How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs Permanently

Is there a bed bug epidemic?

No doubt everyone has heard of the bed bug epidemic hitting major cities across the globe in the past few years. These terrible pests have been around since ancient times, but have made a comeback in recent years for several reasons. By the 1950s, they had been almost completely eradicated, due to pesticides.

By the 1970s however, pesticides like DDT were banned in North America and bed bugs started making a comeback. The type of insecticides used changed also, from liquids to solid gels, which were not as effective at wiping out large infestations as older methods. (The gels and baits do not kill as effectively as sprays).

It is likely that bed bugs have also become more resistant to pesticides, which is a lot like how we are seeing an increase in so-called "super bacteria". In that example, also in the late 1950s, drug companies started to focus their research and development away from antibiotics and towards other, more profitable new drugs.

The result? Bacteria became smarter and more resilient. Its likely the same thing has happened with bedbugs.

Whatever the cause of their comeback, it is little comfort to anyone who has to deal with the stress, bites, loss of sleep, and worry about throwing their possessions in the garbage.

They come out at night, using the bed as their headquarters, they feed off of a human host, who is asleep. The bed bug bite is usually a visible and itchy bite anywhere on exposed skin.

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs Yourself

What Do They Look Like?

The bed bug is quite visible to the naked eye. Adult bed bugs are brown to have a reddish brown oval-shape, and about 1/4 to 5/8 inch long. Their ability to attain a flat shape enables them to hide in cracks and crevices. After a blood meal, the body elongates and becomes swollen. Eggs are not known to be placed on the host's body but are found on anywhere near where the host sleeps.

The places to look for bed bugs if you suspect them are:

  • in mattresses (especially mattress tufts, buttons, under handles and above and below the or under the piping along the upper and lower edges and within any corner guards)
  • box springs (above and below the piping at the upper and lower edges and within the enclosure (ticking) underneath if torn)
  • bed frames and hollow areas where frame components connect, floor and wall moldings, wooden furniture, electronics and in any other objects near to the one's sleeping area.
bed bugs close up

Another horrible fact about bed bugs is that they can apparently live for some 18 months without a meal.

Reddish brown spots and the bloody spots(looks like rust) left on sheets and pillowcases when engorged bugs are crushed are sure signs of infestation. In severe cases, there is said to be a sweet aroma coming from a badly infested mattress, some have said it is akin to the scent of raspberries.

Keep the Infestation from Spreading

The first thing to do is to address any clutter you might have that might hinder your search. Take whatever can be thrown out and remove it.

    • Hot laundering. Start to hot launder all of the following: Remove all blankets, pillows and bedding from the bed. They should be hot laundered and put in the dryer for at least 30-45 minutes. Wash drapes and also put them in the dryer for 30-45 minutes. Laundered items should be stored away from the bedbug infested area or sealed in securely tied heavy duty plastic bags to keeps insects out.
    • Inspect the bed. Separate the mattress and box spring and inspect them with a flashlight. Look in the piping of the mattress as this is a common hiding spot as are seams or under mattress tufts, buttons or handles. Lift the cheesecloth of the box spring and look inside and remove fabric to prepare for spraying. Take the bed frame apart and inspect it.
    • Depending on the couch or sofa, take it apart if possible to inspect it. Do the same with any furniture. Carefully inspect dressers and especially take the drawers out and turn them upside down. Many times they will have nests in the nooks and crannies of wooden furniture.
    • Vacuum all baseboards with a powerful vacuum cleaner. Then caulk and seal all holes where pipes and wires come through walls and floor, and fill cracks around baseboards and moldings. Throw away any vacuum cleaner bags by wrapping them in plastic.
    • Dispose of items responsibly. If you do throw away any items where you find signs of infestations, be sure to put a sign on the items warning people of their bed bug infestation. This will prevent any "dumpster divers" from taking them home with them - they could well be your neighbors!
    • Remove all electrical switch plates and outlet covers. Inspect them carefully.
    • Inspect all electronics. If you can, put them all in plastic garbage bags with Nuvan Prostrips. These insecticide strips contain DDVP is 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate and will kill any bed bugs within a short time and are guaranteed for 4 months. It is a good idea to take anything that cannot either be hot laundered or put in a dryer or exposed to 120 degree Fahrenheit heat in plastic garbage bags with Nuvan Prostrips!
    • Look for any cracks in the wallboard or wallpaper and seal them.
    • Use a hot car to help kill them.If you have a car and the weather is in the hot summer months, consider putting some stuff in the vehicle, as the interior temperature in a car reaches 120 F within a short while.
    • Exercise caution when buying clothing at thrift or consignment shops.If you are going to shop for clothes from second-hand shops, put them in zip-lock plastic bags for a few days and then into the dryer for 45 mins before washing/wearing them.

Should I Throw Out the Mattress?

