Bed Bug Information for Homeowners and Tenants

Pest Management In and Around Structures July 30, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

The way our homes are configured, owned, and organized varies across cultures and social groups but we all have in common the fact that we live in a home and our homes are primary targets for bed bug infestations. Bed bugs like to live close to their human hosts and are well adapted to surviving in our homes. While hiring a pest management professional to control a bed bug infestation is usually the best recommendation, it can be very expensive. Here are a few safe measures you can take to control bed bugs in your own home.

Using any over-the-counter insecticides for controlling bed bugs is not recommended. Research shows that these products will not control a bed bug infestation. Instead, there are a number of mechanical things you can do that will help control bed bugs. In addition, here are some tips on what not to do when you have bed bugs.

Laundering clothing, linens, and other items made out of cloth is an excellent way to control bed bugs and an essential step in any bed bug control program.

A vacuum cleaner can capture bed bugs, but it won’t kill all of them, so make sure you take the precautions discussed in this tasksheet.

Bed bugs can be killed with cold temperatures, as long as the temperatures reach 0F or below for at least three days. Do not try to kill bed bugs by placing items outside in the cold or turning the heat off in your home. This could cause damage and will most likely not kill the bed bugs.

Using hot steam to kill bed bugs can be very effective, but is a bit more challenging for an individual as you need to use a commercial-grade steam generator and not the type of machine you can buy to steam your clothing or similar items.

While it may seem very time-consuming and labor-intensive, looking for and killing bed bugs by hand is a very effective way to control an infestation.

Do you have children? Here are some considerations for cleaning children’s toys that may be infested with bed bugs.

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent bed bugs from entering your home in the first place, such as procuring furniture from reputable places (not curbside) and inspecting your hotel rooms when you travel.

Need more bed bug information?

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.