Most people tend to assume that bed bugs live in dirty spaces only. But this is not true. They are more of travelers and live anywhere they can feed with ease. However, having an untidy home can increase the number of hiding places and give them more room to thrive.
Since you are reading this, it is safe to assume that you are aware of a bed bug infestation in your home and would like to change things up. While there are professional methods to explore, there are some inexpensive, natural, and eco-friendly methods you can explore as well.
With these home remedies for bed bugs, you can act immediately and also avoid using toxic chemicals in your home. Moreover, you’ll notice that these bed bug home remedies use items you already have. But for the few that you don’t, you’ll not spend as much either.
Home Remedies for Bed Bugs
Are there home remedies for bed bugs that work? Many homeowners have asked this question because of the resilience bed bugs display.
Yes, there are. And while we do not recommend writing off professional bed bug solutions, these home remedies come in handy in reducing the size of the colony before professionals arrive.
1. Hot Water
Bed bugs are indeed resilient creatures. As such, they can withstand extreme temperatures. But even then, using hot water on them, 1600 F will get the job done.
You can throw your beddings, blankets, and clothes in your washing machine and clean with hot water. If the temperatures are right, the bed bugs will die. But to be sure, you should throw them into the dryer for a second dose of heat. Using this process, the bed bugs don’t have a chance of surviving.
The reason why cleaning your beddings, clothes, and other fabric doesn’t work is that the centrifuge process allows the bed bugs to remain submerged every moment. For bed bugs to drown in the washing machine, it will take close to 24 hours. And honestly, this isn’t a feasible or economic home remedy for bed bugs.
The best home remedy for bed bugs in the carpet is vacuuming. This process can work on your carpet, furniture, bedding, mattress casings, and the tiny spaces in the wallpapers, walls, and the frame of your bed. If possible, you can vacuum the box spring.
For your vacuuming process to be effective, you will have to use a brush to lift and loosen the eggs and bed bugs on the fabrics and surfaces.
Once you vacuum your space, you should carefully remove the vacuum bag and seal it before you dispose of it. Remember, by vacuuming, you haven’t killed the bed bugs, but you’ve trapped them. And if they get free, they’ll covertly crawl back into your home and wreak havoc.
Also, remember to clean the vacuum once you are done.
3. Steam Cleaner
This is yet another great home remedy for getting rid of bed bugs. It is great because depending on the steam cleaner settings, the bed bugs and their eggs can die instantly. Generally, bed bugs survive between 700F and 800F. Within these temperatures, they can grow into adults faster. However, as the temperatures increase, the survival rates reduce.
When bed bugs are exposed to temperatures between 1100F and 1200F, they die in a couple of minutes. And this is where steamers come in. Some steamers can spray steam with temperatures of up to 3000F. At this temperature, the bed bugs die instantly.
Steam cleaners can kill bed bugs on most surfaces, but on thick fabrics, including bedding, and carpets, they are effective up to ¾ inches below the surface. Given the high temperatures in play, you should take precautions (https://www.bedbugs.umn.edu/bed-bug-control-in-residences/steamers).
4. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth is marketed as an inexpensive home remedy for bed bugs. According to experts, it is by far the most effective natural and eco-friendly bed bug treatment.
The dust is used by sprinkling on crevices, cracks, and other affected spaces. However, we should point out that though it is an effective option, it works better and faster on some insects than others. On bed bugs, it takes several days because bed bugs lose water slowly. Therefore, their dehydration process takes longer.
When handling diatomaceous earth, you should have gloves and a mask on. Most importantly, you should only use a type that is approved by the EPA.
5. Baking Soda
Do you have to leave your home for bed bug remediation? Yes, and no. It all depends on the method you decide to use to rid your home of bed bugs. If chemicals are involved, you will have to. However, if you use baking soda, one of the best natural home remedies for bed bugs, you will not have to.
