Bed Bugs

Controlling Bed Bugs Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Controlling bed bugs takes time and patience. The biology of bed bugs dictates this, since they reproduce quickly and their eggs are resistant to many methods of pest control, both chemical and non-chemical. This page describes some of the techniques that have been found to be effective against bed bugs.

Understanding IPM

Integrated pest management is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management. IPM programs use information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with people and the environment. This information, combined with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options, including the judicious use of pesticides. Although bed bugs may sometimes be controlled by non-chemical means alone, this approach is often very difficult, potentially less effective, and usually more resource intensive. 

Bed bug control is most effective when an IPM approach is implemented with diligent participation by the residents. In multi-family housing, diligent participation is also required of the building management.

A comprehensive IPM program to control bed bugs may include a number of non-chemical and chemical methods. Some of these are described in the following sections.

Non-Chemical Methods

  • Put bedding and clothing in the dryer at high temperatures for 30 minutes to kill bed bugs (just washing will generally not kill bed bugs).
  • Heat infested articles (e.g., furniture, luggage, other items that can't go in a clothes dryer) and/or areas (i.e., a room in a house or apartment, or a whole house) to at least 120 ºF (approx. 49 ºC) for 90 minutes to ensure that eggs are killed.
    • The higher the temperature, the shorter the time needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.
    • This is often done using a heat-generating device or in a specially constructed heating unit, some of which are portable.
  • Cold treatments (below 0 ºF (-19 ºC) for at least 4 days) can eliminate some infestations.
    • The cooler the temperature, the less time needed to kill bed bugs.
    • Home freezers may not cold enough to reliably kill bed bugs. Always use a thermometer to measure the temperature.
    • Read more at Using Freezing Conditions to Kill Bed Bugs Exit
  • Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bed bugs and help detect infestations.
  • Use monitoring devices to ensure that the bed bugs have been truly eradicated.
  • See the "do-it-yourself" steps for more details on methods to reduce and control bed bug populations.

Using Pesticides

  • Use a comprehensive strategy for controlling bed bugs - pesticides should be only one part of a multi-part IPM plan.
  • Use the Bed Bug Product Search tool to help you find a pesticide product that meets your needs. Currently, there are over 300 products registered by EPA for use against bed bugs -- the vast majority of which can be used by consumers.
  • Before reapplying or trying a different product read, When Treatments Don’t Work.
  • You may want to consult a pest management professional to inspect your residence and, if needed, apply approved pesticides to treat any infestation.
  • For assistance with choosing a pesticide registered for consumer use, you may also check with the Cooperative Extension Service office in your area.

Read more about IPM

Stay Legal and Safe in Treating for Bed Bugs

Learn about treatment options. (4 pp, 480 K, About PDFExit