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How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Naturally

by SleePare

By Dustin Morgan | 5 minutes Minute Read

You wake up with everyone’s biggest bedroom fear - red bites all over your body. Could it be bed bugs? 

Bed bugs are very small bugs that feed exclusively on the blood of humans and animals. They can live for up to a year without eating, so if you see some it is important to be vigilant.

Bed bugs can be hard to see because they are very small; they grow up to one-quarter of an inch in size and range between 1mm and 7mm in length. They rarely are bigger than a grain of rice and closely resemble an apple seed—they have a wide oval-shaped body that can get as large as one-tenth an inch or 3mm wide. 

bed bugs next to apple seed and ruler marked to 7mm / .25 inch

Like vampires, bed bugs shy away from the light and are often found in mattress seams. They are predatory in nature and are attracted to humans because of our carbon dioxide and warmth. 

Even though they are disgusting, they are not a sign of poor hygiene. Even the cleanest of homes can get bed bugs if they bring in an item that’s come into contact with an infestation.

Bed bugs are hard to get rid of and it may take several weeks to rid your home of the problem. In this guide, we will teach you 39 do-it-yourself ways to deal with bed bugs naturally. 

While some of these remedies will work on their own, it may be best to utilize a few of them together to ensure that the problem is fully eradicated.

a bed bug making this movement with a fire in the top right corner - text: “Heat Based Solutions”

1. Hot Water and Soap

You can use hot water and soap to rid your home of bed bugs. This solution requires you to launder your linens, bedding, curtains, and clothing in soap and the hottest recommended washing setting possible. When done dry completely on the hottest setting the fabric can stand this step is best done after you’ve ensured they haven’t spread anywhere else.

2. Dryer

If you have stuffed animals or other small fabric items that cannot be washed, placing them in the dryer on its highest setting for 30 minutes can help to reduce and remove bed bugs and their eggs from the items. This method uses the dry heat of the dryer to kill the bed bugs naturally.

hand holding hairdryer  text: “30 seconds of heat will kill bed bugs.”

3. Hairdryer

You can use a simple blow-dryer to kill bed bugs with heat. Take a hairdryer on its hottest heat setting but lowest airflow setting and blow the hot air on any area where bed bugs might be hiding. 

After 30 seconds of continuous heat, the bugs should be dead. Is great for books and papers that cannot be placed in the dryer.

4. Steam Cleaning

If you have a steamer at your disposal you can use the relatively harmless power of heated water to kill bed bugs. This method uses water, heated to 150°F to kill and drive out bed bugs from cracks, crevices, and soft furniture. Be careful as heated steam can ruin the finish on some furniture items.

bed bug heater - text: “Use heaters to create a tent oven.”

5. Bed Bug Heaters

There are special bed bug heating devices that you can purchase on pest control websites that can help to harness the power of heat to help you kill bed bugs. 

You can use them with attachments to create a tent oven that will help to kill bed bugs that have infested papers, books, bedding, clothes, and shoes.

6. Place Items in Bags in the Hot Sun

With this method, you harness the heat from the sun to remove bed bugs from your items. Place and seal items in plastic and place them in the sun for a few days. This only works well in hotter climates or during hot summer days as the bags need to get to at least 118°F.

illustration - a bed bug on a dustpan text: “Removal Solutions”

7. A Stiff Brush

You can use a little elbow grease to help you remove bed bugs from mattress seams and other furniture. Take a stiff brush, and rapidly move it across affected areas removing the bed bug’s attachment to the furniture. Follow this up by a thorough vacuuming the surface. 

8. Vacuum

This method works by removing bed bugs from carpets and other objects like couches and sofas. When you employ this method, it is important to ensure that you immediately remove the vacuum contents from the house in a tightly sealed plastic bag. You may need to repeat the process frequently in order to ensure full eradication of the bed bugs. 

mattress cover with zipper - text “Tightly woven covers can help seal bed bugs away.”

9. Cover Mattress and Box Spring

Available at the mattress store, these tightly woven covers can be slipped over mattresses and box springs to seal bed bugs inside so that they can no longer feed. 

Bed bugs can live without food for up to a year, so you will need to keep these special sealed covers on for at least a year to rid yourself of the problem.

10. Seal Crevices and Cracks

The method will not get rid of a bed bug infestation problem completely but when employed with other methods is quite effective in reducing re-infestation. 

For this method, you will need to use caulk or other sealants like glue to repair holes in your walls or peeling wallpaper. Try to seal all places where wires and pipes penetrate as well as cracks around baseboards. 

mattress salesman - text: “You may need to rid your home of infested mattresses."

