Melody is a volunteer for the Center for Disease and Control Prevention. She enjoys sharing her personal experience with others.
Do You Have a Plan?
Planning Against Bed Bugs
It's a good thing we have so many tools right at our fingertips. Bed bugs are a creature of swiftness. Human response must be equally as swift.
These checklists outline the different ways bed bug removal impacts everyday life. Using a checklist can speed up bed bug extermination. Let the outline act as a guide to help you through the step-by-step process.
Hopefully you will be working with a professional exterminator. Using treatment preparation sheets will help you become informed, thereby improving the chances of getting rid of bed bugs.
If you are checking into a hotel, then you will only need some of the checklists in this informational article. If you are a homeowner, or in some situations a renter, then you may need each form. I suggest hiring a pest control company, because it's almost always needed.
Can You Remove Bed Bugs Yourself?
DIY bed bug removal is a big responsibility, and for some may not be possible. The amount of mental and physical exertion experienced during infestation becomes overwhelming quickly. Calling an exterminator is often the best option, but not everyone can afford one.
Conditions under which you can kill bed bugs yourself are:
- Willing to be uber-dedicated to the monumental task. Do your research, understand the process, collect supplies and then kill those buggers.
- Ask a professional for advice. They often give useful tips away for free.
- Ask yourself if it's really possible for you to eliminate bed bugs on your own. It will depend on your situation.
- Use your money to collect ALL necessary supplies. Put extermination in your budget.
Research is the first obvious step. Be vigilant in demanding that your sources are giving you the most honest and truthful information possible. Inaccurate information in the bed bug world only leads to additional pain and suffering. Major search engines, such as Google, are working to protect you from negligent information. But, readers must become informed to recognize honest advice, and learn how to extrapolate facts.
If you are working with a professional, make sure they are ethical people. In the bug removal industry there are reports about professionals who lie about the severity of problems. Exterminators could pull a diverse range of scams. Find out who you can trust by educating yourself on both bed bugs and professionals.
According to Consumers Advocate, the best exterminators are:
- Local Pest Control Pro
- Found on local service sites such as Home Advisor
Once you know what you are looking for, you are ready to perform a bed bug inspection. It's essential to check all rooms in the house. Don't forget to look for bugs in the bathroom, office, and closets.
Below is a long “to-do” list. Occupant responsibility is emphasized, but if you rent some steps fall under landlord responsibility.
Feeling anxious? Don't try to tackle this alone if you can call a professional. The cost is worth the service, because it will take a heavy load off your shoulders. If you have time, dedication and the ability to make a small investment, then you may consider doing it yourself if it is legal in your area.
It is important to keep your head on straight while following your bed bug removal plan. Bed bugs cause anxiety and can get emotions running on high. Take a few deep breaths, stay calm and buckle down: you will beat your bed bug problem.
The following checklists can be printed. The first box is intentionally left empty so you can check off each item as you go.
Bed Bug Extermination Checklist
|√||Daily To Do List||Additional Info|
Bed bugs can hide anywhere! Clutter provides these tiny creatures with a place to hide.
If you do not clear the clutter before you begin, you will drive the bugs in to the clutter, creating a bigger problem.
Start in the bedroom, move to living areas, and tackle closets.
Pull all furniture away from walls.
Wash the following items, and dry on high heat: sheets, pillowcases, blankets, bed skirts and other linens.
Wash all cloths, and dry on high.
Take apart bed frame.
Use the wire brush to scrub any areas you suspect bed bugs and eggs.
(this might damage your furniture, so you may need to use another method, such as steaming)
Scrub any suspected areas with window cleaner or liquid Oxygen products to loosen eggs.
Oxyclean is a good choice.
Clean the room, including windows, cracks and crevices.
These products are usually ammonia base, which kills bed bugs and eggs. (do not use straight ammonia, it is a dangerous product, especially to asthmatics)
Thoroughly vacuum everything!
