Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, but their eggs can be as small as a speck of dust. This, along with their brownish color, makes them hard to spot on wooden furniture and dark sheets.
Since they purely feed on blood and are active at night, bedbugs prefer hiding inside and around beds. These bites turn into little itchy welts sometimes accompanied by dried blood. The welts typically appear on areas of skin exposed while sleeping (1).
Although they are annoying and itchy, bedbug bites do not transmit any diseases. But if you get them, you’ll want to know how to get rid of bed bugs for good–and fast!
How to Know you Have Bed Bugs
If you have crisp white sheets, you should be able to see bed bugs while changing your sheets. Adult bedbugs will be easier to spot, but nymphs and eggs can be almost invisible to the naked eye.
According to WedMD, other signs that you have bedbugs include(2):
- Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
- Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
- Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
- An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands
While adult bedbugs can be relatively easy to kill, their eggs are a whole other story (3).
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs can live just about anywhere, even in clean homes. When it comes to bed bug infestations, you’re definitely not alone. Learn how to get rid of bed bugs fast with the all-natural solutions below.
1. Check for Bedbugs
If you suspect that you have an infestation, but you aren’t quite sure, all you need is a mirror and a flashlight.
Here’s how to do it:
- In the middle of the night, grab your flashlight and quickly sweep light across and under your pillows.
- You should see tiny bugs scrambling back into their hiding places.
- In the morning, use a mirror to check behind your headboard and under the mattress to see if you can spot any bugs.
- If you can’t find any, check cracks, holes, or drawers.
2. Tidy Up
The first step towards getting rid of bed bugs is to pick up any clothes, blankets, books, or clutter from around your bedroom. These are prime hiding spot for bed bugs. Place the items in two layers of large plastic bags. And set them aside for future cleaning.
3. Wash Your Linens
Grab all your sheets, linens, and sleep clothes and run them through the hot cycle in your washing machine. Follow up by drying them up on high heat for over 30 minutes. It’s important to also wash your pillows, mattress cover, and duvet. Set them aside once clean.
You can also keep the unwashable items in two clear plastic bags and leave them directly in the sunlight for a few days to a week to kill all the bugs.
4. Freeze them Off
Alternatively, bag up the unwashables twice and put them in your freezer for a few days. For extra reassurance, keep them frozen for a week. The bugs and eggs should completely die during this time.
5. Vacuum Everything
We mean everything! Vacuum your mattress entirely, as well as the carpet, bedframe, headboard, and bedroom furniture. Empty all the drawers and vacuum them also. You’ll probably need to repeat this step a few times. Once vacuumed and cleaned, cover the mattress with a bed bug-proof mattress encasement.
6. Essential Oils for Bedbugs
there are many essential oils out there that bedbugs just can’t stand (4).
- Tea tree
These oils can be utilized in a variety of ways, including using a diffuser throughout the night to keep your skin safe.
DIY Bed Bug Spray
- ten drops of lavender essential oil
- six drops of lemongrass essential oil
- six drops of tea tree essential oil
- ten drops of thyme essential oil
- Add the essential oils to a small clean spray bottle and fill the rest with water.
- Shake and store in a dark, cool place.
- Spray all over your clean mattress, pillows, upholstery, and carpets.
You can also combine the same quantities of essential oils and add to 1 cup of coconut oil. Rub the mixture on your skin before bed to keep bugs away from your skin as you deal with the infestation.
7. Try Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is actually used by many exterminators that avoid conventional toxic pesticides. Best of all, you can find it in most health food stores and online. Sprinkle it on your mattress, on your bedframe, along baseboards and doorframes, inside electrical outlets, and on the carpet. Since the earth works by slicing through the bug’s exoskeleton, it goes without saying that it can cause some damage to humans and other animals too. Therefor, you should wear a protective mask while applying it.
If you have pets, keep them away from the earth. Let it sit for up to a week and vacuum up with a shop vac.
8. Steam Clean your Home
Since high temperatures kill off bed bugs, using a steam cleaner can be a great way to deep clean tricky areas likes curtains, carpets, upholstery and traveling gear. If you don’t own a steam cleaner, you can usually rent one from your local hardware store.
9. Protect your Bedframe
Your mattress should be propped up on a bedframe to protect it from any critters living in your carpet or flooring. For more protection, invest in interceptors on all the feet of the frame to catch bugs traveling to and from the frame. An interceptor can be as simple as a sticky card placed under the feet, but you can also buy non-toxic bed bug interceptors online, from your exterminator, or from your local hardware store.
10. Move your Bed Away from the Wall
Bedbugs don’t just live in mattresses and bed frames: they also tend to reside in walls, bedside furniture, and baseboards. In fact, only 70% of bugs and their eggs live in your mattress, bedding, and bedframe. Even the books you read in bed may be home to the little guys (5).
One you’ve treated your furniture, keep them away from each other and from walls until the entire home is cleared of bugs.
11. Assume They’re Everywhere
The most common mistake that people make when getting rid of bedbugs is not treating the infestation seriously enough. Bedbugs will reside anywhere people sleep or sit for a significant amount of time. This means that the bugs in your bedroom have probably already migrated to your living room couch or even your office chair.
It’s also important to treat carpets, blinds, curtains, window frames, outlets, light switches, pictures, posters, and wall-mounted clocks.
If you don’t take the steps to disinfect your home properly, bed bug eggs can survive and cause another infestation. If this isn’t your first infestation, consider consulting a non-toxic exterminator to get the job done.
12. Isolate your Suitcases and Travel Bags
Bed bugs love to live in high-traffic areas where people sleep, like hotels and hostels. If you don’t take the time to properly research your hotel before booking, and inspect the bedding before sleeping, you might end up being feasted upon once you shut your eyes. Bedbugs in hotels don’t just stay on the bed: they often burrow into your clothing and suitcases and follow you home.
If you have the misfortune of staying in an infested hotel, double-bag your all suitcases and travel gear and bag the clothes off your back once you’re home. Clean everything following the instructions above. It may seem like a hassle, but it will save you the headache of disinfecting your home again.
13. Prevent Future Infestation
Once you’ve followed all the tricks above, you’ll want to make sure you don’t get another infestation- trust us. Here are the steps you can take to keep your home clear of the pesky critters.
- Use sealant or caulk on any joints and cracks in your bed frames and headboards to make sure bugs have nowhere to hide in.
- Do not purchase or accept second-hand furniture or clothing if possible. If you do end up with used goods, bag them up and treat them as you would any infested objects.
- Before moving into an apartment or home, ask the landlord or buyer about bedbugs and do your research. If you suspect an infestation, have the home treated by a non-toxic exterminator before moving in.
Bed bugs are notoriously hard to get rid of, so make sure to clean everything as often as possible during the course of the infestation. Vacuum, wash, spritz, and isolate everything you can as soon as you catch a bug: it may seem like a hassle, but any surviving eggs or bugs will trigger another infestation. With a bit of hard work and patience, and you’ll be rewarded with a great night’s sleep.