The decline of bed bug populations in the 20th century is often credited to potent pesticides that had not previously been widely available.[44] Other contributing factors that are less frequently mentioned in news reports are increased public awareness and slum clearance programs that combined pesticide use with steam disinfection, relocation of slum dwellers to new housing, and in some cases also follow-up inspections for several months after relocated tenants moved into their new housing.[66]
1. Mattress Safe Encasements: Mattress Safe Products are bed encasements to place over your mattress or boxspring so you don't have to throw them away. They are bedbug certified. If using a labeled insecticide on the mattress or boxspring first, apply on mattress or box springs then zip it up. It has a patented hook to keep the bed bugs inside the encasement so they cannot escape. Keep the encasement in place for one year (due to bed bug life cycles).
Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers. We make it easy to buy the right product from a variety of retailers. Clicking a retailer link will take you to that retailer’s website to shop. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission – 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our mission. Learn more. Our service is unbiased: retailers can’t influence placement. All prices are subject to change.
Human infestation with bedbugs, lice, and mites are common causes of dermatologic symptoms. Although these organisms thrive in conditions of overcrowding and decreased sanitation, Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds may be at risk for infestation. Clinicians must maintain high suspicion in the appropriate set of clinical circumstances to identify and treat infestations, as they can cause substantial dermatologic and psychological discomfort for patients. Images courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New tactics may be needed for this escalating public health concern in locations with high occupant turnover, such as hotels, hospitals, and nursing homes. [3] Indeed, in the past decade bedbugs have become a worldwide urban pest, with the number of American households affected markedly increased. [4] Genetic data suggest that C lectularius may be undergoing lineage divergence through host association. [5]
Low toxicity contact sprays like SteriFab™ or Bedlam® are likely to kill bed bugs only on contact. Alcohol- and soap-based sprays, are only partly effective. All of these products, once dry, are likely to provide no further control. Eggs will not be killed by alcohol-based sprays, so repeat treatments are usually needed. Be careful when using sprays containing alcohol because they may be flammable.
Low toxicity contact sprays like SteriFab™ or Bedlam® are likely to kill bed bugs only on contact. Alcohol- and soap-based sprays, are only partly effective. All of these products, once dry, are likely to provide no further control. Eggs will not be killed by alcohol-based sprays, so repeat treatments are usually needed. Be careful when using sprays containing alcohol because they may be flammable.
It’s also possible that you won’t see a reaction the first time a bedbug bites since it sometimes can take the body a while to react. (6) Some people will have an immediate reaction, while for others it could take two weeks to emerge. Your body will likely become more sensitive to bedbug bites over time, and if you get bitten repeatedly, it could be only a matter of seconds before your body shows a response.
Bed bugs are tiny, flat, wingless insects that range in color from nearly white to deep brown/reddish. The parasitic pests get their name from their hiding spot of choice – they prefer burrowing into bed frames and mattresses during the day, then become active at night when they feed on people and pets. Bed bugs are resilient pests that can hitch a ride on luggage, furniture, storage boxes, backpacks and clothing (but rarely humans), very quickly causing an infestation.

Vinegar can kill bed bugs if it comes into direct contact with them and it may help repel them from areas where it is sprayed. However, vinegar cannot be your only defense against bedbugs. For one, vinegar only works if you can see the bugs, and often they will hide or even just be too small to see easily. Second, vinegar will not kill bedbug eggs, which means that vinegar alone will never stop an infestation. Vinegar also needs to be reapplied frequently to have any effectiveness.


Bedbugs reproduce by a gruesome strategy appropriately named "traumatic insemination," in which the male stabs the female's abdomen and injects sperm into the wound. During their life cycle, females can lay more than 200 eggs, which hatch and go through five immature "nymph" stages before reaching their adult form, molting after each phase. [Infographic: Bedbugs: The Life of a Mini-Monster]
Bed bugs occur in all regions of the globe.[7] Rates of infestations are relatively common, following an increase since the 1990s.[3][4][6] The exact causes of this increase is unclear; with proposals including greater travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings, a greater focus on control of other pests, and increasing resistance to pesticides.[4] Bed bugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.[2]
Once the mattress and box spring are dry, encase them in sealed bed bug encasements. Encasements are crucial, as they prevent bed bugs from entering or escaping the mattress and box spring, cutting off key hiding places. Remember to leave the encasements on for at least 18 months to ensure that any bed bugs already inside have starved to death. Once the encasements have been applied, you can put your mattress and box springs back on your treated bed frame, and put your laundered bedding back on your bed.
We recommend spraying Steri-Fab in areas where live bed bugs are visible. Steri-Fab combines a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide and isopropyl alcohol to kill bed bugs fast on contact. Steri-Fab also acts as a sanitizer. Steri-Fab does not leave any residual, meaning it can be applied virtually anywhere. Simply shake well, then apply to desired treatment areas. Insect mortality is imminent, generally within 10 minutes of spraying. 

Probably chiggers -- they are very small, red mites that usually cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. To stop the itching, use OraJel (usually sold for teething babies), which contains benzocaine (an anesthetic). Also, rub in hydrocortisone cream. To prevent chigger bites, wear long pants and stuff the cuffs into your socks.
Pull carpet edges back from walls. Being careful, take a pair pliers and gently grab the corners of the carpet and pull the carpet back about 1 foot. Do this one wall at time during treatment. After treatment as described below, replace the carpet and tuck under the baseboards. If you do this 1 wall at time you will not usually need to re-stretch the carpet.
Some patients develop blisters filled with blood or bloody fluid, especially on the arms and legs. These blood blisters are extremely rare and can burst, causing bleeding or oozing of the bloody fluid. Healthcare providers are not sure if the cause of these blisters is related to the bug or the human but have found groups of patients that were all bitten by bugs on the same train exhibiting this sign.
No two people react to bites in the same way, although some reactions are similar. Because of the saliva that they leave behind, the first reaction is usually severe itching and irritation. This is often followed by a raised appearance on the contacted area. Some people, however, react by having welts and hives all over the body. Still others will have small, pinkish bumps that are concentrated in one area.
Hiring a pro to wipe out bed bugs isn’t cheap. Expect to pay about $200 per room to kill bed bugs, and you’ll likely need a few chemical treatments in order to eradicate bed bugs. Professional heat treatments will cost even more. And even if you hire a pro, you’ll still have to do lots of work yourself (moving furniture, washing all clothes, etc.). So consider declaring a DIY war on bed bugs. If you’re willing to spend $100 to $200 and do things right, your chances of success are excellent.
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
×