Image of a woman and child sitting in bed reading

How to get rid of bed bugs naturally.

Last Updated: January 7, 2022

When “don’t let the bed bugs bite” becomes a directive rather than a playful nighttime adieu, turn to this guide for tips on how to send those nasties packing using natural products.

Your bed is your sanctuary. You tumble into it after a long day, vulnerable with fatigue, comfy in your pajamas which—if you’ll excuse us for saying so—are pretty weak armor against certain nighttime terrors. Namely, the bed bug.

When you awaken with insanely itchy bites on your skin, it’s a little horrifying. Is it bed bugs? How did this happen? What on Earth are you going to do now? Will you ever be able to sleep in your bed again without wearing a hazmat suit?

We’re going to answer these and other questions you may have about these tiny invaders, including how to get rid of them with natural pest control methods.

So, what are bed bugs?

Illustration of a mattress with bugs and germs.

Bed bugs are small, brownish bugs that feed on the blood of animals. They can’t fly or jump, but scuttle quickly across surfaces. Bed bugs are pretty chill during the day and active at night, when they go on the hunt for blood—i.e., your blood.

A small bed bug infestation can become a big problem fast. Adult females lay 1 or 2 near-microscopic eggs a day—hundreds in a lifetime—that hatch in about a week.

How to spot bed bugs

They frequently hide in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards. You might find such hidey-holes by looking for tiny dark spots on your mattress and bedding. Those are the bed bugs’ teeny-tiny poops (ew).

Or, you might see reddish, rusty smears on your sheets or mattress—that’s just the remnants of blood-engorged bed bugs who got crushed and then, well, exploded (double ew).

If you get bitten by a bed bug, you might not even know it! However, if your skin reacts to the bite, you will notice a red welt that itches something fierce, like a mosquito bite.

The good news: Bed bugs don’t spread diseases—they just want to drink your blood—and you can apply a balm to help with the itching.

To see bed bugs in action, direct your attention to this video taken by a poor, unsuspecting couple at a Manhattan hotel:

How did I get bed bugs?

Don’t worry, bed bugs are not a reflection of your personal hygiene!

Since bed bugs travel well, they may have entered the house on the clothing or luggage of a recently returned traveler, the backpack of a schoolchild, laundry done in a shared laundry space, or even the wall adjacent to a different apartment in a complex. They often come in on used furniture—especially—curb finds!

How to prevent bed bugs from coming into your house

Since you now know how bed bugs could arrive in your sanctum, try the following tips to prevent them from entering in the first place:

  • Check used furniture thoroughly before you bring it home.
  • Inspect luggage racks and bedding in hotel rooms when you travel.
  • Be vigilant in shared laundry facilities. Move your clothes directly from the dryer into your laundry bag, and fold it at home.
  • Wash second-hand clothes in hot water—or thoroughly steam them—as soon as you bring them home.

How do I get rid of bed bugs?

Sorry—there are no quick-fixes for bed bugs. Getting rid of these pests takes time, but it is possible—and you don’t even need to use chemical pesticides.

So don’t burn down your house yet, ok?

Here’s the best way to get rid of bed bugs

Bedroom objects graphic

1. Clean and cover all mattresses and beds, stat

Stuff all of your bedding, including pillows, into a plastic garbage bag, and take them directly to the laundry room. Wash everything in the hottest water possible— 60 degrees is ideal. Dry them on the highest heat setting for at least 45 minutes.

After washing, encase each mattress in your home with a bed bug-proof cover. These sturdy, zippered bags are specifically designed to encase your mattress and box springs to keep bed bugs (and dust mites) out.

Scrub your headboards and bed frames with your favorite natural all-purpose cleaner.

Orange vacuum illustration

2. Declutter, clean, and vacuum your rooms

Thoroughly clean each infested room. Get rid of all trash, tidy up clutter, and wipe everything down with a microfiber cloth, which will pick up, rather than move around, any bed bug eggs, body parts, and other debris.

Vacuum the room—and, ultimately, the entire house—like you are Cinderella desperately trying to get to the ball. When you’re done, immediately take out the vacuum bag or container to the trash can.

Washing machine illustration

3. Treat your stuff with heat

Put all of your clothing, stuffed animals, curtains, and other fabric items in plastic garbage bags, and load them into the dryer in batches. Tumble them on high heat for 30 minutes to kill any bed bugs and their eggs.

If you don’t have a steamer, rent one from your local grocery, appliance, or home improvement store, and go to town steaming your furniture to quickly kill any remaining bed bugs. Steam the carpet, rugs, drapes, along baseboards, and anywhere else that might be harboring bed bugs or their eggs.

Skull and crossbones illustration

4. Use bed bug powder and interceptors

Aunt Fannie’s Bed Bug Powder is nontoxic to humans and pets, but it’ll get rid of your bed bug population. Sprinkle it around the base of your bed, along baseboards in your room, and anywhere else you think bed bugs might be hanging out. When the bugs walk through the powder, it will dry out their exoskeleton and eradicate your problem.

Place bed bug interceptors beneath each leg of the bed to keep any more unwelcome guests from climbing up to join you as you sleep. These handy little gadgets can also clue you in as to whether your bed bug problem is resolved—if you see bugs in the interceptor, you know you’ve still got work to do.

Got other pests? We’ve got more answers! Read up on how to get rid of mice, flour bugs, drain gnats, dust mites, ants, moths, and spiders.

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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