Bed bugs are skilled at hiding and reproducing, this means a small problem can quickly get out of hand. The same factors make them tricky to eliminate effectively especially because many treatments kill the live bugs but not the eggs, so multiple applications may be necessary.
A DIY approach to get rid of bed bugs is likely to be cheaper, in the short term, than hiring a pest control professional. But DIY methods bring with it several drawbacks:
- You may find it difficult to treat the entire building at once. Even if you don’t think the infestation has spread that far, bed bugs may lurk in more rooms of your home than you realize.
- This is a particular problem in multi-occupancy buildings: you could carry out effective DIY pest control on your own apartment, but if you live in a block with shared laundry facilities and your neighbors have bed bugs too, it won’t be long until the bugs return to your bed.
- Effective pest control will take longer than you think. Depending on the extent of the infestation and of the affected building, getting rid of the bed bugs completely could take weeks or even months.
- Using non-chemical methods to kill bed bugs is much less effective than hiring a professional.
However, if you want to attempt DIY pest control methods before going down the professional route, you could try:
- Heat: bed bugs die if their bodies are exposed to a temperature of 45°C (113°F) for 90 minutes or more, so you can kill them by heating their surroundings to a higher temperature. The best way to heat affected items to this temperature is in a clothes dryer set to high, but placing a black plastic bag of luggage or similar items out in the sun might also work depending on the weather (this could be a good method to try if you encounter bed bugs while traveling abroad). You can also try placing items in a car, closing the doors and windows and leaving the car out in the sun.
- Cold: freezing temperatures can also kill bed bugs, but this can take a long time. You could place affected items in your home freezer or outside in freezing weather (for either of these, check with a thermometer that the temperature really is at zero or below), but they will need to stay there for at least four days.