7 Effective Home Remedies For Bed Bugs (Banish Them FAST!)

7 Effective Home Remedies For Bed Bugs (Banish Them FAST!)

 

Is just the thought of bed bugs enough to make your skin crawl? Although they're surprisingly common, most people don't know about the basic home remedies for bed bugs that can help banish them fast.

If you're unlucky enough to have been hit with a bout of the old bed bugs, we're here to help. We're sharing everything we know about bed bugs to help you banish those pester little critter once and for all!

What are bed bugs & what do they look like?

what are bed bugs
Time to get up and personal with your bed bugs... ©WikiCommons

First thing's first: a bit of bed-bug biology. Bed bugs are small - around 5mm in size - so visible to the human eye, but only just. They're oval-shaped, flat and rusty-brown in colour. Unlike other bugs, they cannot jump nor fly.

They crawl out of their dark crevices at night to feed on blood which results in those infamous bed bug bites. Although they won't spread any disease, they can be uncomfortable and some people will experience a reaction to bites.

Females can lay up to 250 eggs during their lifetime of about two to four months. Eggs are laid in cracks and crevices and are oval and white in colour.

What causes bed bugs?

Before we teach you how to get rid of bed bugs, it's important to first understand what causes these annoying critters.

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don't have anything to do with dirt - so an extra shower a day won't keep them at bay!

So if it's not dirt, what does cause bed bugs? As bed bugs feed on blood, anywhere with animals or humans is, technically, an ideal place for them to set up camp. Bed bugs move from place to place after feeding, and can hide in anything from bedsheets to your t-shirt, meaning if you sleep somewhere that's infested, your home's likely to bear the brunt of it.

Signs of bed bugs

signs of bed bugs bites
Ouch! ©Flickr

Think you may have bed bugs? Besides actually catching them crawling across your sheets, there are several other signs of bed bugs to look out for, including:

  • Bites on skin
  • Small, black spots on your bedsheets (bug faeces)
  • Bed bug shells (they shed their skin much like snakes)
  • A musty smell in your bedroom
  • Blood spots (could occur if you unintentionally squish a bug in your sleep)

If you spot any of the above, you may well have an infestation and should check out the home remedies for bed bugs listed below.

Preparing for a bed bugs treatment

Remove clutter

Despite their name, bed bugs don't solely reside in your sheets - they could be hiding in cardboard boxes under the bed or on clothes in your laundry basket.

Before you try to treat bed bugs, you need to get rid of as much clutter as possible. Replace cardboard boxes for plastic boxes, put all your clothes in sealed bin liners and do the same with soft furnishings of ay kind.

Deep clean items that could be infested

washing soft toys
Don't forget to wash ted too!

Everything that could have bed bugs must be cleaned thoroughly. This means heat treating clothing and sheets in a tumble dryer, or placing them in the freezer for at least 5 days before laundering as normal, both of which will kill bed bugs.

Any furniture in your bedroom should also be examined for evidence of bed bugs and cleaned as necessary. Curtains should be removed and cleaned professionally, and the whole room should be vacuumed thoroughly.

It's extremely important to keep all cleaned items in sealed plastic bags. The vacuum bag should also be removed after use, placed in a sealed plastic bag, and disposed of.

Make your bed an island

made bed
What's hiding under your sheets?

Bed bugs are so-called because they bite at night. Although they don't always live in the mattress, they often do. Moving your bed away from the wall, furniture and anything else will make infestation anywhere else less likely.

Vacuum the area

The last step before you start treatment is to completely vacuum on, in and around the affected area.

Vacuum your bed thoroughly, not only concentrating on the mattress but the headboard and slats too.

Once all that's done, you'll be ready to treat your bed bugs using one of our home remedies.

Home remedies for bed bugs

A professional, bed bug infestation treatment is the most reliable way of guaranteeing the full extermination of your bed bugs. If you'd prefer to try a DIY treatment before shedding out any cash, give the following home remedies a go.

