Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs
Do you get constantly annoyed by the tiny bed bugs at home? Are you looking for easy ways to drive them away? Here are some home remedies for bed bugs that could help you do it.
By V Saravana Kumar
Bed bugs are often called ‘nuisance pests’. They don’t cause any major illness but can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety to homeowners. They hide in small cracks and crevices and can be found around wooden furniture, mattresses, upholstery and furnishings. With so many places to hide and thrive, homeowners are often left wondering about how to get rid of bed bugs.
"Bed bugs are the most difficult pests to treat. Their biology, harbourage selection behavior, multiple re-infestation routes and complex management strategies require simultaneous application of several control tactics.Bed bug treatment is a very laborious job. You cannot get rid of bed bugs only by vacuuming. Depending upon the extent of the infestation, it may take several treatments to fully resolve the problem. Hence, it is recommended to hire an expert for managing your bed bug issue." – Zakir Hussain, General Manager - Technical Training, at Rentokil PCI.
There are quite a few home remedies for bed bugs. But, before getting to know the different home remedies to kill bed bugs, here are a few things you should know about these little, stubborn pests.
About bed bugs
- Bed bugs' feeding habits: Bed bugs primarily feed on human blood. They can consume quantities equal to six times their own body weight. Although they have such a huge appetite, they can survive without food for up to 200 days.
- Bed bugs' habitat: They thrive in sub-tropical climates and congested places. This is a reason why bed bug infestation is a common problem in the urban cities of India.
- How bed bugs reach your home: As bed bugs can travel within bags, suitcases or items of clothing, this menace is prevalent everywhere and is not restricted to certain cities or villages. The symptoms of bed bug presence in your house include dark red spots or rusty stains, and rice-shaped pale yellow eggs on bed sheets and mattresses.
Home remedies to get rid of bed bugs
The easiest way to get rid of bed bugs is by using pesticides, chemical sprays or boric powder. But with the high amount of toxins involved in the bed bug termination process, it needs to be handled by pest control service experts. However, there are also certain simple home remedies to get rid of bed bugs that are very effective. In fact, there are some Indian home remedies to get rid of bed bugs which do not involve the use of toxic or dangerous material. Here's a list of home remedies to kill bed bugs:
Also known as sodium bicarbonate, this is an essential ingredient in baking. But it is also an effective bed bug exterminator. Baking soda absorbs moisture from the bodies of bed bugs, eventually killing them. It's a simple yet very effective remedy for bed bugs.
How to use it: Spread a thin layer of baking soda throughout the affected rooms, covering all the areas where you think there is bed bug infestation. Let it remain for a whole week. After that, you can clean it up along with the dead bugs, using a vacuum cleaner.
Consisting of fossilised remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae, diatomaceous earth is found in soft sedimentary rocks. It is available in the form of fine powder in stores. It absorbs moisture from the bodies of bed bugs, thereby dehydrating and killing them eventually. This is one of the best natural remedies for bed bugs.
How to use it: You need to spread the fine powder all over cracks and crevices where bed bugs live. Leave it for up to 10 days to work, and then clean it up along with the dead bugs.
Tea tree oil
Also known as melaleuca oil, this fresh-smelling essential oil has antimicrobial properties and acts as a pest control agent. The oil contains many phytochemicals and kills the bed bugs as it enters into their system.
How to use it: Add about 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with water. Shake well and use this bed bugs remedy spray on affected areas. Do this once every week until the bed bugs are eliminated. This homemade bed bug killer is another effective natural remedy.
Lavender oil and peppermint oil
Most of us like the fragrance of lavender oil. But it is also effective in containing bed bug infestation. These oils contain phytochemicals that eventually kill bed bugs. They also destroy the eggs of bed bugs. Peppermint oil, which has a high menthol content, also has powerful bug-repellent properties.
How to use it: Fill a spray bottle with water and add about 15 drops of lavender oil and 15 drops of peppermint oil. Shake well and spray this liquid on infested areas. Use this homemade bed bug killer once every week until the bed bugs are completely destroyed.
