How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: The Ultimate Guide to Eliminating These Sleepy Pests

David Floyd:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. David is Quality Pro certified and is a certified Structural Pest Control Operator in the state of North Carolina, and the owner of NCPestControlExperts pest control company.

Are you tired of being pestered by bed bugs? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide on how to get rid of bed bugs will provide you with a step-by-step plan to eliminate these pesky pests once and for all. From understanding their biology and hiding places to employing effective treatment methods and prevention techniques, this guide covers it all. Get ready to reclaim your home and enjoy a bed bug-free environment!

Key Takeaways On How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs:

  • Understand bed bugs’ biology, life cycle and feeding habits to effectively eliminate infestations.
  • Early detection and identification is essential for successful treatment. Observe signs of infestation such as bites or eggs.
  • Take preventative measures like regular inspections, decluttering spaces & sealing crevices to maintain a home free from bed bug infestations.
  • Learn the bed bug prevention methods you should take when traveling and introducing clothing and furniture into your home.
how to get rid of bed bugs

Understanding Bed Bugs

Before we delve into the elimination process, let’s familiarize ourselves with our adversary – the bed bug. These small, flat, reddish-brown insects feed on the blood of humans and animals and are experts at hiding in:

  • narrow cracks
  • fissures
  • seams in mattresses
  • furniture
  • walls

Understanding their biology, life cycle, feeding habits, and hiding places is key to effectively eradicating them and preventing future infestations.

Biology and Lifecycle of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have a complex life cycle, with females laying up to 450 eggs in their lifetime. These eggs are laid in batches of 10 to 50 on bedding and in cracks and crevices. The nymphs, which are yellowish-white in color, hatch in approximately 10 days and start feeding on hosts with their beak-like mouthparts.

lifecycle of bed bugs

Nymphs mature into adult bed bugs in 1-2 months, which can live for up to a year or longer (most live about 10-11 months). Familiarity with their life cycle is vital for effective eradication, as it assists us in targeting the bugs at each stage of development.

Feeding Habits

Bed bugs are not picky eaters – they subsist on the blood of humans and animals. They are attracted to carbon dioxide, body heat, and body odor, which make humans their primary source of sustenance. Although they don’t feed on a nightly basis, bed bugs typically feed every ten days at their peak feeding time, between 2 am and 5 am.

Knowing their feeding habits can help us employ effective treatment methods to kill them.

Hiding Places

Bed bugs are masters of hide-and-seek. They typically conceal themselves in various places where bed bugs hide, such as:

  • Narrow cracks, fissures, and seams in mattresses, furniture, and walls
  • Near the bed, including the bed frame and headboard
  • Seams and piping of mattresses and box springs
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Wooden drawers and dressers
  • Behind baseboards, molding, and trim

Locating their hiding spots is the first step in eliminating these pests, which then allows us to focus our treatment efforts effectively.

Early Detection and Identification

Early detection and identification of bed bugs are vital for successful elimination. By recognizing the signs of infestation and accurately identifying these pests, we can employ targeted treatment methods and prevent further spread. In this section, we’ll cover the signs of infestation, how to identify bed bugs, and the importance of distinguishing them from other pests that may be mistaken for bed bugs.

Signs of Infestation

Early signs of a bed bug infestation include:

  • Bites, including bed bug bite marks
  • Blood spots on sheets
  • Evidence of life stages in mattress seams
  • Rusty or reddish stains
  • Dark spots (about the size of a period)
  • Bed bug eggs and eggshells
  • Blood stains caused by bed bug bites

These can all be telltale signs of their presence.

If you notice any of these indications, it’s time to take action and follow a comprehensive treatment plan to eliminate the infestation and prevent reoccurrence.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Successful eradication hinges on the accurate identification of bed bugs. Here are some characteristics to look for:

  • Adult bed bugs are small, wingless insects with a flattened oval-shaped body and reddish-brown color. Their size ranges from 1mm to 7mm in length.
  • Bed bug eggs are light cream in color.
  • Nymphs have a yellowish translucent color.
Identifying bed bugs

By recognizing their size, color, and shape, we can avoid mistaking them for other pests and target our treatment efforts more effectively.

