Bed bugs are the small nocturnal insects that multiply quickly. They belong to the Cimicidae insect family, feed on human blood and are more commonly found in warmer climates. They are active at night and typically infest mattresses, bed and furniture but can hide in drapery, linens, headboards and even clothing. A bed bug will pierce the skin of its victim with its ‘beak’, drawing blood using two hollow tubes as it feeds using a strong analgesic so you don’t feel pain. However, you should learn how to get rid of bed bug bites as once bitten, the analgesic wares off and red, itchy welts form. These can cause skin infections or allergic reactions. If you want to know how you get rid of bed bugs from your home, then our home remedies for bed bugs are all the treatments you will need.
Signs of bed bug Infestation
The signs of a bed bug infestation are hard to notice at first but quickly become apparent as the bed bugs multiply.
Bed bugs are small, brown, oval shaped insects that feed on human blood. A bed bug starts off life at less than 1mm but can grow to almost 5mm when mature and recently fed with a blood meal.
After feeding, their thorax swells and they become redder in color. Bed bugs can lay thousands of eggs which are almost invisible to the naked eye.
Once these eggs hatch, the nymphs will shed their skin as they grow and the discarded skins are one of the first signs of a bed bug infestation.
Typically they come in threes, in a neat little row. The same bug will bite more than once and will move forward to a suitable bite area, leaving a straight row of marks on the skin in its wake.
Often the bite wound will continue to bleed after the insect has fed, and small drops of dried blood on bed linen is also an indication of a bed bug bite.
For bed bug infestations of this magnitude, as shown above, it is recommended to throw out the entire mattress.
For smaller infestations, check out our home remedies for bed bugs below.
1. Diatomaceous Earth
This powder is chemical free and if you are unsure how to kill bed bugs, then look no further.
Spread Diatomaceous earth around your house or on the area where bed bugs nest. It takes more than 10 days for this product to kill bed bugs but the mortality rate is higher than 90%.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda helps absorb moisture from the body of bed bugs due to its drying properties. It has antimicrobial properties which destroys bed bugs.
Spread some baking soda around the crevices and cracks or wherever you find bugs. Don’t forget to vacuum the soda after few days and re-apply it.
3. Cayenne Pepper
The antimicrobial properties of cayenne pepper assist to kill bed bugs.
Take 1 tsp each of cayenne powder, oregano and grated ginger. Boil them in water. Strain and spray the solution around the entering spaces of your room and areas where bed bugs may be hiding. The smell of this solution drives the bugs away and prevents them from spreading.
4. Steam Treatment
Get your carpets, mattress, cushions steamed if you want to get rid of this problem. Bed bugs can’t survive in high temperature, minimum 113 degrees Fahrenheit (F) is required. Steam permeates through these materials and destroys the bugs and prevents the egg from surviving (4, 5).
Note: Steaming should be avoided around electric outlets (6).
5. Double Sided Tape
You can attach double sided tape around the bottom of your beds. The bed bugs get stuck if they try to sneak up on you. This is a good method to check bedbugs (7).
6. Hair Dryer
Bed bugs cannot tolerate high temperature, so you can set the dryer at the highest mode for 20 minutes or above to kill bed bugs (8, 9). Set the dryer and turn it on. Position it around the mattress seam and infested area for about an hour to get the effective results.
This one hour treatment may kill the pest and eggs. Vacuum the heated area and remove the bug’s traces. Don’t forget to clean vacuum filter.
7. Vacuum Cleaner
The suction wand of the vacuum can remove the bed bugs from sleeping quarters, perimeter of carpets, seams of the mattress, under baseboards, box spring, crevices and other susceptible places (10, 11). Change the vacuum bag after each use (12).
Note: Wash all the attachments in hot water and with strong detergent (13).
8. Stiff Brush
Scrub the mattress seam using a stiff brush to eliminate the bedbugs and remove their egg (14).
9. Cold treatment
Bed bugs can’t withstand cold temperature. All you have to do is to put the infested items in freezer for four days at 0oF (15).
Herbal Remedies to Kill Bed Bugs
10. Sweet Flag
When trying to figure out how to get rid of bed bugs, most people don’t realize there are are herbal options. Once such herbal remedy is sweet flag. This herb is known for its anti-microbial properties and also called as calamus.
The herb is used as a bed bug repellent because of its aromatic properties (16). You can purchase a calamus packet and prepare a solution according to the instructions given on it. Spray the solution in the infested room to eliminate the microbes like worms and bed bugs.
11. Bean Leaves
The used of this herb is a traditional Balkan method of trapping bed bugs. Take some bean leaves and spread on the floor of your room where you find bugs. It helps trap the pests in the infested place.