Oil from lemongrass is known to be a good analgesic and helps with pain relief. Apart from this, it has good antimicrobial properties too. The strong acid levels in the oil kill the bed bugs and their eggs.
How to use it: Fill a spray bottle with water and add about 100ml of lemongrass oil. Shake well and spray this liquid on infested areas. If you have been wondering how to make homemade bed bug spray, this is one way to do it.
The oil is extracted from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree. It is highly effective in getting rid of bed bugs due to its strong antimicrobial properties.
How to use it: Fill a spray bottle with water and add about 200ml of neem oil. Shake well and spray this liquid on infested areas. Do this once or twice every day until the bed bugs are eliminated.
The antibacterial and insect repellent properties of neem leaves make them one of the most effective home remedies to get rid of bed bugs permanently.
How to use it: Crush the neem leaves and stuff them in small net bags. Place these net bags on the spots where bed bugs thrive. Repeat this process once in two days until the bed bugs are totally eliminated.
Just like peppermint oil, peppermint leaves can also be used to get rid of bed bugs, as they have high menthol content.
How to use it: Take a few cups of dried peppermint leaves and crush them finely. Spread the crushed leaves on the areas infested with bed bugs. Repeat this once every week until you get rid of the bed bugs completely.
Black walnut tea
This is a natural insect repellent which has antifungal, antibacterial, insecticidal and repellent properties that eliminate bed bugs.
How to use it: Take used black walnut tea bags and put them in the infested areas. Repeat this once every week until the bed bugs are eliminated completely.
This is a popular medicinal plant used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has strong antimicrobial properties which makes it a powerful home remedy to get rid of bed bugs.
How to use it: Buy dried sweet flag rhizomes from the market and powder them well. Mix about 100g of the powder with 1 litre of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray it around infested areas. Do this once every week until the bed bugs are eliminated.
These leaves are a great way to get rid of bed bugs. The tiny spikes present on the leaves entangle the bugs, eventually eliminating them.
How to use it: Spread the bean leaves on areas that are infested with bed bugs and leave them for a day or two. Once the bed bugs are caught, you can clean them up.
Thyme leaves and thyme oil
Thyme is an aromatic, evergreen herb. Thyme leaves and thyme oil have high antimicrobial properties and are effective bug repellents.
How to use it: Put some thyme leaves in a metal bowl and burn them near bed bug-infested spots. The smoke that rises will kill the bed bugs. Repeat this once every day until the bed bugs are completely eradicated. If you are using the oil, mix it with an equal amount of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray this liquid on infested areas. Do this once every week until the bed bugs are totally exterminated.
Oil extracted from clove contains eugenol, a compound that is toxic to bed bugs. This, along with the acidic pH level and pungent odour, makes clove oil an effective home remedy for bed bugs.
How to use it: Take a spray bottle and mix clove oil and water in the ratio of 1 teaspoon:1 cup respectively. Shake well and spray this liquid on infested areas. Do this once or twice every day until the bed bugs are totally eliminated.
Cayenne pepper, oregano and ginger mix
The strong, pungent odour of cayenne pepper, along with the high phenolic content of oregano and antimicrobial properties of ginger, makes this a potent combination to get rid of bed bugs.
How to use it: Take one teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, grated ginger and oregano and put them in a pan. Add one cup of water and boil the mixture. Strain the boiled and cooled liquid and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray this liquid on areas that are infested with bed bugs. Do this once or twice every day until the bed bugs are completely exterminated.
The acetic acid present in vinegar is strong enough to kill bed bugs by disrupting their nervous system. White vinegar, which is stronger than apple cider vinegar is recommended for bed bug eradication.
How to use it: Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the liquid on infested areas. This is an effective homemade spray to kill bed bugs.
