How do you get rid of bed bugs?
Bed bugs hitchhike on people’s belongings and hide in crevices near where they rest. To prevent an infestation of bed bugs, you need to keep them from coming into your home and detect new infestations early. Basically, no silver bullet exists. Pest control has changed and we are still working on the best solutions for bed bug management. Rely on the pest management professional (PMP) for all pesticide use. Focus on preventing introduction and detecting them early. Educate residents and staff about how to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking on their belongings. Make sure procedures are in place for prompt and proper furniture removal from the property. Install mattress- and box-spring encasements and bed bug interceptors. Offer products and services for free to incentivize cooperation. Teach residents and staff to inspect often. If a unit is being treated for bed bugs, have a staff person check on the preparation progress before the pest management professional arrives.
Bed bug Basics
What they look like
Adults look like apple seeds with legs. Young bed bugs—nymphs—look like adults, only smaller. Newly hatched nymphs are poppy seed-sized. Eggs are tiny, white, and hard to spot.
Where they live
In cracks and crevices of bed frames, floors, walls, furniture, electronics, mattresses—any spot they can wedge themselves near where people rest.
What they do
Feed on you as you sleep, but if you're not around they can go over a year without food. Bites look like a rash or welts—or you may not notice them at all. Bed bugs don't transmit disease.
How to deal with bed bugs
Don't bring home hitchhikers: Working in an infested unit? Remember, bed bugs can't jump or fly. And they spend a lot of time hiding. You're likely to see them before they crawl on you. Don't sit or set your equipment down near where people rest. If you have to move an infested object, wear a disposable suit and booties. Keep a change of clothes in your car, change at work, and dry your bed bug clothes for 20 minutes on high heat as soon as you get home.
Buying used furniture, bedding, clothes? Inspect thoroughly. Look for the bugs or the spots they leave behind. Wash and dry bedding and clothes with hot water and high heat. There are other heat options like steam too.
Detect before the infestation grows and spreads: Keep bedroom furniture an inch or two from the wall and a flashlight handy for easier cleaning and inspecting. Bed bug-proof mattress covers, light-colored bedding, and insect interceptors make them easier to spot. Offer professional services and bed bug products for free to incentivize cooperation.
Pesticide options: Leave it to the professionals. Some sprays simply repel bed bugs, spreading them around. Make sure pesticides are labeled specifically for bed bugs. Always read and follow the instructions on the label. The pros may ask the resident to prepare for bed bugs service. The preparation requirements should be least disruptive to the bed bugs and customized to each infestation—bed bug prep is not always time consuming.
- Policy and Planning
- DRAFT Federal Strategy on Bed Bugs
- HUD Office of Housing's Notice on Bed Bugs
- HUD Office of Public and Indian Housing Notice on Bed Bugs and related attachment
- Template Affordable Housing Bed Bug Plan
- Template Common Area Inspection Sheet
- Media Messaging Advice for Housing
- Bed Bug Best Management Practices from the National Pest Management Association
- Legal and Legislative Information from the National Pest Management Association
- “What’s Working for Bed Bug Control in Multifamily Housing” from the National Center for Healthy Housing
- Mattress Encasement Cost Comparisons Overview & Prices
- Information on bed bug sniffing dogs
- Many of the sites below have "How to Hire a Pest Control Company" factsheets.
- Factsheets and Educational Resources:
- What Property Owners and Need to Know About Bed Bugs
- Resources for Health Professionals
- EPA's Bed Bug Website
- Government of Ontario
- National Pest Management Association
- Safer Pest Control Project
- University of California
- Conneticuit Coalition Against Bed Bugs
- University of Florida
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Purdue University
- University of Kentucky
- Michigan.gov (incl. color printable factsheets)
- University of Minnesota (multilingual prevention & control tasksheets)
- New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene
- New York State IPM Program (pest mgt. step-by-step factsheets, English and Spanish)
- Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force
- Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (informative & action plan factsheets, English and Spanish)
- Bed Bug Infested Item Disposal
- Print and fill in the number you want residents to call on this bed bug poster (English or Español)
- General Bed Bug Poster
- Bed bug posters in multiple languages:
- Case study on property-wide engagement: Cultural sensitivity and respect set the tone for successful IPM implementation
- University of California
- University of FL (including DIY heat box video)
- Rutgers University Bed Bug Video Series
- NC Department of Agriculture
- Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services (English and Spanish)
- University of Minnesota (multilingual videos)
- They're Back (CT Agricultural Experiment Station)
- Bed Bug TV (BedBug Central)
- Purdue University How-to Videos
- Minneapolis DIY Video Series
- The Tenant’s Role in IPM
- See results from the Northeastern IPM Center's resources database
FAQ - About Bed BugsDo bed bug products have residual killing action?
Do bed bugs feed on pets?
Do pesticides work on both cockroaches and bed bugs?
Does poor sanitation attract bed bugs?
How do I confirm the bed bugs are gone?
How do we battle the stigma associated with bed bugs?
How do you get rid of bed bugs?
Lowering Costs with an In-House Bed Bug Management Plan (VTech Bed Bug Webinar)
What’s the deal with bed bug monitors?
When bed bugs go up/in walls, how do we treat?
Where did bed bugs come from and why are they back?
Will boric acid work for bed bugs?
Bed Bugs Training OpportunitiesLowering Costs with an In-House Bed Bug Management Plan (VTech Bed Bug Webinar)
Bed Bug Webinars