Bed Bug Removal (A Quick Guide)

Bed bugs are tiny reddish-brown insects that are parasitic. That means they bite you and feed on your blood while you're asleep. So, how do you get rid of these nasty creatures?


To eliminate bed bugs from your home, you first have to identify them correctly. Then, it's crucial to wash all linens and clothing. Last, utilize heat, cold, or knockdown aerosols to kill live bed bugs.
Bed Bug Control

In this article, we’ll tell you how to identify bed bugs in your home correctly. Also, you’ll receive step-by-step instructions for getting rid of them. After that, we’ll answer common questions most people ask about bed bug control. 

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How To Identify Bed Bugs 

Adult bed bugs measure about five millimeters (0.2 inches) long and have a smoky brown color. However, they typically turn bright red after a blood meal. Their piercing-sucking mouthparts give them the ability to perform this task. 

Bed bugs look similar to other insects. For example, people often get carpet beetles confused with bed bugs. Also, certain flea varieties look identical but are usually smaller in size.

Lifecycle and Reproduction

The lifecycle of bed bugs includes three primary stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults. There are also five separate nymphal stages during the growth cycle. They appear whitish to yellow and are much smaller than the adults. 

Female bed bugs lay their eggs in several hiding places, including:

  • Mattress seams
  • Wall cracks and crevices
  • Bed frames
  • Within box springs
  • Electrical outlets

Bed bug eggs are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. Even the adults are merely the size of an apple seed. For that reason, you may not detect bed bugs until they are fully established in your home. 

How Bed Bugs Spread

Bed bugs hide in luggage, used furniture, and backpacks to spread rapidly via air travel and other modes of transportation. That’s why they are a big problem in the U.S. and other countries. It typically has little to do with personal hygiene issues. 

Bed bugs sometimes travel on pets and other animals. However, they are less likely to become infested with bed bugs than they are with fleas. That’s because bed bugs prefer human blood. 

Bed Bugs Can Be Devastating

Hospitality businesses can often become devastated by bed bug infestations. If guests detect signs of activity in one hotel room, it can shut down the entire facility for weeks. Also, schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings can be seriously affected by bed bug problems. 

Bed bugs were almost entirely eradicated by the 1950s. However, by the 1980s, they were on the rise again. Today, they’ve reached epidemic proportions, with cities like New York and Chicago becoming epicenters of a near national crisis. 

Signs of Bed Bug Infestations

It’s crucial to discover bed bugs early on. They can spread rapidly throughout your house, and you may end up infesting another person’s private space as well. 

Catching a bed bug infestation early on will also save you money. It’s much less costly to treat a minor problem than wait until it becomes widespread. 

No matter what size the infestation, bed bugs are a challenge to detect. Due to their small size, they are difficult to spot. However, there are signs to look for, such as:

  • Live bed bugs. Although bed bugs are nocturnal, they may feed during the day, especially if it’s been several days or weeks since their last blood meal. So, you may start seeing more of them during the daylight hours.
  • Eggs and molting. Eggs are tiny, measuring just under one millimeter. However, yellow skins that nymphs leave behind may be easier to spot. 
  • Dark blotches on sheets. Tiny black spots can number into the hundreds from just one small infestation. These are bed bug droppings, and they can resemble a black marker spill. 
  • Red stains on sheets. These rust-colored stains are typically caused by bed bugs being crushed by their human hosts, and they look similar to human bloodstains. 

Bed bugs hide in several locations within a bedroom. Look for them along mattress seams, box springs, and cracks on headboards. They can also hide in couches, chairs, and other furniture. 

However, during heavy infestations, they can also be present in some highly unusual places. For example:

  • Drawers and cabinets
  • Window and door frames
  • Under picture frames
  • Electrical outlets
  • Under wallpaper 

Bed bug bites often produce large, itchy welts on the skin. However, they’re not the best evidence of bed bugs. That’s because other insects such as mosquitoes and fire ants can cause the same types of bite marks. 

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How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

Eliminating bed bugs is a process that involves a good bit of work on your part. It will take some time to complete the necessary bed bug treatment steps. So, if that’s okay with you, and you want to get started, we’ve laid out everything you need to do so right here. 

Step 1: Wash Infested Clothing and Linens

You may be tempted to throw out your infested linens. However, that’s probably not necessary. A good hot wash and then 15 minutes in the dryer on high will kill any living bed bugs. 

Also, be sure to pull out your clothes and wash everything in your dresser drawers. Do the same for your clothing closets if you think they may be infested. However, this is usually not the case unless you have a severe infestation. 

Be sure to put everything in a plastic bag after you wash it. You don’t want to reinfest your clothing or linens after you’ve gone through all this trouble. 

Step 2: Disassemble Your Bed

Carefully remove the mattress and box springs. Look for nesting bed bugs using a powerful flashlight. You can also look for live bed bugs in the box spring by shining the light into it. 

While you’ve got the bed dismantled, look for signs of infestation on the headboard and footboard. Don’t forget the slots where the frame goes in. 

Also, shine the light on the floor to see if any bugs are trying to get away. If so, you can use an aerosol to knock them out quickly. Or you can suck them up using a shop vac. 

Step 3: Vacuum Everything

Vacuuming bed bugs may seem like a strange thing to do. However, this is a secret trick the pros use to make their lives easier, and it helps control bed bugs several times faster. 

Start by vacuuming areas where bed bug infestations are evident. For example:

  • Along mattress seams
  • The slots where the frame goes into the headboard
  • Cracks in walls
  • Around electrical outlets
  • Dresser drawers (don’t forget underneath)
  • Carpet edges
  • Floors and rugs

Scrub infested areas with a bristle brush before vacuuming. That will help loosen dried blood and fecal matter. However, it’s best to wear a respirator — or at least a carpenter’s mask — during this process to protect yourself from allergens. 

