Before we get too far into this guide, please realize that we are not experts on bed bugs or insects. But we are experts on mattresses, so we know how personal they are to each individual and how expensive they are to replace. Sleeping is very important to every day function and your mattress is arguably the most important tool for sleep, so you want to protect it. Hopefully this guide will help you ditch those bed bugs, or maybe even prevent them in the first place.

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What Causes Or Attracts Bed Bugs?

Bed beds are attracted to warmth, blood, and carbon dioxide. Basically, our living bodies. While many people think that a filthy or dirty environment attracts them, the truth is that bed bugs can live anywhere, as long as there are people around to provide food for them.

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

Bed bugs can be found in all 50 states in America, and all over the world. Bed bugs can come from transportation such as buses, trains, planes, cruise liners, and taxi cabs. They can also be found in nursing homes, daycares, schools, hospitals, hotels… I think you get the picture. Since bed bugs are “hitchhiking” insects, they can be found anywhere, at any time.

How To Prevent Bed Bugs

how to prevent bed bugs

There are many ways to help prevent a bed bug infestation. Here are a few major ones:

1. Store clothing in airtight bags or containers. If it’s airtight, they can’t get in. This is very important when traveling, so that the bed bugs can’t come home with you.
2. Cover your power outlets. Bed bugs can hide in power outlets, and in really bad infestations, travel through your walls to travel to other areas of your home or office.
3. Always check used items. This obviously applies to clothes and furniture, but check your electronics, as well. Things like video game consoles, DVD players, laptops, etc. have vents in them that are perfect for bed bugs to hide in.
4. Vacuum often. Bed bugs can hide in your carpet, so make sure to vacuum your floor (especially where the floor meets the wall), your mattress, and even your box spring if you can. If you suspect you may have bed bugs, be sure to dispose of your vacuum bag properly.
5. Pets! Your pets are susceptible to bed bugs, too. Wash your pet’s bed in hot water every couple of months to help prevent bugs.
6. Cover your mattress. Mattress protectors are cheap on Amazon and also keep your mattress clean. Note that a mattress protector will help prevent against an infestation, not help to get rid of a current one. You may also want to cover your box spring, as well, as bed bugs like to live in there, too.

Are There Bed Bug Mattress Protectors And Covers?

Yes there are, but be careful with which type of protector you use. Studies have shown that bed bugs can move through closed zippers if they’re not tight enough, and the material used for the cover must be strong enough, as well, or else you could possibly be protecting and fostering the bed bugs instead of starving them out. We recommend the Protect-A-Bed brand mattress protector, which can be ordered from Amazon.

Signs To Tell If You Have Bed Bugs

signs bed bugs

You don’t need any fancy equipment or a specialist to know if you have a bed bug problem. You really just need your senses.

The first thing you may notice is their smell. They release pheromones that have a musty odor, and in large numbers, the smell can be quite strong. Bed bugs are also nocturnal; they hide during the day and come out at night while you’re sleeping to feed. Because of this, it’s very rare to see a bed bug.

But, there are also a couple tells visible to the human eye. One thing to look for is small, itchy, red bites. They are flat, red welts that usually form in small clusters or patches on the body. Oh, and did we mention that they’re really itchy and that scratching them can lead to bleeding?

You can also look for spots on your sheets. After bed bugs bite you, they’ll leave behind blood stains that look like small rust spots. They’re typically found near the edges or corners of the bed. Bed bugs also molt (shed their skin), so you may also find their oval and brown exoskeletons.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Identifying a bug bed will help you differentiate them from fleas or ticks, so that you can treat your bug infestation properly. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color, and have oval shaped bodies similar to an apple seed.

bed bug
Example of what a bed bug looks like

If they’re not fed, they’re flat, but if they are, picture a tiny brown balloon. Some other bugs that look similar are carpet beetles, lice, spider beetles, bat bugs, and fleas.

Process To Check For And Find Bed Bugs

check for bed bugs

Use the acronym DREAM to help check your home for bugs, and also when traveling and staying in hotel rooms, airbnbs, and hostels. Keep in mind that bed bugs are nocturnal, so it’s rare to find them during the day.

