Bed bugs suck…. that’s a fact. And if you have ever had to deal with them, then you know they can literally make your life a living hell.
They bite you, they make you itch and worst of all…they can be an absolute pain to get rid of. For this reason, you want to be sure you follow the correct steps to get rid of bed bugs to save yourself time and money.
I am one for doing things the good old organic way when I can, so this article is going to focus on how to get rid of bed bugs naturally without using harmful chemicals.
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. This does not impact our reviews and comparisons. All opinions are our own we pride ourselves on keeping our articles fair and balanced. For more info see our disclosure statement.
Signs You Have Bed Bugs
Look for these signs that may indicate you have a bed bug infestation:
- There may be blood stains/spots on the bed sheets
- Carefully inspect your mattresses, bed frames, floors and walls for any signs of the bed bugs them selfs. Be sure to check cracks and crevices carefully
- Inspect your mattresses, bed frames, floors and walls for signs of bed bug feces – these will be rusty brown spots or smudges
- There may be a musty odor from the bugs themselves
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
First of all, let’s take a look at what bed bugs look like.
The main physical characteristics of bed bugs are:
- Resemble a tick
- Around 1/5 of an inch long
- A rusty brown color
- No wings
DON’T FORGET UNDER THE BED! Don’t forget to check under the bed and on the floor for all these signs. Another important place to check is piles of clothes.
If you have found signs of a bed bug infestation, then getting on top of it as quick as possible is important. The sooner you break the life cycle of this biting pest, the quicker they will be gone.
Where Do They Come From?
Bed bugs usually come into our home by one of the following methods:
- They can hitch a ride in on used/second hand furniture
- They can be on your clothes or luggage if you have recently been in an infested area (maybe without you even knowing)
- The bugs may have traveled between rooms if you live in in flats, a motel or similar
Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs Permanently
Before we go and try to break the bed bug life cycle, we need to remove as many of the bugs, eggs and larvae as possible.
Wash Bed Linen, Fabrics and Clothes
Take off all the bed linen and gather up the following items that have been in or near the affected area:
- Pillow Cases
- Underlays/mattress protectors
- Clothes that have touched the bed or been in the general area
There is an important process to follow when it comes to ridding your fabrics of bed bugs and their eggs, so be sure to read the following carefully.
- Stay in the infested area (you don’t want to move the bed bugs to other areas of your house) and sort your clothes as you would for a normal washing day
- Put each separated pile into a plastic bag
- Be sure to separate out clothes that must be dry cleaned – you can’t wash these but you can tumble dry them (which can kill bed bugs)
- Twist the tops of the bags and use some tape to seal them up to ensure bed bugs can’t escape
Washing and Drying
- Take your first lot of washing and add it to your washer – be sure to tip the bag directly into the machine to avoid spreading bed bugs
- Place your empty bag inside another clean bag and seal it up – once again to avoid spreading the infestation
- Use the hottest setting that the fabric can stand and wash and dry each load
- If clothes are dry cleanable only, then place them in your dryer for 30 minutes or above on the moderate to hottest setting – this will kill the bed bugs (be sure to take them to the dry cleaner afterwards, as they will still need to be properly cleaned)
Storage of Cleaned Clothes
- As soon as your clothes come out of your dryer, store them in clean, sealed plastic bags to ensure they cannot become re-infected
- Do not remove them from the plastic bags until you are in an uninfested area – on other words…do not put them away until you are sure your infestation is gone!
Some people believe that the smell of dryer sheets is disliked by bugs and acts as a repellent. If you are looking to repel beg bugs from a particular area then dryer sheets placed strategically around the area may help.
Vacuum Everything at Home – Get Rid Of Bugs and Eggs
An important step to naturally getting rid of bed bugs is to remove as many of the eggs, nymphs and actual bugs (both alive and dead) as possible.
This is an important part of breaking the life cycle of the bed bugs in your place of infestation.
A great way to do this is with a vacuum cleaner.
You will need:
- A vacuum cleaner that is reasonably powerful
- A crevice tool
- Grab a stiff brush and scrub along mattress seams, stitching and any crevices to loosen bed bugs and their eggs
- Set your vacuum on it’s most powerful setting and fit your crevice tool
- Vacuum along basically your whole mattress, focusing especially on:
- any other places that are indented where bed bugs or eggs may hide
- Vacuum around any cracks, crevices, joins or edges on your bed head and bed itself
- Lift the mattress and vacuum the bed base, make sure to focus on all crevices, cracks, joins, and edges
- Continue around the room and vacuum all areas that bed bugs may hide
- Fit the vacuum floor tool and clean the entire floor – including under the bed. Be sure to move all furniture and items on the floor to ensure you get everywhere
- Remove the vacuum bag and place it inside another sealed plastic bag as soon as you finish to avoid spreading bed bugs to other areas
This is an important step in the process, so you must make sure you do a good job. Even missing a few eggs or bugs can result in the infestation coming back.