(Remove the vacuum bag right away, place in zip lock and dispose of bag, otherwise the bugs will escape from the vacuum.)
Throw all furniture you intend to throw away at this point.
Some furniture can be saved by using mattress and couch protectors.
Clean carpets in bedroom and living area, or remove it.
If you have a steamer, steam everything at this point. (Not windows in the winter, they could crack)
Apply bed bug killer according to package directions.
For Hot Shot Products:
Spray perimeter, cracks, based boards, inside dressers and so on first, and then fog.
For diatomaceous earth:
Apply in cracks and crevices and any place the bed meets the floor.
For sprays you mix yourself:
Spray perimeter, and mattress (if approved for that), base boards, cracks crevices, inside dressers and so on.
Immediately put zippered mattress and pillow covers on mattresses and pillows.
Keep duck tape handy at all times. You will need to inspect the cover regularly and duck tape any tears. You want to keep this mattress sealed tight, so any bugs inside will die instead of escape.
Place bed bug traps on or under the bed frame and mattress.
Under bed posts, if not using Damascus Earth, under mattress and under couch cushions.
Days 5 - 11
Begin sealing your home tight, inside and out.
Floor, wall and ceiling.
Including rubber molding
Repair and fill any holes in the wall.
Even small ones caused by nails.
For Wall Paper:
Repair any torn edges, regluing any raised part.
Seal outside perimeter of home.
Work on the laundry in the ziplock bags.
Do not remove or open the bag until the item is being placed in the washer.
Days 12 - 17
Spot spray as needed.
Don't overdo it
Blow dry areas of beds where you suspect the small, white baby bugs.
(Don’t melt your mattress cover or catch anything on fire).
Remove bedding and wash it on a regular basis.
Inspect your sealing job.
Look for areas you may have missed, or places that have peeled or cracked
Check and replace traps or diatomaceous earth as needed.
Do not permit the travel of blankets around the house.
Continue to vacuum every day.
Inspect all areas for bed bugs.
At this point, bed bugs will try to find areas you did not spray to live. You need to find these areas and use the spot spray to spray them.
Spray a second time, for any eggs which may have hatched.
Day 19 and on...
Chang linens 1 x a week
Collect Items You Need
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to eradicate bed bugs is starting before they have all the supplies they need.
You need all supplies because they each have a specific purpose in the process. If you skip a step because you don't have the supplies, you could just set yourself back.
This list should be coupled with a personal bed bug plan. You also need a schedule to improve chances of succeeding in getting rid of bed bugs.
I am including an estimation of the cost, to give you an idea on what to budget. Your prices may be higher or lower depending on the cost of living in your area.
Many professionals, will still have you get many of these items, such as zippered pillows and mattress covers.
Some professionals will seal for you, but that will cost more.
That means that you might be responsible for sealing, which raises the cost.
Sealing can also lower your energy bills, so you will likely recoup the money spent on it.
There are thousands of supplies on the market, so it is important to understand which ones are essential for DIY extermination.
Bed Bug Extermination Supply List
|√||To Get||Additional Infoi||Estimated Price USD|
Bed Bug Killer
Natural, pesticide or powder
$50 - $200
Some pesticided come premixes, such as Hot Shot Bed bug spray and Eco Bed Bug spray. Some you mix yourself.
Large Zip Lock Bags
3-4 per family member, possibly more
$30 - $50 (depends on family size)
Stiff bristle brush
$6 - $10
Assuming you already own one.
$50 -$100 (depending on number and size of bedrooms)
$5 - $10
For cleaning and cauling.
Make from old shirts and towels
Zippered Mattress covers
One per matress
$30 - $210 (depending on number of beds)
Zippered Pillow Covers
One per pillow
$5 - $50 (depends on number of pillows)
Window Cleaner or Oxyclean spray
By the gallon if possible
Fore planning and scheduling
Print one free from the net
For cleaning and decluttering.
