D.I.Y. Bed Bug Products
Bed bug infestations continue to spread. Are the available bed bug control products doing their job? Cleveland, OH has been recently rated 3rd on a list for cities with the worst bed bug problems as of early 2016. It has been said that one in every three households will be affected by bed bugs if nothing is done to change our ways. What needs to change? Prevention? Education? Treatment techniques? How about our bed bug control products?Let it be said that if you have bed bugs, your first reaction should be to call a Pest Management Professional. They have the tools and training to properly control these parasites. We do not recommend that homeowners apply their bed bug control products to control bed bugs.
People do though. And bed bugs are out of control. Not everyone can afford professional bed bug service. And that is okay. The problem is in the way that bed bug control products are being used. Pesticide resistance is developing rapidly. We are on a path that will soon cause the effective bed bug control products to be ineffective. Bed bugs will soon be as common as fleas!
While writing this, I researched some of the over the counter bed bug control products. I had a question about one bed bug control product in particular. So I called the customer service number on the package. The lady told me to spray this same bed bug control product every month for the next year. No wonder why we have so many bed bugs. That is a horrible idea! You never use the same class of pesticide repeatedly like that. Yet this is the information that comes down from the manufacturer of this bed bug control product.
Misuse of these bed bug control products are causing them to be near worthless. The people who have no money to hire a bed bug exterminator, are placed between a rock and a hard place. They are forced to use the same moderately effective bed bug control products over and over again.
This article was written to help people. People whose only option for control, is to do it themselves. Once again we do not recommend that homeowners apply bed bug control products to control their bed bugs. Since it is the only option for most people, I am writing this as an informational article to share my personal viewpoint on DIY bed bug control.
Preparing For Treatment
Professional bed bug treatments come with a long list of preparation guidelines. When you are doing your own bed bug treatment, try not to think of it as preparing. Because you will always have the tendency to skip over things to get to the control part of the program. You are actually controlling bed bugs by doing the preparation. Washing and drying all of your clothes. Inspecting and containing loose belongings. By doing this you are eliminating bed bugs from all of those objects one by one. They are then protected from re-infestation by containing them. That is a huge success. Bed bugs can hide nearly anywhere. If you overlook one loose object, you may not gain control. It only takes one reproducing female, to infest or re-infest a home.
First thing to do when you find out you have bed bugs? Resist the urge to throw out your bed. Just don’t do it. Encase all of your mattresses and all of your box springs in the home. This may eliminate the majority of bed bugs in your home, right off the bat. Purchase high quality bed bug mattress encasements from a store like Bed Bath and Beyond.
Do not skimp on quality. You want a tight fitting bed bug mattress encasement. It has been my experience that mattress covers purchased from the big box stores tend to be very loose and saggy. Covering your mattress and box springs eliminates potential hiding places. If the cover is too saggy, it will form folds in the fabric where bed bugs can hide. Look for a bed bug mattress cover made of quality fabric and a quality zipper. You must keep them on infested mattresses for at least a year. During that time the zipper seal cannot fail. If the fabric rips or gets a hole in it, it is useless.
We have frequently seen very small holes form in the box spring encasements. Once it is set in place, move the box springs as little as possible. But be sure to inspect frequently. They tend to get these holes from slight imperfections along the bed frame rail. Rolls of adhesive sided felt can be cut to line the bed frame rails. This counteracts this problem.
They sell a separate size encasement for box springs. Do not put a mattress sized encasement on a box spring. If you could only choose one thing to cover (mattress or box springs), cover the box spring. The box spring has hundreds of possible hiding places. A mattress only has its seams, folds and side handles.
Do not leave one stone upturned. Start the control process by removing clutter. You will need heavy duty garbage bags and tightly sealed totes. The first step is to give all of your clothes a heat treatment. Wash everything in hot water if possible. At a minimum, dry all clothing material for one half hour on high heat. Recommended drying time is one half hour after the items are dry to the touch. Separate out about two weeks of clothes and living necessities. Place everything in totes, or tightly sealed bags. Live out of as few of these containers as possible. Keep the remaining containers tightly sealed until treatment is complete. Store containers away from walls.
