Best Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

By HomeAdvisor

Updated January 20, 2021

Pile of bedding on a disheveled bed

The best way to get rid of bed bugs is with extreme heat or cold. However, you can also use EPA-registered insecticides marked specifically for bed bugs. Containing the infestation, cleaning or replacing your mattress and linens and removing clutter from your bedroom ensures they don’t come back.

On this Page:

  1. Best Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
    1. Contain the Infestation
    2. Prepare the Room for Treatment
  2. Best Way to Kill Bed Bugs
    1. Heat and Cold
    2. Insecticides
  3. Fastest Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
  4. Best Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Forever

Bed bugs don’t just disrupt your sleep. They can cause excessive itching that may lead to skin infections, and some people may even have an allergic reaction to them. Unfortunately, it can take weeks to months to get rid of an infestation, unless you choose to hire local bed bug control professionals.

Best Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

The best way to treat bed bugs is to identify where you have a problem, contain the infestation and prepare your room or home for treatment. Skipping any of these steps may lead to you having to start the process all over again.

For many people, itching irritated skin is the first sign of an infestation. However, you may smell a sweet musty odor. Other signs are visual, such as black dots (bed bug droppings) or red spots on your furniture. You may even see the live bugs themselves in places like:

  • In the cracks of the frame of your bed
  • Between your mattress and box springs
  • In the folds of your sheets
  • Between sofa cushions
  • In the corners and joints of your furniture
  • Under loose wallpaper or in the seam where your wallpaper ends
  • Under posters, pictures and other wall hangings
  • In electrical outlets

Contain the Infestation

The best solution for bed bugs once you find them is to contain them. Star by vacuuming everything in the room — all furniture, electronics, carpet and anything else you can’t remove. Seal the contents of your vacuum and dispose of it in an outdoor garbage can. Clean your vacuum cleaner before using it again. 

Seal up any linens in the room, like blankets, sheets, comforters, curtains and clothing. If you have items you can’t clean, discard them in an outdoor garbage can. Otherwise, seal the items up and leave them that way for two to five months.  

Prepare the Room for Treatment

Once you’ve contained the infestation, it’s time to prepare the room for treatment. Clean up clutter off the floor, like books and magazines. Do not move any items out of the infested room into another room in the house as you may end up spreading the infestation.

Move your furniture at least six inches away from your walls. Seal or caulk any nooks and crannies where bed bugs may hide. Put tape over your electrical outlets.

Best Way to Kill Bed Bugs

There are two ways to approach DIY bed bug extermination: using extreme temperatures or using insecticides. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends trying the extreme temperature methods first or hiring a local pest control expert if you decide to use insecticides. 

Heat and Cold

The most effective way to kill bed bugs is to use extreme heat or cold. Temperatures around 115 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and below 32 degrees Fahrenheit usually get the job done.

  • Use a wet or dry steam cleaner on items like carpets, mattresses and sofas.
  • Wash clothing and linens on the highest temperature your washing machine allows.
  • Dry all clothing and linens on high heat for at least one hour.
  • If you live in a hot climate, seal items in black garbage bags and place them outdoors. It should be at least 95 degrees.
  • Leave sealed items in a freezer for at least four days.


Insecticides may seem like the fastest way to kill bed bugs, but they can be dangerous when not used correctly. Make sure you follow all directions on the label and only purchase those registered with the EPA and marked specifically for bed bugs. Your options include: 

  • Products containing pyrethrins and pyrethroids: These products are common, but some bed bugs are resistant to them.
  • Desiccants like diatomaceous earth: These are more effective in the long run compared to chemical pesticides, but they may take longer to work.
  • Neonicotinoids: These products are similar to nicotine and work on bed bugs resistant to other products. But there is some evidence that they can be dangerous to humans and other animals.
  • Fogger or bed bugs: While these work quickly, they don’t usually kill an entire infestation. They’re also dangerous when used incorrectly.

Fastest Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

The easiest way to get rid of bed bugs — and the fastest — is to consult a bed bug treatment expert in your area. They know exactly what to look for and have access to tools that kill bed bugs quickly. Instead of waiting months for an infestation to end, a professional pest control exterminator can treat your home in hours, usually over the course of two to three visits.

Best Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Forever

Keep in mind that a large bed bug infestation may not disappear right away. You may need to go through any of these steps again to get rid of them forever.

Prevent them from coming back reducing clutter, using a protective cover on your mattress, vacuuming frequently, being careful about bringing secondhand items into your home and keeping your clothing in plastic bags if you wash it at a shared laundry facility.

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