It’s never good to “put the cart before the horse”. If you’re just now visiting this blog, there is a ton of info that you will be missing out on if you only read this post without the others. I highly recommend starting from the beginning, so you will understand some of the things I refer to in the step-by-step process.
It’s imperative to know the facts and habits of bed bugs, where to find them, and what they look like, so you understand how bed bugs survive, die, and what to expect when exterminating. If you haven’t learned the correct facts, you are likely to be unsuccessful in getting rid of bed bugs.
Also, just so you know how some of these chemicals and devices work, you may want to check out “Best Methods of Bed Bug Extermination” as well.
Table of Contents
Get Rid of Bed Bugs Step-By-Step
If you find or see bed bugs in your home, it can be hard to know what to do or where to start. Luckily for you, there is easy step by step instructions for you to follow below. It is important that you don’t skip steps. If you do, you may not get desired results.
1. Clean the House and Clutter
As mentioned before, it is important to find any bugs prior to extermination so you can go straight for the jugular and kill them at their source. Therefore, while cleaning, you should try to search and seek out as many places as possible to find bedbugs at their source. Think: Search and destroy!
Your house may be immaculate, it may be filthy, you may be a collector of many things, or you may be a minimalist. We all vary in how we keep our house. There’s nothing wrong with expressing your individuality with things you like to have around your house, but you have to make adjustments, especially for these little ass holes. Therefore, you must make sure your house is straightened up, clutter free, and clean. What do I mean by clean? I mean everything! Work from top to bottom, and go from left to right. If you have a lot of things lying out of place, clean it up.
I’m telling you this for a couple of reasons.
- First, when you clean up, the bedbugs run out of places to hide. When you vacuum, some will get sucked up along with the dirt.
- Secondly, if you try to put chemicals in spaces that haven’t been cleaned up, the chemicals, powders, and sprays won’t get to the bugs.
Even if you hire an exterminator, their treatment will not be effective if you don’t clean up, and you will surely have another outbreak. Pick up trash, dishes, clothes, objects or anything else lying around where it’s not supposed to be. That includes under and behind things like the couch, bed, nightstand, dresser, etc. Put everything away. If you find bugs while cleaning, spray them with a contact killer like alcohol.
Vacuum anything with fabric, such as carpet, couches, beds, closets and anything else you can think of. Also, try to vacuum as much as you can underneath and behind everything. We want to reach as many places as possible throughout the house, so we can completely eradicate these suckers. Throw away the vacuum bag when finished. I’ve used a bag-less vacuum for years. It works, but you have to take extra precautions with them. When finished vacuuming, take the vacuum outside and empty it into a large plastic trash bag. Tie it off tight and dispose of it.
You may want to sprinkle a little diatomaceous earth in the vacuum afterward to make sure to kill anything that might be in there. Just make sure to empty out the diatomaceous earth before vacuuming again. Otherwise, it can clog the filter. If you have a regular vacuum with a brush at the bottom and a lot of crevices, you may want to seal the vacuum in a trash bag and set it in the sun, or heat the bottom up with a hair dryer or steamer. You can also wrap it up in a garbage bag with one of those vapor strips.
Wash and dry all laundry. You don’t have to wash your clean clothes, just wash the dirty ones. However, you do have to heat them up. You can put them in a dryer for 20 minutes, run a hot steamer on them, or put them in a portable heating unit. None of these options are fun, but these methods will ensure that there are no bugs on your clothes. Also, don’t forget about bags, shoes, curtains, backpacks, purses, etc. when you do this step.
4. Seal Cracks
Check for cracks in the wall, ceiling or in the top, bottom or sides of the windowsill. A seal as many cracks as possible with caulk or Elmers Glue. Clear packing tape or scotch tape dusted with baby powder can also create a seal and barrier, but it will only be very temporary. If the tape starts to peel, it will get dirty. Once it gets dirty, it gives bugs a place to hide not good! It needs to be sealed so the bugs have no place to hide.
Before you do this part, I would like to emphasize safety. Unless you are a scientist, poison control professional, exterminator, or an expert in this field, who knows what you are doing, make sure to read and follow the instructions on the product labels. Always use caution and wear safety gear when you are working with chemicals. Also, be mindful of pets and children. Keep them out of the house or in another room until the chemicals dry. Use all chemicals at your own risk!
In this step, you will be using multiple things: lambda, alcohol, diatomaceous earth, hair dryer or steamer. If you can get a hold of some dry ice and feel safe using it, you can use it in this step also. When you exterminate, you must go from corner to corner, top to bottom, and left to right.
When it comes to treating the furniture, you have several options: The Dry Ice method, the Contact method, and Chemical method. If you see any bedbugs, you can use the contact method with alcohol, a hair dryer, or steamer. Then proceed with the chemical method. If you use Dry Ice, you won’t need the Chemical or Contact method.
