Home Remedies for Bed Bugs – How To Prevent & Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast

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Bed bugs aren’t your typical pest. They’re not just parasites that constantly feed on our blood, giving us a god awful time when we need a good night’s sleep. They’re actually at the center of a social stigma – people labeling you as ‘dirty’ if you happen to have them.

Bed bugs

That’s why we always look for ways to get rid of them. We fight the uphill battle of eradicating a growing population of these tiny blood suckers.

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One way to do that is through home remedies. So before you call your local pest control, save money by trying out these home remedies for bed bugs. One of these may just be the solution that you’re looking for.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed Bugs are parasitic insects that feed solely on blood. The most common type, and undoubtedly the most hated, is Cimex lectularius L.. This bed bug refers to suck on human blood.

You can find them in temperate climates all over the world, and they’re quite common in the US.

Appearance

Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Light? Popular Myths about Attracting Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are insects that have a large abdomens and little heads. Their abdomens can expand after sucking blood. CC Image courtesy of Medill DC on Flickr

Bed bugs drastically change from birth to adulthood. They can even be mistaken for lice because of how they look. To help you spot a true bed bug in your home, the

United States Environmental Protection Agency

gives us hints on how these insects can look at key parts of their life cycles:

Adult bed bugs…

  • are 3/16 – 1/4 inch smakk, about the size on an apple seed
  • are light to dark brown in color
  • have flat oval shaped bodies but can become red, elongated and plump after feeding
  • have 3 segments: the head, thorax and abdomen with very tiny font wing pads (not full wings) that aren’t used for flying
  • have a terrible musty smell because of the odor glands at the bottom side of their bodies

While young bed bugs or nymphs…

  • are smaller
  • are nearly invisible because of their translucent or whitish-yellow color
  • can turn bright red (filled with blood) after feeding

And for bed bug eggs, they’re…

  • the size of a pinhead
  • pearly white in color
  • marked by an eye spot after aging for five days

Diet

Bed bugs are hematophagous. Meaning, their diet mainly consists of blood from other living things. And right now, a lot of species feed on us humans.

They can feed for 2-5 minutes every 5 to 10 days. And they do this mostly at night.

There are a lot of things that attract bed bugs. But they’re mostly drawn by our body heat and the carbon dioxide we produce in our breath. And once latched on to our bodies, they can pierce exposed skin and suck the blood right off it. This oftentimes leaves big and reddish swollen welts or small red bumps.

They do a peculiar bite series called “breakfast, lunch and dinner”. According to Terminix, these bugs feed in a series of several bites rather than a big long one. The “breakfast” is the first bite; the “lunch” is the second and so on. That’s why you often see clusters of these bites after they’re done with you.

These insects can also go on without food for a few months. They can even become dormant for a longer time, just waiting to come in contact with us. At that time, they get moisture from the air, getting water vapor that floats all around us just to survive.

Check out more info on a bed bug’s diet here.

Behavior

Bed bug behavior is simply based on mating, feeding and expanding their numbers. And they do these with as much stealth as possible.

According to National Pesticide Information Center, bed bugs hide during the day and come out to feed at night. They hide in places where there’s always constant contact with people. These can be beds, couches and even wheelchairs and recliners. They seek out the cracks and crevices inside these things and live there.

After feeding, they’ll return to those cracks to digest the blood they ate. And when they’ve fed enough, they mature and mate to produce more bed bugs.

According to Terminix, a female bed bug can lay 1 to 12 eggs every day and between 200 to 500 eggs in an entire lifetime. After a month or so, these eggs hatch, and they’ll need blood right away.

As the nymphs grow, they’ll experience several molting phases that slowly turn their color darker. They’ll mature, mate and eventually reach the end of their life cycles, with plenty of new nymphs produced thanks to them.

How to Know If You Have Bed Bugs

As mentioned, bed bugs are pretty stealthy. They hide in impossibly small spaces and only feed at night. But this doesn’t mean that they’re impossible to find. In fact, you, yourself, can inspect your house to see you’ve got them. Check your furniture for a possible infestation without relying on pest control to do that for you.

