How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: A 5-Step Guide

5-steps for getting rid of bed bugs.

Struggling with a bed bug infestation? Here’s everything you need to know about how to get rid of bed bugs once and for all.

Having Bed Bug Problems?

Dealing with bed bugs can be a miserable experience. It can happen to anyone, especially here in New York City.

In most cases, getting bed bugs is not your fault.

These notorious pests can find ways to get into your home by hiding in new furniture, clothing, or bedding. They also spread through different rooms and apartments throughout a building by crawling through pipes, vents, and even outlets.

When a bed bug infestation is not treated, it can worsen rapidly. A single female bed bug can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime.

If you discover bed bugs in your home, it’s important to identify and exterminate the source of the problem as quickly as possible.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Exterminating bed bugs can be complicated; if you don’t get rid of them all at once, they are very likely to come back.

Therefore, you should come up with a methodical plan to thoroughly rid your home of these pests.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

First, confirm whether or not you’re dealing with bed bugs. Here at MMPC, we’ve had clients calling in about bed bugs, only to find out later they were actually fleas, carpet beetles, spider beetles, or even cockroach nymphs.

Bed bug bites are also often confused with other insect bites, such as fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Different people react differently to bites. Although bed bug bites usually have a distinctive pattern, it’s not always the case.

Close up of a bed bug which can be identified by its circular abdomen, six legs, and two short antennae.

Here are 7 common signs of a bed bug infestation:

  • Musty odors
  • Bed bug bites
  • Rusty bloodstains
  • Fecal marks
  • Bed bug eggs
  • Shell casings
  • Live bed bugs

If you’re not certain that you have bed bugs, you can send a sample or picture to your local pest control company to identify.

At MMPC, we offer free pest ID services for this purpose.

For more assurance, you can also get a certified canine bed bug inspection. These specially-trained bed bug detection dogs will locate bed bug hiding spots with over 95% accuracy.

Step 2: Contain the Infestation

Act quickly to stop an existing bed bug infestation from getting worse and potentially spreading to your neighbors. Here are some immediate steps you can take to contain an infestation:

  • Get rid of clutter throughout your home, and moving your bed and other furniture away from walls.
  • Place infested items in a sealed bag for treatment or disposal.
  • Vacuum the floor and carpets in infested areas thoroughly. Use a crevice tool to vacuum mattress seams, box springs, moldings, windowsills, and furniture.
  • Wash all sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and clothing with hot water (140° F) and dry them on the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes.
  • Seal any cracks and crevices along walls and baseboards where bed bugs may be hiding.
Thoroughly vacuum infested areas including between cushions, seams, floors and carpeted areas.

Step 3: Develop a Plan

In order to get rid of bed bugs once and for all, you need to eliminate all of their hiding spots. Come up with a comprehensive plan to not only kill the bed bugs you can see, but also the ones you can’t see.

  • Make a checklist of all areas and items that you suspect may be infested or harboring bed bugs.
  • Keep track of the times and locations where bed bugs are found, as well as any steps taken to remove the bed bugs.
  • Familiarize yourself with the different options available to get rid of bed bugs. Determine which ones will be feasible and effective for your specific situation.
Keep written records of suspected bed bug activity.

As a disclaimer, we generally recommend against trying to get rid of bed bugs by yourself. While there are DIY methods available, the success rate is not as high compared to professional bed bug treatments.

Attempting and failing to get rid of bed bugs by yourself will instead give the bed bugs time to multiply and spread, making the infestation more complicated and expensive to exterminate.

Step 4: Prepare for Treatment

Bed bug treatment can be costly and time-consuming, so you want to do everything you can to get it done right the first time. Proper preparation can significantly improve your chances of success.

  • Place zippered bed bug-proof covers (mattress encasements) over both your mattress and boxsprings. Keep mattresses and boxsprings enclosed for a full year, and check periodically for rips or openings.
  • Reduce clutter from infested areas by placing items and trash into tightly sealed plastic bags. Get rid of cardboard boxes and replace them with plastic bins and containers.
  • Move your bed at least 6 inches away from the walls and remove everything underneath. If you can, disassemble your bed, frame, and headboard.
  • Wash and dry any clothing, bedding, and other items showing bed bug stains using high heat (140° F), then store them in sealed plastic bags.
  • Vacuum floors and around furniture thoroughly, paying special attention to cracks and crevices. Carefully empty the vacuum into sealed plastic bags to be disposed of outside your home.
  • Caulk or seal cracks and crevices around baseboards. Repair or remove any loose wallpaper. Place tape over electrical outlet openings and tighten light switch covers.
Placing bed bug-proof mattress covers over your mattress and box spring will prevent infestation.

