Myths and Facts of DIY Bed Bug Control

*Anti-Pesto does not offer bed bug services, this is just a resource.*

No homeowner wants to have to deal with bed bugs. These common pests are capable of invading the beds and furniture of even the cleanest homes, and once they’ve taken over your house they can quickly rob you of sleep and leave you covered in itchy, unsightly red welts.

Unfortunately, despite their small size, it can be hard to find effective bed bug treatments. You can find countless online articles suggesting home remedies to get rid of bed bugs, but not all of these are proven to work—some can even damage your furniture or expose you to dangerous chemicals. 

If you are wondering how to separate the myths and facts of bed bug control, read on to learn which DIY bed bug control methods might help get rid of bed bugs fast and which you’d be better to avoid.

How to Check For Bed Bugs

You might be wondering how to check for bed bugs in your home before you begin trying any DIY bed bug treatments. Bed bug bites look a lot like mosquito bites—they usually appear as a raised red welt, and they are extremely itchy.

Common signs of bed bugs include the following:

  • You might smell a musty odor in your sheets.
  • Bed bug eggs might be visible in your linens, and will be about the size of a grain of uncooked rice, sticky, and clustered together.
  • You’ll see red spots of blood and bed bug excrement on your pillows, sheets, and walls.
  • If you go to bed without any bites but are waking up covered in itchy red bumps, chances are you have bed bugs.

Sometimes bed bugs are present even when you don’t see any evidence. You can check your home for these unwelcome pests by performing a visual inspection of your mattresses and upholstered furniture. You’ll want to pay special attention to the creases. You can also purchase special devices designed to detect bed bugs that are installed under the legs of beds and furniture.

Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Almost everyone has rubbing alcohol in their first aid kit. However, many people believe this common item can be a quick and inexpensive cure to bed bugs. But is it true that alcohol can kill bed bugs? Not always. 

Researchers at Rutgers University have found that using alcohol to treat bed bugs only eliminated half the infestation. Given that bed bugs reproduce very quickly, with an adult female capable of laying well over 200 eggs over her lifetime, you should be looking for solutions that take care of the entire infestation at once. Not to mention, in order to kill bed bugs by dissolving their outer shells and drying them out, the alcohol must make direct contact with the insect. This can be difficult to manage given how small bed bugs are and their ability to hide in tight and inaccessible crevices. While a strong concentration of alcohol might kill a few bed bugs, it’s not the most effective DIY bed bug treatment. 

Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

Bleach is a good option for sanitizing surfaces, but isn’t the best way to get rid of bed bugs.

Another common household chemical is bleach, and you might have read about success stories of getting rid of bed bugs with bleach. However, while you might be considering using bleach to kill bed bugs, this solution is even less reliable than rubbing alcohol because, in addition to also having to make direct contact with the bugs, it can also stain and damage your furniture and expose you to dangerous fumes.

Does Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs?

You probably have a box of baking soda in your pantry and might be wondering if baking soda kills bed bugs. While some believe that sprinkling baking soda on your mattress and then vacuuming it up is a solution to bed bugs, this solution is ultimately a myth. 

The logic behind it is the belief that baking soda absorbs water and thus will dry out bed bugs, but there is no research to back up this claim. It’s probably best to keep baking soda in the kitchen instead of on your mattress.

Does Salt Kill Bed Bugs?

Salt is cheap and can be purchased in large quantities—unfortunately, salt does not kill bed bugs.

The exoskeleton on these insects prevents salt from drying them out as it might dry out a snail or slug. Treating bed bugs with salt won’t do much for you other than give you a room covered in salt!

Does Baby Powder Kill Bed Bugs?

This DIY bed bug treatment is nothing more than a myth.

Just as some people believe baking soda can be used to kill bed bugs, others have tried to use baby powder for the same purpose. While baby powder might help lessen the musty smell caused by bed bugs, it won’t do much to kill bed bugs. 

Does Vinegar Kill Bed Bugs?

Because of its high acetic acid content, vinegar is another common home remedy for bed bugs. Fortunately, it’s an effective one—that said, it’s not a final solution to eliminate the bed bug infestation.

Vinegar can compromise bed bugs’ nervous systems and destroy their eggs. The odor will also repel bed bugs, making it a decent preventative treatment. However, using vinegar to treat bed bugs will mean having a house that smells like vinegar and will likely not completely eliminate your infestation.

You should also be careful to never mix it with bleach, as the combination of these chemicals will create toxic chloric gas. 

Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

A lot of people rely on tea tree oil for skincare needs, but if you’re considering using tea tree oil to kill bed bugs, don’t—diluted tea tree oil will do little to impact your infestation. 

Undiluted tea tree oil is believed to kill bed bugs, but it can be harmful if it contacts your skin. This is one DIY bed bug solution that is better left untried.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Bed Bugs?

Diatomaceous earth is a common pest control treatment for homeowners. But can you use diatomaceous earth to kill bed bugs? Yes! 

This non-toxic, natural treatment is a great DIY solution for bed bugs. However, in order to use it effectively, you will need to pair it with a heat treatment—another eco-friendly treatment for bed bugs. Using diatomaceous earth to treat bed bugs is particularly effective because bed bugs can’t build up a resistance to this treatment like they might to common pesticides.

Does Boric Acid Kill Bed Bugs?

Boric acid, while not as common in households, is another common suggestion for a home remedy for bed bugs. Overall, using boric acid to kill bed bugs is effective, but the means by which you use it determine how well it works. 

A study at North Carolina State University found that 80% of bed bugs which ate boric acid died within a week. However, using a boric acid dust did little to impact bed bugs. Thus, a boric acid bait might be a good DIY treatment for bed bugs, but for best results, you should pair boric acid with a heat treatment or other more comprehensive bed bug control method. 

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