where humans sleep or spend large amounts of time at night.
3- NON-CHEMICAL CONTROL METHODS
Although the implementation of non-chemical measures alone are not likely to solve your bed bug problem, they are an absolutely essential component of the overall management program and should be among the first to implemented.These methods, in conjunction with the proper use of chemical pesticides in less-sensitive areas of the infested home or building, can aid you in achieving full control.
Vacuums. Using a vacuum to target infested bed bug harborages can be useful if it is done properly. Because bed bugs and their eggs cling tightly to surfaces, it is best to scrape the end of the vacuum repeatedly over the target area. Do not use a brush attachment, as some bed bugs and eggs will remain alive in the bristles and be transferred to other areas of the home. After vacuuming, the vacuum bag should be removed, sealed tightly in a garbage bag, and discarded immediately to control for bed bugs and eggs that may have survived the ride down the suction hose.
Steamers. Temperatures of 120 degrees F are lethal to bed bugs (as well as most other insects), and the use of a steamer at kills both bed bugs and eggs on contact. The best steamer to use for bed bugs is one that emits very little moisture and has a large brush head. Steam vapors should be too hot to touch to be effective, and the steamer head should be directly over the surface being treated. Finished wood surfaces or other items that might be damaged by high heat should not be treated with the steaming technique.
Washer & Dryer. When bed bugs manage to infest personal items such as bedding and clothing that cannot be treated with pesticides, a great non-chemical treatment is to wash and dry the items on the hottest possible setting. The typical dryer will reach up to 180 degrees F ten minutes into its cycle, a temperature that is lethal to bed bugs and their eggs. Other items that can be treated in the washer and dryer, or just the dryer alone include soft toys, rugs, backpacks, and footwear.
Disposal. The quickest and easiest non-chemical way to take a sizeable chunk out of a bed bug population is to throw out infested items. Before discarding infested items, always bag or wrap them to prevent dislodgement of bed bugs on the way to the dumpster.
Encasement. If an old infested bed is to be kept, your best non-chemical method of control is to place a smooth, tight-fitting, hardy cover over your old mattress. This is known as encasement. Encasing the mattress and box springs prevents an infestation from growing by denying bed bugs access to the hard-to-treat inner areas. You will easily be able to spot and remove new clusters of bed bugs on the smooth cover, and bed bugs that happen to be inside the cover become entombed and will eventually die.
Elimination of Harborages. As available harborages are limited, the bed bug population becomes stressed. Bed bugs will have to travel greater distances in order to find suitable environments to occupy, and will be exposed to more pesticides in the process of pilgrimage. Eliminating harborages include using caulk or other sealants to close off cracks, crevices, gaps around plumbing and ductwork, and other entry points near floors, walls, and ceilings. Clutter (stacks of books, papers, boxes, piles of clothing, etc) should also be eliminated, since these also provide favorite bed bug harborages.
4- USE OF PESTICIDES - (The Powerful Punch)
To achieve the maximum level of control, it will be necessary to incorporate some form of pesticide use as part of the overall approach to bed bug management. Think of pesticides as the powerful punch of your program. When applying pesticides, be sure to treat all surrounding areas to the infestation, in addition to the source itself, including wall voids between infested rooms.
Product Recommendations: To get rid of bed bugs effectively we'd recommend purchasing at least one of each type of product below for a complete bed bug control treatment. Don't forget to purchase enough for a follow-up treatment in two weeks:
Dusts. Dusts such as Drione Dust with pyrethrins for crack and crevice treatments. Dusts kill bed bugs where they are most likely to harbor: in cracks and crevices. Use the Hand Duster for easier and safer application.
All product labels can be found on their respective product page on our site. We also have pre-packaged Bed Bug Kits which include all the products you will need for the initial and follow-up treatments. Visit our Bed Bug control page for more specific instructions on pesticide application for Bed Bug infestations.
The final step in bed bug management is the most important. You will probably see a significant improvement after the initial treatment and implementation of the steps in this program. However, as we mentioned in the introduction, complete bed bug elimination takes patience, persistence, and time. Following an initial treatment and implementation, you should continue to actively engage in step 2 (Inspection) on a regular schedule (every 2 or 3 weeks) to monitor bed bug populations. Steps 3 through 5 will likely need to be repeated on a bi-monthly to monthly basis until all signs of infestation disappear completely.
For the complete list of professional bed bug products, please see our bed bugs page.