Baking soda works by dehydrating bed bugs. You can sprinkle baking soda around the house while focusing on the most affected areas. Let the powder work its magic for about a week before you vacuum. However, since it is not as powerful as diatomaceous earth, you will have to repeat this process a couple of times until all eggs and bed bugs are gone.
6. Black Walnut tea
This substance has antifungal, antibacterial, and insecticidal properties that can help you rid your home of a bed bug infestation. Instead of throwing away the black walnut tea bags, you should place them in spaces that bed bugs are hiding, including the closet. You could also sprinkle some of the dry leaves on the mattress and bedding to kill the bed bugs and their eggs as well.
7. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil makes for good DIY home remedies for bed bugs. Like black walnut tea, tea tree oil has antifungal, antiseptic, and antibiotic properties. In addition to the above, it also has antiviral and antiparasitic properties which help in getting rid of bed bugs.
However, this remedy only works if you have a mild bed bug infestation. You can dilute about 20 drops of the oil in water. Add the mixture into a spray bottle and use it to spray your furniture, curtains, cabinets, mattress, and any other surface. To be sure of their extermination, you should wash the beddings, linens, and clothes with hot water.
8. Cayenne Pepper
What home remedy is good for bed bugs? Well, how about using a combination of ginger, oregano, and cayenne pepper? Bear in mind that this combination will not kill the bed bugs or their eggs. However, it will repel the insects and boost other home remedies you use to control them in your home.
Cayenne pepper repels the bed bugs because it irritates their system and causes tissue contractions, making it difficult for them to breathe.
You can mix a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, grated ginger, and oregano essential oil in a cup of water to create a home remedy spray for bed bugs. But this mixture is not ready before boiling it for 6-8 minutes.
Afterward, spray this solution to the entry points in all rooms you suspect have bed bugs.
These are used as insecticides to kill or repel fabric insects. Most mothballs available in the market are either made from naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. With these active ingredients, the mothballs get the job done.
You can put clothes, beddings and other fabric in a plastic bag, add the mothballs and seal the bag. After a week, the bed bugs will be dead. For even better results, clean these fabrics with hot water. Unfortunately, mothballs may not affect bed bug eggs.
10. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is a simple antiseptic solution that is commonly used in cleaning and disinfecting minor scrapes. Rubbing alcohol is also known as surgical spirit. It is made up of 30% perfume oils, denaturants, water, and 70% isopropyl alcohol.
Aside from cleaning and disinfecting wounds, rubbing alcohol comes in handy in other tasks, including cleaning makeup brushes, gardening tools, and in this case, repelling and killing bed bugs along with their eggs.
Rubbing alcohol gets the job done in two ways. First, as a solvent, it dissolves the outer bed bug shell. And two, it induces desiccation. The solution kills bed bug eggs in the same way it prevents them from hatching (https://www.healthline.com/health/does-rubbing-alcohol-kill-bed-bugs#epa-recommendations).
But when using rubbing alcohol, you need to ensure there is direct contact with the bed bugs or eggs. Therefore, the best way to deliver the killer solution is by direct spraying. You will have to be intentional with your killing to locate the bed bugs in their hiding places.
Although it is cited as one of the best at-home remedies for bed bugs, it is not 100% effective, and it is flammable.
11. Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets do an excellent job against bed bugs, and they are easy to use. However, you should bear in mind that they do not kill bed bugs. You can choose to use dryer sheets in your home by placing them in strategic sections like on your bed. You can also place them in cabinets, wardrobes and on curtains.
Dryer sheets work as home remedies for bed bug bites in the sense that they prevent the bed bugs from getting to you. You can achieve this effect when you place them under the bed sheets, around the mattress covers, and under the pillows.
You can also use dryer sheets to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride back home from your trip. They come in handy when you go camping, hiking or have a picnic.
12. Lavender oil
Natural oils like lavender have been in use for ages around the house to repel pests and insects. Those who have gardens understand the power of lavender. Though some of the bugs that feed on weed in the garden might be good for your plants, they might steal your peace.