Determine which surfaces show signs of infestation. Bed bugs like warmth, so start with your mattress or pet’s bed.
Raise furniture to look for bed bugs, like under the mattress, bed frame, and headboard.
Examine your clothes and luggage.
Assess your luggage while repacking, and always keep your suitcase off the bed.
Move all of your clothing into your dryer on its highest setting for 15 minutes if you think you have an infestation or when you come back from traveling. This will hopefully kill any bugs hiding in your clothes.

How To Get Rid Of And Kill Bed Bugs

The best thing to do if you know you have a bed bug infestation is to call a professional, always. They will have the proper tools, products, and knowledge of how to get rid of your bed bug problem. If that isn’t an option for you, we recommend some natural home remedies, as other products can be toxic to you, your family, and your pets if not used properly.

Natural Home Remedies For Bed Bugs

One option is petroleum jelly. Use a petroleum jelly product like Vaseline and wipe it all over the feet of your bed and other common surfaces to catch these awful little creatures. Some say that the smell repels them, others say it makes surfaces too slippery for them to successfully climb up, and others say that the critters get caught in the jelly and get stuck there.

kill bed bugs jelly

Another natural method to consider is vinegar. Because vinegar is a strong acetic acid, it can disrupt bed bug’s nervous system. Simply just fill up a spray bottle with some vinegar and spray down the entirety of the affected area, including the perimeter. This is so that if the bed bugs try to escape, they’ll die when encountering the vinegar that surrounds them. Next, spray the vinegar directly on the bed bugs (or where you think they are).

kill bed bugs vinegar

Both of these methods are good for short term relief, but if you have a major issue, please call a professional.

Essential Oils For Bed Bugs

Essential oils are effective for both repelling and killing bed bugs. Put 10 drops of cinnamon oil, lemongrass oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil, thyme oil, tea tree oil, or eucalyptus oil into a spray bottle full of water, and go crazy with it.

kill bed bugs essential oils

Remember that your bed will smell of whatever essential oils you choose to use, so use something that you like, or even a blend. Try a mix of ten drops of lavender essential oil, six drops of lemongrass oil, six drops of tea tree oil, and ten drops of thyme oil.

RELATED: Shop Essential Oils On Amazon

What Is The Heat Temperature Treatment?

This is a method of using extreme heat to kill off your bed bugs. A pest professional will bring in some special equipment to raise the temperature in your home or bedroom to 118 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill both the bugs and their eggs, and is chemical free.

Difference Between Flea vs Bed Bug Bites

Fleas tend to bite the lower body, around the ankles and on the legs. Bed bugs tend to bite areas of the body that are exposed during sleep, like the arms. Fleas also prefer to feed on animals, while bed bugs prefer humans (who knew blood sucking insects could have preferences?).

flea bite
Example of flea bites

Flea bites will look red, swollen, and maybe somewhat blotchy. Bed bug bites will be smaller and have harder lumps like a mosquito bite. Both will be itchy, but bed bug bites will sometimes pop when scratched, which can lead to bleeding.

What About Mosquito vs Bed Bug Bites?

While these bites can look and feel similar, bed bug bites are often more clustered together and have a distinct bite pattern.

Also take note of when the bug bites appeared. If they showed up after a night spent outside, they’re probably mosquito bites. If you noticed them in the morning after sleeping, they are probably bed bug bites.

Carpet Beetles vs Bed Bugs

Carpet beetles will damage your furniture and carpet, while bed bugs bite your skin and suck your blood. Also, carpet beetles can fly and bed bugs can’t.

Scabies vs Bed Bugs

While both scabies and bed bugs feed on your blood, scabies do it from the inside of your body and bed bugs do it from the outside. Scabies burrow underneath the skin to feed and lay their eggs, and they’re invisible to the naked eye. They’re also called human itch mites, or our worst nightmares.

Tick vs Bed Bug

Unfortunately, ticks and bed bugs look very similar and both feed on human blood. The easiest way to tell them apart is to note that bed bugs usually breed very rapidly, so you’ll have numerous bites, but ticks don’t, so you will probably only have one or two bites.

An example of a tick

Ticks carry a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis spotted fever, so make sure to see a doctor if you think that you’ve been bitten by a tick.

