DIY Guides Home Remedies for Bed Bugs: How To Prevent & Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs: How To Prevent & Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast

Recently find a bed bug infestation in your home but aren’t sure what to do? There are several home remedies that you can use to get rid of bed bugs, or prevent them from taking over.

Looking for the perfect home remedy for your bed bug infestation? These pesky creatures welcome themselves into your home, and are a pain to get them back out! Similar to mosquitoes and fleas, they can leave marks that make you itch for days.

Bed bugs aren’t your typical pest. They’re not just parasites that constantly feed on our blood, giving us a god awful time when we need a good night’s sleep. They’re actually at the center of a social stigma – people labeling you as ‘dirty’ if you happen to have them.

So how do you get rid of them? While calling a professional is usually the easiest option, some people don’t have the budget for that. In this guide, we walk through six common ways to get rid of bed bugs using home remedies.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed Bug on Couch Cushion
Bed bugs are parasites that feed on human blood.

Bed Bugs are parasitic insects that feed solely on blood. The most common type, and undoubtedly the most hated, is Cimex lectularius L.

This bed bug refers to suck on human blood. You can find them in temperate climates all over the world, and they’re quite common in the US.

Appearance

Bed bugs are insects that have a large abdomens and little heads. Their abdomens can expand after sucking blood.

Bed bugs drastically change from birth to adulthood. They can even be mistaken for lice because of how they look. To help you spot a true bed bug in your home, the

United States Environmental Protection Agency

gives us hints on how these insects can look at key parts of their life cycles:

Adult bed bugs…

  • are 3/16 – 1/4 inch smakk, about the size on an apple seed
  • are light to dark brown in color
  • have flat oval shaped bodies but can become red, elongated and plump after feeding
  • they have 3 segments: the head, thorax and abdomen with very tiny font wing pads (not full wings) that aren’t used for flying
  • have a terrible musty smell because of the odor glands at the bottom side of their bodies

While young bed bugs or nymphs…

  • are smaller
  • are nearly invisible because of their translucent color
  • can turn bright red after feeding (filled with blood)

And for bed bug eggs, they’re

  • the size of a pinhead
  • pearly white in color
  • marked by an eye spot after aging five days

Diet

Bed bugs are hematophagous. Meaning, their diet mainly consists of blood from other living things. And right now, a lot of species feed on us humans.

They can feed for 2-5 minutes every 5 to 10 days. And they do this mostly at night.

There are a lot of things that attract bed bugs. But they’re mostly drawn by our body heat and the carbon dioxide we produce in our breath. And once latched on to our bodies, they can pierce exposed skin and suck the blood right off it. This oftentimes leaves big and reddish swollen welts or small red bumps.

They do a peculiar bite series called “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”. These bugs feed in a series of several bites rather than a big long one. The “breakfast” is the first bite; the “lunch” is the second and so on. That’s why you often see clusters of these bites after they’re done with you.

These insects can also go on without food for a few months. They can even become dormant for a longer time, just waiting to come in contact with us. At that time, they get moisture from the air, getting water vapor that floats all around us just to survive.

Behavior

Bed Bug on White Sheet
Bed bugs can multiply, once they have a proper breeding ground.

Bed bug behavior is simply based on mating, feeding and expanding their numbers. And they do these with as much stealth as possible.

Bed bugs hide during the day and come out to feed at night. They hide in places where there’s always constant contact with people. These can be beds, couches and even wheelchairs and recliners. They seek out the cracks and crevices inside these things and live there.

After feeding, they’ll return to those cracks to digest the blood they ate. And when they’ve fed enough, they mature and mate to produce more bed bugs.

According to Terminix, a female bed bug can lay 1 to 12 eggs every day and between 200 to 500 eggs in an entire lifetime. After a month or so, these eggs hatch, and they’ll need blood right away.

As the nymphs grow, they’ll experience several molting phases that slowly turn their color darker. They’ll mature, mate and eventually reach the end of their life cycles, with plenty of new nymphs produced thanks to them.

How to Know If You Have Bed Bugs

As mentioned, bed bugs are pretty stealthy. They hide in impossibly small spaces and only feed at night. But this doesn’t mean that they’re impossible to find. In fact, you, yourself, can inspect your house to see you’ve got them. Check your furniture for a possible infestation without relying on pest control to do that for you.

