How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs – Eliminate Them for Good

Learn what attracts bed bugs to your home, best ways to get rid of bed bugs, and how to prevent the infestation from happening again.
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: January 12, 2023
Pest Products is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Bed bugs are not your average bugs. They are small and hard to spot until you start noticing a problem. They do often hide in mattresses; hence the name bed bugs, but they can also hide in other places too. You won’t find them only in the bed. These critters are quick and can be a challenge to get rid of. But it’s not impossible!

If you are looking for help figuring out how to get rid of bed bugs, you’ve come to the right place! Learning how and where they will hide, what to look for, and how to get eliminate them for good will be key to getting rid of bed bugs permanently in your home.

In this guide, we will share all of these details, as well as some tips to help prevent future bed bug infestations in your home.

Bed Bugs vs. Fleas vs. Ticks

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodWhen you look at a picture of a bed bug, they almost look a lot like fleas or ticks in appearance. They have tiny little heads and round bodies. Just like ticks, they can swell up once they feed. However, unlike ticks, bed bugs won’t spread disease. They are just a nuisance.

Bed bugs can be hard to find or see, much like fleas. They hide differently than fleas and their bodies are shaped differently. Bed bugs are round with flat backs and bodies, aside from the swelling after feeding.

While bed bugs, fleas, and ticks all have similar colors and sizes, they do have clear differences, some of which we’ve talked about already. Their bodies will be a reddish brown color but the characteristic that physically differentiates them the most from ticks or fleas are the ridges along their flat backs.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Your Home?

Have you ever been under the impression that bed bugs come to dirty places? Many times, there is a stereotype that bedbugs prefer to live in filthy, dirty areas. But that’s not really true. While they certainly can be in those places, they can also be found in clean places too.

Bed bugs are attracted specifically to blood. They will live anywhere that there might be blood nearby for them to feast on. Guess what, when you lay on furniture or on your bed, you make a convenient snack for them.

But here is where bedbugs are limited. They don’t fly and they don’t live on the animal or individual they are feeding from. They hide and then feed when they are able to.

While bed bugs aren’t necessarily just in filthy or dirty places, they can be in old furniture or travel easily. This is why they are sometimes found in locations like these.

  • Hotel rooms
  • Older furniture
  • Apartments
  • Resort locations
  • Guests visiting your home
  • Luggage, purses, backpacks, etc.

When you find bedbugs in a hotel, it does not necessarily mean the hotel is dirty. It means somehow, they traveled in and then they’ve likely spread.

Signs of Bed Bug Infestation

While bed bugs are small, they can still be seen by the naked eye. This is yet another misconception to people. However, because of their size, sometimes they are harder to find or see. There are ways to determine whether you might have a bed bug infestation. Check out these below.

Bed Bug Bites

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodOne sign that might lead you to wonder about bed bugs is bites. The bites look like small red welts or bumps and they are most likely to show up after you’ve slept or even laid on a couch for a while. The bed bug bites are itchy and you may have several bites. They are not always in clusters like flea bites. These welts are also larger than flea bites.

Tick bites are typically single bites and while it might be a red welt, it will just be one bite most of the time. Bed bugs will often feed in groups so you’re more likely to have at least 2-3 bites and they may be fairly close together.

If you’re seeing bites like these, they very well could be a sign that you need to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress or other piece of furniture – and fast!

Red Spots or Stains

Another indicator could be red spots or splotches on sheets, pillowcases, or the mattress. These splotches will be small specks but will look like blood. Most likely it is from blood since that is how bed bugs feed.

If you see red splotches on the materials, particularly after sleeping, you need to take action as you probably have a bed bug infestation.

Bed Bug Evidence

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodBed bugs will leave behind physical evidence of their own as well. Some of this might be harder to spot since the bugs are typically hiding away. Bed bugs will eliminate waste, just like any other living thing that eats. They also shed their skin. Bed bugs molt as it is growing. This molting only happens prior to adulthood in their life cycle.

Bed bugs will molt five different times before they become adults. Because of this, you might see their skin that they shed laying around. If you have an infestation, there will likely be skin from multiple bed bugs so it could become noticeable.

Think about it like this. If 50 bed bugs live in your mattress and they each molt 5 times, that’s 250 skin sheds. That doesn’t count newly born bed bugs that continue to join the family either.

Bed Bug Odors

The other most common sign that you might have bed bugs would be an odor. The odor might smell a little something like stinky feet or even a dirty gym bag. It will have hints of mustiness and it won’t be pleasant. The odor can be harder to pick up, unless there is a large infestation.

However, if you’re catching whiffs of an odor like this, we recommend checking for bed bugs to be safe.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Now that you know about how to recognize a bed bug infestation, let’s talk about how to get rid of bed bugs permanently. Bed bugs might not carry disease but they are still a problem. They bite and they are most certainly a nuisance. They will continue to grow and become a much bigger problem if you don’t eradicate them.

Check out these steps to help the process.

Step 1. Identify infested areas

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodThe first step is going to be finding any infested area. Remember that if you see signs of infestation, there may be more than one location in your home that has them. The good news is that you can find any infested space and take action from there.

Be sure to look at bedding, carpets, furniture, and more. Here are some things that might help as you are inspecting.

