Bed bugs are some of the hardest pests to remove from your living space. Since these pests can latch onto fabrics, walls and books, you may unknowingly bring them into your home when:
- You stay at a hospital, a friend’s house or a hotel.
- You have a guest staying at your house.
- You take public transportation.
If you have an infestation in one of your rooms, you have to find a healthy yet productive approach to cleaning out the pests. Even if these treatments kill some of the bugs, you would have to find a method that exterminates the entire population so they don’t reproduce. Use this guide to learn the truth behind common myths about bed bugs, as well as the best way to get rid of bed bugs.
1. Does Rubbing Alcohol Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Rubbing alcohol doesn’t safely treat a bed bug infestation. People believe that products with high ethanol content could kill the insects in your house. They try to eliminate pests by spraying common bed bug habitat areas with alcohol from a local pharmacy. While some studies may show that the right percentage of alcohol can suffocate bed bugs, there’s no guarantee that you’ll eliminate the whole population of insects in your home.
This treatment approach has several harmful effects on yourself and your property:
- It’s hazardous to your health: Rubbing alcohol can burn your lungs and sinuses when inhaled, and it can be fatal when ingested by humans or pets.
- It can be destructive to your property: This flammable product could burn down your living space and damage your valuables if it comes into contact with fire.
2. Does Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs?
Baking soda is not effective in repelling bed bugs in your home. To eliminate these insects, some people sprinkle baking soda around the infested areas and vacuum after a few days. They claim that baking soda is a practical pest control method because:
- It dehydrates bugs by absorbing the fluid on its shell.
- It’s poisonous for pests when they eat it.
Baking soda is anti-fungal, but there’s no evidence that it can kill bugs, and it absorbs smells, not liquids. Since bed bugs only feed on blood, they won’t have an appetite for the white, powdery baking soda. Instead of using baking soda, you could try diatomaceous earth (DE), which dries out the exoskeleton of these insects and other pests.
3. Do Essential Oils Repel Bed Bugs?
Using essential oils might be a healthy and eco-friendly approach, but it only partly works for controlling the bed bug population in your home. Some homeowners like to use these products to get rid of pests because they smell pleasant and are safer to use than commercial cleaners. To try getting rid of an infestation, you could dilute an oil and spray areas where you see the pests, and the solution would soak into their outer shells.
Under the right conditions, these types of essential oils supposedly reduce the bed bug population in a living space:
- Tea tree oil: Does tea tree oil kill bed bugs? While tea tree oil is famous for naturally repelling pests, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it works. You would only experience some success unless you use the product in its undiluted form, which can be dangerous to your health.
- Lavender oil: Homeowners prefer lavender for getting rid of pests because it smells good and creates a relaxing atmosphere throughout the house. This oil may seem to be useful, but it needs to be sprayed directly on the pest population for it to work correctly.
- Thyme oil: For this oil to work, you must use it without adding water. The undiluted substance might harm children and pregnant women when inhaled.
- Lemongrass oil: Besides mosquitoes and ants, this oil also repels bed bugs. Lemongrass oil can be potent and might be overwhelming for you, and it’s dangerous for your pets.
- Peppermint oil: This oil also offers other health benefits, like relaxing muscles or reducing nausea. Like lemongrass, peppermint oil has a strong smell that irritates bed bugs, but it can also be too much for your nostrils to handle.
To use essential oils to get rid of the pests in your property, you would have to spray or apply the oils to the whole population. These pests could hide while you’re spraying the area or crawl away from the wet spot on the bedding. While these oils can kill live bed bugs, there is also no evidence that they work against eggs.
Essential oils may provide short-term relief from bed bug bites, but you need a permanent solution to get rid of them throughout your living space. Along with this eco-friendly approach, you could try a combination of treatment methods to exterminate the infestation.
4. Does Heating the Room Kill Bed Bugs?
While heat is effective in killing bed bugs and their eggs, raising the indoor temperature with a space heater or your HVAC system won’t work. Putting the contaminated items in a black garbage bag and exposing them to sunlight could be useful in the summer, but you can’t control the weather. You would need specialized equipment and temperatures over 122 degrees Fahrenheit to get rid of the infestation in your home.
For the heating approach to work correctly, the environment would need to meet the following conditions:
- The room needs to be completely sealed to prevent the pests from escaping.
- The heat treatment needs to last long enough to heat every spot in the room.
- The belongings in the room need to be treated to avoid bringing the bugs somewhere else and contaminating another area of your living space.
- Some of the items in the infested room cannot withstand the intense heat, so they would have to be moved.
- The temperature needs to reach an adequate level to dry out the bugs.
If you try to heat the room yourself, keep in mind that bed bugs can hide in colder areas to avoid the uncomfortable temperature. An exterminator would know the proper technique and have the tools necessary for completely removing all the pests from your property.
