Have you recently become aware that you have a bed bug infestation? If so, you may be considering giving home remedies a shot before calling in the pros. Nowadays many people are trying DIY options to save money.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a naturally occurring substance that is often used for killing bed bugs, fleas, dust mites, and cockroach infestations as well. The powder is the fossilized remains of aquatic organisms called diatoms. When a bed bug encounters diatomaceous earth, it causes small fractures in their exoskeleton, penetrating their skin and absorbing the fat and oils from within, working to completely dehydrate them.
Only food grade DE is effective in pest control, meaning it’s uncalcinated and has a mean particle size below about 12 µm. While DE is non-toxic, a face mask should be worn when using it around the home. Although it doesn’t feel sharp to your hands, it is microscopically rough and jagged and can easily embed into the fine tissue of your lungs and cause an infection.
Clean from Top to Bottom
If you suspect that bed bugs have invaded your home, your instinct may be to give your house a thorough clean. Wash all bedding, clothing and textiles in hot water and dry on a hot setting for at least 20 minutes. Declutter your home to provide less places for the bugs to gather and hide. Clean out the bottom of closets, under beds, and beneath dressers and throw away any unnecessary magazines, newspapers, and clutter. While it is virtually impossible to eliminate a bed bug infestation simply by cleaning, you’ll learn where the pests may be aggregating and help lessen their spread.
Bed bugs can’t tolerate temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit which makes steam treatment a good option. You typically need a commercial steamer, not one intended for cleaning clothes or carpets since these will not reach high enough temperatures. You can often rent one from a local pest management professional to use on your carpets, furnishings, mattresses, box springs, cracks, crevices, baseboards, and other favorite hiding spots for bed bugs. It’s an effective, non-toxic method but is limited as it is nearly impossible to steam clean every area of your home.
Baking soda is an ancient remedy for bugs such as fleas or spiders around the house and is said to have an effect on bed bugs as well. When the bugs pass through the baking soda it clings to their exoskeleton and dries out the insects, similar to DE, causing dehydration. It’s a cheap, non-toxic method for killing insects but takes weeks to work, is messy, and is unlikely to work against more than a few bugs.
Pepper, Ginger, Cayenne Pepper, and Oregano Spray
This homemade concoction is rumored to work not only on bed bugs but also other insects, repelling bugs with its strong scent. To create the spray, simply mix a teaspoon of each ingredient into one cup of water, boil the mixture, strain it, pour it into a bottle and spray it all around your home, focusing on the area around the bed and baseboards. While it’s natural, easy to use and made from ingredients you likely have on hand, it works better as a preventative measure rather than to fight an existing infestation.
Tea Tree Oil
For centuries, people have turned to tea tree oil as a powerful antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and antibacterial. Mixed with water, it repels insects like bed bugs and is also believed to inhibit the growth of the insect. It’s all natural, smells good and is easy but again is more useful as a preventative or repellent measure.
Bed bugs have become resistant to many insecticidal sprays, but not all. There are a variety of bed bug sprays available at your local hardware or superstore that can be a great DIY solution when properly utilized, including plant-based sprays which are safe to use around your family and pets. Do you research and stop by the nearest location to grab a bottle of whichever product is right for you.
Bed bugs are survivors and very sneaky, often hiding in unexpected places. These at-home treatment options may help keep bed bugs at bay however you should monitor the situation and take proper action to avoid a full-on infestation.