While bed bug problems were almost unheard of just a little over a decade ago, today calls to pest control companies related to bed bugs are continuing to increase.
Orkin Entomologist and Director of Technical Services Dr. Ron Harrison stated in a recent news release: “We have more people affected by bed bugs in the United States now than ever before.”
While you might think these tiny insects that feed on human blood are more often found in “buggy,” humid places like the South, the U.S. cities that report the most problems don’t include one in the southern region of the country – Baltimore is the No. 1 city when it comes to bed bugs, followed by Washington, DC; Chicago, New York, Columbus, Ohio; Los Angeles, Detroit, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Still, no one is immune to these pesky critters that certainly don’t discriminate.
Their flat bodies allow them to squeeze into tiny crevices in furniture as well as mattresses. They’re attracted to mattresses as well as other furniture, the cracks of doorways, dresser drawers, shelving units and other areas ripe for hiding.
While they don’t transmit disease, they leave red, itchy bites that can be so bad it’s impossible to sleep. The scratching then causes breaks in the skin, increasing the likelihood of infection. In severe cases, they can even cause anaphylactic shock.
While they’re difficult to spot with the naked eye, one of the most common signs of bed bugs (other than their bite) is discovering small stains of blood on sheets and linen.
If you’ve been an unfortunate victim of these bugs, you might be tempted to immediately call your local pest control company, but that’s not without risk.
Pesticides and insecticides contain toxic chemicals that are used to eradicate pests. The chemicals may include a carcinogen, a substance that is directly linked to causing cancer.
Pesticides include two types of chemicals, active and inert. The active ingredients kill or repel the pest, and inert chemicals are used for other purposes, such as attracting pests or increasing the shelf life of the product. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires pest control companies to list the active ingredients on their packaging, it doesn’t require inert ingredients to be on the label, and they can be toxic.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to naturally get rid of bed bugs.
These insects are unable to survive extreme hot or cold temperatures, which means methods like steam cleaning, hot washes, and drying on high heat are just some of the natural home remedies that can be used to eliminate them from bedding, furniture, clothing and so on. For larger areas, there are options for creating a DIY natural insecticide using all natural products like essential oils.
Locate the Infestation
No matter which method you choose, your first step should be to locate the infestation, in order to eliminate all traces of the bugs from your home. While they’re typically found in bedrooms, they can live anywhere in your home where pets and/or people sleep.
The EPA advises carefully checking the seams of mattresses and other soft furnishings in your home, like sofa and seat cushions. Take a close look in the spaces between cushions, as well as mattresses, bed frames, and any other possible hiding places in the bedrooms. You should also examine drawer joints, behind any loose wallpaper, and even in electrical appliances. A space that’s as thin as a credit card, is big enough for bed bugs to make their home in.
Now that you know where the problem is, it’s time to fight it. These natural home remedies have shown to be the most effective for battling bed bugs.
9 Best Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs
1. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth is a powder that’s effective for a number of different pests, including bed bugs, and it’s chemical free, made from the fossil remains of tiny aquatic organisms. It kills bed bugs by dehydrating them as it contains properties that absorb the fat and oils from the insects.
Apply 100% Pure Diatomaceous Earth powder around the infested area, and eventually, you’ll see dead bed bugs that can be vacuumed away.
While it takes as long as 10 days for it to kill them, it has a very high mortality rate at greater than 90%, and it’s also easy to sprinkle in cracks and crevices that can otherwise be hard to get to.
Before you use it, be sure to wash all of your linens in the hottest water possible, and vacuum your home thoroughly. When you’re ready to sprinkle it onto affected areas like your bed and bedroom, put on a mask. While food grade diatomaceous earth is safe to eat, if you inhale it, it can cause damage to your lungs as the tiny pieces are actually very sharp and jagged, although they may feel smooth to your hands.
After a few days, vacuum the powder up and repeat the entire process to ensure you get recently hatched bed bugs. Continue to follow the process every few days for about two weeks.
2. Vacuum Everything
In addition to washing all linens, mattress covers, fabrics, etc. in the hottest water possible, vacuuming everything you possibly can helps eliminate a bed bug infestation.
Be sure to vacuum all chairs and other soft furnishings, all carpets, box springs, and mattresses as well as mattress encasements, and even curtains. Bed bugs can basically be hiding anywhere and everywhere, including upholstered furniture and especially in obscure places. It’s actually not all that uncommon to discover them in electric appliances too.
Vacuum all rooms thoroughly, at least once a week, leaving no stone left unturned. Dispose of the vacuum bag, outside, after you finish vacuuming the area.
3. Steam Cleaning
As there are some items that can’t be washed at high temperatures, and infestations that may not be completely eradicated by vacuuming, you may want to turn to steam cleaning if you’ve got a bad problem with bed bugs.
Steam cleaning using high heat is very effective at killing the annoying creatures, as neither the adult bed bug nor their eggs can tolerate the steam.
