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Once a common household pest and then largely eradicated, the bed bug has made a surprising return in the twenty-first century. Although the problem is not as prevalent as it was a century ago, if you've ever had to deal with bed bugs, you'll know how useful home remedies can be to getting your home pest-free without harsh chemicals.

Baking Soda

Spreading baking soda over the area where bed bugs are congregating can help kill off the pests, thanks to the product's antimicrobial and drying properties. Most methods involve sprinkling the powder and leaving it for a couple of days. Then, vacuum it up and reapply fresh soda.

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The Hair Dryer Treatment

Bed bugs cannot withstand exposure to high temperatures. One safe and potentially effective way to rid your home of the pests is to direct a blowdryer, on its highest setting, back and forth over the infested area for about half an hour. High heat should help kill both mature bugs and their eggs, which you can then vacuum away.

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Vacuuming Bed Bugs

In addition to using your vacuum cleaner to remove spent baking soda and dead pests, passing the machine over the seams of mattresses, bedding, carpets, and other areas that become infested can suck up and remove live bugs, as well. Don't forget to empty the vacuum cleaner bag and wash the attachments with detergent afterward, to ensure they don't just crawl back out.

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The Bed Bug Tape Trap

A simple roll of double-sided tape can help in the fight against bed bugs. Placing the tape as a perimeter can keep the bugs out of the enclosed area and trap any that attempt to cross over. While this method is a good secondary tactic, it will not do anything to kill the bugs or significantly decrease the population.

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Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth differs from other bed bug home remedies because most people don't keep it in their homes, with the possible exception of pet owners fending off fleas. If you opt for this method, spread the powder around the infested areas, including the cracks and crevices where the bed bugs make their homes; within two weeks, it should have killed off most of the bugs thanks to its ability to suck moisture from their carapaces and dry them out.

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Washing Your Bedding

Another method to pair with more permanent steps is to wash all your bedding with very hot water and dry them at high heat. While the linens are in the wash is a great time to try the blowdryer or vacuum methods, and when you remake the bed, you can apply baking soda or another product for a three-prong approach. Make sure your bedding can be safely washed in hot water before you try this option, though.

Effective Natural Remedies to Combat Bed Bug Infestations

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The Cayenne Pepper Treatment

Most people have cayenne pepper in their kitchen cupboards. Add a tablespoon each of grated ginger, oregano, and cayenne to a spray bottle and add water. Shake the mixture well (or you can boil the ingredients together) and spray the repellent onto infested locations. Bed bugs reportedly cannot stand the smell and are likely to move out.

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Fighting Bed Bugs with Cloves

Evidence shows bed bugs cannot cope with the acidic qualities and the strong smell of clove oil. Mix a teaspoon of the oil into a cup of water for another spray repellant option. Mist mattresses, bedding, and other infested areas to send your pests packing.

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Mint Leaves

It turns out bed bugs aren't a fan of a number of smells humans find quite pleasant, and another of these is mint. Sprinkling dried mint leaves between mattresses and over other areas where bed bugs are congregating can make them turn tail and run. As with baking soda, every few days, vacuum up the old leaves and scatter new ones.

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Exposure to Cold

Much like high heat and kill off bed bugs, so too can cold. Try placing infested bedding in the freeze for about four days to kill off the bugs. This is not the most practical of solutions, as it requires wasting freezer space and putting bugs on top of your foodstuffs. The other downside to this method is that bed bugs usually reside on and around the mattress as well, which is unlikely to fit in your freezer.

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Mothballs

Mothballs can help control bed bugs in one of two ways: by repelling or killing them. Some people put mothballs underneath or around the bed and between the mattress and box spring. Some studies suggest this method is not as effective as others, especially in homes with large infestations.

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Dryer Sheets

Using dryer sheets can help you keep bed bugs away, but it won't kill them. This method works best with several sheets stuffed between the mattress and box spring, under the sheets, and behind the headboard. It's a good idea to stuff sheets in other spaces like drawers, cabinets, and inside pillowcases.