- The Dry Ice method will kill 100% of bedbugs and eggs on your furniture within 24 hours if done correctly.
- The Contact method will instantly kill the bugs but will leave no residual behind for the ones that you didn’t find.
- The Chemical method will initially kill some of the bedbugs after a few minutes, but it will also leave a residual behind to kill the others when they come into contact with the chemical.
All methods work in one fashion or another. It’s ultimately up to you which method you choose. You will see how to use each method below.
a. Using Dry Ice
If you choose this method, here is what you will need:
- Painter drop cloth plastic or plastic mattress cover,
- Wide clear packing tape,
- Dry Ice.
For a mattress or box spring, you would need about 1 pound of dry ice. For the entire bed, you would need about 3 pounds of dry ice, just to give you an idea.
- Completely seal off the furniture item in plastic.
- If you have a large item like a couch or mattress, you will need to set it upright vertically on its side to allow the CO2 to reach as much of the object as possible.
- At the bottom of the plastic, cut open a small space in the plastic and insert the dry ice then reseal with tape.
- Using the sharp tip of a pencil, poke about 1 or 2 dozen holes at the top of the plastic. This allows the CO2 to fill up the mattress while pushing out the oxygen.
- Leave the room and let it sit for 24 hours. Keep the room ventilated.
- When you check your mattress the next day, all bedbugs will be dead due to suffocation.
b. Chemical Method
The type of chemical you will be using for this is a very strong base chemical that’s mixed in a chemical sprayer with water. It is very important to apply this in the right places (where the bugs are, and where they go), if not, you may not get the results you need.
- Spray the chemical (Lambda) deep into the crevices of the furniture.
- Spray the underside of the couch, recliners, or armchairs. For mattresses, you should spray around the sides where the seams are sewn together, covering the whole outside circumference. Unless you have an extreme infestation, you don’t necessarily need to cover the top and bottom of the mattress because the bugs are not likely to hang out there. Remember, bedbugs don’t like disturbed places. Refer back to the where to look for bedbugs section to make sure you don’t miss anything while exterminating the house. If you’ve seen bedbugs on a desk or table, spray the underside of the item, and any cracks or crevices.
- Then move on to putting the chemical in each room.
- Cover all parameters starting from the top left and move toward the top right. Basically, you would trace an outline along the edges of each wall with the chemical. Then move onto the crevices, such as baseboards, door and window frames, cracks in the walls, and beds.
- You may be tempted just to spray the chemical everywhere, but you need to be strategic and careful when spraying chemicals. Remember to stick to the places where you typically see bedbugs. Think conservative and effective. You want to hit the hot spots where they are, or where they are likely to be.
- Don’t spray the chemical where people eat or in areas that are frequently touched.
- Allow for the furniture to dry before using it again.
c. Extermination for Electronics
Don’t forget about your electronics, especially laptops because they are so close to you. Laptops sit on your furniture, your bed, and most of all, in your lap. Other electronics that could be harboring these pests are alarm clocks, electrical cords, desktop computer monitors, towers, keyboards, and your computer mouse. You don’t want to apply heat or steam to these because it can and will damage the electronic components.
There are two options for getting bedbugs out of your electronics.
- You can seal them off in bags with the vapor strips or encase them with dry ice like you did with the furniture.
- If you use the dry ice method, don’t forget to poke several holes to allow the CO2 to push out the oxygen. Also, make sure the dry ice is not too close to or directly touching the electronics.
6. Cover Mattresses
Cover your mattress and box spring in plastic. Use wide slick packing tape to tape it shut. You should use enough plastic mattress covers to double layer the mattress and box spring. The reason I say this is that if it tears, you will have another layer underneath to protect the bed. Believe me, there will eventually be rips and tears, especially if you have kids. If they do tear a bit, just use some wide slick tape to cover the hole. I’ve had a plastic cover last me about two years. There were some tears in it, but I just taped them to save myself the time and extra effort of having to put another cover on.
You may find that once you put your sheet over the plastic, it’s uncomfortable and has an annoying crackling sound. In order to fix this, you can use a comforter or a mattress pad to go on top of the plastic and under the fitted sheet, so it will feel more like a real bed again.
Mattress pads are not likely to hold an infestation because bedbugs are not apt to hang out between a sheet and mattress pad because it is a high traffic place and it would be hard for them to get to you. Only in extreme infestations, would they manage to get on a mattress pad. Furthermore, if you have the mattress and box spring covered in plastic, it will be impossible for them to climb from the box spring to your mattress.
Even in the unlikely event that you would find bedbugs on your bed after covering it in plastic, you would more likely find them on the rim of your sheet, on your headboard, or nearby walls, rather than on the mattress itself. If this happens, you can always treat the headboard, and take the pad and sheets off and wash it, which you would probably do anyway. Just make sure to put infested items directly into a plastic trash bag to transport it to the washer.