  • Magnifying glass for easier spotting
  • A strong flashlight with bright light
  • Something sturdy but thin for probing (credit card, playing card, putty knife, nail file, etc.)
  • A strong vacuum, preferably with furniture brushes and tools
  • Gloves to protect your hands
  • Roll of paper towels

Look in creases, crevices, and deep layers. Use that credit card or other item for probing to help get a good search and find all infested areas.

Step 2. Contain the bugs

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodOnce you find bed bugs, you will need to contain them so that they don’t continue to spread.

You can use tape with strong adhesive to capture live ones you find; you can also vacuum as you go to clean out those crevices and reduce the living number of bed bugs. You may need to treat throughout your home to be safe.

Step 3. Kill the bed bugs

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodWe will dig deeper into the ways to kill bed bugs in the next section but here is a quick overview.

  • Hot or cold treatments
  • Steam
  • Bed bug poisons or insecticides
  • Mattress covers
  • Bug bombs or foggers

You probably won’t be able to get rid of bed bugs in one day without using an exterminator. Because of their eggs it sometimes takes repeated treatments to be completely effective.

How to Kill Bed Bugs

Whether you want to get rid of bed bugs fast or you want to get rid of bed bugs with a DIY method, you will find multiple solutions to try out.

Hot or Cold Treatments

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodExtreme heat or extreme cold could eradicate bed bugs effectively. One popular tool for using a heat treatment is this Thermal Strike bed bug heater. You can use this for items like luggage, bags, bedding, clothing, and more to help make sure they are clean and clear of bed bugs.

It might even fit some cushions or pillows as well. This is a good way to get rid of bed bugs naturally from everyday items.

Steam

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodMuch like extreme heat, steam will kill bedbugs. You can easily steam clean a mattress or other furniture to help kill bed bugs that live there. This will kill bed bugs but it may also help keep the surfaces clean to prevent bed bugs.

We’ve found these recommended  best steamers for bed bugs that you can browse through if you need a good option. Steamers can be used for several other things too.

Insecticides or Poisons

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodYou can use pre-made insecticides to help kill bed bugs and hopefully kill any eggs as well. You will need to be very careful to make sure the insecticide does kill both bed bugs and their eggs for it to be effective. Be sure to use these treatments safely and follow all directions,

Reviewers say that this option from MGK is a great aerosol spray treatment to try.

Mattress Covers

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodCovering your mattress may help prevent bed bugs and may also kill any that are present. While some people recommend this to kill bed bugs, it’s actually much better at preventing bed bugs after an infestation has already been treated. You can get rid of bed bugs naturally by trapping them within and keeping future bed bugs out.

Bug Bombs and Foggers

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs - Eliminate Them for GoodIf you want a quick and effective treatment, try the one of best bed bug foggers we have also reviewed. You can get rid of bed bugs DIY with home-rated solutions like these. Just be sure to follow all application instructions for safety purposes.

When Is It Time to Call a Professional?

It’s common to try to treat bed bugs without an exterminator first. But when this doesn’t seem to be effective, it’s time to call a professional. Bed bugs can be very hard to effectively get rid of but a professional can help source them out and then effectively treat your entire home to get rid of bed bugs permanently.

This is the quickest and most effective method. If you have a serious infestation, we highly recommend calling professionals.

How to Prevent Bed Bug Infestation

You may not always be able to prevent bed bugs from getting in. They can find their way in on furniture, luggage, or even your clothes. However, there are some things you can try to help!

  1. Vacuum regularly, including your furniture and mattresses
  2. Avoid clutter or random junk piles
  3. Sanitize luggage and clothing when you travel
  4. Use a mattress cover
  5. Seal cracks and crevices that bed bugs can travel through
  6. Act quickly if you notice signs of bedbugs

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites can be itchy and uncomfortable. The best thing that you can do at home is use a hydrocortisone cream to help reduce inflammation and itchiness. Any type of anti-itch or antihistamine will likely soothe the bites.

However, if you have a more severe reaction, you may need to see a doctor for treatment. Watch for signs of infection to be safe.

FAQ

How hard is it to get rid of bed bugs?

Unfortunately, it’s very challenging to get rid of bed bugs. The problem is that the eggs are hard to kill so while you might kill bed bugs in treatment, the eggs might not die off, allowing more bed bugs to hatch. Multiple treatments may be needed.

How to get rid of bed bugs overnight?

If you’re treating a small item or space, using heat or cold treatments will get rid of bed bugs overnight. An exterminator might also be able to get rid of them this quickly too.

How long does it take to get rid of bed bugs after extermination?

Adult bed bugs will generally die right away. However, the eggs may not. Set up a follow up with your exterminator to treat again and catch any newly-hatched bed bugs.

Final Thoughts

Bed bugs are no fun and those little pests can be a challenge to get rid of. The important thing to note is that you probably won’t eradicate them completely on your first try. You will probably need to apply or hire for more than one treatment in order to effectively get rid of them.

How to get rid of bed bugs is to thoroughly inspect and treat the spaces but then follow up with another treatment for any eggs that survived. Be sure to take proactive steps to prevent infestation or bringing them into your home after you’ve traveled as well. These steps go a long way to help.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

X