Here are some tips from the United States Environmental Protection Agency that can help you get started on your hunt:

  • Look for shed skins. These are dry translucent shells or brown little bodies that look like dead bugs.
  • You also need to look for minute 1mm eggshells somewhere in your bed.
  • Check your bedding’s and cushion’s seams.
  • Check your headboard.
  • Inspect wall cracks and holes, wallpaper and other wall decorations.
  • Examine the furniture near your bed. Look at drawer joints, small trenches and the areas underneath each furniture. A lamp, for example, can house bed bugs under its base.
  • You must also inspect electrical receptacles and appliances.
  • Bed bugs leave behind blood droppings that stain fabric. They look like dried little dark brown or black dots stuck to your mattress, beddings, couch and even your clothes.
  • Know the difference between blood stains and droppings. Blood stains are dark red or brown spots that come in bigger circles.
  • Don’t rely on bite marks. A bed bug bite can resemble a mosquitoes’ or any kind of insect’s. In fact, some people don’t even get any reaction from their bites. So it’s really hard to tell.
  • Make sure it’s not a different type of bite, like Scabies

For more info on how to know if you have bed bugs, check out this video from Howdini. You can also get more tips on dodging bed bugs here.

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Not a lot can kill bed bugs. But before you tackle commercial bed bug treatments, give these home remedies a try. These are simple and common methods that you can apply on your own. Try them out before you spend a lot of money on pest control.

First, we have the remedies that put the power of nature into excellent use. These are home remedies for bed bugs that use herbs and other plants.

Bean Leaf Traps

Fresh Bean Leaf Trap
Bean Leaves can be used stop bed bugs from moving around.

The wonderful Bean leaf isn’t just an ordinary green. You can use them to stop minor infestations.

According to the Smithsonian, this remedy has existed for years. People from the Balkan regions of Eastern Europe have made natural traps from kidney bean leaves. They would even scatter the leaves on the floor to trap bed bugs at night.

In 1943, a study proved that the bean leaves’ success come from their microscopic plant hairs called trichromes. These latch on to the bed bugs’ limbs and entangle them.

If you want to give this treatment a try, stop sleeping in your infested bed for a while. Grab some bean leaves and lay them there for a couple of nights. Check them every morning if you’ve got some these insects trapped.

So, remember that…

  • Bean leaves don’t kill bed bugs, just immobilize them
  • This only works for small infestations
  • The leaves only work when freshly picked

Black Walnut Tea

This remedy from 1800 Remedies calls for blended black walnut tea to eradicate bed bugs. It has iodine and antifungal and antibacterial properties that can work against these insects.

All you have to do is combine 1 cup of black walnut tea leaves, 1/2 cup dried eucalyptus leaves, 1/2 cup dried lavender buds, 1/2 cup dried thyme and 2 bay leaves. Put all of these inside a bag, and sprinkle them in infected areas of the house.

So, remember that…

  • The tea and other ingredients mixed together can kill bed bugs
  • This method will be difficult to apply directly on your bed

Cayenne pepper

This spice is one of the most powerful home remedies for bed bugs. Just like how regular pepper repels ants, cayenne pepper’s long lasting odor can be very annoying for bed begs. It also has antibacterial properties that can assist other treatments in killing them.

Sprinkle powdered cayenne pepper on areas where you want the bugs out. You can also combine water and the powder in a spray bottle, and use that instead.

So, remember that…

  • Cayenne pepper only repels bed bugs, not kill them
  • Use this method in tandem with other home remedies for best results

Tea tree oil

Using tea tree oil is another natural treatment you can try. It’s an oil made from the leaves of the Melaleuca Alternifolia plant.

Dilute 20 drops of the oil inside a spray bottle, and direct the solution to your bed and other furniture.

A more potent version of this method is to use 100% pure tea tree oil. However, it’s been deemed toxic to humans as it can irritate the skin, give you a terrible burning sensation and even cause swelling.

So, remember that…

  • The tea tree oil solution can’t totally eradicate a bed bug population. You can only use it for minor infestations.
  • Organiclesson also highlights that this remedy is a hit-and-miss. So there are chances that it might not even work for you.

Other Easy & Cheap Methods

Vacuuming Carpet for Bed Bugs
Vacuuming is a cheap and easy preventative treatment for bedbugs.

No access to the herbs on our list? How about a few items already found in your house? Here are a few tricks, a few practical home remedies for bed bugs that can do wonders to your house.

Vacuuming

Vacuums are handy when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs. Vacuums can help you get rid of bed bugs without making you use harmful chemicals and pesticides. This is also an effective method to remove bed bugs on the surface of your floor.

