how to get rid of bedbugs
How to Kill Bed Bugs with Household Items
It’s perfectly natural to want to eliminate a bed bug infestation without spending a ton of money on professional-grade products or a treatment by a pest control operator. When people discover that they have bed bugs, they often turn to do-it-yourself recommendations from discussions on the Internet. These suggestions might include household items, some of which are recommended more often than others. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular items and how they might be used against bed bugs:
First up is the most commonly recommended tool by far: rubbing alcohol diluted in water. This is suggested because alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact, and evaporates shortly after, so it’s considered safe for use pretty much anywhere in a home. A recurring theme in these recommendations are household items that are considered to be safer for people than mainstream chemicals.
While alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact, it’s not going to kill nearly enough of bed bugs to be considered effective. In lab studies, even 99 percent concentrations of alcohol only killed between 40% to 60% of the adults that were sprayed. On top of that, alcohol has no long-lasting residual effect, and doesn’t affect bed bug eggs. 60% sounds good, but a contact killer should be able to kill a lot closer to 100% of the bed bugs you see. Otherwise, a shoe or a blowtorch would be the more reliable tool for the job. (Editor’s note: please don’t use a blowtorch.)
In a bed bug treatment, alcohol is basically an attempt to fill the role of a contact spray, which is an insecticide spray that kills bed bugs on contact. These sprays are proven to kill at a higher rate than rubbing alcohol could manage, and are extremely versatile in where they can be applied. Pair contact sprays with a couple of residual sprays, and you have a combination of chemicals that will kill bed bugs quickly now, and keep killing over the next few weeks.
The next recommendation is a mixture of essential oils. You might see one of many oils or combinations of oils in online discussion, whether it’s clove oil, cedar wood, lavender, or a combination of mint oils. The use of these against bed bugs dates back centuries, as their simple method of suffocating the bugs predates the use of sophisticated chemical killers.
The use of various oils against bed bugs is encouraged by various studies that have shown these oils successfully killing bed bugs. However, those tests tend to use bed bugs that do not have the opportunity to feed on anyone. In real-world scenarios, where the bugs can still reach a person and feed after being sprayed, they usually survive.
If you need to treat items that can’t be laundered or steamed, you can use a portable bed bug heater, like a ZappBug Oven or a ThermalStrike Ranger. These heaters can safely treat household items like books, papers, CDs, and dry clean only clothing. Not only are bed bug heaters an effective part of a bed bug treatment process, but they’re one of the most popular prevention tools on the market. When you come home from a trip, just put your suitcase in the heater, zip it shut, and turn it on. In just a few hours, any bed bugs or eggs hiding in your belongings will be dead.
A lot of DIY bed bug recommendations involving household items stem from the desire to solve your bed bug problem without spending money or resorting to chemicals. Unfortunately, these recommendations don’t always pan out. Bloggers and forum posters usually aren’t professionals (this blog author being one of the exceptions). They haven’t done the same research, and they tend not to have much experience getting rid of bed bugs themselves.