Commonly Mistaken Pests

Differentiating bed bugs from other pests that can be easily mistaken for them is vital. Some pests that can be mistaken for bed bugs include:

  • Baby cockroaches
  • Carpet beetles
  • Spider beetles
  • Fleas
  • Bat bugs

While bed bugs primarily feed on humans, bat bugs feed mainly on bats but can also feed on humans when bats are not available.

Carpet beetles, on the other hand, can cause digestive issues, respiratory tract and eye irritation, and potential food contamination. Accurately identifying bed bugs ensures that we employ the appropriate treatment methods to eliminate them.

Preparing for Treatment

Preparation for the process is a crucial step before implementing any treatment plan. Proper preparation involves decluttering, sealing cracks and crevices, and isolating infested items. By doing so, we can make our treatment efforts more effective and increase the likelihood of completely eliminating the bed bug infestation.


Decluttering plays a vital role in reducing hiding places and making treatment more effective. Here are some steps you can take to declutter and improve the effectiveness of your treatment efforts:

  1. Remove and inspect items stored under the bed.
  2. Strip bedding from beds and other sleeping areas.
  3. Sweep and vacuum floors and upholstery.
  4. Turn over or move furnishings to thoroughly vacuum them.
  5. Seal trash in heavy-duty garbage bags and discard it away from the home.

By following these steps, you can improve your chances of controlling bed bugs, limiting their capacity to evade treatment and effectively eliminating them.

Sealing Cracks and Crevices

Preventing bed bugs from spreading or hiding in our home can be achieved by sealing cracks and crevices. To seal cracks and crevices, use silicone caulk or sealant and apply it along moldings, joints, and any other areas where bed bugs can hide. Additionally, larger openings, such as where pipes enter and leave the house, should be sealed with expanding foam or sealant.

sealing gaps and cracks

By sealing these hiding spots, we can limit bed bugs’ access to our living spaces and improve our treatment efforts’ efficacy.

Isolating Infested Items

Isolating infested items is a necessary step to halt the further spread of bed bugs. Here are some effective methods of isolating infested items and preventing the bugs from spreading further:

  • Regularly laundering bed sheets and clothing
  • Placing small items in a freezer for 4 days
  • Applying hot steam to infested furniture
  • Discarding heavily infested items
  • Securely sealing infested items in containers

Non-Chemical Treatment Methods

Non-chemical treatment methods can be a safer and more environmentally friendly option for eliminating bed bugs. In this section, we’ll explore various non-chemical treatment methods, including:

  • Heat treatment
  • Cold treatment
  • Vacuuming
  • Steaming

These methods can be used in conjunction with chemical treatments or as standalone options to effectively eradicate bed bugs, making them an essential part of a comprehensive bed bug treatment.

Heat Treatment

Heat treatment can effectively kill bed bugs in fabrics and furniture. The most suitable temperature for heat treatment of bed bugs is above 120°F (ideally between 125°F-140°F). Whole house heat treatment is a professional process that utilizes large heaters to heat entire rooms up to temperatures of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours.

bed bug heat treatment

We can eliminate bed bugs without the use of chemicals by exposing them to high temperatures. In my 20 years of pest control experience, I’ve found that heat treatments are the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs. Because bed bugs are so good at hiding, and can go long periods without feeding, a heat treatment can kill bed bugs in the entire area, rather than just the areas that the chemical treatment physically touch.

Cold Treatment

Cold treatment can be another effective method for eliminating bed bugs. To successfully eliminate bed bugs through cold treatment, temperatures below -18°C (0°F) must be maintained for a minimum of 4 days.

Cold treatment involves:

  1. Placing infested items in a plastic bag
  2. Putting the bag in a freezer set to at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Keeping the items in the freezer for a minimum of five days

This method can effectively kill bugs, including kill bed bugs, and help you get rid of bed bugs in an infested room.

However, it’s important to note that many home refrigerator freezers may not reach temperatures low enough to effectively kill bed bugs, so professional cold treatment methods or consultation with pest control experts may be necessary.