1. Starve the bed bugs

If you don't mind taking the slow and steady route, starving your bed bugs is another option.

First and foremost, it's important to vacuum your bed thoroughly. Next, you'll need to get hold of some Ziploc bags for your mattress and leave them on for around a week - this will prevent any bugs from getting out and feeding, thus causing them to starve to death.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is often considered the most effective of all the natural bed bug treatments, killing more than 90% of bed bugs.

It's also cheap and easy to use - its powdered form means it can be sprinkled into even the smallest of cracks and crevices. The downside? It takes up to 10 days to work.

To use, apply 100% Diatomaceous Earth onto the affected area and leave for a few days. You should slowly start to see dead bed bugs, which you can vacuum away. Repeat the process several times, until all bed bugs appear to have been eradicated.

3. Bicarbonate of soda

Here's another reason why it's always handy to have a pot of baking soda in the home - it can kill bed bugs.

Sprinkling bicarbonate of soda onto areas affected by bed bugs is thought to physically dehydrate their skin, whilst others suggest it's abrasive enough to cut them.

It's cheap, it works, so what's the downside? Treating bed bugs with baking soda is timely - you'll need to repeat the process of sprinkling and vacuuming regularly in order to banish them. This in turn, means you're going to need a lot of powder, making this home remedy more expensive that it may originally seem.

4. Tea tree essential oils

Tea tree oil is used in many home remedies, especially those concerning pests. 

When it comes to bed bugs, tea tree oil not only works to kill them, but also to mask the human smells which would usually attract them. Best of all, tea tree oil is easy to get hold of and an inexpensive solution to an infestation.

Dilute twenty drops of all natural, pure tea tree oil with 200ml water and spray onto affected areas.

5. Vinegar

Vinegar is as strong as it smells when it comes to banishing bed bugs. It's also something most of us have in our homes, making it the ideal emergency home remedy to use.

However, it's important to remember that whilst vinegar will kill bed bugs by damaging their nervous systems, it won't do anything for eggs.

Saturate the edges of the infected area (such as underneath and around furniture) with white distilled vinegar, and then directly onto bed bugs. This way, when they flee, they won't be able to escape the vinegar.

6. Rubbing alcohol

Another popular home remedy for bed bugs is rubbing alcohol.

7. Borax

Borax is another quick and easy way to treat bedbugs. To suffocate the bugs, generously sprinkle borax on the mattress, then spray on water.

Borax is also useful when it comes to washing affected items - add some to your washing machine to ensure those bugs are gone for good.

How to get rid of bed bugs using a pesticide

Using pesticides is the quickest DIY method for treating bed bugs. Before you start spraying, you need to prepare the area.

Next, you'll need to pick up a pesticide to kill off any bed bugs hiding in and around your mattress.

Spray the pesticide all over the mattress, including around corners, and in seams. Next, spray the bed, including the headboard, slats and inside any drawers, being sure to get right into the corners. If you have a particularly bad infestation, you may see some bed bugs emerging from their hiding spots in an attempt to flee the poison.

After an hour or so, vacuum the entire bed once more to remove any dead bugs. Keep a close eye on things over the days that follow and carry out additional treatments as necessary.

Prevention methods

As with most things, it's much easier to prevent bedbugs than it is to treat them. There are a few things you can do to stop bedbugs infesting your home, including:

1. Vacuum regularly

Vacuuming is one of the easiest ways to remove any stray bedbugs. Whilst it's not enough to deal with a whole infestation, vacuuming regularly will go some way to keeping the area bug-free.

2. Check second-hand furniture

 When bringing second-hand furniture into your home, you should always consider what's lurking inside. Always check for any signs of bedbugs before purchasing anything.

If there are signs of bedbugs, recognise that just getting rid of them will be a project in itself. 

3. Take precautions when laundering

Bedbugs travel in furniture and on clothes. If you share laundry facilities, you should always take extra precautions to avoid picking up anyone else's bugs.

