Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed on warm-blooded animals. Newborn bed bugs, called nymphs, are only about the size of a poppy seed while adult bed bugs grow to be about one-fourth of an inch in length.
They are oval-shaped and may appear as white, light tan, or burnt orange or dark brown. If they have recently fed, you may observe a dark black or red blob within their bodies.
Bed bugs are very common, and infestations may seem overwhelming to deal with, but you can get rid of bed bugs naturally.
Wash Clothes and Linens
High temperatures kill everything, including microbes, bacteria, and bed bugs. Washing your clothes and bedding at high temperatures is the best way to sanitize them.
After washing your clothes and linens, thoroughly dry them in the dryer. Store your bedding in trash bags until your bed has been treated to prevent re-infestation.
Use a Natural Pesticide
Diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide, and many pest control companies incorporate it into their treatment protocol for bed bugs. Diatomaceous earth dust is not the same as diatomaceous earth for swimming pools, and you can purchase it at most gardening or hardware stores.
Diatomaceous earth dust kills bed bugs by drying them out as they walk through it, according to Texas A&M University. Lightly dust your mattress, box spring, bed frame, and all the places bed bugs like to hide with diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is effective at killing bed bugs and their eggs.
Protect Your Bed
Throwing away and replacing your bed is not only costly, it is ineffective at getting rid of bed bugs. Bed bugs will simply infest a new mattress and box spring.
Instead, cover your box spring and mattress with bed bug encasements. Bed bug encasements are fabric sacks you slide your box spring and mattress into. The zippers on bed bug encasements are tight enough to keep the smallest nymphs from escaping.
Quality bed bug encasements trap all live bed bugs on your mattress and box spring and keep them from biting you through the fabric. In addition, the encasements are smooth on the outside, giving bed bugs few places to hide.
Install bed bug interceptors under all the feet of your bed frame. Bed bug interceptors are special cups or platforms that prevent bed bugs from climbing onto your bed.
For interceptors to be effective in protecting you against bed bugs, your bed and bedding must not touch the floor, walls, or other furniture, as bed bugs can use these avenues to get onto your bed.
Lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and eucalyptus essential oils are good at keeping bed bugs away as bed bugs don’t like their strong odors. Oh Simply suggests putting a couple of drops of each of these essential oils on the corners of your bed.
The odor should last for days, effectively driving away bed bugs. Survival Life recommends adding a few drops of lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, and tea tree oil to a cup of water and spraying it onto your bed and around your sleeping area to drive bed bugs away.
The smell of dryer sheets is repulsive to bed bugs, according to Survival Life. Put eight to 10 dryer sheets between your mattress and box spring.
You can also place several dryer sheets on top of your mattress before putting your sheets on the bed to drive bed bugs away.
Steam cleaning is a great way to get rid of bed bugs on items that cannot be washed. Neither bed bugs nor their eggs can survive the steam. Steam cleaning gets deep into fabric and can get into hard-to-reach cracks and crevices in furniture.
You can hire a professional with a portable steam cleaner to clean your home, or you can purchase your own hand-held steam cleaner that has a strong vapor flow and clean your home yourself. Either way, ensure that the steam is dry because wet steam can ruin furniture or lead to mold growth.
Bed bugs hate the smell of mint leaves as well. Survival Life suggests putting sachets of dried mint leaves between your mattress and box spring and in your linen closets to drive bed bugs away.
You may also want to place crushed mint leaves in the tight corners of your couch as well as in the corners of your home.
Vacuum everything to get rid of bed bugs. Vacuum your mattress, box spring, carpet, under baseboards, around the carpet’s perimeter, soft furnishings, chairs, and curtains and drapes.
Vacuuming once won’t get rid of all the bed bugs and eggs in your home, so repeated vacuuming is recommended. After you’re done, empty your vacuum’s canister outside.
Survival Life recommends tumble drying small items that cannot be washed, such as backpacks, footwear, stuffed animals, and toys. Texas A&M University asserts that tumble drying items on high for 30 minutes is effective for killing all bed bugs and their eggs.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is also an effective tool in eradicating bed bugs. Try using tea tree oil when cleaning your home. You can also add a few drops to your clothes and bedding when you wash them.
Make a 2% solution of tea tree oil and warm water, and put it into a spray bottle. Spray all of your beds, furniture, carpets, and linens with this solution every week.
Items you cannot wash or dry at high temperatures that you don’t need for a while should be stored in garbage bags. According to Texas A&M University, it takes two to five months to effectively kill bed bugs by placing items in garbage bags.
The warmer the temperature the bags are stored at, the shorter the time needed to kill starving bed bugs.
Use the Power of the Sun
The sun is an effective tool for killing bed bugs as well. According to Texas A&M University, placing seven pounds of items in clear, plastic garbage bags under the sun on a 95-degree day will effectively kill bed bugs and their eggs in one afternoon.
Reduce Nesting Spots
Seal off cracks in your walls and floors with caulk. You can buy caulk at most home improvement stores. It’s also a good idea to reduce the amount of clutter you have to give bed bugs fewer places to hide as well.
Vacuuming your bed frame is a great start for getting rid of bed bugs, but vacuums won’t necessarily pick up all bed bug eggs. Use the sticky side of duct tape to pick up bed bugs and their eggs on your bed frame.
You can also wrap duct tape around your bed frame and posts with the sticky side out to catch bed bugs as they try to enter or exit your bed.
Get Rid of Those Bed Bugs Forever!
Bed bugs are a challenging pest to get rid of, and it’s always best to treat infestations as soon as you notice them. Signs that you may have a bed bug infestation include small brown or red spots on your sheets, on your mattress, or on your box spring, tiny bites on your skin in the morning, and finding live bed bugs.
Once you have gotten rid of bed bugs, there are also some measures you can take to prevent future infestations. Better Homes and Gardens suggests being very careful about any secondhand furniture you bring into your home. Inspect secondhand furniture very carefully for bed bugs before bringing it home.
You may want to leave any secondhand furniture in your garage for several days, and inspect it carefully several times for signs of bed bugs before bringing it into your home. Be sure to inspect all the furniture’s cracks and crevices for bed bugs.
It’s also a good idea to minimize the clutter in your home to give bed bugs fewer places to hide. Vacuum your home often, and promptly empty your vacuum’s canister outside when you’re done.
If you order a new mattress or box spring, Better Homes and Gardens recommends that you ask for the first delivery of the day so that your new mattress or box spring doesn’t sit on the truck with old bedding.
The site also suggests encasing your new mattress and box spring in bed bug encasements immediately to trap any bed bugs that may have gotten on your new bedding.
If you have a bed bug infestation, try some of these natural bed bug remedies. You can effectively treat a bed bug infestation without the help of a professional pest control company with some diligence, patience, and hard work.