Everything You Need To Know About How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs Naturally

by | Bedding, Mattress Encasement, Sleep Hacks | 0 comments

Is there anything creepier than bed bugs? Not that I can think of. Tiny pests that infest your home and bedroom, crawling around where you sleep. No, thank you. Most people’s initial reaction to discovering they have bed bugs is to make a phone call and blast them with chemicals.

While that method is proven to be effective, there are other, less invasive way to deal with a bed bug infestation. If you have pets or small children, it might be nice to consider a natural remedy. But how do you know which one will work?

First, What Are Bed Bugs?

These nasty little creatures are like little ninjas in the night. They’re super small, about the size of a sesame seed, and totally infest your bed. Hence the name. But they can spread out and conquer your entire home in no time.

They open up shop in the creases and ridges of wooden furniture, and along the seam of soft furniture like mattresses. So it’s easy to check if you have the problem, just take a look in those areas

The really gross part is that the have a beak-like mouth that they use to bite and suck blood/nutrients from a host. AKA you. These bites can go completely unnoticed in some people, but in others they can present as raised, red, itchy hive-like bumps.

How Do You Get Them in the First Place?

These annoying creatures can come from just about anywhere. But they’re commonly contracted from travelling. They hitch hike in things like bags, suitcases, purses, clothing, etc. And move from place to place very easily.

Buying second hand furniture can increase your risk of getting bed bugs, so be sure to inspect everything you buy before bringing it into your home. These guys are relentless and can survive for a year without sustenance.

The disgusting phenomenon was thought to have been irradiated from the North American continent back in the seventies, but you really can’t eliminate bed bugs. They’re everywhere and super relentless. All you can do is take precautions to prevent infestations.

Why Can’t You Use Chemical Methods?

Well, you can. But there are so many risks involved. Any product that isn’t a natural remedy will leave behind chemical residues in your home which can become irritable and a danger to your health.

Companies are trying to move in the direction of natural methods, so don’t hesitate to ask when or if you call around. If you don’t think you need the help of an exterminator, then this list might help you out.

A Look at Different Natural Methods

If you’re dealing with this issue, try some of these natural ideas before resulting to harsh chemicals.

1) Removing Them from Bed Frame, Headboard, and Furniture

I know, this sounds less than appealing. The thought of having to actually get in there and remove the bugs from your bed is enough to make you want to burn it down and walk away. But it has to be done.

There are a few ways to you can remove them from furniture. Some more effective than others. With duct tape, simply locate the infested areas and use the sticky side to catch them. Same goes for areas such as mattress seams, baseboards, etc. This may take some time, but you could get most, if not all of them. Just make sure that you’re disposing of the discarded bug-tape in properly sealed garbage bags otherwise you could risk another infestation. All it takes is two to get free.

A vacuum is really the most effective way to remove them from furniture, though. Using the long, extended hose, just go around and carefully suck up any bugs you find. Start with the bed frame, work your way around the mattress, and then branch out to the baseboards and such.
This will take several go-overs, during the course of a few days. They will relentlessly try and hide when they sense danger like that. But you will find less and less each time you do. Eventually, they’ll be gone. I would recommend discarding the vacuum when you’re done, too. Just a personal opinion.

2) Natural Pesticide

With the rise of eco friendly ways and the awareness around chemicals in our homes, it’s only common sense that we’d find some natural pesticides. There have been numerous products tested for safety as well as effectiveness, and there’s a couple that have come out on top.

Natural pesticides allow you to really tackle the big issue with the force of chemicals, but without having to actually use them. This is great for those who have small children or pets that shouldn’t be exposed to the harsh effects of chemicals.

3) Double Sided Tape

This may sound crazy, but you can create a bug-free zone by using double sided tape. Just make sure it’s really sticky. All you have to do is lay down strips of it around the areas where the bed bugs may be congregating. Also, stick it around your bed, like a tape perimeter. The double sided stickiness traps the bugs when they walk over it. It may be weird, it may be crazy, but it has been known to work. And when you’re dealing with bed bugs, you’ll try just about anything.

Now, there’s no need to go and cover every inch of your room with the stuff, as the bugs really have a repetitive route they follow every day. There will be the main areas where they congregate (bed frame, baseboard, nail holes, etc.) but there’s also the same trail they follow up the bed and to your bodies. The carbon dioxide that comes from your mouth when you breathe attracts them, so they know where to go. So, with that being said, using the double sided tape is really only effective if you know where to place it.

4) Steam Cleaning Fabrics and Soft Surfaces

Methods that work to remove the critters from hard surfaces like bed frames, baseboards, and nightstands may not be as good with soft surfaces like upholstery and such. This is where the steam method comes into play. Bed bugs can’t survive in high temperatures so you can literally cook the buggers.

