Skip to Content

How To Kill Bed Bugs

a bed bug in a house

Don't Sleep On Bed Bug Extermination.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of finding bed bugs in your home, you already know how the tiny pests can wreak havoc on your life.

Bed bugs can damage furniture and bedding, not to mention they bite people as they sleep. And to make matters worse, they’re also hard to spot. Adults are typically about 5 mm long, and they tend to hide in tiny crevices in your mattress or furniture, only coming out at night to feed.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is there are several methods to kill Bed bugs. Here are some of the more common methods, along with tips to make sure the extermination process is safe for children and pets.

Temperature Treatments

One of the most popular, non-chemical methods of eliminating bed bugs involves using temperature treatments.

A heat treatment works just as it sounds. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an exterminator heats the entire home to 120 degrees for at least 90 minutes using a portable heating device. The treatment works by killing the bed bugs' eggs.

For serious infestations, exterminators recommend heating the entire house, although heat treatments can also be isolated to one room or area.

Cold treatments involve cooling the home to below zero degrees for a four-day period. This, obviously, requires all of the home’s habitants to move out.

Chemical Treatments

The EPA lists more than 300 registered products to treat bed bugs. However, the EPA warns pesticides should only be a part of a multi-comprehensive strategy to fight bed bugs.

Using chemicals alone, companies typically have to make more than one treatment treatment. Chemical treatments also don't guarantee to kill all of the bed bugs.

“We perform very few conventional chemical treatments, although these are still the standard of our industry,” says Scott Robbins, technical director of Action Pest Control in Indianapolis. "Often, these require multiple applications where our combination chemical and heat remediation is effective in one treatment."

Robbins adds that fumigation is also a possible treatment in some instances.

"Due to hazards associated with these products, they are not appropriate for every situation,” he says. "However, they are a very effective tool when dealing with heavy infestations or high-clutter environments."

Combination Treatments

Robbins says his company often uses a combination of treatments, such as a heat and chemical treatments, to tackle bed bug infestations.

“It has been our experience than even heat cannot penetrate everywhere so we prefer to use heat along with targeted chemical application,” he says. "We utilize residual insecticides and desiccant dusts in locations like wall voids and floor and wall junctures where heat may have trouble penetrating.”

The size of the infestation often dictates the type of treatment needed.

DIY Bed Bug Treatment

While hardware stores sell several products to combat bed bugs, pest control professionals warn they may not be effective, especially for serious infestations.

"Bed bugs are not by any means a DIY pest,” says Janelle Iaccino, marketing director of Rose Pest Solutions in Northfield, Illinois. "It’s not as easy as picking up a spray at a store. Bed bugs are currently showing resistance to even professional grade products specifically formulated for bed bug elimination. If they’re resisting those, then we know using over-the-counter products would have the same result. Professional pest management specialists go through an intense amount of bed bug training and education to truly understand how to eradicate them."

Expect to pay between $500 and $1,500 for professional bed bug removal.

Safely Removing Bed Bugs

Follow proper safety tips when removing bed bugs, especially if you have children and pets.

"Any chemical, even dish soap, can be very dangerous when used improperly,” Iaccino says. "The product’s label is the law in any scenario. Misuse of pesticides more often than not is due to a lack of education of the material. While we use pesticides to get rid of bed bugs, we know there’s a very specific way to formulate the product in order to use them with the utmost consciousness to the environment in which we’re applying them."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should only use pesticides that are approved for indoor use. However, some pesticides approved for indoor use can still cause harm if they’re over applied or not used as directed on the label.

The National Pesticide Information Center reports that it received 129 calls between 2006 and 2010 where mild or serious health effects occurred due to pesticide misuse.