Prepare for Battle: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in 13 Steps

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Once the suspicion of a bed bug infestation became reality, the second phase begins: fighting bed bugs. Why? So you don’t have to worry about itchy bed bug bites anymore and so you can finally sleep tight again. To help you get started, I have put together 13 steps that describe to you how to get rid of bed bugs.

Important things first: If you

  • don’t know anything about bed bugs yet,
  • don’t have time for detailed research and recommended methods of bed bug control,
  • but you have enough savings

then you should definitely think about contacting a professional pest controller.

The reason for that is easy. Bed bug control is very labor-intensive and many components must be considered. So that all “infested” rooms or objects are taken into account and, thus, a further spread of bed bugs can be prevented.

A professional who knows about these unruly insects will be able to solve the problem more effectively and faster than a layman. However, the decision to use professional help or not is of course up to you.

But be aware of the fact that you could unintentionally spread bed bugs to further places. So please, take bed bug control serious.

How to get rid of bed bugs: an overview of methods & products

In order to effectively fight bed bugs, you can use different methods and products. There is no “miracle cure” for a bed bug infestation. That’s why – above all – the application of a combination of different methods and products against bed bugs can lead to long-term success.

You find a summary of important methods and products against bed bugs in the following table. The table highlights the three main areas of action against bed bugs. However, it does not claim to be complete but rather serves as an overview of what you can do or use against bed bugs.

Note: Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

Identify Bed BugsGet Rid of Bed BugsPrevent Bed Bugs

  • insecticides / pesticides

  • heat treatment

  • cold treatment

  • inorganic materials such as diatomaceous earth

  • organic materials such as bean leaves

  • vacuum

  • special medication


  • check your accommodation when traveling

  • protect luggage from bed bugs

  • luggage check before returning

  • check purchased second-hand items

  • bed bugs barriers

  • impregnated materials

We also have a detailed comparison of available methods and products against bed bugs. This includes a short description, advantages, disadvantages, and further links to recommended bed bug products.

Prepare for battle – step by step guide to get rid of bed bugs

Now, it’s time to get active. If you think that bed bugs have made their way into your home, then you can consider the following steps to combat bed bugs.

Most commonly, bed bugs arrive at a new location in your luggage, in used items, and some other possible ways. What methods and products you ultimately want to use depends on you.

Also, keep in mind that bed bugs are very unruly little insects. They could spread even more because of wrong decisions and actions.

1. Detect signs of bed bugs

First, you should definitely be sure that it is actually bed bugs. I have already described typical signs of a possible bed bug infestation in another article.

signs-of-bed-bugs
First make sure you actually have to deal with bed bugs. Photo: belchonock / Depositphotos

Many people who have come into contact with bed bugs, want to avoid bringing them into their own home. If you’re like me, then you’ll understand that you can quickly get a little paranoid. Just so you know, it doesn’t always have to be bed bugs. But the earlier you know your new enemy, the better it is for solving the itchy bites problem.

Unfortunately, it is possible that you will not see any responses of your body to the bed bug bites from a trip until a few days later. If you are lucky enough though, you did not bring the living bed bugs.

2. Analysis of your bed bugs problem

So you have detected bed bugs. Damn it, because that means you have work to do. Before you really start to get rid of bed bugs, it makes sense to think about possible causes and the extent of the bed bug problem.

You should also consider which funds you have available for your bed bugs control actions. E.g. which products do you want to buy or should you better hire a professional pest controller.

how-to-get-rid-of-bed-bugs-2
Bringing bed bugs to your home can turn into a nightmare. Photo: lightsource / Depositphotos

Questions to ask yourself:

  • When did it start?
  • Who was bitten? How many bites?
  • Which rooms could be affected?
  • What could be the cause?
  • How did the bed bugs get into my home?
  • Which possibilities of bed bug control do I have?
  • Should I hire a professional pest controller?

3. Clean up

The less hiding places bed bugs have, the better. Therefore, make sure to clean up before you go to action. It facilitates further procedures. The chances are not so bad that the bed bugs have “only” made themselves comfortable in and around your bed for the time being. At least if the infestation has not progressed too far.

In addition, you can better watch where they crawl, if you give them the chance to flee while fighting bed bugs. But please, don’t put any untreated items simply in other rooms during the cleanup process. This can lead to a further spread of bed bugs if just a few bed bugs or bed bug eggs should hide in those items (e.g. a backpack).

4. Vacuuming

Gently but thoroughly vacuum the affected room with a vacuum cleaner in all corners and edges. You should treat the complete bed frame including all cracks as well as the mattress. A flat-head screwdriver helps to check the cracks. Since thoroughness is the key to success, you should also empty all furniture and search for bed bugs.

In addition, it is advisable to move the furniture to also check the back and the wall for signs of bed bugs. Important: At the end of the entire treatment, dispose the vacuum cleaner bag well packed in an extra plastic bag (without a hole). Otherwise, they could find their way back to freedom again. And you definitely don’t want that.

5. Wash your clothes

If you find bed bugs when tidying up and vacuuming your wardrobe, you can wash your clothes at a minimum of 50 ° C. The hotter the better. If possible put your clothes after washing also in the dryer. Of course, not everything can be washed with very hot temperatures. You can treat these items in a different way which will be described further below.