Step 5: Kill the Bed Bugs

There are several methods available if you want to try getting rid of your bedbugs by yourself.

However, bear in mind that failing to get rid of them completely means that that your bed bug infestation will come back and may even get worse.

We recommend at least consulting with your local exterminator or bed bug experts to determine whether or not DIY methods are feasible for your situation.

Non-Chemical Methods (Try These First)

Methods available to you include both chemical and non-chemical options. Consider starting with non-chemical methods, which are generally safer and more eco-friendly.

Steam heat is a non-chemical method for bed bug control.

1. Steam

Use a steam cleaner to treat areas where bed bugs may be hiding, including around bed frames, furniture, curtains, carpets, and baseboards.

The steam will penetrate into cracks and fabrics to effectively kill hidden bed bugs and viable eggs.

When using this method, the steam temperature should reach at least 130° F. Remove any electronics which may be sensitive to excess heat and moisture, and avoid strong airflow settings to prevent bed bugs from scattering.

2. Heat

For clothing, bedding, linens, and other fabrics, wash and dry them using the highest heat settings for 30 minutes to kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside.

You can also purchase a portable bed bug heat chamber. These are specially designed boxes where you can place bed bug-infested items. Inside, a built-in heating system quickly reaches up to 155° F to quickly and effectively kill bed bugs at all life stages.

3. Cold

Freezing is also a viable way to eliminate bed bugs from infested items, especially for items and materials that can’t withstand heat.

Place those items in sealed bags, and put them in a freezer set to 0° F for four days.

Chemical Methods (For More Severe Infestations)

Chemical products range from bed bug-specific pesticides to commercially available desiccants.

For safety reasons, chemical bed bug treatments are best left to professionals. When used carelessly, they can be dangerous and ineffective. Avoid using chemicals when children are present.

Never spray electrical outlets with any kind of liquid chemical.

Desiccant powder is a chemical treatment option.

1. Desiccant Powders

Desiccants are chemicals that kill bed bugs by desiccating them, or causing them to dry out. Spread these powders where bed bugs tend to roam or hide, and any bed bugs that come into contact with them will die.

The most commonly used desiccant for bed bugs is diatomaceous earth, which is a fine dust originating from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms.

There are several types of diatomaceous earth used in various applications – it’s important to make sure that you’re using the version that’s registered by the EPA for pesticide use. Do not use pool-grade diatomaceous earth.

2. Contact Sprays

Low-toxicity contact sprays are designed to kill bed bugs only on contact. Once dried, these products do not provide any further control, so repeat treatments are usually necessary.

Apply contact sprays directly on bugs found in areas around bedframes, walls, furniture, and baseboards.

Never spray the top of mattresses or sofas—when necessary, use a small amount on the seams only.

3. Residual Sprays

Unlike contact sprays, residual sprays use stronger chemicals designed to provide longer-lasting control. They form a layer of coating on top of surfaces and walls that can last for several days to weeks.

When Should You Call An Exterminator For Bed Bugs?

You’ll have the highest chance of successfully getting rid of bed bugs when you call an exterminator early on.

Bed bugs are complicated pests to get rid of. Since they spread quickly and often hide in multiple locations, it’s difficult for homeowners to get rid of all of them at once.

If you hesitate to get professional help, you may be giving time for a small infestation to grow and spread to other rooms and neighboring homes.

Pest professional examines a mattress for bed bugs using a flash light.

Although hiring an exterminator or pest control company to get rid of bed bugs may seem like an expensive proposition, it’s an option that’s well worth considering.

In addition to having specialized training and knowledge, pest management professionals have access to a wider array of advanced methods and technologies to thoroughly eliminate bed bugs from your home.

Do your research carefully when choosing the right pest management company. Experience matters, especially when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs.

Find a company with plenty of experience, positive reviews, and a background dealing with bed bugs.

About MMPC: Eco-Friendly Bed Bug Exterminators

At MMPC, we have over 25+ years of experience helping New Yorkers fight bed bugs. We have one of the highest success rates in exterminating bed bug infestations in New York City.

MMPC was named one of the “Best Exterminators in New York” by NY Magazine, and we’re one of the top-rated pest control companies on Yelp. We also offer specialized, NESDCA-certified canine bed bug inspections, as well as bed bug prevention services.

If you have need any advice or help with your bed bug situation, contact MMPC or call (212) 219-8218 today!

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