$15 (more if there is a lot of clutter)
$100 - $150
Bed Bug Protective tents
$90 per bed
$409 - $693
Inspect for Bed Bugs
|√||To Do||Additional Info|
Check seams on all sides of mattress
Inspect and remove all bedding
Place any bed bug infested items in a large Ziploc bag while in the que for the washing machine, otherwise the laundry room could become infested with bed bugs.
inspect bed frame
You may want to take the bed apart and inspect crevices were joints meet.
Pull furniture away from regular spot
Inspect inside and undersite of drawers
Inspect T.V. Stand
Inspect Shoe racks
Under boxes, in boxes, behind boxes. This is a good time to clean out your closet!
Inspect night tables
Inspect couches, chairs and foot stools
Inspect under wall sockets
Check for holes caused by nails or other damage.
Inspect all walls where they meet trimwork.
This includes wall and cealing trim.
Check base boards and rubber molding
In between carpet fibers
around edges where bed bugs could slip underneeth
Around edges, and in between floor boards
Research Bed Bugs and Removal Process
|√||To Do||Additional Info|
Look at bed bug pictures
Look at bed bug bite pictures
Research spray options
Compare pesticides, natural sprays and dusts
Dusts, such as Delta Dust and Damascus Earth
Understand your budget
Decide which bed bug killer you want to use
Do You Have What It Takes?
Most people recoil at the sight of bed bugs. Eradicating them becomes priority number one. But don't jump the gun. Keep your wits about you so that you won't miss important steps.
Understanding the entire process is indispensable. If you do not follow a specific process, you may make the bed bug infestation worse. Don't panic or act rash. Eradicating bed bugs may be stressful but it can be done!
If you are not careful you may cause the bed bugs to scatter around the house. They might end up in odd places. That can lead to disastrous results, which requires a professional.
If you spray too soon, you may not understand what needs to be done. Bed bugs will avoid areas you spray and might be driven deeper into your home. This might make the infestation worse.
Make sure you understand the entire process and have all of the supplies before you begin. Understanding the do it yourself bed bug process is important when trying to decide if you should take this process on or call a professional.
Choose Your Weapon Wisely
Creating a Bed Bug Schedule
A schedule is a fundamental piece of any eradication plan. Even professional exterminators require adhering to a specific timeline.
When choosing a professional, expect them to be clear about your responsibilities. If they can't do this, then it is a red flag.
If you are good making schedules, then this will be the easy part. Clear two weeks from your calendar (go to work, but make time for the process). I find that a proper bed bug extermination process can be done in around two weeks. But preventing reinfestation may take lifestyle changes.
Giving up social gatherings, games and outings for a few weeks is worth it. There need to be at least two people involved, and each of them must dedicate time every day.
If you can not devote time for this process, you are better off with a professional. I am not trying to talk you out of doing it yourself; I just want to impress the importance of being prepared.
The schedule provided here takes 18 days, but most of the work is in the first two weeks. If you draw the process out for too long, you risk the bed bugs being driven in to areas which you may not even realize are an issue.
Dedication to this project will be your true relief. Some people can spend a lot less time than two weeks, although there needs to be a second spray two weeks after the first.
Others must spend more than two weeks. I have cut the steps up in to days; however, you should modify what needs to be done, when, in accordance to your own situation.
Again, this list can be printed if you want a hard copy to check off as you go.
If you follow this plan, you should be bed bug-free by the end of the second week, or nearly. If you skip steps, you are likely to have to start again. As you can see, this is a long and difficult process, so if you cannot do EVERY step, call a professional. Remember, sealing is NOT optional and must be done thoroughly, read more about that here.
If you still have bed bugs after this, call a professional. If at any point during this process you decide to call a professional, provide them with a checklist of what you have already been doing, including the name of the pesticide.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you have to seal up computers, TVs, or refrigerators when fogging for bugs and fleas?
Answer: No. Never try to seal appliances. If you do that you will damage the appliance itself. Remember that most electronics get very warm. Bed bugs won't want to invade them unless they have no other choice.