Normally it is not necessary to throw out your mattress - even if it is infested with bed bugs. That is at least some comfort. What you need here is something called a Waterproof Bed Bug Proof Zippered Bedding Encasement. It has a patented hook to keep the bed bugs inside the encasement so they can't escape.

bed bugs in mattress

What's important is to keep the encasement in place for one year (due to bed bug cycles) and this will kill any inside. With the cost of a decent bed being near $1000, this is a consolation. You can also treat the mattress with a pesticide and then put it in an encasement. Other pesticides that approved to safely treat an infested mattress are:

      • Pyganic Dust
      • Phantom Aerosol Spray
      • Temprid SC Insecticide

How to Treat a Bed Bug Infestation?

The most effective insecticides for treating baseboards, crevices, furniture (night stand, chests, dressers, couches and chairs) etc, are:

      • Cyzmic CS
      • Temprid SC Insecticide
      • Pyganic Dust
      • Diatomaceous Earth - a non-toxic compound derived from silica which is 100% safe around pets. (I've used this successfully in the past with cockroach infestations)

The Big Guns - DDVP and Propoxur Insecticides

The surest way to kill bed bugs is with the proved insecticides Propoxur and Dichlorvos (DDVP). DDVP belongs to a class of insecticides called organophosphates and Propoxur to a class known as carbamates.

These powerful neurotoxins have risks for humans, as evidenced by the struggle of some States. Several US States, led by Ohio, recently were denied a request by the EPA to use Propoxur indoors against bed bugs.

The Environmental Protection Agency still to this point have declined its approval. 

Despite the fact that Propoxur is banned in certain areas many will buy Propoxur online. If you are going to apply Propoxur, it is a good idea to use a respirator mask, thick latex gloves, long sleeves and pants. It has a nasty smell, but it will kill them within 4-5 days for sure.

As for DDVP, it has been approved by the EPA apparently. DDVP is usually available in strips that you can put along with your stuff in sealed plastic bags. The cheapest form of it is found in Hot Shot No Pest Strips.

bed bug infestation

The idea here is to put any of your stuff that cannot be hot laundered in plastic bags with these strips. To hang them in a room to prevent bed bug infestations, they recommend using 1 strip per 30 cubic metres of room.

Alternative Ways to Kill Bedbugs?

There is one method that is gaining ground in the fight against the growing bed bug epidemic - killing the bed bugs with extreme heat. A company called ThermaPureHeat is leading the way in using heat to bake the bastards to death. They use an industrial heater to heat your apartment up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

To reach high temperatures, hot air is piped through wide tubing attached to a propane heater. From there, tubes branch off to other rooms while fans circulate the air, creating a vortex. It's essentially a life-sized convection oven.

I cannot offer any evidence on how effective this method is, but it is bloody expensive at 1 per square foot. Figuring that the average 2 bedroom apartment is around 1000 square feet, this could get expensive, not to mention popular with the local fire department.

Steaming. Alternatively, you could rent a commercial steamer with temperatures starting at around 125, which will kill bedbugs easily on contact. If possible, get a steamer with a higher temperature to kill them from several inches away. Again, the caveat here is to target every possible area where they could be hiding.

To protect your mattress, drapes, fabrics etc, use a so-called "low moisture" or "dry vapor" steamer like the WhiteWing Steamer - Vapor Steam Cleaner to avoid any potential for mould growth.

One drawback here is that sometimes bed bugs hide in electronics, which would make killing them with a steamer impractical.

Use a CO2 Bedbug Monitor This sort of device exploits the bedbugs nature of tracking humans by their exhaled CO2 while they sleep by generating the same levels and patterns of CO2 emissions as a human would. The most common CO2 bedbug monitor is the NightWatch Bedbug Monitor.

The NightWatch Bedbug Monitor is designed to function as a lure and monitor, as it mimics a living, breathing human body, combining CO2, a proprietary kairomone lure, and a patented thermal lure for a powerful three-pronged attractant and trapping system.

It can also can catch bedbugs in various cycles of maturity, and since the monitor's detection period spans the 7-10 days bedbugs take between meals, it detects infestations the very first time they try to bite. No other available product or technology detects new infestations so quickly.

DDT. While pretty well impossible to buy anywhere, there is at least one website with the details and formula on making your own homemade DDT. Again, this link is for reference purposes only.

In Closing

If you are affected by this horrible problem, I wish you all the best and feel for you.

With the growing number of people offering treatment for bed bug infestations, it is best to check around through word-of-mouth and customer reviews when choosing an exterminator. It is entirely doable to treat the problem yourself, provided you do the research and do a thorough job of it.



There is some new research on bed bugs, which highlights insecticide-thwarting enzymes bed bugs are able to generate, which is why we are having a much, much harder time killing them with insecticides these days.