Bed Bugs

Preparing for Treatment Against Bed Bugs

Whether you are hiring a pest management professional or trying to eliminate the bugs yourself, properly preparing your home is an essential first step. Taking these steps before starting out will help speed the process and reduce control costs.

Reduce Clutter--a Great Hiding Place for Bed Bugs

  • When reducing clutter take care that you don't spread the bed bugs:
    • Don't move items from the infested area to a non-infested area.
    • Place trash or other infested items directly into plastic trash bags. When full, immediately carry the bags to an outside bin.
  • Get rid of excess magazines and newspapers.
  • Keep clothing off the floor.
  • Eliminate all cardboard boxes (the bugs can hide in the cardboard). Replace with plastic boxes, if you need the storage. 
  • Get rid of clothing and other items you no longer use (but make sure they are free of bed bugs first so you don't spread them).

Make Your Bed an Island

  • Move the bed at least 6 inches away from the wall.
  • Ensure all bed bugs, larvae, and eggs are removed from the bed, frame and headboard.
  • Place bed-bug-proof covers (often called encasements) on your mattress and boxspring (available in home stores or online).
    • Take care that these covers have zippers that close completely and that they are sturdy enough to last for a year.
    • Any bed bugs trapped inside will eventually starve to death, and other bed bugs won't be able to hide in the bed or box spring.
  • Make sure all bedding is tucked under mattress and does not touch the floor.
  • Place bed bug interceptors under each leg of the bed (available in home stores or online).
    • Interceptors will trap any bed bugs that try to climb the leg of the bed. In the beginning, you will inspect them daily.
    • Plan to use the interceptors for at least a year - they will be important to your post-control monitoring efforts.
  • Remove anything under the bed.
    • Store in the same room to avoid spreading the infestation.
    • Inspect and clean or discard as appropriate.

Clean All Items Within a Bed-Bug-Infested Living Area

  • Heat treat clothing, bedding, and other items that can withstand a hot dryer (household dryer at high heat for 30 minutes), which will kill bed bugs and eggs.
    • Washing alone might not do the job.
    • Store clean items in a sealed plastic bag to ensure they remain bug free
  • Physically inspect and clean furniture, baseboards, behind outlet and switch covers, etc. to remove visible bed bugs or eggs.
  • Use sealed plastic bags to transport any items that are being moved from one area to another (e.g., clothing or other items to be heated in the dryer).
  • Remove and clean drapes and the drapery hardware.
  • Look for bed bugs, eggs, and other bed bug evidence (e.g., shed skins, hatched eggs)  on furniture and remove--this will also help in evaluating treatment success.
  • Vacuum thoroughly, then remove and dispose of the vacuum bag:
    • Vacuum up some talc (e.g., baby powder), to prevent bugs escaping.
    • Seal the vacuum bag in a plastic bag.
    • Place in trash outside.

Eliminate Bed Bug Habitats

  • See "reduce clutter."
  • Caulk cracks or crevices around baseboards.
  • Repair any wallboard damage, ensure wallpaper is not loose.
  • Check electrical outlets and wall switches for evidence of bed bugs.
    • Clean if needed.
    • Tape or caulk the rims to prevent bed bugs from getting behind the plates.

Additional Information