If your attempt to drive them out has driven them into these appliances, they won't stay there for very long before the heat gets too high.
Again, do not ever seal your appliances or electronics.
Question: What responsibility does the landlord have to bed bug infestation?
Answer: Each country, state and even sometimes city set their own regulations in regards to landlord responsibility to bed bugs. Although there is no federally regulated standard the first step is to report the problem to your landlord. In most states expect the landlord to bring in a qualified exterminator to do an official inspection. This inspection is not just to confirm that there are bed bugs present. The CDC and other agencies recommend inspectors to measure the depth of bed bugs. This number is an indication that may become legally important in some situations. One of the best places to get information on the exact responsibilities of your landlord is the same material that state legislators reference. The National Conference of State Legislature has an online resource that explains state bed bug law. It even has an interactive, searchable table so you can find the information specific to your state.
© 2012 Melody Collins
my Name WasAlreadytaken on February 22, 2020:
Where exactly do you suggest that one lives while "starving" the bugs?
I would like to know.
Also, Strato, are you aware that
Bedbugs can survive 18 months without a meal. They sort of hibernate (for lack of a better word) until a food source comes along. That is their 2nd choice of evolutionarily driven responses, BUT their 1st choice, is, to move. The bugs travel on and on, following the scent of carbon dioxide.
and yes, bedbugs can move quickly, 4 feet per minute, so crossing a room is only a few minutes work.
and yes, bedbugs can move on carpeting,(oooh, don't i wish your guess that bugs can not move over carpet actually 'was' true, but, Strat, it is not true, at all)
Bedbugs also easily move over rough knitted blankets, your pants leg, up your walls, most any surface.
Strat, your focus on if the bugs are "smart" or not, seems like an irrelevant waste of your words and our time.
Whether one calls their amazing ability to survive and multiply as a form of "intelligence"(? probably someone is using humor)
or whether we call it their natural behaviors driven by all creatures built-in, innate sense to survive?---- The auto-pilot of most creatures is quite powerful, and does help ensure that most creatures successfully find meals.
Despite your mocking the notion, yes, I do believe the creatures actually ARE trying to get you. For sure, getting to you IS actually 80% of their goal for the day.
Yes, You ARE their meal. I do not ascribe that effort as "satanic" (?) or driven by "hate". (?). I think it is their nature, same as a lion taking down a gazelle, it is not done because of satan or hatred.
Bedbugs do not eat daily. Some only eat every 5 to 10 days. There are plenty enough infants to keep waves of them coming on.
You can go sleep on the sofa, to escape them, but, they will find you, following the smell of your exhaled carbon dioxide, as well as your body heat.
Most are resistant to poisons, and this effort TAKES A LOT OF TIME (not 18 days as the Original Poster suggests, rolling eyes)
and the effort has to be almost daily between vacuuming, poison, dusts of cymexa, as diatomateous earth does NOT work, washing and drying everything daily, etc.
ANYONE READING THIS, do skip the diatomateous earth. It is horrifically messy, impossible to 100% remove again, ruins your vaccuums, floats all over the home and gets in your lungs, dries up your hair, and has a faint musty odor to it that is hard to get rid of. I still smell it whenever i come home, it is now embedded into the carpetting and sofa, and i will have to get rid of those things because that dust just does NOT really ever come back out again. IF you get diatomateous earth WET? oh what a mess, it becomes yellow putty.
REGRET that I ever ever ever used diatomateous earth, and wish i could retract my earlier advice that anyone use it. WAste of time, and ruins your home. I am STILL Finding that dust everywhere.
Cymexa dust DOES work, as does bagging and storing everything in bags lined with poison, Cyonara, BEdlam, i used them all, so i am not sure which one did the trick, but, i think it was constantly vaccuuming and sprayig poison and drying Everything. I Used blow dryer on furniture, too.
plugging up all outlets,
skip the diatomateous earth dust, wish i knew that back when i first started this battle.
