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  • Writer's pictureNoel McCarthy

Killing Bed Bugs 101: The Do’s and Don’ts

Last Updated: June 18, 2024

This is an updated version of an article that was originally published Feb 23, 2022.

“Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

It may sound like a sweet, slightly humorous good night wish as you tuck in your kids but if you really think about it, there’s nothing simple or sweet about it. How many of us would want to cuddle up with bed bugs tonight as we go to sleep? Or worse – send our children to bed in mattresses laden with the creatures?

No one wants to find bed bugs in their home – or anywhere else for that matter! And if you do, your focus will quickly turn to getting rid of them. (Not, that is, hoping that they don’t bite your children who you’ve just sent off to bed.)

Tiny in size but supersized in the havoc they can wreak, bed bugs are found everywhere around the world and can make their way into everything from homes and offices to retail stores, schools, taxi cabs and bus stations. If it’s inhabited by humans, chances are good that bed bugs will show up eventually.

So as with most things in life, preparation (and know-how) are key. You can get rid of bed bugs with a little bit of know-how and the bed bug spray

So start taking notes. In this article, we’ll explain all the do's and don'ts of eradicating bed bugs.

sterifab bed bug killer spray

Bed Bugs: The Equal Opportunity Pest

Did you know that at least 20% of Americans have encountered bed bugs in their homes, offices, and in hotels and other places. A shocking 1 in 5 Americans have been victim to these equal opportunity pests; no one, and no place, is immune.

For those proactive bed control busters among you, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for killing bed bugs. Following this advice could save you a lot of time, money and grief.

Get rid of bed bugs for good

The Do’s of Bed Bug Treatment

Here are 4 steps to getting rid of bed bugs:

  1. Clean thoroughly. First, thoroughly clean the affected rooms (or offices, dormitories, etc) of clutter. The fact is that bed bugs love unmade beds and unwashed laundry, piles of paper and rarely-read books, neglected files and drawers, dusty carpets and drapes, and so on ̶ because it makes it easier for them to move around.

  2. Vacuum and dust. Next vacuum beds, carpets, chairs, office desks, drapes and window blinds. Be sure to throw away the vacuum bag, and don’t put it in your kitchen trash. Remember, bed bugs are tricky, devious little critters and they’ll stage an escape attempt. Instead, remove the vacuum bag from the building, placing it immediately in an external trash container.

  3. Wash in hot water. If it can go in the washer, throw it in! Clothes, sheets, towels, curtains and more. Wash every item you can in HOT water (at least 120 degrees) and then throw them in to dry on the HOTTEST dryer setting. If  and item can't be washed, dry clean it or put it in a hot dryer for 20 minutes. Tip: Commercial dryers in laundromats reach very high temperatures and are especially good for pillows, bedspreads, and bulky items.

  1. Treat with a proven bed bug spray. Fourth, and probably most importantly, realize that steps #1, #2 and #3 above are only temporary measures, unless you have treated the mattresses, couches, curtains, rugs, rooms and every other affected areas with an effective bed bug killer such as Sterifab. Vacuuming, cleaning, and washing will undoubtedly reduce and minimize a bed bug infestation, but don’t be duped into thinking that the bugs are gone for good, unless you've also used a product that is proven to kill bed bugs.

Why the Pros Choose Sterifab

We recommend Sterifab, which is what most professional exterminators (PCPs) use, since it has been around for more than 50 years and is scientifically proven to be effective. Plus, it's EPA-approved as both an insecticide and fungicide, and just 15 minutes after spraying, you can go right back into the room. It won’t ruin your fabrics or carpets, and it’s one of the only non-residual products that you can use on mattresses and upholstered furniture. 

Kill COVID While You’re At It

In today's world, Sterifab offers the added benefit of being a virucide - meaning it kills viruses like COVID-19.

The Don’ts of Bed Bug Treatment

If you find that you are playing host to these unwelcome creatures, don’t panic. Your immediate reaction may be to reach for whatever insecticides you have under the kitchen sink or to run to your local hardware store and scoop up a handful of bug bombs and foggers.

A word of advice here: Don’t! 

According to the entomology department at The Ohio State University over-the-counter bug bombs and foggers have little effect on bed bugs – even after direct exposure for two or more hours. Where it’s a home or a business, there are almost always places that bed bugs can hide – sheltered spots where they don’t come into direct contact with fogging mist.

5 more things not to do to get rid of bed bugs:

  1. Don’t start throwing away your mattress or your furniture. Not only will you be throwing away money but there’s a great likelihood that you’ll be dropping bed bugs and their eggs with every move you make. Besides, it probably won’t solve the problem. Bed bugs can hide anywhere  – inside sofa cushions, behind electrical outlets, within the cracks and crevices of baseboards, and even behind picture frames. They can also hide in the folds of curtains, in household appliances, kitchen utensils, and wall hangings.

  2. Don’t waste your money. There’s no need to waste hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new bed and furniture.

  3. Don’t move. Abandoning your home or office won’t help. Even if you do, there’s a very good chance that the bed bugs will come with you. The mere thought of bed bugs can, and has, led people to make rash, often irreversible, decisions. Don’t be among them.

  4. Don’t help the bugs spread. If you start moving furniture or other belongings from room to room before completing treatment, you can make the infestation worse. Same goes for pillows, blankets, or toys. The minute you move these to another room, you risk spreading the problem. If for some reason, you must move things around, take clean pajamas, clean bedding and clean pillows. The same goes for offices. Shifting files, bookcases, and computers may not help. The bed bugs will just come along for the free ride!

  5. Don’t Try Cayenne Pepper! There are a lot of false claims out there about which products actually kill bed bugs. You’ll find bogus articles promoting the use of cayenne pepper, tea tree oil and even baking soda to get rid of bed bugs. If only it were so easy. The truth is, there are very few products that can get rid of bed bugs for good, and even fewer that are non-residual - meaning that they leave no trace.

A Few Tips for Keeping Bed Bugs Out

Of course, you can’t guarantee that bed bugs won’t find their way into your home or office, but there are a few steps you can take to lessen the probability.

  • If you like to visit yard sales be sure to examine any purchases carefully. Remember: bed bugs are devious little critters, and great hitchhikers.

  • Just ask anyone in the pest control business – never, ever buy used mattresses or old couches.

  • When you travel, whether for business or pleasure, check your hotel room for bed bugs. Take a minute to look under the sheets for signs of bed bugs lurking in the mattress or bed springs. If there are bed bugs, they will likely be noticeable.

  • Remember that bed bugs can be classy. Even upscale hotels can harbor these tiny interlopers.

  • Whether at home or on the road, try to keep your belongings off the floor. This goes for places like movie theaters, department store changing rooms, office complexes and grocery stores. Purses, suitcases, backpacks and articles of clothing on the floor can all be tempting snuggle spots for our tiny little enemy.

Make Sure It’s Bed Bugs

Here’s one final tip! Scabies, bed bugs and mites can often cause similar symptoms. If you aren't 100% sure that your bites are from bed bugs, be sure to check out our other articles:

Want those bed bugs gone – for good?


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