Home Remedies for Bed Bugs | Effective Solutions for Safe and Natural Pest Control

Written by Thomas Matthews

If you’re tired of getting bitten by bed bugs every night, having itchy skin, and feeling nauseated knowing that they are living in the same room, you don’t need to spend a fortune to remedy this situation. Home remedies for bed bugs will in some cases cost you zero dollars and even if they cost some money, it’s almost negligible compared to professional exterminator services.

What home remedies are effective for getting rid of bed bugs? Some of the most effective home remedies for bed bugs include using diatomaceous earth, essential oils, washing machine, steamer, alcohol, and so forth. Most of us can afford them and can apply them without buying additional equipment.

In this article, we are going to delve deeper into home remedies for killing bed bugs. Since there are a lot of them, we suggest you bookmark this article in case you need them.

Signs of Bed Bugs Infestation

Signs of Bed Bugs Infestation

Bite Marks on the Skin

A bite mark on your skin is the most obvious symptom. In contrast to flea bites, bed bug bites frequently occur in clusters. They will be set up in a straight line since these creatures prefer to move up your arm or leg while continuously sipping your blood.

Red/Rusty Stains

Those spots that appear red and rusty are actually blood—more specifically, your blood. Blood from the bites or the squashing of these creatures after their meal could both be the cause.

Black Dots

If you notice any little dark spots or black specks on your mattress or bed, these can be young bugs’ lost skin or fecal waste. 

Egg Shells

Egg shells are typically thin and lighter in color. This makes them harder to see. Thus, keep an eye out for tiny flecks of white or ivory on your bed.

Living Bugs

Despite being little, these insects have the ability to enlarge and become more noticeable once they reach adulthood. Bed bugs must be eliminated right once if you discover them on your furniture or in your bed.

Treatment Preparation

Before applying any kind of treatment or remedy, there are some things you need to do:

Clean Your House

Clean Your House

Bed bugs can infest even the cleanest house on the planet. But by cleaning your house, we are referring to removing the clutter and making the space more open.

Even though they’re called bed bugs, the bed isn’t the only thing in your house that gets infested. In most cases, bed bugs will also live in your clothes, sofas, couches, curtains, and other furniture. Because of that, we suggest removing the things that you don’t need, storing them in a plastic bag, and leaving the bag outside – at least while the infestation is eliminated.

If you have cardboard boxes in your house, replace them with plastic ones. Put your clothes inside these, and close the lid tightly.

Separate Your Bed

Bed bugs don’t always live in your bed but in most cases, they do. This is why you need to isolate it from the rest of the room. The best case is to put your bed in the middle of your room with no other furniture around.

Before applying any kind of treatment, removing the clutter and separating your infested items is crucial. If you don’t plan on doing these steps, then don’t apply the remedies below because they won’t be as effective.

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Freezing

A freezer is something we all have in our homes and apart from storing some French fries and chicken, it can be a deadly weapon for killing bed bugs. Since commercial freezers can’t achieve very low temperatures, freezing bed bugs might be slower, yet still possible.

Before using this treatment, empty your freezer and put your food in your fridge. Next, you want to pack your infested clothes or bedsheets into plastic bags and transfer them to your freezer.

Depending on the temperature, you’ll need anywhere from 24 to 96 hours to freeze and kill bed bugs and their eggs. Eggs take a bit more to freeze, which is why we recommend leaving the stuff in your freezer for at least 72 hours.

After the freezing is done, you can shake off dead bed bugs and eggs, and if you want, repeat the process. Needless to say, this home solution can’t eliminate the whole infestation because you can’t freeze the whole bed or sofa. This is only if you want to alleviate the problem and slow down the infestation.

Vacuum

Vacuum bed bugs

If you ask people what is their least favorite part of cleaning, they’ll most likely say it’s vacuuming. As much as some of you hate it, it’s crucial for keeping your house clean and without excessive dust.

Many times, bed bugs will be hidden in your upholstery, mattresses, shelves, carpets, and boxes. These places can be vacuumed easily, and removing bed bugs and their eggs in those places can be done in a matter of minutes.