Marcy on February 19, 2020:
I have heard that they dont like peppermint oul lavender oul and eucalyptus anyone else heard this ir tryed it
Wizzy on January 17, 2020:
So I have seen it mentioned several times how costly hiring an exterminator will be, my question is approximately how costly? Can anyone give me a ball park figure of what it would cost to hire one?
my Name WasAlreadytaken on October 18, 2019:
Great list, a few updates. All the DIY exteminators i spoke to, while buying my poison, say spray EVERY 5 to 7 days, not every 14 or 18 days. They emphasize it is crucial to get oncoming waves of newly hatched bugs every 5 to 7 days. I think 18 days is optimistic, especially if one works full time.
I thought we have to wash, dry in dryer x 45 minutes and then BAG all clothing. I thought we have to keep it bagged until we are sure the bugs are gone. So, that is a LOTTA bags. I have spent probably $50 on trash bags alone, just for clothing and other items. I use clear bags so i can find my clothing easier. You want FLAP_Tie bags, not the pull-string kind, so you can tie it snuggly tight.
I am using various color bags to sort out which items have yet to be washed, which are a"done", which are not even clothing. haha.
-----------------------Also, do your CAR. I parked my car in safe spot so i can watch it, and turned heat wayyyyyyyy way way up full blast, and left heat on x 8 hours, every day x 2 days(this used 1/4 tank)
and then, i repeat this once a week x 4 weeks. Just to be sure. Bedbugs die in 120 degrees in only an hour or two, but, even just 90s or 100 for MANY HOURS will also kill them. Cuz is no wayyyy to spray Every crevice in a car. Nope.
I am also securely, tightly bagging up my books, securely, and piling the books into car, while heating my car x 8 hours a day, to kill any bugs inside my books.
I used both poison spray AND that D.E. powder (diatomaceous earth), i filled my bed with that powder, i used mitten-clips to hold my blanket from touching floor (in case any bugs onfloor). I threw all my bedding into dryer EVery night x 45 minutes. I filled my mattress bag with poison and with D.Earth powder. I initially used double stick tape on all legs of my bed, to prevent re-entry, but, overtime, the D.E. powder removed any stickiness, so i switch to wide, shiney scotch tape, as bugs slip on that and can't get up.
I bought a powder puff and bowl, and carefully applied D.E. powder to myself prior to sleep. I wore breathingmask while applying that powder.
I also used D.E. powder to------------ MAKE SPEED BUMPS at every doorway,______________ and sprayed entire door frame, to help reduce bugs moving room to room. I also put this dust in outlets, light-switches, and i sprayed poison into all vents. Even mini blind frames. Also spray backs of any item on a wall, they like to climb Up. Also do ceiling joints.
I sprayed all shoes, and purses, and bagged them up in case bugs resist to spray.
I powdered all toys and pet items, bagged them up, and then after crisis is over, i tossed in dryer to remove any powder or bugs still alive after that.
Some items will just have to stay bagged x 18 months til all bugs starve, as i can not get those things wet from poison nor covered of D.Earth powder, either.
Stratovangelist on September 10, 2019:
It's awfully easy to anthropomorphize the little fellows - ascribing far too much intelligence to them, they're plotting and planning, they're in league with Satan and spend every momo trying to Get You (personally!), etc.Bugs are dumb. Bugs are really, really dumb. They GET YOU with sheer quantity, not with the quality of their strategic planning. A major misunderstanding is if you think that you CAN "drive them into other places." Bugs LIKE poison, it doesn't make them run AWAY. If you see them running it's just brainstem twitches, or the light you shone, or the brush you're whacking at them with or something. They ran before you sprayed them too, right? If you have two rooms next to each other, one is bugged, the other not, the best way to keep them from "running away" into the other room is to KILL THEM ALL, FAST. They're not SMART ENOUGH to try to get away, there's just lots and lots of them. Another fine tool is STARVATION. The babies are smaller than the head of a pin, they're GOT TO EAT real soon, or they die. And when you're that small, a nubbly blanket is like Mt. Everest. They have to eat, and find a safe hiding place NOW. You know, if they were really satanic, they'd bite you because they HATE you? But actually, they really, really LIKE you.
