Robert Brown
    Updated: September 29, 2021

If you have bed bugs in your home, it can feel like a nightmare.

These days bed bugs are more common than ever.

In fact… An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be infested in their lifetimes.

These bugs live across the world, and as you might have guessed…

They particularly enjoy living in our homes.

More specifically, in our beds.

Although they are common, you should not take an infestation lightly.

How Do I Permanently Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

These tiny critters can cause health issues both physically and mentally. 

Fortunately, bed bugs are not a new insect species, and we know a lot about them.

On that note…Let’s dive in.

Here are 11 ways to get rid of bed bugs permanently. 

  1. Learn to spot signs of bed bug infestation
  2. Do the laundry
  3. Pay special attention to your mattress
  4. Inspect walls and baseboards
  5. Diatomaceous earth
  6. Remove clutter
  7. Invest in a reliable steamer
  8. Use plastic cases to seal items
  9. Heat treatment
  10. Conventional insecticide treatments
  11. Ongoing Prevention

1. Learn to Spot Signs of Bed Bug Infestation

While this one may seem obvious…

It’s actually an important first step to eradicating bed bugs.

Bed bugs are often mistaken for similar insects. In other instances, you may not even spot the bed bugs at all. 

This can either lead to the WRONG treatment methods, or no treatment whatsoever. 

More often than not people learn they have bed bugs only after they’re bitten multiple times.

If you have tiny red welts, in clusters all over your body…

You probably have a severe infestation on your hands. 

These bites are usually in a zigzag or linear pattern.

Other than causing skin irritation, bites have the following physical characteristics.

  • A cluster of red bumps or welts (usually on the upper body).
  • Deep red color at the center with a lighter outer ring.
  • There may be inflammation or swollen skin around the bite.
  • If scratching occurs, they can develop into blisters or sores.

Click here for more information on what bed bug bites look like.

This is why it is essential to learn to spot signs of bed bugs as soon as possible.

Evidence of bed bugs include:

  • Brown or red spots on the mattress (fecal or blood stains).
  • Bed bug shed skin or eggs.
  • Musty smell. Some say it’s a mix between a locker room and coriander (it’s not pleasant).
  • Live bugs around the folds of the mattress or box spring.

These insects are tiny and have flattened bodies.

This is why they can hide in dark, damp areas such as electrical outlets, under wallpaper, inside wall cracks, behind picture frames, in mattress pads, and furniture.

2. Do the Laundry

If you are 100% sure that you have bed bugs in your home, you should start by reducing clutter and doing a thorough clean.

Starting off with a wash/dry cycle of all clothes that could have been exposed.

Bed bugs don’t like high temperatures. In fact, high temperatures kill them.

(if exposed for at least an hour)

The most efficient way to get rid of these insects is to start washing your clothes.

Unfortunately, since you can’t be sure where they are and where they’ve hatched their eggs…

It’s best to wash EVERYTHING.

Make sure to wash your clothes, bedding, and linens as well. 

 If you have a pet, make sure to clean its bed/toys.

These bugstypically go after humans but there are situations where bed bugs will infest your pets.

3. Pay Special Attention to Your Mattress

Can you spot reddish-brown spots on your bedding and mattress?

These are telltale signs that bed bugs are nearby.

If you want to permanently remove an infestation, you should keep a close eye on your bed.

Use a stiff brush on each side of your mattress.

After you loosen up bed bugs’ eggs and shells, use the vacuum to clean all sides of your mattress.

Consider buying a bug-proof mattress encasement to keep the creatures from living in your box spring.

4. Inspect Walls & Baseboards

Remember how bed bugs have small flattened bodies?

Thanks to their build, they can hide in the smallest places, including the small cracks in your walls.

Bed bugs can even hide in cracks that aren’t visible, making them extremely difficult to spot.

The ability for bed bugs to hide and travel through walls is one of the main reasons they spread easily through apartment complexes and multi-family buildings.

So If your neighbor is infested…

(and the situation is not dealt with)

It’s likely you will become infested in a matter of months.

Bed bugs use cracks/crevices to hide and nest.

To remedy this you could use:

  • wallpaper glue
  • Plaster
  • Caulk

These products will help seal up cracks and remove a potential hiding place for bed bugs.

5. Diatomaceous Earth

There are several different chemicals and insecticides that you could use to treat bed bugs.

Though perhaps the most popular, is a powdered like substance called Diatomaceous Earth.

This product is a non-toxic shield that can both kill bed bugs, and prevent them from moving freely.

Below are some benefits:

  • 100% Natural: Diatomaceous Earth is made of fossilized sea creatures called diatoms, therefore it’s safe to handle.
  • Works with a Heat Treatment: In the case of severe infestations, this product works nicely with professional heat treatment. It is safe to heat to high temperatures and can be placed on items that are too delicate for high heat.
  • No Resistance: Unlike other conventional insecticides, bed bugs cannot develop a resistance to this product.
  • Long-Lasting: While it doesn’t kill bed bugs instantly, it lasts a long period with effective results.

