You might mistake a bed bug for either a tiny 1/4-inch cockroach or smaller tick. It doesn't matter which one it is, if it's in your home or on your body, you want it gone or dead. Bed bugs, like ticks, suck blood from humans. The adult's color changes from brown to brownish red and the nymphs change from clear to red after they've lunched. Most people want to kill bed bugs as fast as possible but they don't want, or can't use, toxic chemicals. There are natural ways to eliminate bed bugs.
Things You'll Need
- Canister vacuum
- Several vacuum bags
- Plastic bags
- Scrub brush
- Thyme or tea tree oil
Expose the bedbugs. Remove all extraneous items from the area. Clutter conceals bed bugs and their nests perfectly. Take apart the bed frames, remove drawers, turn over furniture and inspect the bottom side of the box springs for bed bug hiding places. Check in corners and fill any gaps at the baseboards or on moldings with caulk. Check out pictures of what to look for at Bedbugger.com (see Resources).
Scrub areas with a scrub brush to dislodge eggs when you find an infested area. Throw out any items like throw pillows with holes. It's easier to get rid of the pillow than kill any bugs or eggs hiding inside.
Vacuum the entire house thoroughly with a canister vacuum. Take the vacuum outside to change bags. Put the old bag in a plastic garbage bag and seal it. Return to the house to vacuum every nook and cranny again. You're likely to suck up more bed bugs. Remove the bag again and seal it in a trash bag.
Take some of the items to the garage if you have an unheated garage where the temperature drops below freezing and it's winter. You'll have to leave them there for two weeks to kill the bed bugs but it may be worth the effort.
Use a steam cleaner that heats the water to at least 200 degrees. You'll want a gentle steaming, not high pressure. High pressure steam blows the bugs away and may keep them from boiling to death. Cover the head with a cloth to diffuse the pressure if there's high pressure. Steam every area of the house and each nook and cranny. Repeat the process every week until there's no sign of bugs. Normally it takes a few months.
Wash all clothing, bedding, towels and other washable items in hot water and dry on high. Take them to the dry cleaners if required. If you can't wash it, another option is to put the item in the dryer on high for half an hour. Check the fabric label first. Seal the items in plastic bags after they are washed to prevent re-infestation. Putting small clothing items in black sealed plastic bags and laying them on the lawn in the sun for two days, turning once a day, also kills bugs on smaller non-wash items. Storing the items in below freezing areas for at least two weeks also kills the bugs.
Prevent further infestation. Keep the house free of clutter, vacuum and steam, check for bed bugs before you bunk down in a hotel or treat all items in a Packtite when you arrive home. Packtite heats the items in a sealed container and kills any infestation. Put thyme or tea tree oil on the border of the mattress to discourage the bugs from entering the bed if one survives or sneaks into your home.
Tips & Warnings
- If you decide to fight bed bugs without pesticides and use steam or freezing techniques, you have to be diligent about continuous follow-up treatment because some bugs always seem to escape.
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