Tracy on October 27, 2018:
What about pot and pan and dishes and silverware we need those cover
Connie Richards on September 24, 2018:
The list and schedule that you provided, are very informative and helpful, I just can't express how much this helped me. I kept getting lost in the anxiety, work, lack of sleep, and very high level of stress to an emotional danger that can't be explained in words.
Determined on August 24, 2018:
Thank you for being so thorough. May the war begin...
Somebody on March 17, 2018:
I have been spraying rubbing alcohol on them and it kill them
Paula on February 20, 2018:
If u spray bed bugs they get immune to the chemicals and then they are 3x worse when they come back from hiding
Melody Collins (author) from United States on November 07, 2017:
Sherri do you own or rent your residence?
Sherri on November 07, 2017:
What if your funds are limited and your washer only runs on cold water and you have no dryer
tracyalane (leal) reinert on August 03, 2017:
I like the part about filling in the cracks in furniture, too.. and using hair blow-dryer on bed joinery. Was told i couldn't hyper heat my house because of gas fireplace? It might be possible to just heat the house longer, and not hyper-heat it fast. Google DE. I'm getting indications that the adults like damp areas to breed, and might be travelling in from under the house... though i have read this nowhere. Am now looking into an enzyme something called EM (not electro-magnetics). Organic enzymes dissolve eggs, as does rubbing alcohol and PineSol. Finding the sources of the problems is the answer!
pat green on June 21, 2016:
I have researched and worked the web until I am crossed eyed. We got these bugs from a new (supposed new bedroom suite) the company is going out of business. I have just about had it. We are just beginning to bed bust. Hubbie and I are frustrated to the max. I just want to blow up the house and forget it. ROFL
jkc133 on March 03, 2016:
Thank you for all the bed bug knowledge! I'm at the beginning of this disturbing battle! I can't believe how smart these little f***ers are! How they know to come grab meal and hide so successfully...I hate em, I am having anxiety and stress. I can't afford a professional, so I'll go at it by check list.
I'll let you know the progress here.
I'm in central Texas, husband noticed the bites first, about three months ago, but we just couldn't find anything! Then we started seeing adults. Now after researching, I have started seeing a few first stage nymphs. OMG they are soooo tiny no wonder we couldn't detect them sooner. So I've started gathering the supplies and washing everything like crazy...
I pray we get ahead of these bastards
p.s. We've had real success using rubbing alcohol full, strength in a spray bottle, as a contact killer, no residual effects of course, but we spray down the bed area -WELL VENILATED!! let it dry a while before bed. Seems to help
Jaze66 on February 18, 2015:
Will this work for multi-family dwelling units? (four-plex)
Melody Collins (author) from United States on July 19, 2012:
Thanks for the comment. It is really involved process, which is why a lot of people are better off calling a professorial. To do it yourself and succeed it takes a lot of time, work and dedication.
klurbauer from Brink of Insanity ;) on July 19, 2012:
Geez, I didn't realize exactly how involved the whole process was. I don't think I've ever read such a thorough explanation. It seems like every article you read tells you a little bit about various parts of the process. This was really a good explanation of what to do, the order, etc. From some of the prices you listed, it looks like bedbugs can end up being a pretty expensive problem as well. Yikes. Voted up!
Christion on June 25, 2012:
Thank you!.. Dodson Pest Control can not be trsuted..
Melody Collins (author) from United States on June 09, 2012:
Thanks! I am the sort of person who likes lists and flow charts. I hope those who are suffering from bed bugs will find this helpful!
Dianna Mendez on June 09, 2012:
This is really a detailed list of information. You have posted some great ways to look at this problem and how to solve it before it gets out of hand. Voted up.