If you don’t have a steam cleaner, you can purchase or rent one at any hardware store. If you don’t plan to use it again in the future, it may be best to just rent one as they can be fairly expensive to buy.

The trick to steaming them is to get the temperature up to 160-180°F. This ensures that you’re killing them. The steam can dig almost an inch into soft fabrics and nearly three inches into cracks and gaps in hard surfaces. That’s pretty effective, if you ask me.

5) Essential Oils

This method has been said to be effective, but it’s recently been proven that it’s not. I’m including this in the list so you know not to do it because knowing what doesn’t work is just as useful as knowing what does.

Tee tree oil, to be safe for humans, needs to be diluted down to 20 drops per one bottle of water. But in order to kill insects, it has to be 100% undiluted and come in direct contact with them. That would be harmful to us, so this method is no use to you if you have a bed bug issue.
Lavender Oil is one of the essential oils that’s classified under the aromatherapy overdose group. Things like cinnamon, cedar, lemongrass, etc. are also in this club and using too much of them can cause some side effects to your body.

So, while oils may help irritate them, it’s not a way to rid your home of the insidious creatures. At best, it may help you sleep at night, if you believe it has worked at all. But that’s it.

6) Thyme

Burning thyme in each room or area can get rid of the insects. It’s a natural pesticide and irritant for them, and it’s easy to use. Simple bundle some thyme together with a bit of cotton and burn it in the room with the issue at hand. The area fills with the smoke and then kills the bugs.
Here’s the problem, though. You have to fill the room with so much thyme smoke that it would almost be impossible, or a major safety issue, to do so. Reason being is that the bugs know when stuff like this is happening and they then slip away into deep cracks and hide until the time has passed. Then they just come back out and start munching down on you at night. You may be stinking up your home with smoke for no good reason, when another method could be more effective.

7) Decluttering

This may not be a way to eradicate the problem 100%, but it will certainly help. When you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation, the less you have around for them to hide in the better. Completely declutter your home the best you can, especially the bedroom. Books, bags, magazines, things under the bed, etc. Get rid of it all and create an empty (or as empty as you can get it) so they have only a few places to go.

Then you can zero in and kill them. Just think; if you know they could only be in your bed frame or mattress then that’s all you have to worry about.

I’ve even seen people go as far as to remove the baseboards and molding from the room until the situation was under control. This takes away one of the refuges they seek when you implement a more permanent solution like steaming or natural pesticide.

8) Tossing Out Everything and Replacing (extreme cases, obviously)

For those of you who may react in different ways to the thought of sharing a bed with insects, you may consider gutting everything. If you were thinking about upgrading your furniture anyways, what’s to lose?

Start by doing your best to rid most of the bugs; steaming, vacuuming, etc. Then toss out anything that’s expendable. Stuff bedding and other soft items in black garbage bags and toss it out on the corner. Bring your bedframe and other furniture to the dump.

Then head back to you home and proceed to exterminate any remaining bugs. They could be behind your baseboards, behind pictures, etc. So do a thorough clean, irradiate them from your home, and then begin to fill the space with new furniture and bedding. It’s the extremes of extreme, but it works.

9) Bed Bug Traps

There are two main types of traps you can use, both are proven to work so choose which one works best for you. There’s passive traps and live traps. Passive ones are anything sticky that can be applied to your bedframe. Things like the double sided tape idea or petroleum jelly, etc. You can also purchase stick passive traps at any store that sells these types of things.

The way the passive traps work is to catch them as they make their journey up your bed to your body for their midnight meal (blech!). Having to pass over a sticky surface will trap them in place. This is a good way to monitor how it’s working, too. Because you have to change out the traps every few days, you can begin to see the decline in numbers.

Live traps work the same way, but use a small amount of carbon dioxide as well as heat. This lures the bugs into the trap and contains them there.

10) Heat/Hot Conditions

Using heat temperatures to kill bed bugs includes the steam method we talked about. It’s one of the most effective ways to tackle the issue. But you can also use dry heat alternatives to dry them out and deprive them of moisture in their bodies.

Most extermination companies offer this, but you can do the same with the aid of portable heaters. The only problem is getting the targeted areas up to the right temperature (160°F) can be tricky and a bit dangerous. You may damage things like flooring, the structure of the furniture, wallpaper, etc. because it dries them up and creates peeling and cracking.

11) Freezing Conditions

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Just as they can be killed by extreme heat, they can also be killed with extreme cold. Now, turning off your thermostat isn’t going to cut it. We’re talking EXTREME cold, here. There are a number of companies who offer this method, so just call around and do some research in the area.