I recommend using large ziploc storage bags. They are sealed tightly, and are very convenient to use. If you do all of the work treating clothing, don’t spoil your work by not properly storing them in sealed containers.
Every object you own cannot be sprayed, dusted, or stuck in the dryer. Not everyone can afford a portable bed bug heat chamber. Before putting loose objects into totes, they will need to be inspected for bed bugs. Objects in question, kept close to the bed or main sitting areas, can be treated. During extreme weather conditions, they can be treated naturally. or anytime with a pesticide.
- Extended freezing temperatures will kill bed bugs. Small items can be placed in ziplock bags and put in the freezer (0 degrees F) for at least 4 days.
- During the cold spells of winter, items can be placed outdoors. Do this as long as the temperature remains below freezing for at least one to two weeks. Be sure to contain the items before removing them from site. Store them sealed so no bed bugs can leave the items. This is not the most reliable method.
- During hot summer weather, objects can be placed in sealed clear plastic bags. These bags can be placed in the hot summer sun for a natural heat treatment. I would say the outdoor temperature would have to be in the 90’s. The objects would need to be in hot the sun baking for a minimum of 6-8 hours. This is just an estimate. The temperature that must be reached to kill bed bugs and their eggs is 118 degrees F for 90 minutes.
- If there are a lot of loose items that you are questioning, and you don’t want to rely on unpredictable mother nature, I recommend using the Hot Shot Mattress and Luggage Treatment Kit. This is a chemical treatment. Follow the instructions on the label exactly.
You must complete the preparation process. Do not take any shortcuts. Keep a vacuum by your side to suck up any bugs.
Now that clutter is eliminated, and loose items are clean and contained, you can begin the so called “treatment”. This would be the point a professional bed bug exterminator would come in and take over. Instead you will be completing this portion of the control process.
It is important to note that at this point in the control process you will be without certain tools that professional bed bug exterminators normally use. I originally wrote this article to describe a bed bug treatment where only bed bug control products available in retail stores, are used. I will still describe what I would do if store bought bed bug control products were all I had access to. There will be an amended section at the end where I recommend bed bug control products that can be purchased online.
With pesticides nowadays, it is likely that if you sprayed a population of bed bugs, not all of them would die.
Good bed bug exterminators make good use of a vacuum. You will want to make good use of a vacuum too. You will need a vacuum with attachments, a canister vac, or a small shop vac to do this. You do not have the arsenal of pesticides that exterminators are equipped with. You must rely heavily on the use of a vacuum. This will honestly be your best method of control. Take the time to be very thorough and back it up with chemicals. Love your vacuum.
Take the vacuum along all seams and folds of the mattress and bed. Do the same for the couch and chairs in main sitting area. You can also suck out dressers, nightstands, bed frames, headboards and along baseboards. Thoroughly suck out every crack, crevice, fold, flap, seam, and void that you can. You will be surprised how effective this really is. Back this up with a precision application of pesticide and you will kill a good amount of bed bugs.
Bed bugs almost glue their eggs to surfaces. Vacuuming will not remove every egg. It is important to follow up and treat every area that you vacuumed. Use a bed bug control product that kills bed bug eggs. Raid Max Flea And Bed Bug Killer, Ortho Home Defense Dual Action Bed Bug Killer, Harris Black Label Bed Bug Killer, and silica dusts are effective against bed bug eggs.
Bed Bug Foggers
We do not recommend the use of total release bed bug foggers. These bed bug control products provide very little value to a home infested with bed bugs. Repeated use of these bed bug control products can repel bed bugs out of the affected room, and into other areas of the home. This is the last thing that you want.
