How to get rid of bed bugs quickly – and 3 signs of an infestation
- When it comes to getting rid of bed bugs, the most effective – but also the most expensive – method is to get rid of them.
- To kill bed bugs on your own, the EPA recommends trying heat or cold treatments, as well as pesticides.
- Here’s how to spot the signs of bed bugs in your home and get rid of them quickly.
- This article has been medically reviewed by Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist at Yale School of Medicine.
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. Since they are less than an inch long, they are almost impossible to spot. But they can be found everywhere from homes to nursing homes to hotels.
“Usually the first signs of bed bug bites are bites,” says Rick Young, owner of Young’s Pest Control in the UK.
The tell-tale sign are small bites grouped in a group or line on your skin. Although bed bug bites are itchy, they’re usually harmless.
“In the vast majority of cases, bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a real health hazard,” says Sreedhar Krishna, a dermatologist at TalkHealth London.
Even so, most people who have bed bugs want them to go away as soon as possible. This is how you can spot the signs of bed bugs and get rid of them quickly and effectively.
Signs of bed bugs
Bed bugs usually live in or around your bed and often hide in the folds and seams of mattresses or upholstery. However, it is rare to actually spot a bed bug.
“Sometimes it is very difficult to tell if you have bed bugs because they stay in hiding during the day and only come out to eat at night when we are deeply asleep,” says Young.
Instead of looking for bedbugs, look for signs of a bed bug infestation. These can include:
- bed Insect bites that appear in a cluster or line on your skin. Bites appear red on light skin or may appear dark on dark skin. They will be smaller than mosquito bites.
- Red or rusty spots on your mattress or sheet. This can happen if you accidentally crush bed bugs.
- Dark brown or black spots on your mattress or sheet that almost looks like it was drawn by a marker. These are bed bug droppings.
This is how you get rid of bed bugs
Treating bed bugs can be complex and time-consuming, especially since the infestation is usually severe when people notice it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends certain do-it-yourself remedies.
- Heat treatment. Bed bugs die when exposed to heat above 130 ° F. You can tumble the linens on high heat or use a steam cleaner with a gentle air supply to warm your bed.
- Cold treatment. You can put your bedding in a sealed bag and put it in a freezer at 0 ° F for four days to kill bed bugs.
- Pesticides. The EPA recommends certain pesticides for controlling bed bugs. Desiccants that dry out the bed bugs are very effective but can take months to work. Some fog machines (also known as insect bombs) can be used to control bed bugs, but they are less effective because they don’t penetrate the tiny cracks where bed bugs hide. It is important to follow the directions on the specific nebulizer you are using.
Additionally, our colleagues at Insider Reviews have compiled a list of the best products to get rid of bed bugs.
You can try these out before hiring an exterminator to save money, but be aware that professional destruction is a more effective (albeit costly) treatment.
Exterminators use the same tools – heat or pesticides – but have access to higher quality equipment that can work faster and more effectively.
“There are a number of home remedies that you can try, but these are unlikely to get rid of the problem,” says Krishna. “This is because bed bugs can hide in very hard-to-reach areas and professional help is often required.”
In most cases, exterminators will have to come back several times to get rid of the bed bugs. The EPA provides additional guidance on choosing a pest control company. After the destruction is complete, you should be vigilant for signs of bed bugs for at least two weeks.
If you suspect you may have bed bugs, don’t carry bed linens or clothes to other areas of your home. This can help keep the bed bugs on one side, Young says.
The bottom line
Bed bugs are scary but mostly harmless, and there are effective ways to get rid of them. Reminding yourself of this can keep calm if you notice any signs of a bed bug infestation in your home.
“If you have bed bugs, there is never any need to panic,” says Young. “There are qualified people and proper methods to safely eliminate your problem.”