11. Buy a New Mattress

Often it can be best to give up the fight against bed bugs and simply purchase a new mattress. This solution will likely help you get rid of the bulk of the infestation. 

Many times, bed bugs come into a home because someone purchases an old or used piece of furniture so you may need to remove that item and replace it. You may need to remove and replace any infested items as well

a bed bug stuck to a glue trap text: “Sticky Solutions”

12. Place Items in Bags with Glue Traps

For this method to work, you will need to place all the items you can in plastic bags with glue traps (also known as sticky traps) to collect the bed bugs. 

You will then need to seal the bed bugs in and keep them from getting out, you can do this by using tape to seal the bags closed. The glue traps will capture the bed bugs and you should leave them in these bags for at least two weeks.

13. Double-Sided Tape

This method works by trapping bed bugs as they try to crawl around on items. You can place double-sided tape along the feet of a bed frame or other furniture. This method also works as a great way to determine the extent of the infestation.

double-sided tape in hand - text: “Wrap double-sided tape around bed legs to catch bed bugs.”

14. Duct Tape

Like with double-sided tape, this method will trap bed bugs as they attempt to enter or exit a piece of furniture. 

For this to work you will need to wrap the duct-tape around the bed frames feet with the sticky side facing out. You can also use duct tape to remove bed bugs and their eggs from mattresses and the frames by making a loop with the sticky side out and rubbing it along the infested areas, as well as inspect the level of infestation in your home.

15. Bean Leaves

Kidney bean plant leaves have microscopic hairs that can entangle and impale the limbs of critters. 

You can place the leaves on floors and areas where bed bugs have been seen. Replace the leaves regularly to ensnare as many of the creatures as possible. This can also be a great way to determine the extent of your infestation.

kidney bean leaves - text: “Place bean leaves in high traffic areas to trap bugs.

16. Glue Traps

Stores sell specific bed bug glue traps that can be placed in high traffic bed bug areas to gather bed bugs. Using this method alone will take a long time to work, but it can be a great way to see the full extent of your infestation.

17. Interceptors

Interceptors are dual-well cups that are placed under the feet of bed frames. These items have a dual-well that not only prevents bed bugs from crawling up furniture but catches them sort of like glue traps. To ensure that the treatment works, you will need to keep the bed and bedding away from floors and walls.

bed bugs dying - text “Killing Solutions”

18. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs and their eggs on contact. To use this method we recommend 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. 

Pour it undiluted into a spray bottle and spray directly on the insects. Make sure you use it in a well-ventilated area and be careful as alcohol is highly flammable. 

19. Wintergreen Alcohol

Wintergreen alcohol is a mix of wintergreen oil and isopropyl alcohol together. This natural bed bug killer works by drying out or burning bed bugs and their eggs. 

To use this method, spray the undiluted alcohol product directly onto the bugs and eggs. Remember that alcohol is highly flammable.

green fluid in a spray bottle - text: “Spray undiluted wintergreen alcohol directly on bugs and eggs.”

20. Vinegar

Take white distilled vinegar and put it in a spray bottle, undiluted. Spraying this will kill bed bugs but not eggs. 

One way to use this natural solution is to soak the perimeter of an affected area with vinegar and then spray directly on the bugs. This will ensure that any bugs that are not killed immediately will still come in contact with the vinegar.

21. Baking Soda

Like with isopropyl alcohol this method absorbs moisture out of bed bug bodies and eggs, killing them.

As baking soda is relatively safe for humans and most animals, you can spread baking soda around in cracks, crevices, furniture, and carpets. Make sure to vacuum up and reapply every few days for the best results.

 baking soda - text: “Spread baking soda in around in cracks, crevices, furniture, and carpets.”

22. Silica Gel

Often found inside of newly purchased clothing packages or shoes, these little packets are filled with silicon dioxide which is essentially porous sand that works to absorb moisture. 

This method works by opening the packets and spreading the powder in cracks and crevices; however, be careful about where you put this substance because it can be harmful to children and small animals.

23. Diatomaceous Earth

A powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms; diatomaceous earth is full of silica. This product works by using its sharp edges to cut the insect allowing the silica to get inside and dry them out. 

You can spread diatomaceous earth around in the seams of your mattress and along the rails of box springs without being worried about harsh chemicals. Try to keep the substance away from children and animals so that they don’t ingest it.

diatomaceous earth - text: “Diatomaceous earth is safe to spread along mattress seams.”

24. Cat Litter

Cat litter has silica gel in it to help it absorb moisture. You can place this in cracks to help kill the bed bugs by removing moisture from their bodies as with other methods of this type. 