Here are some tips from the United States Environmental Protection Agency that can help you get started on your hunt:

  • Look for shed skins. These are dry translucent shells or brown little bodies that look like dead bugs.
  • You also need to look for minute 1mm eggshells somewhere in your bed.
  • Check your bedding’s and cushion’s seams.
  • Check your headboard.
  • Inspect wall cracks and holes, wallpaper and other wall decorations.
  • Examine the furniture near your bed. Look at drawer joints, small trenches and the areas underneath each furniture. A lamp, for example, can house bed bugs under its base.
  • You must also inspect electrical receptacles and appliances.
  • Bed bugs leave behind blood droppings that stain fabric. They look like dried little dark brown or black dots stuck to your mattress, beddings, couch and even your clothes.
  • Know the difference between blood stains and droppings. Blood stains are dark red or brown spots that come in bigger circles.
  • Don’t rely on bite marks. A bed bug bite can resemble a mosquitoes’ or any kind of insect’s. In fact, some people don’t even get any reaction from their bites. So it’s really hard to tell.

For more info on how to know if you have bed bugs, check out this video from Howdini. You can also get more tips on dodging bed bugs here.

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Not a lot can kill bed bugs. But before you tackle commercial bed bug treatments, give these home remedies a try. These are simple and common methods that you can apply on your own. Try them out before you spend a lot of money on pest control.

Natural Remedies

First, we have the remedies that put the power of nature into excellent use. These are home remedies for bed bugs that use herbs and other plants.

Bean Leaf Traps

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs – How To Prevent & Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast - bean leaves

Bean leaves aren’t just ordinary greens. You can use them to stop minor infestations.

According to the Smithsonian, this remedy has existed for years. People from the Balkan regions of Eastern Europe have made natural traps from kidney bean leaves. They would even scatter the leaves on the floor to trap bed bugs at night.

In 1943, a study proved that the bean leaves’ success come from their microscopic plant hairs called trichromes. These latch on to the bed bugs’ limbs and entangle them.

If you want to give this treatment a try, stop sleeping in your infested bed for a while. Grab some bean leaves and lay them there for a couple of nights. Check them every morning if you’ve got some these insects trapped.

So, remember that…

  • Bean leaves don’t kill bed bugs, only rendering them unable to move.
  • This method only works for small infestations. You obviously can’t turn your entire room into a forest of bean leaves.
  • And the leaves only work when they’re freshly picked.

Black Walnut Tea

This remedy from 1800 Remedies calls for blended black walnut tea to eradicate bed bugs. It has iodine and antifungal and antibacterial properties that can work against these insects.

All you have to do is combine 1 cup of black walnut tea leaves, 1/2 cup dried eucalyptus leaves, 1/2 cup dried lavender buds, 1/2 cup dried thyme and 2 bay leaves. Put all of these inside a bag, and sprinkle them in infected areas of the house.

So, remember that…

  • The tea and the other ingredients mixed together can actually kill bed bugs.
  • But this method will be difficult to apply on your bed without making a mess.

Cayenne pepper

This spice is one of the most powerful home remedies for bed bugs. Just like how regular pepper repels ants, cayenne pepper’s long lasting odor can be very annoying for bed begs. It also has antibacterial properties that can assist other treatments in killing them.

Sprinkle powdered cayenne pepper on areas where you want the bugs out. You can also combine water and the powder in a spray bottle, and use that instead.

So, remember that…

  • Cayenne pepper only repels bed bugs, not kill them.
  • Use this method in tandem with other treatments to get the best results.

Tea tree oil

Using tea tree oil is another natural treatment you can try. It’s an oil made from the leaves of the Melaleuca Alternifolia plant.

Dilute 20 drops of the oil inside a spray bottle, and direct the solution to your bed and other furniture.

A more potent version of this method is to use 100% pure tea tree oil. However, it’s been deemed toxic to humans as it can irritate the skin, give you a terrible burning sensation and even cause swelling.

So, remember that…

  • The tea tree oil solution can’t totally eradicate a bed bug population. You can only use it for minor infestations.
  • Organicles also highlights that this remedy is a hit-and-miss. So there are chances that it might not even work for you.

Other Easy & Cheap Methods

No access to the herbs on our list? How about a few items already found in your house? Here are a few tricks, a few practical home remedies for bed bugs that can do wonders to your house.

Vacuuming

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs – How To Prevent & Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast - bean leaves

Vacuums are handy when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs.

Vacuums can help you get rid of bed bugs without making you use harmful chemicals and pesticides. This is also an effective method to remove bed bugs on the surface of your floor.

Vacuum your entire house, making sure to get around bed posts and other discrete areas.

Make sure that the suction power is as strong as possible to catch all of the bugs. You also have to go back and forth a few times in certain areas so that none of those insects escape.

So, remember that…

  • Though this method is helpful, keep in mind that your vacuum will have to be thoroughly cleaned afterwards to eliminate stragglers that are clinging to it and to stop a new infestation from happening.
  • Vacuums are best for minor infestations because they can only target small populations of bed bugs.
  • You can check out more useful tips on this method here.