Always transport clothes to and from the launderettes in sealed plastic bags, and leave them out for as little time as possible.

Have you ever had a bad experience with bed bugs? Share how you dealt with it with us in the comments below.

Author

Stephanie C

Editor

Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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  1. Author Yolanda Davis on July 20, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    they are so common at the moment so thanks for the informative post. i wouldn't recommend starving them though as they can go without feeding for 18 months. i used surgical spirit, also known as rubbing alcohol. here; Rubbing alcohol is a solvent and can kill insects by dissolving their cells. Rubbing alcohol is also a desiccant, or drying agent, so it can destroy bed bug eggs by drying them out. In addition, rubbing alcohol repels the bugs, discouraging them from crawling or laying eggs on a surface treated with the substance.

    1. Author Joanne A on July 24, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Yolanda, We're really pleased that you found it informative. Thank you for the rubbing alcohol tip - it has so many amazing uses!

    2. Author Kathy on April 27, 2019 at 10:00 pm

      True you can’t starve them they can live a very long time without food (blood) Also it is amazing how many dermatologists don’t recognize bed bug bites.

    Reply
  2. Author Priscilla Mensah on November 25, 2018 at 8:07 am

    Thank you so much. This is helpful. I think I will go for the pesticide.

    1. Author Joanne A on November 26, 2018 at 9:24 am

      You're welcome, Priscilla!

    Reply
  3. Author max on December 22, 2018 at 5:12 am

    I think mine are hibernating whitch is the most effective? I guess Im going to open up the bottom of the mattress and spray rubbing alcohal the pour baking soda and wrap the bed in suranwrap then crank up the space heater. Do you think this will be effective against the sleping bugs and there eggs? I dont like poisons

    1. Author Joanne A on January 2, 2019 at 11:41 am

      Hi Max. It's certainly worth a try! Wrapping the bed in plastic wrap should help to suffocate them if done effectively.

    Reply
  4. Author Tamra R Poppy on December 25, 2018 at 2:59 am

    I habe been told by exterminator that home methods will only scatter the bugs and make it harder treat. Is there any truth in this?

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 2, 2019 at 11:38 am

      Hi Tamra! Home treatments should be effective if done correctly. If the problem persists, you would be right to call in an exterminator.

    Reply
  5. Author Mary ballenger on January 2, 2019 at 1:30 am

    What size ziplock bags

    1. Author Joanne A on January 2, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Hi Mary. I'd suggest you get yourself a fully encased mattress protector specifically for dealing with bed bugs if you wish to try this method.

    2. Author Mary Ballenger on January 3, 2019 at 7:34 am

      Ok thank you.

    3. Author Deborah McBride on May 5, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Do what you want but for what it's worth I had spent a lot of good money on a 'bed bug resistant mattress cover', it did not work , I still got bed bugs even with the 'protective cover'

    4. Author Joanne A on May 7, 2019 at 9:53 am

      Hi Deborah! Did you find a solution in the end? We'd love to hear from you.

    Reply
  6. Author Joe on January 5, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    omg just found out I have a problem with this too. I've recently brought baking soda and sprinkled it around the bottom of the bed on the floor and behind the headboard, including sticky bed bug traps near the legs of the bed. I'm feeling so anxious I am so scared to sleep at night in case I'm bitten. I've tried steaming my mattress to see if it makes a difference, also using tea tree oil mixed with water in a spray bottle to spray the areas affected. My mattress encasement with a zip has arrived in the mail today so fill put it on. My last resort is diatomaceous earth - if that does not work will get help from a professional. Just need re-assurance this will work. I've only found one live adult bed bug in the bathroom and disposed of it by flushing it down the toilet. One i first noticed I had a problem ive seen blood stains on my duvet, sheets and pillows and black dry dots also a dead bed bug in my pillow. everything went straight to the washing machine. Does baking soda work as I noticed signs of bed bug activity last night from a stain on my bedding.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 7, 2019 at 9:26 am

      Hi Joe! Sounds like you have a pretty bad case of bed bugs which might need something a bit stronger than baking soda. The encasement should do a good job of suffocating them and keeping them away, but do get advice from a professional if it continues.