Cat litter tends to be a relatively inert substance and while it should be carefully placed in homes with small children and animals, it typically doesn’t have harsh chemicals.

25. Beauveria Bassiana

Beauveria Bassiana is a parasitic fungus that feeds on insects like bed bugs. This product can be found in stores as a natural home bug killer. 

To use this product take the powder and make it into a spray. Spray directly on the areas affected by bed bugs. Keep in mind, it can take a few days to a few weeks to completely rid your home of the problem pest.

beauveria bassiana - text: “Beauveria bassiana is a fungus feeds on bed bugs!”

26. Pyrethrum

Pyrethrum, pyrethrin, is an extract made from mums or chrysanthemums. The way this product works is by attacking the nervous system of a bed bug. 

To use this method take the extract and make it into a diluted spray. Spray the solution onto all areas where bugs are present and repeat until the problem is gone.

bed bugs running away from a spray bottle spraying - text: Repelling Solutions

27. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural bed bug repellant. To repel bed bugs from mattresses and other infested areas make a solution of 20 drops of tea tree oil and a cup or two of water. 

Put this solution into a spray bottle and spray the infested area. Undiluted tea tree oil will kill bed bugs but is harmful to humans.

28. Scented Dryer Sheets

This method is only a temporary repellant. Scented dryer sheets work to annoy the bed bugs causing them to seek out a different area. This will only repel the bugs and will not kill them.

lavender oil - text: “Add 20 drops of lavender oil to water and spray in affected areas.”

29. Lavender

The way that lavender works to get rid of bed bugs is that it makes them nauseous and they hate the way they smell. Since they dislike the lavender scent they will move out of areas where it is sprayed.

To use as a repellent, take 20 drops of lavender oil and add it to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray the solution in affected areas and anywhere else you wish to deter bed bugs from entering.

30. Peppermint

Peppermint is also another excellent natural bed bug repellent. The way this method works is you can either take the leaves of a peppermint plant or the essential oil and place it around the areas where you see bed bugs. 

The scent of the plant will drive them away. If you are using the plant remember to remove and replace the leaves until your problem is solved. For the essential oil, use it just as you would with lavender. 

black walnut tea - text: “Place used tea bag in an infested area and replace every few days.”

31. Black Walnut Tea

Black walnut tea works by repelling bed bugs from the locations that they choose to call home. You simply place your used black walnut tea bags in areas affected by bed bugs. Remember to replace every few days and use another method to kill the bugs to get rid of a deep infestation.

32. Sweet Flag

Also known as calamus root or sweetgrass, a sweet flag is a natural bed bug repellant that can help you to rid your home of bed bugs. 

You can either take powder packets or the essential oil and add them to water. For essential oils, add at least 20 drops to a spray bottle filled with water. Spray this solution in all areas and repeat until they are completely gone.

Indian lilac - text: “Spread crushed Indian lilac leaves around infested areas.”

33. Indian Lilac

You can either crush the leaves and spread them around areas that you want the bed bugs to leave or you can create a solution by boiling the leaves. 

You strain the solution and add it to your bathwater as a personal repellant. Additionally, you can take the solution and add it to a spray bottle and spray in closets, on furniture, and around your home, this will only repel the bed bugs so you will need another method like steam cleaning your home to completely wipe out the problem.

34. Thyme

For this method, you take a stick of thyme and wrap it with a thick cloth string. You then burn it, much like you burn sage, near infested areas, repeat this every few days until the bed bugs are gone. When using this method make sure to practice fire safety to avoid burning down your house. 

mint leaves - text: “Place mint leaves on your mattresses and in closets.”

35. Mint

Mint is another natural bed bug repellant. To use this method you need to crush mint leaves and place the crushed leaves near entry points and affected areas. This will dissuade bugs from entering. You can also place the leaves on mattresses and in closets.

36. Lemongrass

The acid levels in lemongrass kill bed bugs and their eggs, it also serves as a repellent. To use this method, take a high concentration of the essential oil and make a spray to use on all affected areas. Make sure to repeat until the bugs are completely gone. You can ensure they are gone by using one of the trapping methods from earlier in this article.

clove oil - text: “Use clove oil mixed with water to spray on bed bug infested areas.”

37. Cloves

Cloves act in the same way as lemongrass. To kill and repel bed bugs from your home naturally with this method, you use cloves or clove oil to make a spray and spray in all areas that you want to get rid of the bugs. You can also place clove oil directly on mattresses and pillows.