Sealing Cracks

Seal any cracks throughout your house by using rubber caulking. This may not seem helpful, but bedbugs are very small and can easily crawl through small openings.

So, remember that…

  • In sealing cracks, you’re only getting rid of one hiding place for bed bugs. Other treatments are needed to completely get rid of them.

Bed Posts

Bed posts work like interceptors. Thus they’re very helpful in stopping a bed bug infestation. They create a barrier between the floor and the bed, therefore making it impossible for the bed bugs to reach the bed.

So, remember that…

  • Bed posts can typically cost anywhere from $20-30 and can be purchased either online or at warehouses.
  • It’s a relatively cheap and efficient solution that is definitely worth looking into.

Heat

Anything with a high temperature will be generally effective in killing bugs. Bed bugs, in particular, die at temperatures above 113˚F, so use the hottest setting when washing and drying any contaminated materials. Not only does this remove any bloodstains or dead skin from the material, but it ensures that any live bed bugs are killed.

You can also use a Hot Box. Place all you’re the infested items inside the hot box, and turn it up from 113 ˚F to 122˚F (anything higher can cause fires).

Other methods can include using a heat gun, raising indoor temperature, using hot water, carefully ironing your bedsheets and using a portable heating device.

So, remember that…

  • This method can absolutely kills bed bugs, but you have to examine your things if they’re resistant to the heat you’re going to subject them into.
  • Using anything that applies heat can spell disaster, so be careful.

Steam

Speaking of heat, steam treatments and dry heat are known to be one of the most effective home remedies for bed bugs.

You can use a hand-held steamer for this method or just your washer or dryer. Simply go over your bed with the hand-held streamer to kill the bed bugs. For washers/ dryers, dry heat is a good method to treat cloth or any type of bedding. When a dryer is run for five minutes, the temperature reaches at least 130˚ F (depending on the heat setting of your dryer) which is higher than the required temperature to kill any living bed bugs. Anything with a high temperature will be generally effective in killing the bugs.

So, remember that…

  • A steam treatment is very effective in killing bugs close to the surface (less than ½” into the material), but it will not be beneficial in treating bugs that have gone further than that.
  • Handheld steaming can be dangerous. Be cautious in doing this method.

Baking Soda

Some homeowners use bleach as an alternative to treatments like baking soda. But you don’t want something that strong soaking your things. That’s when baking soda enters the picture. According to Home Remedy Hacks, baking soda sucks the moisture out of bed bugs, destroying them in the process.

Just spread baking soda in crevices and cracks in beds and other furniture to repel and kill them. You can also use a paintbrush to apply a layer of the powder.

So, remember that…

  • Baking soda can both repel and kill bed bugs.
  • Don’t forget to regularly replace it to keep it effective. Use a vacuum to get rid of the used baking soda.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

They say that prevention is better than a cure. In this case, it may not be such a bad idea.

Now that you have a clear idea on many home remedies for bed bugs, try out this short list in keeping them away. We also have a longer and more comprehensive list here.

  • Don’t stay in cheap hotels. These hotels don’t give thorough cleaning jobs in their rooms. That’s why they’re so affordable, a little too affordable.
  • Always inspect your things before leaving from a hotel or a residence.
  • Place your clothes and shoes inside a sealable bag when you travel.
  • Don’t place our luggage on the bed, couch or chair. Just place it on the table.
  • Inspect for bed bugs before you sit or stay somewhere. Look for any sign of their black droppings, shells and eggs.
  • Vacuum your bags and suitcases after you return home from somewhere.
  • Regularly wash your beddings, cushions and clothes. Don’t just leave them on the floor when they become dirty.
  • You can also declutter your house so that the bugs won’t have a lot of choices in looking for hiding spots.
  • Don’t just jump in buying stuff from yard sales. Know the people selling them first. And if you really do have to buy something, inspect it for bed bugs.
  • Only buy from trusted vintage shops. These stores sanitize their goods before selling them.
  • Ask about bed bug inspections before buying or renting used furniture and cars.
  • And finally, be attentive in renting commercial laundry facilities. If you have to use services like these, don’t wash your clothes with hot water.

Wrap Up

Bed bugs are one of the most widespread pests in the US. Although they don’t carry diseases, it’s a cause for concern for people who have allergies and for those who just want to get a good night’s sleep. Whatever the case, these home remedies for bed bugs and other practical tips are just what you need to keep your house bed bugs free.

Need More? Check Out Our Full Bed Bug Library

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