Vacuum your entire house, making sure to get around bed posts and other discrete areas.

Make sure that the suction power is as strong as possible to catch all of the bugs. You also have to go back and forth a few times in certain areas so that none of those insects escape.

So, remember that…

  • Vacuuming is helpful, but may not prevent or resolve the issue alone
  • Your vacuum will need to be cleaned immediately to prevent stragglers
  • This works great for minor infestations because vacuums can target small populations

Sealing Cracks

Seal any cracks throughout your house by using rubber caulking. This may not seem helpful, but bedbugs are very small and can easily crawl through small openings.

So, remember that…

  • When sealing cracks, you are only getting rid of one hiding place
  • Other treatments will be needed to get rid of them entirely

Bed Posts

Bed posts work like interceptors. Thus they’re very helpful in stopping a bed bug infestation. They create a barrier between the floor and the bed, therefore making it impossible for the bed bugs to reach the bed.

So, remember that…

  • Bed posts can cost anywhere from $20 to $30
  • They can be purchased online or at local stores
  • They are relatively cheap and efficient solutions

Heat

Anything with a high temperature will be generally effective in killing bugs. Bed bugs, in particular, die at temperatures above 113˚F, so use the hottest setting when washing and drying any contaminated materials. Not only does this remove any bloodstains or dead skin from the material, but it ensures that any live bed bugs are killed.

You can also use a Hot Box. Place all you’re the infested items inside the hot box, and turn it up from 113 ˚F to 122˚F (anything higher can cause fires).

Other methods can include using a heat gun, raising indoor temperature, using hot water, carefully ironing your bedsheets and using a portable heating device.

So, remember that…

  • Heat kills bed bugs, but you’ll need to make sure it finishes the job
  • Make sure you use tools specifically made for this, as heat can be dangerous

Steam

Speaking of heat, steam treatments and dry heat are known to be one of the most effective home remedies for bed bugs.

You can use a hand-held steamer for this method or just your washer or dryer. Simply go over your bed with the hand-held streamer to kill the bed bugs. For washers/ dryers, dry heat is a good method to treat cloth or any type of bedding. When a dryer is run for five minutes, the temperature reaches at least 130˚ F (depending on the heat setting of your dryer) which is higher than the required temperature to kill any living bed bugs. Anything with a high temperature will be generally effective in killing the bugs.

So, remember that…

  • Steam treatments can be effective in killing bed bugs close to the surface
  • It will not kill deeper infestations
  • Handheld seaming can be dangerous, so be cautious during this method

Baking Soda

Some homeowners use bleach as an alternative to treatments like baking soda. But you don’t want something that strong soaking your things. That’s when baking soda enters the picture. According to Home Remedy Hacks, baking soda sucks the moisture out of bed bugs, destroying them in the process.

Just spread baking soda in crevices and cracks in beds and other furniture to repel and kill them. You can also use a paintbrush to apply a layer of the powder.

So, remember that…

  • Baking soda can repel and kill bed bugs
  • You’ll need to regularly replace it for it to stay effective
  • Use a vacuum to get rid of used baking soda

Preventing Bed Bugs

They say that prevention is better than a cure. In this case, it may not be such a bad idea.

Now that you have a clear idea on many home remedies for bed bugs, try out this short list in keeping them away. We also have a longer and more comprehensive list here.

  • Don’t stay in cheap hotels
  • Cheaper hotels do not thoroughly clean their sheets or rooms
  • Inspect your things before leaving from hotel
  • Place your clothes and shoes inside a sealable bag during travel
  • Don’t place luggage on the bed, couch or chair
  • Inspect bed bugs before you sit or stay somewhere
  • Look for black shells, droppings, and eggs
  • Vacuum your bags and suitcases when you return home
  • Regularly wash bedding, cushions, and clothing
  • Declutter your house so that bugs won’t have hiding spots
  • Don’t welcome things from yard sales into your home without cleaning
  • If you buy something from somewhere unknown, inspect it first
  • Ask about bed bug inspections before buying furniture or used cars
  • Don’t use commercial laundry facilities

Wrap Up

Bed bugs are one of the most widespread pests in the US. Although they don’t carry diseases, it’s a cause for concern for people who have allergies and for those who just want to get a good night’s sleep.

Whatever the case, these home remedies for bed bugs and other practical tips are just what you need to keep your house bed bugs free.

Managing Editor & CEO Jack has been writing as a contractor and for businesses for over 10 years. He owns his own home, and has been doing his own pest control since he bought his first house.

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