Learn more: Which mattress’ are good for floor sleeping?
How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs – Non-Toxic Remedies
As I have already mentioned, the key to ridding your house of bed bugs naturally is to break the life cycle.
You don’t have to carry out every single one of these methods, but using as many as possible will give you the highest chance of successfully eradicating your bed bug infestation.
A quick note to add here, if you believe your mattress is beyond saving then I highly recommend reading the guides over at restfaq.com before rushing out and buying a new one. It is very easy to waste a lot of money so make sure you are armed with all the facts first!
Non-Toxic Bed Bug Spray
Many bed bug sprays/poisons that you have probably already come across in your research contain chemicals that can be dangerous to the other people and animals living in your home.
Not only that, but some species of bed bugs are actually not affected by some of the more commonly used poisons.
Well, I have good news – there is a product that kills bed bugs (in all stages of their life cycle) on contact AND it is pet and family safe.
Saybyebugs is a scientifically proven, safe way to kill bed bugs in your home. It uses active ingredients that are safe to use in your home and you can be sure that it is NOT safe for bed bugs!
Steam will kill bed bugs in all stages of their life cycle, so using a good quality steam cleaner is an effective way to help ensure any bugs left in your infested area are dead.
It is important to note here that you should not use a carpet cleaning machine. These devices do not reach a sufficient temperature to kill bed bugs. Steam temperatures of between 160-180°F (71-82°C) are required to kill bed bugs quickly.
Steam from a high-quality steam cleaner effectively reaches into fabrics, deep cracks and crevices and indentations on surfaces.
Learn more: The Best Bed Bug Steamers
- Choose an appropriate nozzle that comes with the steamer. Our favorite is the triangular shaped one that is included with most models
- Move the wand at an appropriate speed to ensure the surface reaches the required temperature to kill bed bugs 160-180°F (71-82°C). You can use an infrared or laser temperature gun to test this.
- Ensure you do not move so slow that the heat gets too high and damages the surface
- Steam clean all surfaces that have had bed bugs on them or where you think bed bugs may be hiding. Paying particular attention to:
- The mattress (including seams, stitching etc)
- Bed frame and bed head
- Carpet and hard floors
- It may be necessary to leave the room to dry for a time, then repeat the clean to make sure you get all the surviving bed bugs
Steam Is Dangerous
Steam is very hot and can cause very serious burns. Be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully that are included with your steam cleaner.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an effective (if messy) way to kill adult bed bugs. It does take some time to break the life cycle, but it does work.
DE gets stuck on insects bodies as the crawl around the house, it dries them out – which in turn eliminates the pest.
We have a guide on how you can use diatomaceous earth to kill these and other pests here.
Baking soda works in a similar way to Diatomaceous earth. It sucks the moisture out of bedbugs bodies, killing them in the process.
Once again, this is a messy process – but it does work.
Simply sprinkle an ample amount of baking soda around the affected areas and on infected items.
You will want to vacuum and reapply the baking soda every 3-4 days until you are sure your infestation is gone.
Rubbing alcohol is a great method to kill a bed bug. Simply put some in a spray bottle and spritz the affected areas. It will kill bed bugs instantly on contact.
Lavender and Tea Tree Oil
Bugs hate lavender and tea tree oil, so much so that they generally won’t come anywhere near it due to its strong smell.
Grab some Lavender Oil or Tea Tree Oil and wipe the bases of your bed frame and any furniture around the area affected by bed bugs. It will stop bedbugs from using the furniture to climb back into your bed for several weeks.
The last thing we want is those disgusting little bugs to have an easy path back to our beds!
There are different opinions as to whether or not cayenne pepper can kill bedbugs, but either way – it might be worth trying this natural method if you have some on hand.
How to make homemade bed bug spray:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of dried cayenne pepper into about 1 liter of water
- Add 2-3 drops of baby shampoo
- Pour into your spray bottle and spray infested areas.
There is a bit of science behind this one, but the short story is that kidney bean leaves actually trap bedbugs.
Place the leaves around areas where you know a bedbug infestation exists. The bugs will get stuck to the leaves which will in turn kill them.
After a few days throw away the old leaves and replace with new ones.
What If The Bed Bugs Come Back?
There is nothing more annoying than bugs in your house, whether it’s mosquitos, bed bugs, ants, or one of the many other insect species that like to invade our home.
If after all this, you still find your bed bug infestation returns then you have a few options:
- Try again – painful but will be the cheapest and most natural option
- Use insecticides – not natural…. but you might just be at your breaking point
- Call an exterminator – Once again, not natural… but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes
So as you can see, there are many ways to kill bed bugs naturally. You don’t always have to go to the chemical method to eliminate them straight away.