Aside from garden pests, you can also use lavender oil for bed bugs as well. However, it only works when you use it correctly. The best way to use it is by creating a solution of concentrated lavender oil and using it in a spray bottle. It will be lethal to bed bugs, larva, and eggs.
It is important to note that there are several species of lavender. Because of this, it is easy to be duped into buying fake lavender oils, which will not help with your bed bug infestation. The different types of lavender oils include:
- Dutch lavender
- English lavender
- Spanish lavender
- French lavender
Many of the genuine lavender oil products have the botanical names written on their packaging.
The different types of lavender oil are ideal for different uses. For instance, English Lavender oil is perfect for your skin. It is, therefore, one of the best home remedies for bed bug bites. It also comes in handy when you go for outdoor activities like camping and picnics.
As a spray, you should mix a tablespoon of lavender oil into 500ml of water and spray all the suspect areas in your home. Alternatively, you can add a few drops of it in your steamer. If you opt for the latter, confirm that your steamer is not to be used with pure water only. Because if this is the case, adding lavender oil might result in problems.
13. Peppermint oil spray
Bed bugs seem to be allergic to essential oils and not just peppermint. Simply put, bed bugs don’t like the natural scents that otherwise appeal to humans. In this case, peppermint oil has a super strong scent – more than the bed bug can bear. Spraying a small amount of the diluter peppermint oil on your mattress or your bed frame will help to keep these little buggers away.
However, this solution is only a temporary solution to the bed bug infestation in your home because when the scent dissipates, the bed bugs will be back. Aside from being a repellant, peppermint essential oil also doubles as a killing solution. But the trick with this is that it requires contact to work.
14. Silica gel
We have seen how to get rid of bed bugs with home remedy baking soda and diatomaceous earth. But if you are running low on any of these supplies, you can improvise with silica gel. These are packets of tiny balls found in the packaging of shoes, bottles, or anything else that needs to remain dry while in transit.
You can grind the silica gel to powder and sprinkle it to all affected areas in the house. Silica gel-like baking soda and diatomaceous earth will eat away the protective layer of the bed bugs and cause dehydration. The process of drying out is known as desiccation.
15. Hair dryer
As we have already mentioned, bed bugs are resilient, but they cannot stand the high temperatures. This is the reason why hot water and steamers can kill them. But if you don’t have a steamer and don’t have the time to wait for the other home remedies to take effect, a hairdryer comes in handy. Most hair dryers can heat up to 1400 F. At this temperature, bed bugs die after a couple of minutes.
For the best results, here is how to use your hair dryer:
- Set it to the highest mode
- Turn the dryer on
- Point it to the spaces between the bed and on the mattress, but don’t get too close
- Work it for about twenty minutes
- Give it some time to cool
- Repeat the process several times for best results
- When done, you can vacuum the space you have treated with heat
16. Double-sided tape
This is another home remedy that you do not expect to kill bed bugs. Nonetheless, it will keep them from getting to you when you are fast asleep. You should set the tape around the legs of the bed and any other furniture. This way, when they try climbing, they will get stuck before the journey starts.
But for this home remedy to be effective, you need to pull the bed away from the walls. Also, you should ensure that your blankets, sheets, and bedding don’t touch the floor; otherwise, the little vampires will use them to get to you.
There are a couple of home remedies for bed bugs with vinegar that you can explore. Vinegar has a strong scent and is an acid. You can use these two qualities against bed bugs to either kill or repel them.
If you use vinegar for cooking, you probably already have it in your home. As such, you do not have to buy it for this purpose. But while vinegar kills bed bugs by damaging the nervous systems, it is not effective against bed bug eggs.
To use vinegar to kill bed bugs, saturate the edges of your furniture and bed with white vinegar and spray it directly to their hiding spots. This way, even when they try to run, they will come across a perimeter of vinegar.