Ready To Use Sprays
There are a few different ready to use sprays to choose from. Due to pesticide resistance issues, we do not recommend using bed bug control products that only include pyrethroids. Kills Bed Bugs contains pyrethroids and piperonyl butoxide. This seems like the most effective ready to use spray available in retail stores. It is a contact insecticide with a short residual.
If you spray one side of a wall with a repellent (pyrethroid) insecticide, they will likely just exit the other side of the wall into the adjacent room. This a big reason why bed bugs spread through apartment buildings so well.If you spray both sides of the baseboards without actually treating the wall void, you might trap bed bugs inside the wall until the residual effect of the pesticide wears off. Thought you got rid of your bed bugs? Think again!
The one that I recommend is Raid Max Flea And Bed Bug Killer. Not to discriminate, Harris Egg Kill Bed Bug Killer has the same active ingredients. They are effective against bed bugs and their eggs. The thing with sprays and eggs, is that they are only proven effective against eggs that are in the late stages of development. I suggest that you use this product in conjunction with vacuuming, and not as a stand alone broadcast treatment. Vacuum visible bed bug clusters, then use Raid Max Flea And Bed Bug Killer on those spots to help kill any remaining eggs.Contact sprays kill on contact. For these products to be effective, you must directly spray bed bugs. Their effectiveness only lasts a short period of time. This allows them to be sprayed on a wide variety of household objects. Contact insecticides definitely help in areas of high population. Remember that accessible adults are just as easily smashed or vacuumed, as they are sprayed.
Initial Pesticide Treatment
Second Pesticide Treatment
Dusting For Bed Bugs
Properly applied dusts can provide you with a year or more of residual control. It must remain dry though. That means you can not spray over the dusted areas with other bed bug control products.
The most commonly sold over the counter dust for bed bug control is diatomaceous earth. Hot Shot Flea and Bed Bug Killer Powder is the most common dust found in stores for bed bugs. Harris Bed Bug Killer Dust has good reviews too. The key to dust application is to apply it at a microscopic level. The problem is that big box stores do not sell interior pest control dust applicators. As a result, people dump it often in a line around the perimeter of the home. Over-application of dust renders it ineffective.
The key to dust application is to only apply it to voids, cracks, crevices, and other undisturbed areas. Wear a dust mask while applying dusts. This is a must! Apply dusts at a microscopic level. Imagine one snowflake. Now imagine a layer of single snowflakes. This is what you want. Dusts are very effective and very long lasting if applied properly.
Use the regular container if you cannot find a small bulb duster to use. Do not cut the tip of the nozzle too wide. Dusts can also be applied to areas specified on the pesticide label with a paintbrush or makeup application pad. This aids applying the product into the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide.
When it comes to dusting for bed bugs, you may be need to stray from over the counter bed bug products. You can devastate a bed bug infestation through the combination of vacuuming and dusting with Cimexa Dust.
Cimexa Dust and diatomaceous earth products are very similar but very much different products all together. If you purchased one bed bug control product besides the encasements, make this it.
Third Pesticide Treatment
- During the third treatment you will want to again vacuum as directed above.
- Dust any area possible that has not been done so already.
- A residual pesticide spray may be used in all possible areas that have not had dust applied to them.
We highly recommend the use of ActiveGuard Bed Bug Mattress Liners. I personally use this highly effective bed bug control product on my box springs. Nearly all of our bed bug customers choose to use these too. We apply them on the first or second treatment.
Bed bug pest control can seem like a nightmare to go through. Stay diligent and they will be eliminated. Educate yourself on proper prevention tactics and apply them to your daily lives. This pest will become more common in the future. Controlling them with the current line of bed bug control products will become much more difficult too. If you find yourself facing a bed bug problem in your home, we highly suggest using a professional bed bug exterminator. Hire a reputable company that you can trust to do the best job possible.
If this is not possible be very cautious when applying your own bed bug control products. Always protect your body with personal protective equipment. And follow the pesticide label exactly. Even if it disagrees with what you read in this article. ALWAYS FOLLOW THE PESTICIDE LABEL. IT IS THE LAW.