5. Does Freezing Bed Bugs Get Rid of Them?
Yes, freezing temperatures eliminate pests, but only in a controlled environment. To kill the bed bugs in your home, you need to keep them in freezing temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for at least four days. This method isn’t useful without the help of an exterminator because:
- You need to use your freezer: The freezer is the only area of your home that can naturally reach the proper temperature for killing pests. Bed bugs usually make their home in mattresses or soft furniture, and these items can’t fit in your freezer. Besides, you should probably keep creepy insects away from your food supply.
- The environment needs to maintain freezing temperatures: A bed bug can survive at low temperatures in a hibernated state, so you need to keep them in an area below 0 degrees, or else they will survive. While you might be able to put your items outside on frigid days, your neighborhood in western Pennsylvania would rarely reach the proper temperature, and the weather could change the next day.
- You could damage your home or valuables: Only let a professional exterminator create a freezing environment for your home. If you turn off the thermostat and open the windows to lower the temperature in your living space, you can cause structural damage to your property.
6. Do Commercial Cleaners Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
While some commercial cleaners have proven to work against infestations, some bed bugs are resistant to pesticides. When using chemical treatments, read the instructions on the label to protect yourself from these toxic products. You shouldn’t use commercial cleaners or insecticides to get rid of an infestation because:
- They can lose their effectiveness: Bed bugs are building up an immunity to pesticides, so the more you use these products, the less powerful they will be over time. Since spraying chemicals is only useful for getting rid of the bugs in plain sight, you can’t use this approach to get rid of hidden pests or their eggs. If you miss one female bed bug, it could repopulate your living space when its eggs hatch.
- They’re not safe for your health: Breathing in or swallowing the toxic chemicals in these products are harmful to both you and your pets. Since the smell alone could result in dizziness or fatigue, you might not be able to stay in your home during the chemical treatment.
- They don’t work instantly: Commercial cleaners often require multiple applications over several weeks before the products work in your home. That slow turnaround gives bed bugs plenty of time to find new hiding places and multiply. You also can’t use these rooms in your house until the treatment process is complete.
- They can be expensive: Since these commercial cleaners don’t work at once, you could spend extra money trying to get rid of bed bugs with more chemicals. Besides the cost of this method, it might also damage your furniture or other valuables.
How to Effectively Eliminate Bed Bugs
If these methods don’t work on their own, what is the best way to get rid of bed bugs? To remove the pest community from your living space, you need to know where these insects hide to prevent reproduction. Try a combination of some of these approaches to treating your home after an infestation:
- Washing your clothes and upholstery: Clean your contaminated fabrics in the washing machine and dryer on the hottest setting to kill bed bugs and eggs in your property. Strip the bedding and put it in a liner so the pests don’t fall on the floor. You must wash and dry your valuables at a temperature of at least 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes to make sure the insects are dead. After you treat your linens, thoroughly clean the hamper or laundry bag to remove any hidden bugs, eggs or exoskeletons.
- Steam your furniture: Vapor can reach a temperature high enough for killing bed bugs. While you can use this method to eliminate the infestation on your furniture and mattresses, you would need a different approach for dealing with the pests on your wall or in books.
- Heat them in the oven: If you can’t wash certain contaminated items, you can reach a hot temperature with your oven to get rid of the pests. Since you cook food in your oven, you might want to choose a treatment plan that doesn’t affect the clean appliances of your living space.
- Do a home heating treatment: A professional exterminator can effectively eliminate the bed bugs at any life stage in your house with heating equipment. Using warm temperatures is a safe pest control method for your property, and bugs will never build up an immunity to it. During this process, the exterminator raises the internal temperature of your living space with specialized tools. You might need to prepare your living space for this treatment, so contact the pest control company to find out what to do to get your house ready.
- Vacuuming the whole house: Does vacuuming prevent bed bugs? If you clean the home correctly, you can control the pests that have infested your space. Vacuum the entire area, especially where you might find eggs, like under furniture and in the corners of the room. To prevent bugs from traveling throughout the house, empty the contents of the vacuum in the outside trash. While it’s challenging to get rid of all the pests, vacuuming will help reduce the bed bug community in your living space.
- Diatomaceous earth (DE): DE is a white powder made from the fossils of diatoms, organisms that lived in the water. This substance can kill pests because of its dehydrating properties. For this treatment method to work, sprinkle a small amount of DE near your mattress, bed frames and furniture. If you use a large amount, the bed bugs will crawl around it, and the pile of powder could be harmful to your health.
- Schedule an appointment with an exterminator: The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to hire an exterminator to inspect your property. Professionals in the pest control industry know what kind of infestation you have in your living space, and they can detect the places where pests hide. While traditional pest control methods can be useful for your living space, exterminators use multiple treatments for maximum effectiveness. They will use the treatment approach that works best for the specific infestation in your property.
Contact Spectrum Pest Control to Eliminate the Bed Bugs in Your Home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
If your property has a bed bug infestation, we offer residential bed bug extermination services for homeowners in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. We will inspect your house to identify the pests you have in your living space. Then, we will provide year-round solutions that can treat your home to keep pesky insects away for good.
You can find relief from bed bugs with our team at Spectrum Pest Control today. For more information about our services, contact us online or call 412-467-0287.