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How To Get Rid of Bedbugs Forever

Updated on December 9, 2014

Remove Bed Bugs Forever

For most of us, it's a question of when, not if we will have to find a way to get rid of bedbugs.

When we made the most depressing discovery ever in our home, it was extremely helpful that there were effective do-it-yourself actions we could take right away,

First thing to remember: Bedbugs are not dangerous. They're just ugly nuisances.

Bed bugs are clever survivors you can't ignore. They will find your mattress, your rug or your laundry, even if they did to hitchhike on someone's shoes to get there.

How Did I Get Bedbugs?

Good question, and the best answer is, it's very easy to do.

With all the travel we do, bed bugs come from all over the world with little we can do to stop them. It has nothing to do with hygiene of careful housekeeping.

Bedbugs attach themselves to luggage, laundry and clothing, looking for a place to make home.

Fortunately,you can get rid of them permanently when it happens. Follow along.

Lesson #1 in getting rid of a bed bug infestation is: don't panic. Bed bugs don't carry diseases and, in general, are no more harmful than mosquitoes. You still don't want them around.

The second most important thing to keep in mind is that having bed bugs is nothing to be ashamed of. You'll probably never know where they came from.

(The most likely culprits are used furniture and luggage brought home from another country.)

Some people inadvertently spread them by taking their clothes to a dry cleaner, thinking that the high temperatures will kill the insects. And they're right, it does. But it also may spread the bugs to other garments in the facility.

Bed bugs are clever and adaptable. Their saliva even includes a numbing agent, so that, when they bite you, you don't feel it. You just wake up with itchy bumps, often in a series, a half-inch or so apart.

For the last several years, here in New York, the incidence of bed bug infestations is so high, you see ads on television all the time and on the subways.

Companies are prepared and ready to help, including one that has a really cool bug-sniffing dog they feature.

Our landlord thoughtfully sent an exterminator around to offer free treatment. Having pets in our house, we chose to decline the chemicals. We are also do-it-yourselfers, capable of doing most things ourselves and learning in the process.

Although hiring a professional firm is the easiest way to get rid of bed bugs, it's also the most expensive and, if you're averse to using insecticides for any reason - as we are - there are steps you can take to successfully get rid of any infestation you find or suspect. No expertise required.

Step One - Dealing With Bed Bug Hiding Places

Mattresses, Box Sprints, Carpets, Clothing

Getting rid of bed bugs permanently requires killing them where they are most likely to live. For all but the most extensive infestations, you can save your bed frame and headboard. Here's what you have to do.

  • Encase your box spring and mattress in plastic containers designed specifically for this purpose. (See easy to buy options below.) You'll leave these airtight containers in place for at least a couple of months or until you believe bed bugs elsewhere in your home have been eliminated. Bringing the insects back is frustrating and demands all that work again. My advice: once the encasements are on, leave them for one year. There is no downside to overkill.
  • Any fabric - bedding, clothes, etc. - that may have come in contact with the bugs can be treated by running them through a clothes drier at the highest temperature setting for at least twenty minutes. (If you have dry clean only clothes, use a moderate setting and be sure the clothes are dry before starting.
  • For anything that can't go in the drier, you can freeze (or steam, see next bullet) in a bag. A woman I know, for example, took paper instruction manuals that had been stored in her bedroom, put them in plastic bags and put them in her freezer for a year. It doesn't take that long, of course, but overkill does appeal to you once you get an infestation.
  • To get rid of bugs in more difficult places, like headboards and bed frames, steam them with an easy to buy handheld steam cleaner (see below). Do all the cracks and crevices, even the ones where no infestation of bed bugs is visible. Make sure you inspect baseboards and other potential hiding places. Be diligent.
  • Vacuum all of your rugs and furniture thoroughly. That includes enhancing the cleaning action by scraping the surfaces with an attachment or something like a putty knife. Bed bugs are harder to remove than dust and dirt.
  • This bullet is more about what not to do. There are chemicals that can be very helpful in removing infestations. LEAVE THEM TO THE PROFESSIONALS.

Vacuuming Well Gets Rid of Insects and Keeps Them Out

Here's what you need.

McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner

A good steam cleaning will do the trick thoroughly.