Vacuuming and Steaming

The removal of bed bugs from surfaces and crevices can be aided by vacuuming and steaming. Vacuuming can effectively remove live bed bugs, eggs, and debris from carpets, furniture, and other surfaces. Steaming, on the other hand, can kill bed bugs on contact by exposing them to high temperatures. This is very similar to bed bug heat treatments but uses a streamer to treat specific areas of the room at a time, rather than heating the entire room up at once.

steam treatment for bed bugs

When using a steam cleaner for bed bug extermination, it’s important to follow the proper guidelines and precautions to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment.

Check out our guide on the best steamers for bed bugs!

Chemical Treatment Option

Chemical treatment options can be a powerful tool in the battle against bed bugs. However, they should be used carefully and as a last resort, as they can have potential side effects on humans and the environment.

In this section, we’ll examine various chemical treatment options such as insecticides and desiccants, and discuss the safety precautions to consider when using these methods.


Insecticides can be effective in killing bed bugs, but should be used carefully to avoid harm. The most effective insecticides for bed bugs are:

  • Pyrethrins
  • Pyrethroids
  • Products containing pyrethroids plus piperonyl butoxide
  • Imidicloprid
  • Acetamiprid
  • Dinetofuran

To ensure a safe and successful treatment when using insecticides for bed bug extermination, adherence to the safety guidelines provided in Section 5.3 is imperative.


Desiccants, like diatomaceous earth, can help eliminate bed bugs by drying them out. They work by absorbing the moisture from the bed bugs, causing them to dehydrate and die. Diatomaceous earth and silica gel are effective desiccants that can be spread in areas where bed bugs are likely to hide, such as cracks, crevices, and along baseboards.

However, it may take a few months for desiccants to eradicate all the bed bugs, so it’s important to be patient and persistent with this method.

Safety Precautions

Always follow safety precautions when using chemical treatments to avoid harm to yourself and your family. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  1. Carefully read and follow the directions on the label of the insecticide.
  2. Use insecticides that are specifically formulated for bed bug control.
  3. Apply the insecticide directly to the bugs and their hiding places.
  4. Refrain from using ‘bug bombs’ or foggers, as they may not effectively eliminate bed bugs.
  5. Never apply pesticides or repellents to your skin.

If hiring a professional pest control exterminator, ensure they use safe and registered bed bug pesticides.

DIY Traps and Monitoring Devices

For a more cost-effective and hands-on approach to bed bug elimination, DIY traps and monitoring devices can prove beneficial in detecting and capturing bed bugs. In this section, we’ll discuss various DIY traps and monitoring devices, including interceptor traps, adhesive traps, and other monitoring devices that can help you track bed bug activity and the effectiveness of your treatments.

Interceptor Traps

bed bug interceptor trap

Interceptor traps are plastic devices designed to detect and trap bed bugs beneath the legs of furniture, such as beds or couches.

They typically consist of a plastic dish with an outer ‘moat’ to catch and retain bed bugs. Interceptor traps are considered passive traps, meaning they do not require attractants like heat or pheromones, and are an effective tool for monitoring and detecting bed bug infestations.

Adhesive Traps

Adhesive traps are disposable traps that contain an adhesive material to capture bed bugs and prevent them from escaping. These traps should be strategically placed around the legs of the bed frame, underneath furniture, and adjacent to cracks or crevices where bed bugs may be present.

Adhesive traps can be an effective way to capture and confirm the presence of bed bugs in your home.

Monitoring Devices

Monitoring devices, such as bed bug interceptors and passive pitfall traps, can help you detect and monitor the presence of bed bugs in your home. These devices can be an invaluable tool for early detection of bed bug infestations, enabling prompt intervention and preventing the spread of infestations.

Research has shown that utilizing interceptors for 7-14 days can achieve a 93% success rate in catching bed bugs.

Hiring a Professional Exterminator

If DIY methods fail, or if you’re dealing with a severe bed bug infestation, hiring a professional exterminator can be a wise choice. Professional exterminators have the knowledge, experience, and specialized equipment to effectively eliminate bed bugs and prevent future infestations.

This section will delve into:

  • The benefits of hiring a professional exterminator
  • Insights into what to expect during the extermination process
  • Guidance on choosing the right exterminator for your needs

What to Expect

When hiring a professional exterminator, you can expect them to provide thorough inspections, customized treatment plans, and follow-up services to ensure the complete elimination of bed bugs. They will typically utilize a combination of chemical and non-chemical treatments, such as insecticides, desiccants, heat treatments, cold treatments, vacuuming, and steaming, to eradicate bed bugs.

