- When you need to get rid of bed bugs, the most effective and costly method is to get rid of them.
- To kill bed bugs on their own, the EPA recommends trying heat or cold treatments, as well as pesticides.
- Here’s how to spot the signs of bed bugs in your home and quickly eliminate them.
- This article has been medically reviewed by Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist at Yale School of Medicine.
- This story is part of Insider’s Complete Guide to Bug Bites.
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. Since they are less than a quarter of an inch long, they are almost impossible to spot. But they can be found everywhere from homes to nursing homes to hotels.
“Usually the first signs of bed bug bites are bites,” says Rick Young, owner of Young’s Pest Control in the UK.
The tell-tale sign are small bites that are in a group or line on your skin. Although bed bug bites are itchy, they’re usually harmless.
“In the vast majority of cases, bed bugs are more of a nuisance than a real health hazard,” says Sreedhar Krishna, a dermatologist at TalkHealth London.
Still, most people with bed bugs want them to go as quickly as possible. Here’s how to spot the signs of bed bugs and how to get rid of them quickly and effectively.
Signs of bed bugs
Bed bugs usually live in or around your bed and usually hide in the folds and seams of mattresses or pillows. However, it is rare that a bed bug is actually discovered.
“Sometimes it’s very hard to tell if you have bed bugs because they stay in hiding during the day and only come out at night to feed when we are soundly asleep,” says Young.
Instead of looking for insects, look for signs of a bed bug infestation. These can be:
- bed Insect bites that appear in a cluster or line on your skin. Bites appear red on light skin or may look dark on darker skin. They are smaller than mosquito bites.
- Red or rusty spots on your mattress or sheet. This can happen if you accidentally crush bed bugs.
- Dark brown or black spots on your mattress or sheet that looks almost like it was drawn by a marker. These are bed bug droppings.
How to get rid of bed bugs
Treating bed bugs can be complex and time-consuming, especially since the infestation is usually severe when people notice it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends certain do-it-yourself remedies.
- Heat treatment. Bed bugs die when exposed to heat above 30 ° C. You can tumble the linens on high heat or use a steam mop with a gentle air force to heat your bed.
- Cold treatment. You can put your bedding in a sealed bag and put it in a freezer set at 0 ° F for four days to kill bed bugs.
- Pesticides. The EPA recommends certain pesticides for controlling bed bugs. Desiccants that dry out the bed bugs are very effective but can take months to work. Some fog machines (also known as insect bombs) can be used to control bed bugs, but they are less effective because they don’t penetrate the small cracks where bed bugs hide. It is important to follow the directions on the fog machine you are using.
Additionally, our colleagues at Insider Reviews have compiled a list of the best products to get rid of bed bugs.
You can try these out before hiring an exterminator to save money. Note, however, that professional destruction is a more effective (albeit costly) treatment.
Destroyers use the same tools – heat or pesticides – but have access to higher quality equipment that can work faster and more effectively.
“There are a number of home remedies that you can try, but they are unlikely to solve the problem,” says Krishna. “This is because bed bugs can hide in very hard-to-reach areas and professional help is often required.”
In most cases, killers will have to come back several times to get rid of the bed bugs. The EPA has additional guidelines for selecting a pest control company. After the destruction is complete, watch out for any signs of bed bugs for at least two weeks.
If you suspect you have bed bugs, do not carry bed linen or clothing anywhere else in your home. This can help keep the bed bugs in one place, says Young.
The final result
Bed bugs are scary but mostly harmless, and there are effective ways to get rid of them. Remember, this can help you stay calm if you notice the signs of a bed bug infestation in your home.
“You never have to panic when you have bed bugs,” says Young. “There are skilled workers and correct methods to safely eradicate your problem.”