38. Cayenne Pepper Solution

To create this solution you need a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ground ginger, and oregano oil. Add the ingredients to two cups of water and then strain out the solids. 

This solution will kill and repel bed bugs from areas where you spray it. Spray everywhere that you can. Be careful as you do not want to ruin fabrics or get this solution in your eyes.

group of essential oils - text: “Create a solution of lavender, rosemary, peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus oils to spray around the home.”

39. Essential Oils Mix

Take 10 drops each of lemongrass, clove, peppermint, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and cinnamon and add it into one cup of water. 

Put the solution into a spray bottle and spray around your home liberally. This method makes use of a number of different essential oils to create a natural bed bug solution that works effectively.

Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation

Before trying any of these methods, you will want to make sure that you do have an actual bed bug problem and not something else. There are a number of signs that you may have a problem, the list of those signs are as follows:

Bites

bed bug bites text: “Red bites in lines or groups”

Look for little red bites on your skin. They will often be in either groups or lines as bed bugs like to feed in groups as they move. Often the bites will itch but some people do not have an allergic reaction to bed bugs so they may not.

Stains

bed bug stains text: “Red, rust-colored stains”

If you see red or rust-colored stains on your mattress they may have been created by bed bugs. These stains are made from either bleeding at feeding spots or from crushing bed bugs in your sleep.

Egg Shells

bed bug eggs text “Small yellowish-white eggs”

Bed bugs lay tiny ivory-colored eggs. Often they will look similar to either sesame seeds or very small pieces of rice. They are typically found in clusters on the underside of mattresses or in the seams.

Bugs

bed bugs text: “Brown, oval bugs”

If you see a lot of tiny oval-shaped brownish colored bugs you likely have a problem. The best places to check for bed bugs are in the seams of your mattress away from the light, you may need a flashlight for this.

Odor

coriander text: “Bed bugs often smell like coriander”

Bed bugs give off a musty odor from their scent glands. People have often described the scent as smelling like coriander or cilantro. Others have said that the smell is reminiscent of wet shoes or moldy and wet clothing.

Black Dots

bed bug poop stains on mattress text: “Little black dots”

Everybody poops, even bedbugs. If you see a lot of little black dots that resemble ashes or coffee grounds, you may have a bed bug problem. These little black dots are either bed bug excrement or the exoskeletons that come from bed bugs molting as they grow.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Depending on the stage of their life a bed bug will look different. They also have a different appearance if they have eaten recently. 

Adult bed bugs tend to be reddish-brown in color but nymphs or young bed bugs are lighter. Nymphs start out translucent in color and become browner as they molt and reach maturity. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump but do have vestigial wings. 

When bed bugs have fed they tend to have a bulbous red body, this comes from them being filled with blood. Other bugs that resemble bed bugs are bat bugs, swallow bugs, poultry bugs, baby (nymph) cockroaches, fleas, and spider beetles. 

To help you better determine if that bug you saw was a bed bug, here’s a list of characteristics.

close up image of bed bug with blood in it text: “Bed bug after feeding”

Adult Bed Bugs

  • Size of an apple seed
  • Long flat oval-shaped body
  • Balloon-like and reddish-brown if they’ve fed recently
  • Smelly, musty but sweet odor
  • Antenna with four parts
  • Short golden hairs
  • A three-segment beak
  • Male is larger than female

Young (Nymph) Bed Bugs

young bed bugs - text: “Nymph bed bug after eating”

  • Smaller than an apple seed
  • Translucent, ivory, or white-yellow color
  • Red balloon-like back when they’ve fed recently

Eggs

bed bug eggs - text: “Tiny pearl-colored eggs”

  • Pearl-white color
  • Looks like tiny rice or sesame seeds
  • If 5 days old has a red eyespot

Dealing with bed bugs can be a hassle and can take a lot of time and effort. Often, it can be easier to get rid of mattresses and furniture that has become infested with bed bugs. If you are looking to replace a mattress, try our mattress compare tool to find the best one for your needs.

 
Dustin Morgan

Dustin Morgan


Dustin is the lead content creator at SleePare. With a degree in Computer Science and extensive experience reviewing mattresses, curating comparisons and advising on "best of" guides, he's truly a mattress technology expert.

Dustin has perfected this method by personally testing over 200 different mattresses, so he's not only able to discern the overall value of a specific bed, but to assign its value to different types of sleepers.

Along with creating honest and straightforward mattress features, Dustin enjoys creating pieces aimed at helping people get their best sleep ever.

When he's not creating helpful content, Dustin enjoys jogging, fishing, hunting and playing video games in and around his Virginia home.