Bed bugs are every homeowner’s nightmare. These tiny terrors can rob you of a good night’s sleep and leave you with nasty bites in the morning.
If you’ve found yourself head-to-head with these bloodthirsty pests, you may wonder: How do I get rid of bed bugs myself?
Here’s a do-it-yourself guide to banish these unwelcome guests from your home once and for all.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in 5 Steps
Despite their size, Cimex lectularius, or the common bed bugs, are surprisingly clever and resilient. They can disappear into cracks and crevices for months without a meal. Plus, they’re quick reproducers—a single female bed bug can lay up to 500 eggs during her lifetime.
It’s no wonder they’re such a pain to get rid of. If you’re willing to work, follow these steps to tackle these stubborn pests independently.
Step 1: Locate the Pesky Critters
Begin your search by examining your bed. Remove the sheets, blankets, and pillowcases. Pay close attention to the seams, folds, and tufts of the mattress and box spring.
Bed bugs are stealthy, but they leave behind several telltale signs of their presence. Look for these clues:
- Tiny, reddish-brown bugs
- Faecal matter, which appears as black sticky dots on your mattresses, bed frames, and other surfaces
- Small, white eggs or moulded skin (shed exoskeletons)
- A cluster of red, itchy bites on your skin
Bed bugs don’t limit themselves to just your bed. Check out these other hiding spots:
- Walls and baseboards, especially in cracks or any openings
- Carpets and rugs
- Upholstered furniture
- Electrical outlets
- Curtains and wall hangings
- Luggage and personal items
Step 2: Declutter
Start decluttering one room at a time. Go through your belongings and decide what to keep, discard, or store. And be ruthless!
Dispose of heavily infested but non-essential items at once. Bag these items in sealed plastic to prevent their spread, and discard them in the bin outside your home. You should seal items you’re not ready to part with but don’t need immediately in an airtight plastic bag or container. If it’s impossible to treat them, leave them for a year to starve and kill the bed bugs.
Remember that decluttering isn’t a one-time task. It’s an ongoing effort to maintain a clean and organised living space less hospitable to bed bugs.
Step 3: Wash Your Bedding
Collect your bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and bed covers. Handle them carefully to avoid unleashing bed bugs in other areas of your home. Set your washing machine to the highest temperature safe for your linens, and use a quality laundry detergent. Then, spin them in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes. Once all your washings are dry, put them in resealable plastic bags before you continue the extermination process. When you’re ready to make your bed, consider using a zippered protective cover for your box spring and mattress to trap any remaining bed bugs.
Step 4: Whip Out the Hoover
Hoovering removes bed bugs from your living space, including nymphs, eggs, and faeces. You’ll want a high-powered hoover with a HEPA filter for this job, as it can suck up even the tiniest particles. And don’t leave any surface untouched. Go over your floors, bed frames, mattresses, box springs, carpets, draperies, and furniture. Use nozzle and brush attachments to access tight gaps and cracks.
After hoovering, empty the hoover bag or canister into a sealed plastic bag and throw it into an outdoor waste bin. That prevents the captured pests from escaping back into your house. Lastly, clean your hoover to prevent any remaining eggs or bed bugs from infesting the hoover itself. Rinse the attachments and removable parts in hot water, then disinfect the surface using a bleach solution (1 tbsp of bleach per spray bottle). Hoovering should be a regular part of your bed bug control routine. Aim to hoover at least once a week, if not more frequently, to resolve the infestation.
Step 5: Kill them All
Once you’ve identified and isolated all the areas infested by these pesky bugs, you can use both chemical and non-chemical treatments to eradicate them.
Bed bugs are no match for high temperatures. Steam cleaning is an effective, chemical-free option to wipe out bed bugs and their eggs. Steam cleaners can produce steam as high as 180°C, but temperatures around 120°C – 140°C are enough to kill bed bugs in 15–20 minutes.
Apply the steam to areas where bed bugs are likely to hide. Maintain a steady pace over each surface and work slowly so the steam can penetrate as deeply as possible. Also, ensure that the nozzle makes direct contact with the insects whenever possible. Use a lance or wand attachment to direct the steam into hard-to-reach areas.
Do you have a large freezer that can reach 0°C or lower? Give bed bugs a lethal cold treatment by freezing sealed items for three days. Ensure the bag is airtight to prevent moisture from seeping into your stuff. Home freezers may only sometimes be calibrated correctly. You can use a thermometer to verify that the temperature remains at 0°C.
So, how do I get rid of bed bugs myself?
Hoovering, steaming, and hot washing—you now have a range of tools to tackle a bed bug infestation head-on. While eliminating the pesky critters is no mean feat, combining these methods is your best bet to regain control of your bed and home.
And if your DIY efforts aren’t cutting it, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional bed bug exterminator.