To improve efficiency, you should consider using DE and vacuum along with spraying the vinegar.
18. Sweet flag
This is a tall plant that grows in wetlands, including marshes, and the edges of lakes and rivers. They are common in North America, Indonesia, and India. The herbal mixture is also available in packets in local stores. This herb has a strong aroma and microbial properties. The two properties work together to repel bed bugs.
You can whip up a solution of this herb and spray it on surfaces in the affected rooms. But since it is natural, it is not strong enough to kill bed bugs instantly, and it is temporary.
19. Bean leaves
Bean leaves have been in use for eons as a trap for insects. Here’s how they work; take some bean leaves and spread them on the surface that you suspect has high bed bug activity.
Now, on the bean leaves, there are microscopic hooked hairs that will entangle the bed bugs by the legs and pin them to the surface.
When you create a barrier with these leaves around your bed, the bed bugs will surely stay away. And those that are either daring or stupid enough to walk on the leaves will get trapped and later meet their doom.
20. Indian Lilac
This is yet another leaf that you can use to create a haven for yourself when you sleep. Like other plants, the Indian Lilac repels bed bugs. To use them, crush them in a bowl and then spread them around the bed or any area that bed bugs have infested.
Alternatively, you can choose to boil the leaves, draw a bath, and then add the strained solution. Bathing in the solution will keep bed bugs from biting you. You can also spray its oil around the furniture and bedding to repel the bed bugs.
You can burn thyme close to the bedbug-infested areas to drive them away. However, this might take several days. Thyme is one of the herbs that has insecticidal properties, which makes it a perfect home remedy for bed bug bites. If you settle on using thyme, you should replace it after three days for maximum effectiveness.
22. Beauveria Bassiana
Yes, the name is a handful. However, it is one that you will need to learn in your war against bed bugs. It is a parasitic fungus that feeds on insects. When the seeds of Beauveria Bassiana come in contact with bed bugs, they penetrate the exoskeleton and start growing inside it. After some time, the insect becomes immobile, infertile, and cannot feed. A bed bug infected with this fungus will die in about three or five days. This is biological warfare at its finest.
Pyrethrum has a beautiful bright yellow flower. From this beauty, the industries extract pyrethrins, which is an insecticide. The insecticide kills bed bugs by attacking their nervous system, throwing them into overdrive, paralyzing them, and finally killing them. Actually, it is one of the most effective home remedies to kill bed bugs on this list.
But unfortunately, some bed bugs have, over time, developed some resistance to the pyrethrins. But don’t lose hope yet. You can combine the use of pyrethrum and the pyrethrins with other home bed bug remedies like diatomaceous earth and silica gel.
24. Stiff brush
When you use your vacuum, you’ll notice that some bed bugs hold on to dear life and don’t get sucked in. Also, depending on how far the bed bug eggs are and how strong your vacuum suction is, you will miss them during clean up.
To improve your efficiency during this process, you should run a stiff brush through the cracks and crevices, including the mattress seams. The brush will help to dislodge all the eggs and bed bugs clinging and resisting vacuum suction. Follow through this action with vacuuming before they cling to the surface again.
We pointed out that bed bugs and natural oils don’t mix, and lemongrass oil is not an exception. Lemongrass is acidic and can kill bed bugs along with their eggs if served in the right way. The beauty of this home remedy is that the lemongrass has a great citrus scent, and it can, therefore, double up as a room freshener.
You should spray the lemongrass solution to all the affected spots in the house until the infestation dies out.
Clove oil is famous for its strong insecticidal properties. It has high acidity and a pungent smell that bed bugs can’t stand. These properties make it ideal against bed bugs in the long run.
To use clove oil, mix a tablespoon of the oil into a cup of water and add it into a spray bottle. Shake the mixture well and then spray away. Ensure that you cover the most affected areas well and check after to see if any places need extra attention.
Just like other essential oils, clove oil repels bed bugs, but can also kill them when it comes into contact.
