Left unchecked, bed bugs can become a massive problem in any house. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can remove bed bugs without spending an arm and a leg – and without calling in pest control. So, in this article, we’ll give you some of the best and easiest home treatments for bed bugs out there today.
Bed Bugs 101
First, let’s take a quick look at bed bugs. Luckily, some of you might not have had much personal experience with these creatures. Others will have had to replace mattresses, blankets, sofas, or more after facing an infestation by these blood-sucking pests.
Bed bugs are small, flat creatures that can easily find their way into all sorts of little cracks and crevices. They breed quickly and are almost impossible to see, which is what makes them such a hassle to deal with. Bed bugs are tiny and almost transparent, so it’s hard to spot them with the naked eye. If they happen to be hiding in cracks or underneath fabric, it can be impossible to spot them.
They do leave some signs, though, including little red bites on the skin that can be itchy and irritable. Bloodstains on your mattress and bedding or tiny black spots in the areas where they’ve have been feeding are also clear signs you might have bed bugs. These black spots are actually the bed bugs’ feces.
Bed bugs can appear anywhere and at any time. You can find bed bugs in houses, apartments, hotels, dorms, and shelters. They also are perfectly at home in public spaces like schools, offices, hospitals, laundromats, public transport, and more.
Bed bugs love mattresses, quilts, furniture, and upholstery. Clothes and bags also serve as highly effective bed bug carriers. In fact, thanks to the upsurge in international trade and travel, there has also been an increase in bed bug infestations. Tourists often bring the critters home with them from tropical locations. (Bed bugs like the heat and can just hop in an unlucky traveler’s bag or on their clothes when they feel like a bit of adventure.)
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Given the difficulties of detecting and eliminating bed bugs, you may think of this as a job best left for the professionals. But not so fast! If you can detect the source of the infestation, then you can use one or more of these easy and affordable home remedies.
This is a natural way to remove many different household pests, including those pesky bed bugs. It’s actually comprised of the fossil remains of little aquatic organisms. How does it remove insects? It dehydrates them by absorbing their oils and fats. Simply apply the diatomaceous earth to the affected areas. Soon enough, you’ll start seeing dead insects that you can then easily vacuum up.
This treatment can be slow acting – it’ll take around 10 days for it to kill all pests – but it’s also very effective. You can even sprinkle it in otherwise hard-to-reach crevices and cracks. Before using, wash all clothing and bedding in hot water and vacuum everywhere.
Make sure to wear a mask when sprinkling. Even though it’s non-toxic, it can cause lung damage if inhaled. Vacuum the diatomaceous earth up when it has finished doing its work, reapplying several times to eliminate all bugs, including the recently hatched ones.
Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum!
Along with washing all clothing and bedding in the hottest water you can, thoroughly vacuum all surfaces where bed bugs may be dwelling. This includes carpets, chairs, mattresses, and even soft furnishings like curtains. Vacuum everywhere at least weekly and be sure to empty or dispose of your vacuum bag outside when finished.
You obviously can’t wash everything in the washing machine at high temperatures, like your carpet, for example. So, you may want to also give steam cleaning a try if you have a bed bug problem at home. Steam cleaners that can reach temperatures of up to 180°F (82°C) basically kill bed bugs by delivering a lethal dose of heat.
Steam is also able to penetrate deep below the surface of your fabrics. Another perk is that most steamers come with various nozzles that allow you to reach into otherwise inaccessible cracks and crevices. The high-quality ones can be expensive, so see if you can rent a professional steamer instead of buying one yourself.
Like diatomaceous earth, baking soda fights bed bugs by drying them out. Sprinkle a light layer over all affected surfaces and allow it to sit for one week before sucking it up with the vacuum cleaner. You may have to repeat this several times to get rid of all bugs, including their eggs.
Cayenne Pepper, Oregano Oil, and Ginger
Concoct a homemade bed bug fighting spray using these common ingredients. You’ve probably got most of them in your spice cabinet already. The strong smell of the oregano oil along with the spiciness of the ginger and cayenne will easily repel any bed bugs who happen to come across it.
Tea Tree Oil
With its antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties, tea tree oil is super effective at suppressing bacterial and viral infections. Not only that, but, thanks to its antiparasitic qualities, it also kills pests including bed bugs. Pour some diluted tea tree oil into a spray bottle and spray any affected bedding and furnishings. Repeat this process several times until the bed bugs are totally eliminated.
Lavender and Peppermint Oil
Lavender essential oil contains insect-repelling chemicals that are safe for humans and pets. It has actually been used for centuries to repel insects. You’ll often find it used as a way of keeping moths away from clothes and bedding. Like tea tree oil, it makes a fine natural pesticide with no toxic chemicals to contend with. Combine it with peppermint oil and water in a spray bottle and spray all affected areas. Once again, you may have to repeat the process multiple times to get truly effective results.