Bed bugs are highly vulnerable to heat; exposing them to a certain amount of direct heat will kill them instantly, while lower temperatures can kill them in a matter of minutes. This is why many forms of heat treatments are recommended. Some methods, such as steamers and portable heaters, have been proven effective through professional use and are quickly becoming standard issue in holistic treatment arsenals.
While the mattress and box spring are left to dry, spray down the joints of the bed frame, headboard, and footboard with a contact spray and residual spray. The contact spray will kill bed bugs quickly and then evaporate, while the residual spray will kill bed bugs over several weeks. Remember to follow the sprays’ product labels and MSDS for safe and effective usage.
To use sprays effectively to eliminate all traces of bed bugs, you need to know the signs of a bed bug infestation. The first sign that you may have bedbugs are some itchy bite marks on your skin when you wake up in the morning. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the bites from bed bugs cause red itchy bumps on the skin.3 You can learn about their other signs and symptoms in my articles on what do bed bug bites look like.
You can make a natural bed bug bite treatment by putting 1 cup distilled water in a spray bottle and adding 10-15 drops tea tree oil. Shake well and spray on areas of skin that have clusters of bed bug bites. Or, you could spray the remedy on a cotton pad and apply to the itchy bumps on your skin. You can also dilutes tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil (a few drops of tea tree per one tablespoon of carrier oil).
Bed bugs tend to congregate, but it’s also common to find a single bug or some eggs here and there. A thorough inspection and treatment may take up to several hours. Some companies use specially trained dogs to assist in finding small dispersed infestations, especially in such places as hotels, schools, libraries and office buildings. When properly trained, bed bug detection dogs can be quite effective. Relatively few companies are routinely using them, however, due to the expense of training and maintaining such animals. Reliability of some of the dogs is also being questioned as more enter the market.
Bed bug sprays usually act as an insecticide and repellent. The best kind of bed bug sprays should kill bed bugs on contact and need to be used repeatedly to help eliminate your bug problem. According to the Texas A&M University, bed bug sprays are best used in combination with other bug control methods like natural bed bug powders. This is because bed bugs don’t build up resistance to natural bug powders and products like diatomaceous earth which kills bed bugs as long as the powder is dry.5
Systematically examine and treat all furniture (beds, bed frames, dressers, chairs, couches, night stands, etc.) following the same procedures and recommendations above. As a piece is treated it can be returned to the parts of the room that have been treated. Note that furniture should be taken apart, drawers and cushions removed in order to inspect and treat every nook and cranny. When treating upholstered furniture, pay attention to each welt, button and fold. You may wish to discard low-value, stuffed furniture that is infested and too difficult to treat. After spraying, return each article of furniture to the part of the room that has been treated. Do not reintroduce any furniture or other items to the treated room until they have been thoroughly cleaned, inspected or treated.
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC, and were later mentioned by Aristotle. Pliny's Natural History, first published circa AD 77 in Rome, claimed bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria.)