A regular upright vacuum cleaner is fine for this project — there’s no need for anything elaborate here. However, it’s best to change the vacuum bag outside to ensure live bugs don’t have a chance to reinfest any indoor areas. 

Step 4: Seal the Cracks

Silicone caulk all cracks and crevices in walls and hidden areas. You could treat them with an EPA-approved, dry insecticide like diatomaceous earth beforehand. But there’s often no need since you’re sealing these openings anyway. 

Plug pipe entries with steel wool or expansion foam. Also, use clear caulk on baseboards, molding, and gaps in furniture connections. It’s best to get as many areas as possible to prevent future harboring. 

Step 5: Treat the Mattress and Box Spring

Spray mattress seams and box springs with a pyrethrin-based, non-residual insecticide spray. However, be sure to read the label directions carefully. Some are not authorized to be used in this manner. 

If unsure, select a milder insecticide like diatomaceous earth and apply it using a bellows duster. But again, read the label directions carefully since over-application can result in it being less effective. 

Steam Cleaners

If you don’t like the idea of spraying your mattresses with pesticides, you’re not alone. Most people are unsure of how it may affect them in the long run. 

One option you may want to consider is using a steam cleaner to kill bed bugs. The best ones are set to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s plenty of heat to eliminate even the most stubborn infestations. 

When It’s Time To Replace the Mattress

In extreme cases, you may want to replace your mattress set, especially if you’re facing a large infestation. Sure, you can use a quality mattress encasement. However, even the best ones designed for bed bugs are never 100 percent effective. 

What Not To Use

It’s best to forgo the bug bombs and foggers that you buy at the hardware store when treating bed bugs in your home. They don’t work very well since they can’t penetrate cracks and seams. You may make matters worse by scattering bed bugs into different parts of your home. 

How To Prevent Bed Bugs 

It’s well worth the extra effort to keep bed bugs out of your home, and it could save you money. Here, we list some steps needed to keep bed bugs out of your life for good. 

Bed Bug Traps

There are several glue traps available to help monitor for bed bugs. Some have attractants; some don’t. Either way, you can use most of these small devices to catch bed bugs almost anywhere. 

Use under the bed to monitor all types of insect activity. Or you can take them with you while traveling. Also, utilize traps to find out if the hotel room you’re staying at has bed bugs. 

Interceptors

An alternative to bed bug traps is interceptors. They have one side that’s smooth and the other that’s rough. The idea is that the bed bug will climb the rough textured surface on the outside of the trap.

Since the inside part is smooth, the insect can’t get out. This is because bed bugs can’t climb smooth surfaces. So, it gets trapped permanently. 

Silica Gel

Silica gels are an alternative to diatomaceous earth and boric acid. They combine the use of desiccants and exfoliants to help control insects. 

They come in a fine powder that you use with a bellows duster. You apply it to wall cracks and crevices, and it’s also useful on carpets, behind baseboards, and around door molding.

Residual Treatments

Residual treatments with a long-lasting spray are preferable to manage bed bugs. They are typically labeled for use indoors and outside. For do-it-yourself pest control, a small spray bottle will work well to treat an infested room. 

Top Recommended Pest Control Companies 

If you don’t want to go the DIY route to eliminate your bed bug problem, that’s okay. Three of the best exterminators in the U.S. ready to help. Here, we’ll tell you why they are at the top of our list so you can decide which one is right for you. 

  • Terminix. Termites are what usually come to mind when you hear the name Terminix. But they are a leader in fighting a wide variety of pests, and bed bugs are no exception. 
  • Aptive Environmental utilizes an integrated pest management approach to bed bug elimination. This means that its technicians use other means to control pests besides just spraying pesticides. As a result, this strategy is generally safer for local communities. 
  • Orkin incorporates alternative methods such as heat treatments and natural bed bug sprays to ensure the safety of children and pets. The high temperatures help to eliminate bed bugs without the use of strong pyrethroids. Also, this eco-friendly approach is one of the highest-rated in the U.S. 

When searching for a qualified exterminator, be sure to check online review sites. Also, it’s good to talk to the neighbors to see who they use. However, no matter what company you decide on, make sure they’re licensed, bonded, and insured in your state. 

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Bed Bug Removal FAQs

Are bed bugs dangerous?

Once a bed bug starts feeding on its human host, it releases enzymes to cause them to bleed easier. This process facilitates dermatitis. It also creates a large welt on the skin where the bite occurs. 

Secondary infection may arise due to increased scratching by the individual. Also, it could get to the point where bleeding occurs at the bite location. But rarely does it lead to systemic infection. 

Bed bugs also cause psychological distress in some individuals. These people report losing sleep, affecting their productivity at work. Sometimes, it can get so bad that the person becomes delusional, constantly obsessing about bed bugs. 

What is the main cause of bed bugs? 

Bed bugs have been around humans for thousands of years. Since they are parasitic, they rely on an occasional blood meal for survival. Since humans are plentiful, that’s where they prefer to feed. 

It was once thought that hygiene played a major role in how bed bugs gravitated toward certain individuals. However, that theory has since been disproven. Instead, it’s more a matter of population density than anything else. 

What happens if you see one bed bug?

Having one or two bed bugs doesn’t necessarily constitute an infestation. They may simply be stragglers left behind after a thorough treatment. Or they may be the only ones you brought back with you from a long trip. 

Still, it’s best to monitor for more activity. After all, one mating pair of bed bugs can create thousands of offspring. So, it would help if you kept a watchful eye out for more.

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