Bed Bugs Aren't Pretty

Remove this pest fast.
Remove this pest fast. | Source
Verilux CleanWave Sanitizing Portable Vacuum – UV Technology – 400-Watt Motor – Cyclonic Action – White
Verilux CleanWave Sanitizing Portable Vacuum – UV Technology – 400-Watt Motor – Cyclonic Action – White

This is a multipurpose vacuum that will help you now as well as in the future.


Items You Need To Keep On Hand To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs - DIY

As discussed above.

Handheld Multi-Purpose Pressurized Steam Cleaner for Stain Removal, Curtains, Crevasses, Bed Bug Control, Car Seats and More
Handheld Multi-Purpose Pressurized Steam Cleaner for Stain Removal, Curtains, Crevasses, Bed Bug Control, Car Seats and More

A steam gun is essential if you want to kill bed bugs without chemicals. This one is multipurpose, inexpensive and easy to use.


Things To Consider - Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

A main reason you should not feel bad about an infestation is that these insects are really smart and adapted to human communities. Remember, they are so smart their saliva contains an anesthetic that numbs you so you don't feel it when they bite you.

They are also smart about hiding. They may have a sizable colony in your mattress, but unless you look carefully, you won't see them.

They hate daylight. Unlike ants, for example, you won't find them crawling around openly.

Used furniture is suspected of being the most frequent source of bed bug transmission. Sadly, the last owner may have gotten rid of his furniture because it was infested but kept it quiet to make a sale.

Another really easy way to get bed bugs into your home is on your clothing.

Say, you go to an appointment, sit in a chair in the waiting room without realizing the person before you had bed bugs in their clothing. You end up taking some home with you.

Transmission by contact with others is probably a leading cause, but the bugs are nearly invisible in fabric. You can't do much to stop it.

Another strongly suspected source of transmission is in luggage brought in from another country through an international airport.

Outside the U.S., infestation rates may be much higher, and any apparel you carried may have picked up bed bugs from a hotel or a guest apartment. You would never know.

The bottom line is, don't feel bad about something people catch as easily as a common cold.

All Set In Your Bed Bug Free Home

Now, you know that eradicating bed bugs is not too difficult for DIY types or, really, for anyone else. You can rid your home of these pest permanently but following the steps above and reducing your risks in the future.

Important note: there are many good professional companies that deal with bed bugs. Nothing here is intended to discourage you from using one. My intention is to let you know there are options. If you're unsure of your ability to follow any of the steps, call an expert, and make it easy on yourself.


Bed bugs are a menace, but if we stay aware of how they spread and how you can get rid of them if your best efforts fail, we can keep the worst of it under control.

© 2014 David Stone

What do you think?

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    • profile image

      TryingAlso 3 years ago

      Great page, DavidStone1 - thanks for the helpful information. What PCO did you use, and what did they do and use (what sprays, dusts, etc)? is where I'm compiling helpful information for others.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      @TanoCalvenoa: If I had to pick, I'd take the roaches. They only want our leftovers, not our blood.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      What an awful pest, glad I've never had to deal with them. They remind me of roaches, which unfortunately I have had to battle before - and I wrote a lens about it.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      @norma-holt: In so many ways, insects rule. They are inevitable, and learning to live with them is the smart option.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      Yuk!. I don't think I will spend too much time sitting around waiting rooms from now on. Fortunately I have never been bothered with these insects but one never knows. Thanks for all the good advice.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      @Ibidii: I think we're lucky we have some solid defenses available, Sherry. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      We got a new cover for my mattress just like the one you show here available at Amazon. I can remember going through a flea epidemic when I was very small in San Francisco. There was a flea issue when I lived in Oklahoma as well. Great review David and congrats on over 52 thousand pins on Pinterest!!!!

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      @Brite-Ideas: The way you're dealing with dust mites will save your that worry. Bed bugs don't go on death marches.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      @AcornOakForest: Your bugs might be worse. Bed bugs are more an esthetic concern. They don't carry diseases or inject poisons. We still don't like them.

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 3 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I'm so glad we don't have to deal with these, even though there are other yucky bugs where I live. It's a trade off, I guess.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      We were watching a show on this and a very high heat will kill them - can't remember the temperature (maybe 240 degrees or something?) - anyway we have a steamer, and I frequently steam our mattresses to deal with dust mites and that thing heats up to a super high temperature - sure hope we never face the nightmare of bedbugs!