But, basically how it works it through the use of dry ice and CO2 with something called Cryonite, known as the chill that kills (tacky, I know). It’s begins to take affect once temperatures drop below -20ºC to -30ºC, which then start to shut down the central nervous system of the bugs. It leaves behind zero chemical residue and actually seeps deep into the top layers of fabrics and soft items. So you definitely know it’s getting the bugs.

12) Sealing

This isn’t a method you should use on its own. It’s most effective when combined with other ways of doing this like steaming and vacuuming. Once you’ve removed as much of the infestation as you can, begin to seal any openings, cracks, etc. with a sealant. Caulking, wood glue, putty, and tape. These are all perfect ways to do some sealing.

Go around and completely seal the crack between your baseboard and walls, fill any screw holes in your furniture, etc.

Also, consider getting yourself a bug proof mattress cover. It slips on easily and traps any left over critters until they suffocate and die. It’s cruel, and a bit unnerving to think that you’re still sleeping on top of them, but these covers are tested and proven to work.

13) Diatomaceous Earth

This is a debated method, but has been known to work over long periods of time. The reason why this would be less popular than other natural ways to get rid of bed bugs is because it’s messy. You’re literally sprinkling dirty powder around your home.

Diatomaceous earth is simply a dry, dusty substance made from plant material. When used on bed bugs, it can help with your problem. The dust creates a light layer over their bodies and absorbs their moisture, thus dehydrating them to death. Also, when they walk over the earth, it gets stuck on their legs and they then lick it off. The fragments inside the dirt tear up their insides and, eventually, leave them for dead. It’s a less than stellar method for both parties, but it has been proven successful.

14) Boric Acid

Boric acid is a time old trick and used by many professional exterminators as well as people like you and I. It’s an inorganic concoction and consists of a paste or gel-like form. In color, it’s basically clear or a cloudy white and is essentially odorless. It’s not harmful to us, but extreme exposure can induce vomiting (you’d have to be rolling around in this stuff for that to happen).
It’s recommended that you apply the boric acid to areas where the bed bugs will be and the substance attracts them like crazy. Much like the diatomaceous earth, boric acid creates tears in the exoskeletons and rapidly dehydrates them.

15) Insect Growth Regulators

Sounds like a science experiment gone wrong, right? Well, it’s actually a great way to battle an infestation in your home. It takes a little longer but it does work. Basically, the nitty gritty is that the growth regulators attack the nervous system of the bugs and either stunt their growth, forcing them to remain in an undeveloped state, or they accelerate the growth which causes them to die faster.

It’s said that the regulators don’t affect human bodies in any significant way, but to be safe, try not to come in contact with the substance too often. You never know. They don’t leave behind a chemical residue, but it’s recommend (like any of the items on this list) to thoroughly clean the areas afterwards.

16) Neonicotinoids

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Have you ever smoked a cigarette? Hopefully not, but if you have then you understand the rush of nicotine to your nervous system after just one. Imagine that times a hundred. That’s what neonicotinoids do to bugs.

It attacks their bodies and nervous systems, sending them into a burning frenzy of overactive nerves until they just die. It sounds a bit extreme and cruel, but it’s really not different than any other method. The end result is the same.

No chemical residues and no harm to humans as long as you’re not ingesting it or laying in it. Like the others, just apply to the areas that have the bugs, not the areas where you sit or lay.

17) Vinegar

The acidity and PH level of vinegar shocks the nervous system of the bugs and kills them. However, this only work with undiluted pure vinegar and direct contact to the bugs. It won’t work if you just spray the bed and bedding, you have to attack where it hurts.

While this is an effective way to clean up any large swarms of them, it’s not a 100% fool proof way of completely ridding yourself of the problem.

Also, while the vinegar kills the live, adult bugs on contact, it does zero for the eggs, which is really the main issue. You have to get the bugs, as well as the eggs, in order to eliminate the possibility of another infestation.

So, with that bit of knowledge, it’s probably safe to say that the vinegar solution might be good to control the situation until you have a more permanent method in place. Also, the smell of vinegar can be quite noxious, not harmful, so consider that if you’re sensitive to smells.

Conclusion

Did you enjoy this compilation of natural ways to get rid of bed bugs? Did it clarify some things for you? Let us know if you’ve tried any of these and whether they worked or not. Remember, every case is different and some methods are meant for minor infestations. If you’ve got a serious problem, then you may need to seek professional help as a bed bug problem can lead to health issues such as insomnia. Comment and share your thoughts!

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