The problem with vacuuming is that bed bugs can escape from the vacuum bag. Because of that, dumping the vacuum bag immediately after vacuuming is recommended. It’s painful seeing that all your effort is annulled because of that simple mistake.

Laundering with Hot Water

If there’s one thing that kills bed bugs, it’s the heat. Any form of heat or high temperature will kill bed bugs, including hot water and high temperature in your room. Regardless of the washing machine you have, you can always launder your clothes or bedding inside, which can drastically reduce the infestation in your house.

The key is to use only hot water and not rely on drowning bed bugs because it takes a very long time to drown them and, in most cases, you won’t kill a single bed bug after laundering. Bed bugs are similar to vampires. Not only do they drink blood but they are hard to kill, especially if you don’t have any previous experience.

One of the best home remedies is hot water because it ensures that every bed bug dies – from eggs, and nymphs to adult bed bugs. Since we all have a washing machine, it’s easy to try this treatment.

Don’t forget to put your infested clothes and bedding into the plastic bag and then transfer it to the washing machine. After that carefully unpack them in the washing machine. If you just pick it up and carry it to your washing machine, you’ll scatter bed bugs all around your living place, which will exacerbate the problem.

Steaming

A steamer isn’t something we all have but for those who have it, it can add a devastating blow to the bed bug infestation. When exposed to high temperatures, especially temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bed bugs can die in less than half an hour.

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Luckily for us, a steamer can go above this temperature, which means that eliminating bed bugs shouldn’t be a problem. Beware that different furniture can react differently to steaming. Because of that, follow the instructions given to you with your steamer if you don’t want to damage your furniture.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs

Diatomaceous earth is cheap, reliable, and non-poisonous for humans. It stacks pretty well and it can eliminate a huge portion of bed bug infestation if placed correctly.

If you have some luck, diatomaceous earth can become your weapon of choice. On average, its effectiveness is slightly below 40%, which is pretty good, considering its silly price.

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Borax

A perfect alternative to diatomaceous earth, borax, is a cleaning agent that is as effective in killing bed bugs. You can use borax directly on your mattress to kill bed bugs. To use it correctly, sprinkle it over your bedding or mattress and leave it for 24 hours.

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Bed bugs won’t eat borax but when they crawl over it, they’ll have a hard time breathing and will die relatively quickly. Borax isn’t dangerous for humans and won’t produce any allergic reactions, so you can add it to the washing machine when laundering your clothes. Coupled with some hot water, borax can wreak havoc on bed bugs.

Soda Bicarbonate

Soda bicarbonate is a universal remedy for everything. The best thing about it is that it’s dead cheap and you can find it pretty much around every corner. For those who don’t know, soda bicarbonate is used to dehydrate and absorb moisture from places like a fridge or freezer. This function can be translated to bed bugs, as it can do the same to them.

When sprinkled on the place of infestation, it will damage bed bugs’ skin, deteriorating it, and slowly killing them through this process. However, soda bicarbonate can’t kill bed bugs on contact and requires frequent application to make it work. Still, if you want a cheap home remedy, you can already start here.

Vinegar

Vinegar doesn’t seem like an effective treatment for killing bed bugs because we eat it. But, what’s food for one is poison for the other. In this case, vinegar is used to kill nymphs and adult bed bugs, as it can’t kill bed bug eggs.

Pour the vinegar into a spray bottle, add some D.E. or soda bicarbonate, and spray the substance where you think the bed bugs are hiding. This is one of the cheapest home remedies on the list and is catered towards smaller infestations. For bigger infestations, vinegar will be almost futile.

Spraying or Rubbing Alcohol

Bed bugs are also vulnerable to alcohol. If you manage to spray some alcohol directly on the bed bug, it will die instantly, making it a pretty good on-contact bed bug killer. The trick is to use a 90% alcohol solution because it can kill both bed bugs and bed bug eggs on contact.

You can use it the same as vinegar – pour it into a spray bottle and spray it in nooks and crannies or other hiding places. Beware that alcohol is highly flammable and it can also be toxic to your respiratory system when inhaling. Don’t overuse it and don’t play around with your lighter or cigarettes when you’ve applied this treatment.