27. Mint leaves
Like peppermint oil, mint leaves are also effective against bed bugs. Actually, the two are similar only that they are in different forms, which affects how you use them against the bed bugs.
Luckily, the process is simple. Crush some dried mint leaves and then sprinkle them around the base of the bed. For a longer-lasting effect, you can package the mint in tea bags and place them between the linen and your mattress. Alternatively, you can have the custom mint tea bags under your pillow.
28. Cold treatment
Putting any bed bug-infested items in a freezer can kill them. However, some conditions have to be met to ensure this happens. Freezing will cause ice to develop in the bed bug. This will, in turn, cause injuries and eventually, death. The good thing is that freezing bed bugs is simple. You just need;
- A freezer than can go as below 0of
- Plastic bags to put your items
- A remote thermometer
Armed with these items, below is what you should know to ensure the cold treatment is effective.
Although you can’t freeze all items, here are those that you can;
- Cloth items that can’t be washed in hot water
- Modern books
You should not freeze:
- Any items you can’t replace
- Old books of great value
- Electronics that has LCD panels
- Items that can be damaged by condensation
- Items with high moisture content inside
The temperature of the freezer is essential to this process. It should be lower than 00F to kill bed bugs fast. But even with this temperature, you should leave the items in your freezer for about four days. To ensure that the temperatures are low enough, use the remote thermometer to monitor.
Also, the cold temperature should get to the center of the items you are freezing to ensure all bed bugs die. As such, bulky items will require more time to meet this requirement.
Following the above conditions will see you succeed in the cold treatment process. However, if you are wondering whether winter is cold enough to kill bed bugs for you, it is not. The humidity, sunlight, and variations in temperature during the day might have the bed bugs survive.
We should warn you not to try to open the windows or turn off the heat during winter to try and drop the temperatures inside. Doing so might result in some severe structural damage in the long run, and you won’t even kill the bed bugs.
29. Extreme Heat
This involves washing the infested items with hot water. The heat will kill the bed bugs immediately. You can do this to your stuffed animals, clothes, bedding, and other soft items that can be thrown into the washing machine and survive 1400 F temperatures.
Boric acid salt is an efficient cleaner given it has antibacterial properties. Moreover, you can use borax to rid your home of bed bugs. The way it works is by destroying the digestive system of the bugs when they consume it. But the problem is, bed bugs prefer blood meals to salts or any other food. Therefore, you can be sure bed bugs will not eat the borax salt.
Luckily, borax doubles up as a deterrent. You can use a lot of it on the legs of your bed and the seams as well. This way, the bed bugs will not get to you.
31. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, an oxidizer, and a disinfectant. You can use it to kill bed bugs, eggs, and larvae. However, since it is a bleaching agent, it can remove the color from the fabric, including bed sheets, rugs, clothing, and even furniture. However, you should be cautious when using bed bug home remedies with hydrogen peroxide.
Undiluted bleach is effective against bed bugs, but this is if you apply it directly to the affected areas. However, given the potency of undiluted bleach, it has some limitations, and you need to take precautions. For instance, you cannot soak your mattress in the bleach if you need it later. You also can’t spray the bleach on the mattress because they may be hiding inside and may remain unaffected even after.
You can spray the bleach directly to the hiding spots and wipe surfaces with the bleach. Leave the room for a couple of hours for the fumes to disperse.
Cinnamon is non-poisonous and is therefore safe for use in a household with kids and pets. Also, since it’s a spice, there are chances you already have it in your kitchen. It is a cheap and easy method to use against bed bugs. Sprinkle cinnamon in the places where the bed bugs are hiding, and they will flee.
34. Ultrasonic Pest Repellers
Just like it is with the other home remedies for bed bugs, there is a lot of discussion as to whether ultrasonic repellers work. The idea behind this option is to use ultrasonic devices that you plug into a wall. The high-frequency sound waves from this device will create an uncomfortable environment for the bed bugs and force them out of your home.