Body Lice vs Bed Bugs

Body lice are tiny insects that live in your clothing, and feed on your blood just like bed bugs do. Lice lives on the skin while bed bugs will feed at night and then retreat back into your furniture. And just so you know, there is a difference between body lice, head lice, and pubic lice.

Dust Mites vs Bed Bugs

Dust mites are almost microscopic, and are light in color. Bed bugs are about half a centimeter and are reddish brown colored. Also, bed bugs feed off human blood while dust mites feed off the dead skin cells that humans shed.

Frequently Asked Questions:

We’ve included a list of commonly asked questions pertaining to bed bugs. We hope these answers help you learn how to get rid of bed bugs for good.

What Are Some Other Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs?

Some other bugs that look similar are black carpet beetles, lice, spider beetles, wood ticks, and fleas.

Do Bed Bugs Carry Diseases?

Thankfully, no, bed bugs are not known for spreading or carrying diseases. The discomfort they cause can lead to a loss of sleep, and sometimes excessive itching and scratching can increase the chance of a secondary skin infection appearing.

Are There Bed Bug Sprays I Can Buy?

There are, but a professional should really be administering them. Most commercial insecticides will kill bed bugs if applied very carefully and directly to the problem, but there is a risk of harming yourself if not done properly. For more information, you can read the EPA Consumer Alert on pesticides and bed bugs.

Do Bed Bugs Jump?

Bed bugs cannot jump long distances like ticks or fleas can. They mostly move around by just crawling.

Do Bed Bugs Have Wings?

No, bed bugs do not have wings and they are incapable of flight. They mostly move around by just crawling.

How Long Does It Take For Bed Bug Eggs To Hatch?

Female bed bugs only lay a few eggs a day, but somewhere between 200 to 250 eggs in their lifetime. The eggs usually take six to 10 days to hatch, and insecticides can’t kill them, so you’ll need to do continual treatment to completely get rid of bed bugs.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live?

If there isn’t a host around to feed off of, bed bugs can still survive for around a year long, and possibly even longer in colder weather. If they do have a host around to feed off of, they like to have a blood meal about two to three times a week. Newly hatched little bed bugs will die if they don’t have a blood meal within a few days, and bed bugs can’t lay eggs if they don’t have a blood meal.

Can Bed Bugs Live In Your Hair?

It’s very unlikely that they would. Bugs like lice and ticks have special claws that are designed to help them crawl through hair, but bed bugs don’t, so they can’t attach themselves well.

Can Alcohol Or Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

Alcohol can aid the fight against bed bugs. Rubbing alcohol has shown it can dissolve their cells and dry their eggs out, but it probably won’t cure the entire problem.

Bleach does kill bed bugs, but it’s probably not the best idea to spray bleach all over your bed, sheets, and furniture.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Bed Bugs?

It can, but it’s not strong enough to treat your bed bug problem entirely. To use diatomaceous earth, make sure there is nothing on your floor and all of your furniture is moved away from the walls, then start sprinkling the diatomaceous earth pretty much everywhere, including small openings. Vacuum it up after seven days and re-do as needed.

Can Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs?

No. Baking soda can be used for a lot of things, including soaking up that musty smell bed bugs leave, but it can’t kill them.

Does Lysol Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, but you’ll need to apply it directly, and remember that too much Lysol spray can be dangerous to your health. Lysol also won’t kill the eggs that the bed bugs have laid around your home. We recommend you just call a professional.

Does Borax Kill Bed Bugs?

Yeah, it can definitely help your bed bug problem by helping to treat your mattress and clothes. Borax helps to suffocate the bed bugs. First, sprinkle Borax all over your mattress, then spray it down with water. Let it sit for a couple of hours, and then vacuum it up.

Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

Tea tree oil can kill bed bugs by soaking into the insect’s exoskeleton and suffocating them, but it must be undiluted. Undiluted tea tree oil can be harmful to human skin and toxic to pets, so be very careful when using it to treat for bed bugs.

Refer back to our essential oils section above to see other essential oil options for treating bed bugs.

Do Bed Bugs Bite Dogs?

Technically they can, but probably not. Bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood and don’t have the claws to move through your pet’s hair or fur.