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Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another popular home remedy for bed bugs, though it won't clear large infestations. Killing adult bugs or their eggs means having to spray them directly with the alcohol, which is tricky because they hid in small cracks and crevices. An excellent way to utilize the rubbing alcohol is to spray it on all clothing and household items before bagging and laundering.

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Silica Beads

Silica gel contains silicon dioxide and comes in a powder form rather than an actual gel. It is an effective home remedy for bed bugs because it acts as a drying agent, absorbing their body moisture. Studies show that silica gel kills up to 97.5% of adult bed bugs in under 24 hours.

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Black Walnut Tea

Black walnut tea is another natural way to get rid of bed bugs. This method is as easy as putting a few tea bags in areas where the bugs are. Remember to replace the bags every few days to keep them fresh enough to repel the pests. This method won't be enough to handle large infestations, but it should help with smaller ones. Another way to trap the bugs is by using kidney bean leaves. The leaves have tiny plant hairs — trichomes — that trap the bugs when they walk over them. This method works best with leaves scattered around and underneath the bed.

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Natural oils as bed bug deterrents

In addition to clove, other essential oils, such as tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender, are gaining popularity in pest control. Their potent aroma can act as a natural deterrent against bed bugs. When used correctly, these oils can create a repellent barrier against these pests. However, they may not be effective in eliminating a severe infestation and should be used as a preventive measure or in conjunction with other treatment methods.

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Professional pest control services

While home remedies are effective for minor infestations, professional pest control services may be necessary for severe cases. These experts have specialized knowledge and access to commercial-grade pesticides that are more potent against bed bugs. They can also provide advice on preventing future infestations. While this option may be more costly, it offers a higher likelihood of completely eradicating the pests.

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Preventing bed bug infestations

Preventing a bed bug infestation is always better than treating one. Avoid bringing used furniture into your home without thoroughly checking it for signs of bed bugs. When traveling, inspect hotel beds and keep your luggage off the floor to minimize the risk of bringing these pests home. Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed linens to kill any potential bugs or eggs.

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Heat treatment options

Apart from the hairdryer treatment, other heat treatment options are available. For example, professional pest control services often offer whole-room heat treatments. They heat a room to temperatures that are lethal to bed bugs. Additionally, portable bed bug heaters can be purchased for home use. These devices allow you to treat items like furniture or luggage in your home.

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Bed bug dogs

Trained dogs can be used to detect bed bugs in your home. These dogs have a sense of smell thousands of times more powerful than humans, allowing them to detect even a single bug or egg. This method is especially useful when the infestation is not readily apparent or is in hard-to-reach places.

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Understanding the bed bug life cycle

Understanding the life cycle of bed bugs can be beneficial in combating an infestation. Bed bugs go through several stages - from eggs to nymphs to adults. Knowing this can help you better identify their presence and focus your eradication efforts accordingly. For instance, heat treatments may be more effective during the egg stage, whereas certain insecticides are better for adult bugs.

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Health implications of bed bugs

Bed bugs can cause a variety of health issues, from itchy, red welts from their bites to allergic reactions in some people. There's also a risk of secondary infection from scratching the bite sites. While they are not known to transmit diseases, the bites can be uncomfortable and disruptive to sleep.

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Psychological impact of bed bug infestations

Beyond the physical discomfort, bed bug infestations can also have psychological effects. Stress, anxiety, and sleep disturbances are common among people dealing with bed bugs. The persistent nature of these pests can lead to feelings of embarrassment or shame, further increasing psychological distress.

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Legal and landlord responsibilities

The responsibilities concerning bed bug infestations can vary depending on local laws and lease agreements. Generally, landlords are responsible for providing a pest-free environment. If a rental property is infested with bed bugs, tenants should report it to their landlord immediately. It's essential to understand your rights and responsibilities to handle such situations effectively.

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Safe disposal of infested items

When an item is heavily infested with bed bugs, it may need to be discarded. However, care should be taken to prevent the bugs from spreading during disposal. Infested items should be sealed in plastic bags before being removed from the home. Large items like furniture should be marked as infested to prevent others from unknowingly bringing the bugs into their homes.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.