Professional exterminators will also work with you to ensure proper preparation and post-treatment care to prevent future infestations.

When we do bed bug treatments at NCPestControlExperts, we always start with a thorough inspection of the home, as well as a consultation on our recommended type of treatment.

Costs and Benefits

The cost of hiring a professional exterminator to eliminate bed bugs can range from $300 to $5,000, with an average cost of $1,750. While professional extermination can be quite costly, it is often more effective and efficient than DIY methods. Professional exterminators possess the expertise, experience, and specialized tools to efficiently eliminate bed bugs and avert potential infestations.

Thus, while DIY methods may be less expensive, professional extermination may be worth the cost for more efficient and comprehensive results.

Choosing the Right Exterminator

To ensure the best results, it’s essential to choose a reputable exterminator with experience in bed bug elimination. When selecting a professional exterminator, consider the following factors:

  • Experience and qualifications
  • Reputation
  • Certification and license
  • Approach to pest management
  • Value

By evaluating these factors, you can find a reliable exterminator for effective bed bug elimination.

By choosing the right exterminator, you can have peace of mind knowing that your bed bug infestation will be effectively eliminated.

Prevention and Maintenance

Taking steps to prevent future infestations is a crucial follow-up measure once you’ve successfully eliminated bed bugs from your home. Prevention and maintenance are essential to ensuring that bed bugs don’t return and wreak havoc on your home once more.

This section will outline various prevention techniques and emphasize the importance of regular inspections for keeping bed bugs at bay.

Travel Precautions

Traveling can put you at risk of bringing bed bugs back to your home. To prevent this, take precautions when staying in hotels or other accommodations, such as inspecting hotel rooms for signs of bed bugs and washing clothes in hot water after trips.

By taking these precautions, you can minimize the chances of bed bugs being introduced to your home while traveling.

Regular Inspections

Conducting regular inspections for bed bugs can help detect them early and prevent large-scale infestations. It’s recommended to perform these inspections every few months and be on the lookout for signs of potential early bed bug infestation, such as:

  • Bites
  • Musty odors
  • Bloodstains on sheets
  • Fecal marks
  • Shell casings
  • Bed bug eggs
  • Live bed bugs

By staying vigilant and inspecting your home regularly, you can help keep bed bugs at bay and maintain a comfortable living environment.

Final Thoughts On Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

In conclusion, eliminating bed bugs from your home can be a challenging and time-consuming task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it is possible. Understanding the biology, life cycle, feeding habits, and hiding places of bed bugs is crucial for effective extermination. Employing a combination of non-chemical and chemical treatments, as well as enlisting the help of professional exterminators when necessary, can ensure a successful and lasting solution. Remember to take preventive measures and conduct regular inspections to keep your home bed bug-free. With determination and persistence, you can reclaim your home and enjoy a peaceful, bed bug-free environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kills bed bugs instantly?

High temperature steam (over 120 degrees Farhenheit) or vacuuming and removing them outside instantly can kill bedbugs immediately.

Can you get rid of bed bugs yourself?

Regular vacuuming and washing with hot water are necessary steps to remove live bed bugs and reduce the spread of allergens, as well as sealing cracks around baseboards and furniture to prevent them from hiding. However, due to the complexity of removing bed bugs, it is advisable to seek professional help.

What really kills bed bugs?

High heat or cold temperatures, as well as chemical insecticides like pyrethrins or pyrethroids, can effectively kill bed bugs. To ensure complete eradication, wash all affected clothing and bedding in hot water for 30 minutes.

What is the main cause of bed bugs?

Travel is widely recognized as the main cause of bed bug infestations, as they can easily hitchhike on people, clothing, luggage, or other personal belongings and be transported to other properties. Secondhand furniture can also be a source of bed bugs, while surviving pesticides by simply moving away from sprayed or treated areas can contribute to their spread.

How long does it take for bed bugs to die from heat treatment?

Heat treatment at temperatures between 125°F and 140°F is effective in killing bed bugs quickly, usually within 90 minutes.


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