Silica Gel

Silica gel works similarly to soda bicarbonate and it can be found in your shoes or shoe boxes. The tiny plastic bag full of silica gel keeps the moisture out of the product and keeps it dry – which can also be applied to bed bugs.

Since the silica gel beads are large, grind them up, and spread the powder around the infested areas. Pets and kids can be harmed if directly exposed to silica, so if you have pets or kids, we suggest using soda bicarbonate.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a very popular cleaning agent with antibacterial properties. It can both disinfect and clean your house by killing viruses and bacteria on contact. This beautiful oil can also brutally slay bed bugs by infiltrating their respiratory system and suffocating them.

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To achieve this effect, use undiluted tea tree oil because it works much better. The downside is that this version can be harmful to humans and that it doesn’t smell as good. If you decide on diluted tea tree oil, it will smell very good but will not be as efficient. We leave this choice to you and your priorities.

Bleach

Bleach is an extremely effective bed bug killer capable of destroying bed bugs on contact. By oxidizing their skin, bleach makes bed bugs die within seconds after application.

Since it’s very effective, it’s important to mention that it’s very harsh and leaves stains on your furniture, so we don’t recommend using it on your mattress, clothes, and bed sheets. Instead, use it for cracks and holes in the walls or furniture.

Hairdryer

If you don’t have a steamer, using a hairdryer can also be a decent solution, given that it can achieve high enough temperatures. Of course, you need to set it to the highest temperature and position it at the place of infestation.

If it’s somewhere inside your bed, don’t go too close, or you’ll end up damaging your bedding. Leave it for half an hour and check for dead bed bugs. If you’re not satisfied with the results, you can always repeat the process.

Don’t forget to vacuum the place after treatment and throw away your vacuum bag outside. This method will work better if the bed bugs are close to the surface because the heat from the hairdryer can’t pierce through your bed.

Lemongrass

Although it’s a natural solution, it doesn’t just repel bed bugs but also kills them. Lemongrass has a high amount of acid which bed bugs despise. Because of that, it can kill both bed bugs and their eggs. You can also use a spray bottle to apply this treatment.

Lavender

If you’re like a majority of people, you love the smell of lavender. Many softeners come with this scent and they’re one of the most popular on the market. Fortunately for us, bed bugs hate this smell and it makes them so nauseous, that it can kill them.

If you want to further repel bed bugs, you can wash your hands with lavender soap or apply the softener to your clothes and bedsheets. There are also lavender essential oils that can be sprayed at the place of infestation to further kill and repel bed bugs.

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Home Bed Bug Preventions

1. Vacuum Often

Vacuuming your house often can prevent bed bug infestation to some extent. When doing this, don’t only go over your floor or carpets but also your beds, mattresses, and bed sheets.

You can even vacuum the spiders off your walls, which is excellent for clearing out bed bugs from their hiding. Of course, you don’t need to vacuum your home every day. Once a week is fine.

2. Don’t Buy Second-Hand Furniture

This is one of the most common reasons for bed bug infestation. It’s furniture that has been used by people before you. Since you don’t know who used it, you’re playing a lottery trying to buy good second-hand furniture. Many people aren’t that clean and the traces of abuse can be seen on the bed.

Some may have sold it because of bed bugs and now it’s here, in your local shop. If a bed has a bed bug infestation in a particular shop, it’s highly likely that all furniture from this shop has bed bugs. Instead of immediately going ballistic, stop for a second and think about informing the shop of a bed bug infestation.

3. Launder Using Hot Water

Laundering can remove bed bugs from your clothes but only if it’s done with hot water. As mentioned above, every time you launder, you need to use hot water. Don’t be a fool trying to save ten or twenty dollars by using cold water. Hot water is essential for keeping bed bugs out of your clothes and sheets, and killing them if needed.

List of Sources

Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control, EPA.
Rutgers study shows best home treatments for bed bugs, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Preparing Your House for Bed Bug Treatments, NC State Extension.

Thomas Matthews
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