Depending on the stage of the infestation, it may be possible to get rid of bedbugs using natural methods. However, in some cases, chemical use or pest control may be necessary.

Insecticides are available in stores, but these are not usually strong enough to be effective. Many people will need to call a pest controller for professional help.

Some factors make it difficult to get a bed bug infestation under control. First is the difficulty detecting them, as they are small and well adapted to hiding in small places. In addition, growing resistance means there is a lack of effective insecticides.

This article looks at some natural measures that may help get rid of bedbugs. It also discusses chemicals for home use and pest control.

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A person can take various steps to try and get rid of bedbugs naturally.


The first step in removing an infestation is detection.

If a person is bitten by a bed bug, they may notice spots of blood on the sheet. Symptoms of a bite include intense itching and welts that typically appear in a zigzag pattern.

Bedbugs tend to hide along the folds of mattresses and bed sheets. They usually live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Bedbugs start as eggs and pass through juvenile to adult stages. They grow from 1–7 millimeters (mm) in length.

Learn more about identifying bedbug bites.

Stripping the bed

The first step is to remove the bedding and isolate the bed.

To do this:

  1. Strip the bed linen directly into a double plastic bag, to reduce the chance of spreading the bugs.
  2. Wash bedding in hot water for at least 30 minutes and then dry at a high temperature for 30 minutes. Seal and discard the inner plastic bag when you put the linen in the washer.
  3. Vacuum to remove any remaining bedbugs and eggs as far as possible. This may not remove deeply harbored bedbugs.
  4. Dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner outside, into a sealable plastic bag.
  5. Ensure the bed frame is free of bugs by spraying it with a pesticide.


The second key element to isolating the bed from bugs is encasement. You encase the box spring and mattress in a fabric that traps the bugs inside and prevents introduction from outside.

Special zippered sheets can achieve this. The cost of these commercially available products is lower than the cost of a replacement mattress.

Encasement removes hiding areas and makes it easier to spot bedbugs. This helps prevent infestations of new mattresses.


Moat-style traps may help isolate the bed and intercept bedbugs between their hiding places and their journey to bite the host.

Sticky pads under the legs of the bed can catch bugs, but they can be messy.

Pulling the bed away from the walls and ensuring that bed linen does not touch the floor helps to make the bed an island.


Laundering in hot water can be an effective way of killing bedbugs on fabrics.

Bedbugs die with exposure to temperatures of 113°F (45°C) for 90 minutes, or 118°F (47.8°C) for 20 minutes.

Heating a room is unlikely to work, because of the high temperatures necessary. It may also spread an infestation, because bedbugs will seek the cooler areas in the room, beyond the reach of the heat.


Putting items in a freezer for 8–10 hours may help kill bedbugs.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that home freezers may not be cold enough to kill bugs, and it can take a long time for this to work.

Some chemicals are available for purchase online or from hardware stores. However, these can be hazardous if a person uses them indoors.

It is important to use an approved product and to follow the instructions with care.

These include:

  • pyrethrins and pyrethroids, derived from chrysanthemum flowers
  • desiccants, such as boric acid and diatomaceous earth, which dry out the protective coating on bugs
  • biochemicals, specifically cold-pressed neem oil
  • pyrroles, of which chlorfenapyr is the only registered product in the U.S.
  • neonicotinoids, a synthetic form of nicotine that affects the bugs’ nervous system
  • insect-growth regulators, which affect the growth process of bugs

When buying a product, you should check that it is EPA-registered, and make sure the label mentions bedbugs.

It is important to follow the instructions carefully when applying the products, so that they make direct contact with the bedbugs.

Products to avoid

“Bug bombs,” or total release foggers, are not considered effective. They are unlikely to reach the cracks where bugs hide, and they can be harmful to health. There is also a risk of explosion.

Some products, including those that contain pyrethroids, have a flushing effect. This could spread the infestation.

The EPA provides a search tool that can help with finding a suitable registered product.

Learn more about bedbug sprays.

Insecticides that are available to the public are often not strong enough to be effective against bedbugs, or they are unable to reach the hiding places of the bugs.

In this case, it is best to contact a registered pest controller.

Catching a bug or taking a photo to share with the professional can help them see what type of bug is causing the problem.

Pest controllers may start with nonchemical methods and then use pesticides if these do not work.

Professional pest controllers can effectively remove an infestation of bedbugs.

The Pest World website provides a list of people who are licensed by the National Pest Management Association.

The key to reducing the risk of bed-bug infestation is early detection, as this is more likely to lead to effective control.

Steps that may help prevent bedbugs include:

  • checking beds and upholstered furniture when traveling for any signs of bedbugs
  • carefully inspecting any secondhand furniture or fabrics before bringing into the home
  • immediately washing all clothes in hot water after traveling, particularly if a person suspects there was exposure to bed bugs
  • drying clothes in a dryer, if possible
  • cleaning luggage after traveling, ideally with a hand steamer

View our bedbugs overview article for information about symptoms of bedbug bites and how to treat them. Here are some frequently asked questions about bedbugs.

What are early signs of bedbugs?

A person may notice itchy welts on their skin if they sleep in a bed with bedbugs. Bedbugs are small, ranging from around 1–7mm, but a person may notice them if they inspect the folds of mattresses and bedding.

Learn more about bedbug bites.

What is the main cause for bedbugs?

Bedbugs typically happen in the home after somebody has stayed in a location with bedbugs, such as a hotel. It is important to check beds and furniture for signs of bedbugs. Immediately washing clothing and cleaning luggage when arriving home can help prevent bedbugs.

Where do bedbugs hide on the body?

Bedbugs do not usually hide on the human body. Instead, they tend to hide in the piping or folds of mattresses, in the creases of bedding, and in the cracks of the bed. They will usually only be on the body when feeding.

What should a person do if they sleep in a bed with bedbugs?

If a person has slept in a bed with bedbugs while traveling, it is important to wash all clothing in a hot wash as soon as they arrive home. They should also clean any luggage, and inspect all fabrics for signs of bedbugs.

If a person notices bedbugs in the home, they should strip the bed and isolate the bedbugs. Heat and cold may help kill the bedbugs, and some chemicals that specifically mention bedbugs may also help. In some cases, a person may need to call pest control.

Various methods may help a person get rid of bedbugs. This can include stripping and isolating the bed, and then encasing the bedbugs. Encasing involves encasing the mattress and box spring in fabric.

Laundering in hot water and placing fabrics in a freezer may also help to kill bedbugs. However, temperatures may not be hot or cold enough for this to be effective.

Some commercially available chemicals can help get rid of bedbugs. Examples include pyrethrins, pyrethroids, desiccants, biochemicals such as cold-pressed neem oil, pyrroles, neonicotinoids, and insect growth regulators.

In severe cases, or if other measures do not work, a person may need to control pest control.