How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: Remedies and Treatments

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 19, 2020

As you might gather from their name, bed bugs are small, brown, oval bugs that prefer to live in your mattress or near where you sleep. These insects are nocturnal and feed on blood, coming out when you’re asleep at night to bite you.

Bed bug bites are itchy and uncomfortable, and bed bugs themselves may be able to spread disease. If you notice you have bed bugs, getting rid of them should be your top priority. 

Serious bed bug infestations almost always require professional intervention. Bed bugs are excellent at hiding, and missing just a few bugs or eggs can lead to your bed bug problem coming back. However, for smaller infestations, there are some treatments you can try before calling in the professionals.

Bed Bug Remedies and Treatments

While you can treat bed bug bites after they occur, the most important thing you can do is prevent bites entirely. That involves getting rid of the bugs themselves. Bed bug treatments mostly revolve around killing the bugs and their eggs. Bed bugs are excellent at hiding and avoiding removal. 

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Wrap Your Mattress and Box Spring

Since bed bugs prefer to live near food sources, they are most often found in the cracks and crevices of your mattress and box spring. In mild bed bug infestations, most or all of the bed bugs will be living there. Using a mattress and box spring encasement can contain these bugs entirely and prevent them from breeding or getting into the rest of your home.

Wash Your Bedding Weekly

Bed bugs are vulnerable to water, soap, and extreme heat and cold. Wash your bedding at least weekly and dry it on high heat to reduce bed bug populations. This will not only get rid of adult bed bugs; it will also destroy any eggs or bed bug nymphs that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

The more frequently you wash and change your bedding, the more effective this will be at cutting bed bug populations.

Steam Your Furniture

Heat is just as helpful for removing bed bugs from your furniture as it is for your bedding. Since you can’t throw your mattress, couch, or carpet in a washing machine, a steamer can be an effective alternative.

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Focus on steaming the cracks, corners, and joints of your furniture, since these are places where bed bugs are most likely to hide. Make sure that the steamer can reach temperatures of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Hair dryers will not be effective since the intense air stream may just blow the bed bugs away before the heat affects them.

Use Your Freezer

If you have small items that you believe are infested with bed bugs and cannot wash, your freezer can also help. Bed bugs are just as vulnerable to freezing temperatures as they are to high heat. Leave these small items in your freezer for a minimum of four days to ensure that the bed bugs are entirely gone.  

Install Bedbug Traps

Monitoring your bed bug situation is just as important as removing bed bugs from your home. Bed bug traps can help reduce the number of bed bugs in your home as well as helping you tell if you still have bed bugs at all. If your traps have bed bugs in them, then you’re not done removing them from your home.

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Bed bug traps can also help cut down on the number of bed bug bites you receive while you’re fighting the infestation.

Vacuum Frequently

Bed bugs live in places that are hard to see or clean. Vacuuming is an important way to get bed bugs out of these difficult places, such as cracks in a bed frame or underneath the bed. Make sure that your vacuum has a disposable bag if you choose to vacuum, so you can easily remove the bed bugs from your home instead of infesting the appliance. 

When to See a Doctor

Bed bugs are connected to a number of uncomfortable symptoms, from itchy rashes to significant amounts of stress and anxiety. If you have an unidentified rash or experience symptoms other than itching and redness, contact your physician immediately.

In rare cases, bed bug bites can lead to allergic reactions that include hives and blisters. Your physician will help treat these symptoms and may be able to direct you towards local bed bug resources.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

Sources:

Clinical Microbiology Reviews: “Bed Bugs: “Clinical Relevance and Control Options.”

Environmental Protection Agency: “Where are the bed bugs?”

Mayo Clinic: “Bedbugs.”

Rutgers University: “Cost-Effective and Money-Wasting Bed Bug Control Methods.”

University of Kentucky: “Bed Bugs.”

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