Store your clothes in a different location until the end of your room’s treatment. Such as in a storage box made of plastic or in large garbage bags, which are best sealed airtight.

how-to-get-rid-of-bed-bugs-3-wash-your-clothes
Washing infested clothes above 50 degrees can help to get rid of bed bugs. Photo: EdZbarzhyvetsky / Depositphotos

6. Treat non-washable items

To get rid of bed bugs and bed bug eggs on non-washable items is a bit more difficult. Depending on the item you can use different methods and products. For example, you can use a vacuum cleaner, hot steam, diatomaceous earth, No-Pest Strips, a special anti-bed bug / anti-insect spray or others.

Another option is to pack things airtight in a large plastic bag and place them in the sun. With a wireless thermometer, you can monitor the temperature that should be more than 50 ° C to kill bed bugs over a long period of time. So this is mainly a method for hot summer months.

It is also possible to imitate this principle (heat> 50 ° C) by other means. Hot temperatures can also be achieved in a car standing in the sun (hot summer months), a greenhouse, a sauna, an infrared cabin, and others. However, the heat and any resulting moisture are not compatible with all items. Also, it is important that the heat really reaches the depths of hiding places of living bed bugs and bed bugs eggs. Otherwise, some might survive the treatment.

7. Treatment with steam

If available, a steam cleaner is suitable for treating carpets, mattresses, and the like to effectively kill bed bugs of all stages. Including bed bug eggs. The steam should be at least 65-70 ° C. Please take into account that not all materials can be treated with steam.

In addition, steam leaves moisture which could contribute to the formation of mold. Allow treated materials such as mattresses, carpets, and curtains to dry. Also, ventilate the room well.

8. Attach mattress encasing

Bed bugs like to hide on and in the mattress. A bed bug proof mattress encasing prevents this. Therefore, it is advisable to attach a bed bug protection encasing after treatment of the mattress.

9. Move your bed away from the wall

If possible, move your bed away from the wall. This reduces possible access points of bed bugs over the wall to you. Also, this is particularly important in combination with the next step.

10. Attach bed bug barriers

If your bed has a bed frame, then you can equip the legs with vaseline or double-faced adhesive tape. That way you make it harder for bed bugs to crawl on the bed legs to access your bed.

Because bed bugs can get stuck, this method can also be used to monitor a bed bug infestation for several weeks. However, both the vaseline and the tape must be renewed regularly.

Another possibility is, for example, to use a special permethrin-treated sheet or sleeping bag. Because these bed bug barriers are not only suitable for preventing bed bugs when traveling but also in your home.

After these preparations have been made for the bed, it is also important to sleep in the bed. If until now only the bedroom is affected and you go to sleep in another room, that can lure the bed bugs into other rooms.

11. Diatomaceous earth for holes, cracks and other openings

Diatomaceous earth is an environmentally friendly product against bedbugs. It can be distributed as a powder in possible hiding places and typical paths of bed bugs. These include:

  • holes and cracks in the wall,
  • areas behind the carpet edge,
  • cracks on the sides of electrical outlets,
  • and other areas that allow access to cavities in the wall.

The fine and microscopic peel fragments of diatomaceous earth damage the bed bug’s chitin shell and cause it to dry out. Diatomaceous earth is harmless to humans and pets, but it should not be inhaled (use a mask at best).

Read more about Diatomaceous earth on Wikipedia.

12. Regular inspection

Even if a professional pest controller has been hired to get rid of bed bugs, a bed bug infestation is rarely resolved in one treatment.

Therefore, it is important to monitor the affected room(s) for a long time for signs of bed bugs and to repeat some of the treatment steps.

how to get rid of bed bugs photo with bed bugs on cushion
To get rid of bed bugs once and for all you have to regularly monitor for any new signs of bed bugs. Photo: lightsource / Depositphotos

13. Prevent bed bugs

This is, of course, easier said than done. But there are a few ways that can reduce the likelihood that bed bugs will ever get into your own home. Consequently, this step could also come first. It could be considered the most important one. Because if you avoid bringing them home, you don’t have to get rid of them.

However, many people don’t know about bed bugs. And even if you would do everything possible to prevent bed bugs, they could still find a way into your home. But the key point here is to try to minimize the risk.

  • Article: Prevent bed bugs

Summary how to get rid of bed bugs

It is not easy to get rid of bed bugs once they are in your home. With or without professional help, you have many things to do. It’s definitely no fun. In general, the treatment gets more effective when you combine many different methods and products. That way you can make the life of surviving bed bugs as hard as possible.

Please remember and be considerate of the threat of unintentionally spreading bed bugs to further places. So don’t just give potentially infected items (mattress, couch, etc.) away. Also, some bed bug products pose health risks. So always use biocides safely and read the label and product information before use.

If you want to get rid of bed bugs as soon as possible, your chances are best with the help of an experienced pest controller. The more serious the bed bug infestation the greater the need for professional help. You can do it by yourself. But you should start the battle well prepared.


Cover photo: lightsource / Depositphotos

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