Scientists have found that bed bugs are quickly killed when exposed to temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, one of the greatest benefits of steam cleaning is that the heat treatment penetrates deep into the fabric and it can also reach areas that would otherwise be impossible to get to, like small cracks, crevices, and corners.
You can buy a small handheld steam cleaner that has a strong vapor flow, or rent a professional steam cleaner.
The devices typically come with multiple different attachments that will allow you to access even the most troublesome spots.They create a fog-like steam that will immediately exterminate bed bugs, even those you can’t see.
Be sure to use a dry steam rather than wet, as wet steam may destroy fabrics or soft furnishings. With dry steam, you can and should use it everywhere, just like you would when vacuuming, from all bedding and mattresses to flooring, cracks, fixtures and all furniture.
4. Baking Soda
Baking soda works by basically drying out the bed bugs, as it sucks the moisture from them and ultimately kills them.
Spread a light layer of it throughout all affected rooms in the home, layering it from every wall to the doorways and corners – wherever you think bed bugs may have infested. Allow the baking soda to sit for an entire week. After a week has passed, suck up all the baking soda with a vacuum cleaner, basically following the above vacuuming process, getting each and every area very thoroughly to ensure that there are no eggs or bed bugs anywhere.
You may need to repeat this process several times to completely get rid of the infestation.
5. Cayenne Pepper, Ginger, and Oregano Bed Bug Fighting Spray
This homemade powder is especially effective when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs. The spiciness of cayenne and ginger, combined with the strong smell of oregano essential oil that’s known to offend bed bugs, makes it especially potent.
To make it you’ll need the following ingredients
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp oregano essential oil
- 1 cup water
- Add the cayenne pepper, grated ginger, and oregano essential oil to the cup of water in a pan on the stove.
- Boil the water for about 7 minutes.
- Strain the solution into a spray bottle and then spray it around any entry points of rooms that have bed bugs, as well as around bed frames, mattresses, etc. You may need to repeat this process every few days until the problem has been resolved.
6. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic, expectorant and antiviral.
It’s not only great for inhibiting viral and bacterial infections, it can also be used to kill insects, including bed bugs, as it has antiparasitic properties to which make it capable of destroying or suppressing their growth.
For a minor bed bug infestation, you may be able to use tea tree oil to fight it off before it gets out of hand.
Dilute 20 drops of 100% pure tea tree oil in a spray bottle with water and then thoroughly spray affected furnishings.
Getting under, around and on all areas of an affected mattresses, as well as walls, cabinets, curtains, cushions and other soft materials, in addition to washing linens and any fabrics in the hottest water possible. Repeat the process once a week until the problem is totally eliminated.
7. Lavender/Peppermint Oil Pesticide Spray
While most of us associate the floral aroma of lavender with soaps, relaxation, and calm, surprisingly, it can also be used as an effective way to battle bed bugs.
In fact, lavender essential oil has been used as a bug repellent for centuries, often utilized to protect clothes and linens from the infestation of moths and other insects.
Similar to tea tree oil, lavender essential oil can make an excellent, effective natural spray for killing bed bugs as it contains insect-repelling properties that are toxic to them, but entirely safe for us and our pets.
One study that looked at the effects of essential oils and their use for insect and bug control discovered that a combination of lavender oil and peppermint oil managed to effectively kill insects.
Lavender oil, in particular, is known to destroy the eggs and larvae of bed bugs, as well as repelling the bed bugs themselves.
Peppermint oil also offers powerful repellent action. In fact, one study, published in the Malaria Journal demonstrated why it works – the researchers proved that it provides strong repellent action when applied to exposed body parts. It also showed significant larvicidal and mosquito repellent action, with mosquito larvae killed 24 hours after exposure to a solution of peppermint oil and water.
To make this natural pesticide spray, simply fill a spray bottle with water, and add about 15 drops of lavender essential oil and 15 drops of peppermint oil – both available to buy from here. Shake well and then spray in all infested areas of your home. Continue to do this daily until all signs of the bed bugs are gone.
8. Peppermint Leaves
You can also use peppermint leaves to get rid of bed bugs, for the reasons above – the oil in the leaves offers powerful bug repellent action.
Simply crush up dry mint leaves to make about one cup, and then spread the crushed leaves around infested areas.
Of course, if you have a bigger problem, you may need two or three cups of the leaves. Repeat once a week until the problem is gone, vacuuming up the old leaves that have lost their potency, replacing with new ones.
9. Black Walnut Tea
Black walnut tea offers antifungal, antibacterial, insecticidal and repellent properties help to eliminate bed bugs.
It’s also a rather ingenious way to use tea bags that you would otherwise have tossed out, but of course, you’d probably rather not have that problem in the first place.
Simply place used black walnut tea bags strategically throughout your home, in all nooks and corners, mattresses and beddings, to eliminate the bugs and their eggs.