The leaves make the use of trichomes (microscopic hooked hairs) to kill the pests. These microscopic hairs are present on the leaf surface that pierce the bedbug’s feet (17).
Researchers at the University of California Irvine and the University of Kentucky published a paper regarding the concept of use of bean leaves to kill bed bugs (18).
12. Indian Lilac
Take a handful of Indian Lilac leaves, crush them and spread on the susceptible area. The smell and antimicrobial properties of this plant eradicate bed bugs effectively .
- Alternatively, boil some leaves in water for 10 minutes. Strain this solution and bath with this. It treats the infected skin area and keeps bedbugs’ away from you.
- Moreover, spray Indian lilac oil on all the stuff in your house to get rid of bugs.
13. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is one of the miraculous essential oils which is known for its antimicrobial effects. Besides, the antibacterial properties help you get rid of all sorts of microbes including bacteria, viruses and fungi (19).
You can clean your home with this oil, or you can add some tea tree oil drops on the clothing and other infested area. Prepare a solution consisting of lukewarm water and tea tree oil.
Place this diluted solution in a spray bottle and sprinkle it on the walls, furniture, carpets, linens, beds, drapes, cupboards, mattresses and clothes. Do this once a week to eliminate the microbes.
Thyme has antimicrobial properties which helps to get rid of bed bugs (20).
Tie a thyme stick with a cotton cloth and burn it near the infested places of your room and surroundings in order to repel the bed bugs.
- Alternatively, take fresh thyme leaves and place them in net bags. Put these bags in the mattress, corners, cupboards, under the sofa, beneath the cushions and other places.
Note: Don’t forget to replace these bags with fresh thyme leaves every 3rd day. It will take time, but bugs leave the hiding places permanently.
15. Essential Oils
Take a cup of water and add a few drops of lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus essential oil. Spray the mixture onto the bugs and on the infested things. The mixture works against the pests and kills them (21).
- Besides, tea tree oil, oregano oil, and cedar oil are also effectual for battling these bed bugs. These essential oils block the bugs and choke them.
16. Mint Leaves
You can use mint leaves to prevent the entry of bed bugs in your home. It is an effective repellent that keeps bugs at bay (22). Sprinkle crushed mint leaves around the sleeping area or inside the cradleboard of small children. You can also put dried mint leaves packet between your linen closets and mattress.
17. Black Walnut Tea
This is also an effective herb that can be used as an insecticide and repellent against bed bugs. Sprinkle or place its tea bags on the infested area including corners of the room, creases of bed, interior area and closet area.
The antibacterial and anti fungal properties bring out the bugs from hiding places and help destroy them. The leaves of black walnut posses insecticidal properties against bed bugs (23).
- Alternatively, prepare an herbal sachet by mixing 1 part of lavender, 3 parts of black walnut, 1 part of the mint, 2 parts of sweet flag and 3 part of thyme. The aroma of all these herbs repels the bed bugs.
18. Beauveria Bassiana
Beauveria Bassiana is a fungus and considered as a natural insecticide. It works against the bed bugs and kill them within three to five days. It has some pre lethal effects including reduced fecundity, mobility and feeding. It works like a parasite on insects and disable them (24).
You can use lemongrass to kill the bedbugs and their eggs, as it increases the acidic condition inside the bug. Bed bugs cannot bear the odor of lemongrass and ultimately helps you get rid of them (25).
The pungent smell and acidic pH of the clove disturb the survival of bed bugs, as they cannot stand this acidic condition. You can destroy the bugs easily by exposing your pillows, mattress and other infested area to clove oil (26).
The pyrethrum is an extract formed from the combination of dried flower heads of C, Coccineum and Chysanthemum. Chysanthemum contains natural insecticide .
You can use this natural insecticide to kill the bed bugs, as it directly attacks the nervous system of the bed bugs and is toxic to them (27).
- Besides, you can use an insecticide that comprises canola oil and pyrethrum, since it is safe for your pets and children.
You can use lavender oil, soap or its powder to get rid of bed bugs. Besides, place fresh lavender leaves on the infested area to keep these bugs away. This is one of the effective methods as the scent of lavender oil nauseates them, and eventually, destroys them (28).
- Wash your clothes and other fabric in hot water that came in contact with the infested area (29).
- Cover your mattress and spring box in a plastic cover (30).
- Examine the corner of the mattress regularly (31).
- Throw off the affected things (32).
- Be careful while using insecticides to kill insects. Keep your children away from insecticides (33).
- Remove clutter from your bedrooms (34, 35).
- Seek professional help if above remedies do not work (36).
- Keep beds away from the wall (37).
- Wash your luggage and clothing which you used while travelling (38).