When in use you will want to wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling into your lungs. To avoid breathing in anything dangerous make sure that you’re using pesticide-grade product.

(NOT pool grade, with other potential insecticides added in).

6. Remove Clutter

No home is 100% safe from bed bugs…

Especially the houses with a lot of shelves, furniture, and other items that can cause clutter.

Clutter creates a possible hiding and nesting place for bed bugs. A thorough clean will help you get rid of some of the clutter that could hinder early identification of an infestation.  

You should specifically look to cleaning up areas where bed bugs like to hide.

These include:

  • Under Furniture
  • Around the Bed
  • Any small crevices or crawl spaces
  • Around appliances
  • Places on your body (in rare cases)

Be sure to vacuum thoroughly, using special attachments to get into hard-to-reach places where bed bug eggs or nymphs (baby bed bugs) could be hiding.

7. Invest in A Reliable Steamer

A good and reliable steamer is your best ally if you want to run a bug-free household.

Steamers produce high enough heat to kill BOTH bed bugs and their eggs. Make sure to use it regularly and often.

The trick is to set the heat to at least 160 F and airflow to a minimum. Once you set it up in this fashion, make sure to steam clean the carpet, closet shelves, baseboards, and even window trim.

Keep in mind, that a steamer does not replace professional methods.

A steamer will kill bed bugs on contact…

But it won’t treat bed bugs that you don’t see.

Therefore it’s important to supplement DIY treatment methods like steam cleaning, with professional treatment options.

8. Use Plastic Cases to Seal Items

Bed bugs cannot live longer than a year, especially if they can’t feed.

Once you are done with cleaning, washing, wallpaper and wall repairs, there will still be some items left that you can’t wash….

Still, these items may have bugs and render all your effort futile.

When it comes to bed bugs, it’s ALL or NOTHING.

Even one bed bug left behind can start a new infestation in a matter of months.

Female bed bugs can lay up to 12 eggs per day (around 500 in their lifetimes).

This is one of the reasons why these parasites are so resilient, and why many pest control specialists consider bed bugs as the HARDEST creature to eradicate.

If you want to get rid of the bugs permanently, seal off these items in plastic bags.

Keep them sealed for 6 to 18 months to be 100% sure that all bed bugs inside are dead.  

9. Heat Treatment

Professional heat treatments are widely considered as the most effective bed bug treatment. This involves bringing industrial size heaters into your home to bring temperatures up above 120F.

Bed bugs cannot survive for more than an hour or so at this temperature, so it’s a full proof method to killing bed bugs on a wide scale.

Benefits of the heat treatment include:

  • Eco Friendly (compared to harmful insecticides).
  • Can remove an infestation in just one treatment.
  • You can be back in your home in a matter of hours.

The only downside to this treatment is that it’s expensive…

Depending on the size of your home, a heat treatment can run between $1,000 – $7,500.

10. Conventional Insecticide Treatments

The use of insecticides by a professional is the most common treatment method.

Benefits of Conventional Treatments include:

  • Less expensive than heat treatments.
  • It’s very discrete, whereas other treatments require big equipment.
  • It’s safer than potentially using dangerous chemicals yourself.

There are several insecticides that a professional can use to treat your infestation.

In fact… There are over 300 approved chemicals by the EPA for treating bed bugs.  

11. Ongoing Prevention

Prevention is CRITICAL to understand both during and after a bed bug infestation. The last thing you want after dealing with this nightmare, is a reoccurrence.

Therefore, being cautious is important. You should always keep a clean home and be on the lookout for live bed bugs or their signs.

Use preventative products such as mattress encasements or vacuums with certified HEPA filters.

You should also be careful when traveling.

Make sure to NEVER keep your suitcase next to your bed and wash your clothes immediately after returning home from a trip.

If you’re staying at a temporary residence such as a hotel, you should inspect the hotel room accordingly being spending the night.

12. Other Methods (Bonus)

Other methods for treating bed bugs include:

There are plenty of ways to get rid of bed bugs from your home.

Once you manage to get a bug-free home, you should keep an eye open.

Regularly inspect your bed and furniture to spot infestations in their early stages.

It will help you efficiently manage bed bugs and keep your home safe from uninvited guests.

If you experience bed bugs in your apartment or hotel room…

You may be entitled to compensation. Talk to a lawyer today for your free consultation.

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Date Published: 2020-07-08

Robert Brown

Written By Robert Brown

I'm a seasoned pest control veteran. I focus my time on writing educational content about the industry and helping people learn about indoor insects. When I'm not thinking about bed bugs I am spending time with my daughters or walking the dog.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Peg

    I just wanted to ask a question, please. If the bed bugs cannot get to the human, will they go elsewhere? I am using a polyester mosquito netting around my bed and, so far, it has worked. Before I put the netting around the bed, I inspected the entire bed and did not find anything, and then I encased the mattress in the plastic covering. I also tucked the ends of the netting under the mattress. I just keep wondering, however, since they can live up to a year and have the eggs, if they are just hiding somewhere.

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