    Reply
  7. Author Krista Hendrix on January 11, 2019 at 5:27 am

    My bed bugs seem to be confined to my boyfriend's recliner that he bought from a garage sale without even considering the risks! Are the options above also helpful for just furniture??

    1. Author Joanne A on January 11, 2019 at 9:17 am

      Hi Krista! These tips should work for the recliner too.

    Reply
  8. Author Catherine Feese on January 16, 2019 at 7:18 am

    What do you do if you are disabled and can't afford exterminator and you find them .is there any help for low income homes

    1. Author Joanne A on January 16, 2019 at 9:26 am

      Hi there, Catherine! Are you able to try any of these home remedies?

    Reply
  9. Author Ana on January 24, 2019 at 11:41 am

    I currently have a bed bug issue at my boyfriend place. I figure out where their nesting area is and tried to clean it with bleach and white vinegar. But nothing so far. Strange as it seems they seem to bite me more than him. My third plan , was just to vacuum everything . Plus is their a safer way to get rid of them permanently our dog loves to sleep with us mostly everynight.

    1. Author Joanne A on January 24, 2019 at 11:47 am

      Hi there, Ana! Firstly, are you certain that the issue is caused by bed bugs? It's unusual that you're being bitten more than your boyfriend! I just wonder if it could be fleas from your dog instead? Once you have ruled that out, I would try any of the methods listed in this article. It would be best to have your dog sleep elsewhere until you've eradicated the bed bugs completely.

    2. Author Rosa on January 24, 2019 at 11:05 pm

      Bed bugs dont bite everyone in the house. When i had them i was the only one getting bit.

    3. Author Sherri on February 21, 2019 at 2:04 am

      My daughter and l live toghter l was the only one getting bitten she drinks beer a lot and they don’t like alcohol...she never got bitten once...was it the alcohol in her system????

    4. Author Joanne A on February 21, 2019 at 9:20 am

      There's been some research conducted that supports this theory, Sherri! It's very bizarre.

    5. Author Sam on April 29, 2019 at 4:38 am

      Hi, I noticed the bed bug issue in my bedroom recently too. We don’t drink alcohol but it appears I’m the only one getting bitten from me and my husband. My 7 month old daughter has had the odd bite here and there too. Initially I wasn’t 100% sure it was bed bugs as although I was being bitten, I had never seen a bug although I’ve just seen one crawling across my pillow at 4am and now I feel so itchy I darent go back to bed! How do I get this resolved ASAP?

    6. Author Joanne A on April 29, 2019 at 11:44 am

      Hi Sam! Have you tried following our tips?

    Reply
  10. Author Brandy Mason on February 17, 2019 at 3:37 am

    I went to a friend's house and have bed bug bites all over me how do I clean the clothes?

    1. Author Joanne A on February 18, 2019 at 9:37 am

      Hi Brandy, we'd suggest putting the clothes in a ziplock bag and then popping it in your freezer. This should kill bacteria and parasites. Wash your clothes as normal and they should be good to go!

    Reply
  11. Author Diane Vanover on February 19, 2019 at 3:44 am

    Does using hydroperoxide in a spray bottle work?

    1. Author Joanne A on February 19, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Hi Diane! Yes, it does.

    Reply
  12. Author DUKE DERRICK on February 20, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    What it turns out to be true for my own case especially when i got out of sleep and flashed at my bed head rail, but whats the best way to deal away with bedbug eggs?

    1. Author Joanne A on February 21, 2019 at 9:21 am

      Hi Duke! What have you tried so far?