If you really just can’t stand the plastic, you can use a zip up fabric mattress cover. The only issue with these kinds of covers is that bed bugs can climb on it, but if you inspect it and cycle it through the dryer every so often, you should be fine. Just make sure you are doing maintenance and upkeep so you don’t get another infestation somewhere in your home.
The good thing about fabric covers is that there are virtually no deep dark crevices for bed bugs to hide. I did take some time to find what seems to be the best value for a zip up, waterproof, fabric, mattress cover.
After doing all of this, make an island out of your bed. This means pulling it away from walls and if possible, removing the headboard. You can eventually put the headboard back on, but while you are trying to exterminate and keep bugs off of you, it’s best not to give them a place to climb on or hide. Treat and inspect headboard thoroughly prior to putting it to the side.
7. Cover Couches
There are multiple options for this. You can get some plastic couch covers from a local storage place or Amazon. You can also use some painters plastic drop cloth from the hardware store. The couch covers from the storage place go over the couch like a large garbage bag. My couch was too big to fit, so I had to use a roll of painters drops cloth plastic. Make sure to tape the plastic to seal it shut.
For the cushions, get large enough garbage bags that the cushions will fit into and tape them to seal them shut. Make sure to poke small holes in the bags toward the top of the cushion, unless you want a loud bursting sound the first time someone plops down on the couch. If that happens, you may have to recover it.
There is really no need to worry about the little holes. Bedbugs are not likely to be found on the top of a cushion. They are 99% likely to be found around the areas of the couch that are less disturbed and have creases such as the side of a cushion or on the armrest along the seams. If the unlikely chance occurs that a bedbug does climb in, it would be really hard for a bug to find their way back out and they would eventually die from starvation or chemicals.
I’m sure nobody will like sitting on plastic, so you have a couple of choices to avoid this. You could use a regular fabric couch cover and cycle it through the dryer regularly in case any bugs climb on it -or- you could purchase a zip up fabric couch encasement which will keep bed bugs in/out, and make it more comfortable to sit on. Like I said before, with it being fabric, you will probably still need to cycle it through the dryer. For about $150 USD you can get these encasements at the Do MyOwn Pest Control website.
8. Diatomaceous Earth or CimeXa
Personally, I used diatomaceous earth. That was before I knew about CimeXa. I successfully got rid of the bugs with Diatomaceous Earth, but I learned that CimeXa is more potent, because it kills three times faster than Diatomaceous Earth, but it’s also about three times more expensive. If you can afford it, I would recommend you use the CimeXa. You can apply either one in the same way.
Where and how you apply this product is just as important as using the product itself. If you don’t apply it in the right way or have it in the right places, it won’t be nearly as effective. Apply the powder with caution. No, you won’t die or get sick. Both powders are non-toxic. The reason I say with caution is that once you start applying it, you might breathe in the dust particles until the dust from it settles. I’ve breathed it in by accident a couple of times and started coughing because it irritated my nose and throat.
I would suggest wearing a mask to cover your nose and mouth when applying it. They have special applicators, which are best, but you don’t have to use the special applicator. You can purchase a bottle that comes with a tip for a fairly easy application. Basically, the air inside of the container pushes the powder out when you turn it upside down and squeeze it. You can also put it in a sprayer mixed with water. Once it dries, the residue will be left behind.
To apply, start at the corner of the room. Turn the container upside down and rest the tip between the carpet and baseboard. Slightly squeeze the container until you see the powder come out. Make sure to make only a thin line. If you put too much, it will repel the bed bugs instead of killing them. Continue squeezing to make an even and steady stream of powder come out. Trace all the way around the room where the carpet and the baseboard meet. Do this to all of the rooms in the house.
9. Co2 Traps/ Monitors
Set up several Co2 traps in each room, close to where you normally sit or sleep. These traps should be placed behind or under couches, beds, computer desks and any other place, where you think there is an infestation. Make sure the traps are not touching the furniture. If you do, the bugs could crawl back onto the furniture. If possible, try not to be in the room with the traps so it will increase the opportunity for the bugs to go into the traps and not on you! I will be making another post on how to make these traps a little later.
10. Interceptors & Barriers
Put the interceptors under the legs of your bed, desk, chair, couch, or anything else you can think of. You could also use the clear packing tape, or clear scotch tape around the legs or your furniture to keep bugs from climbing up. Brush baby powder or oil onto the tape for an added barrier. Remember, the tape is only temporary because if used for too long, lose its stickiness, peel, and give bed bugs a place to burrow in.
After doing all of this, you should be good to go, however, you should come back through with the chemical spray again in about a month. You won’t need to put more diatomaceous earth down unless you vacuumed it up.
Once you get rid of these horrific things, it’s important to make sure you do prevention and maintenance so you don’t get them back.