Precautions to be taken while using these natural remedies
All these natural remedies for bed bugs are non-toxic and don’t have any serious health effects. But, some of these may cause mild allergies to certain people. As a general precaution, it is safe to wear a face mask and a pair of gloves during all the processes. Here are some allergic reactions you should watch out for:
- Baking soda may cause itching, redness and swelling on the skin.
- Diatomaceous earth has tiny shards of rock which might damage your lungs if inhaled. So, don’t use it on your mattress or other furnishings.
- Some essential oils used for bed bug treatment may cause minor allergic reactions such as skin irritation, itching and redness.
- Vinegar’s high acidic property can sometimes cause skin burn.
Home remedies for bed bug bites
Here are some simple home remedies to treat bed bug bites:
- Calamine lotion: Its cooling effect relieves itching and protects the skin.
- Toothpaste: It soothes the burning sensation and itching.
- Aloe vera: Fresh aloe vera gel contains amino acids that relieve itching and burning sensation.
- Lemon juice: It is a natural astringent and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It reduces itchiness, redness and swelling.
How to keep bed bugs away
Even though these home remedies for bed bugs give good results, they might not be as effective and long-lasting as chemical pesticides. So, in order to keep the bed bugs away even after these treatments, you need to follow certain procedures. Here they are:
- Patch up all the cracks and crevices in your house.
- Throw away all unnecessary things and clean up the clutter.
- Wash and heat-dry your blankets, bed sheets, bedspreads and curtains regularly.
- Whenever you travel, keep all your clothing in vacuum-sealed bags.
- Protect your mattress using a mattress cover.
- Do a thorough inspection of your furniture regularly and seal any hole or crack immediately.
- Whenever you travel, check your hotel room for bed bug infestation.
- Thoroughly clean all your suitcases and bags after every trip.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to clean your home regularly.
- Always keep your furnishings moisture-free.
"The current bed bug management trend is to focus more on preventing bed bug infestations. For, as the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. Follow these tips to keep bed bugs away from your home:
• Bed bugs are hitchhikers and can travel easily from one place to another through people's clothing or their belongings. Hence, after returning from travel, check your bags and other personal belongings for bed bugs.
• All washable items should be washed at minimum 60°C temperature or sent for laundry / dry cleaning.
• Vacuum clean items that cannot be washed, for example, travel bags. After cleaning, keep them in the storeroom. You can keep items like blankets, rugs and quilts in hermetic condition by putting them into ‘Super Grain Bags’ for at least 15 days.
• Avoid purchasing second-hand furniture, especially beds and sofas. But, if you have to, then, before purchasing,inspect the used furniture for bed bug infestation."
– Zakir Hussain, General Manager - Technical Training, at Rentokil PCI.
These simple home remedies to get rid of bed bugs can protect your home from bed bug infestation. Moreover, they also help you avoid the side effects caused by chemical pesticides. But, always remember, these measures are effective only when the bed bug infestation is minimal. For severe infestations, you need to get the help of professional pest control service experts.
"An effective bed bug treatment involves clinical inspection, steaming, vacuuming and/or targeted spot application of approved insecticides and trapping monitors. In addition to this, treatment of infested upholstery is equally important and should be a part of the treatment.
However, no single method of treatment is successful against bed bugs. So, considering the complexities of bed bug treatments, it is advisable to hire a professional. Though this kind of bed bug treatment approach may initially cost more, in the long run, it proves to be more economical and effective." – Zakir Hussain, General Manager - Technical Training, at Rentokil PCI.
The best way to stay away from bed bugs is keeping your house and the surroundings clean. Bed bugs and other pests thrive in moist, filthy and cluttered places. So, make it a habit to clean your home at regular intervals. It’s always better to deny entry to bed bugs than to struggle with all the anxiety and distress once they start sharing your living space.
About the author:
Written by V Saravana Kumar on 21 August 2019
The author is a writer, translator, editor, artist, graphic designer and a start-up enthusiast. He is also learning the art of parenting through his two teenaged children.
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