    Reply
  13. Author Evan on February 23, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    I wonder if a mixture of diatomaceous earth, vinegar, water, and lavender oil would work as an all-purpose pet-safe spray against adults as well as the eggs? Walmart has some cheap 2-5 gallon spray containers that could be used to disperse, then vacuum & wipe everything down after a few days. I don't know if lavender would mask the vinegar odor completely but maybe baking soda would work(once the vinegar has evaporated).

    1. Author Joanne A on February 25, 2019 at 10:03 am

      That sounds like a great idea, Evan!

    Reply
  14. Author Curt on March 5, 2019 at 2:54 am

    I’ve read that talcum powder is a deterrent as well. Is this effective in suffocating them? If so how would i treat/apply it?

    1. Author Joanne A on March 5, 2019 at 9:38 am

      Hi Curt! I can't find much evidence to suggest that talcum powder works as a deterrent. You'd be better off trying Diatomaceous earth which effectively kills all types of insects.

    Reply
  15. Author Christina A Davis on March 26, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Living with my mother, there is a full out infestation with my daughter getting but most. My mom doesnt seem to ever take.what i say seriously which is that there is probably.a million in all the clutter stored under their bed and old never worn clothes hanging up as the infestation is most in their room. Will putting baking soda around my daughters bed( which is on the floor) help keep them from climbing up on it and biting her so much? Also does caulking cracks help?

    1. Author Joanne A on March 26, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Hi Christina! Caulking any cracks will stop them from settling deeper into the house, but you will need to patch up all of the cracks. I would suggest calling in a professional to fumigate the rooms affected if the baking soda doesn't work.

    Reply
  16. Author Pat L on March 28, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    I myself was getting bit whilst dealing with an insect infestation. I have been unable to determine the species of the bug, as the bites did not match the patterns which bed bugs normally take. They were random, not zig zag, and large red curricular blotches, like mosquitoes. They also generally did not bite my girlfriend. What seems to have worked is repeated dousing with vinegar. You spray the bed down, the furniture, and any crevices. We keep clothes in trash bags. Every other night I've repeated the process. The bites appear to have stopped.

    1. Author Joanne A on April 1, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      Good to hear, Pat! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Reply
  17. Author Joann M Mecom on April 27, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    I am at a friends house and all of a sudden im breaking out in itchy welts. No one else is complaining. I just killed what looks to be a bed bug in the living room. I am so itchy and burning where these welts are. Why am i only being affected? Just exactly how small are they?

    1. Author Joanne A on April 29, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      Hi Joann! It could be that you're having an allergic reaction to the bites. You might find that your friends are being bitten, but it's just not noticeable as they aren't having a reaction.

    Reply
  18. Author Caroline Kessinger on May 5, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Can I use any off the things to get rid of bed bugs on furniture

    1. Author Joanne A on May 7, 2019 at 10:04 am

      Hi Caroline! A lot of these methods will also work for general furniture. You might wish to do a patch test on an inconspicuous area so that you don't damage the finish.

    Reply
  19. Author Michelle combs on May 16, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Well im staying with my mother in law at the monent and sleeping on the couch and was woke up at 5am to find a small bed bug crawling on me. Please help with any advice i dont want to worry her more because she is very ill.

    1. Author Joanne A on May 16, 2019 at 2:05 pm

      Hi Michelle! I'm sorry to hear that your mother is ill. Have you tried any of the above methods?

    Reply
  20. Author ML on May 24, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Hi, Sorry to say that your entire article becomes null as soon as you claim that putting items in the freezer overnight "will" kill them. This is simply incorrect. In the cold (even sub-freezing temps) a bedbug's metabolize slows dramatically and has been observed in study after study that they can survive up to 5 days in a freezer. Please, if you are going to write advice columns, know what you're talking about.

    1. Author Joanne A on May 24, 2019 at 2:39 pm

      Hi there! You're correct. Bed bugs can survive the freezer if not kept in there for long enough. I have updated the article to state that the treatment should take at least 5 days. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    Reply

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