35. Talcum powder
This is a common bed bug remedy for bed bugs. But the question is, is it effective?
Below are some ways you can use talcum powder to handle the bed bug infestation in your home.
First, sprinkle the powder in all bed bug hotspots, including under the bed. Just like baking soda, talcum powder will work its magic by desiccating the bed bug.
Second, create a trap by putting talcum powder on a plate or bowl and place it under the bed. The bed bugs will climb into the bowl, but they will not get out because the powder is slippery
Home remedies for bed bug bites
Even though bed bugs don’t spread fatal diseases, their bites are extremely irritating and can also lead to secondary infections if not handled properly. If you discover red and itchy bites on your body, you should wash that part with some soap and water and use the following homemade remedies.
Apply the ice pack to the bed bug bite. The cold will relieve the swelling and itchiness. You can use ice either in an ice pack or wrap a couple of ice cubes in a thin towel and place it on the bite for several minutes. Depending on how itchy it is, you can reapply the ice pack several times a day.
37. Calamine lotion
This is a great home remedy for bed bug bites. The lotion tends to cool the bed bug bites and protects the skin. It also alleviates pain and reduces inflammation. The active ingredient in this lotion is zinc oxide, which is commonly used in treating rashes, chicken pox, and mosquito bites.
Are at-home remedies for bed bug bites effective? Yes, they are. In this case, toothpaste has menthol, which has a cooling effect and is an astringent. You should place some toothpaste on the bite for instant relief from itchiness. Also, the swelling will reduce after a while.
39. Witch hazel
This is known for its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, which help in soothing irritated skin as a result of bed bug bites. Witch hazel is also used in treating varicose veins without undergoing surgery.
40. Apple cider vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar is a strong antimicrobial that can be used on bed bug bites. It can also help in preventing infections and getting rid of pain and also promote healing in the process.
41. Aloe Vera
This plant is known for its antiseptic and medicinal properties. It is by far one of the best natural home remedies for bed bug bites. If you have an aloe leaf, remove the splints on the side and split it along the length to remove the top and bottom layer. Scoop the gel inside and apply it to the bed bug bites.
The above home remedies will work wonders in your home. For some, you will need to be extra careful when handling them. But even though they are effective, you still need to call in a professional to put the bed bug infestation problem to rest once and for all.
Professional services will take extreme steps, and use equipment and products specialized in delivering lethal blows in a matter of hours. With professional help, you should be ready to leave your home for some hours or days, depending on the method used. Also, they tend to be relatively more expensive in comparison to homemade remedies.
Frequently asked questions
1. Do bed bugs cause complications?
It is quite rare for people to sustain allergic reactions like going into anaphylactic shock because of bed bug bites. However, you might develop some itchy bumps and welts. And when you scratch, there will be higher chances of infection. The welts will persist for a couple of weeks and then slowly subside.
2. Do home remedies for bed bugs work?
Yes, they do. However, some are more efficient than others. Also, some repel them, and others kill them. The effect depends on the potency of the product you use.
3. What are the best home remedies for bed bugs?
All of the home remedies listed above are relatively effective. However, they work best when you combine a couple of them. For instance, you can opt to sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on the affected spots and then clean fabrics, including beddings and blankets with hot water.
4. How can I get rid of the bed bug eggs using home remedies?
The best home remedy for bed bug eggs is to use heat. You can choose to use a hairdryer, a steamer, or wash the clothes with hot water. In addition to this, you can sprinkle silica gel on the mattress to dry out the eggs and then vacuum the dirt, seal the vacuum bag and dispose of it.
5. Are home remedies for bed bugs a one-time affair?
No, they are not. Bed bugs are surprisingly resilient creatures and will come back without notice when your home is not well protected. To be on the safe side, you should use these methods for a couple of weeks. Always ensure the bed, floors, furniture, and the walls are correctly vacuumed to keep them free from bed bugs.