Have a bed bug infestation? If so, it can be both a physical and psychological nightmare. Let’s take a look at how to get rid of bed bugs fast using natural ways.
What kills bed bugs?
As the owner of this blog, I am dedicated to uncovering natural ways in which you, the reader, can improve your health, enhance your beauty and manage your home.
But if there’s one area I’m going to strongly recommend you don’t DIY, it’s getting rid of bed bugs.
Forget the traps. And the vinegar. And the home-brew pesticide cocktails.
Don’t waste your time sealing your infected clothes and bedding in plastic bags. *I also don’t want bed-bug sniffing dogs in my home.
Essential oils are great for many things. But as this study proves, they are totally ineffective at eradicating bed bugs.
God forbid my home ever gets invaded by bed bugs. (Knock on wood … guess I should also pray that termites don’t invade my home as well!)
But if they do, I’m not reaching for my lavender roller and diffuser, frantically applying it to every nook and cranny of my home.
And despite the anecdotal success stories online, I’m also not going to use diatomaceous earth (DME).
Instead, I’m going to call a professional.
How to get rid of bed bugs fast: make the call
“If do it yourself methods were really effective as the Internet suggests, I’d be out of business,” says pest control expert, Rick Balowski.
Balowski has been in pest management for 34 years. Based in New Holland, PA, he is a franchise owner of Truly Nolen Pest Control, a company that has been exterminating pests since 1941.
“People who try getting rid of bed bugs themselves using DME don’t realize the potential harm they’re doing to themselves, not to mention it’s really not effective at getting rid of bed bugs,” says Balowski.
He explains: “First of all, you’re not supposed to use DME to the point where you can see it. That’s because even though it’s a natural ingredient, it can settle into your lungs and crystalize, causing breathing problems.”
Balowski adds, “DME takes a full two weeks to break down the skeletons of the bugs. By then, the bugs will have, essentially, a new coat of arms, a new exoskeleton.”
Moreover, the DME does nothing to solve the problems of eggs.
“Essentially, you’re only taking care of the adults, and not to well, I might add.”
If you want to know how to get rid of bed bugs fast, Balowski mentions a couple other ways NOT to do it….
“Lilac candles and dryer sheets do absolutely nothing! Despite what you may read online, they don’t do anything.”
Ultimately, Balowski, who estimates up to a third of his business is eradicating bed bugs, says, if all the inexpensive products online were indeed effective, he’d be all for it.
“Do you know how much money I could save if they actually worked?” he asks.
Moreover, another reason not to go about the DIY get rid of bed bugs method is that you’re not going to know all the hiding areas.
How to get rid of bed bugs fast: the latest weapon
Is all hope for a natural solution lost? If your home has an infestation does it have to be bombed using potentially cancer-causing chemicals?
Although Balowski’s company does sometimes use insecticides, it does offer two natural remedies.
The first one is a new breakthrough in bed bug extermination. It’s called Aprehend®, a product developed by Penn State University researchers.
If you’re thinking right now about opening a new window to find Aprehend online, don’t waste your time. It’s only available for licensed pest controllers.
Balowski’s franchise has been using it for the last year. He claims a virtual 100% success rate with only one treatment usually required.
Is Aprehend natural? And what is it?
Aprehend is an all-natural remedy for bed bugs. It’s the latest method for how to get rid of bed bugs fast.
It’s a combination of oils that stick to a specific type of spore. This spore attaches to the skin of the bugs. Then, the spore invades the insect’s blood.
Once the spore infects the blood, a fungus grows inside the insect and feeds on their blood. (Consider it entomological karma for the blood-sucking vampire bugs).
As the Aprehend website claims, “Very soon, the insect becomes sick and dies from the fungal infection.”
It takes between 3 and 7 days to kill the pests using Aprehend spray. The solution requires a special sprayer. This is another reason you shouldn’t try applying it yourself.
Bed-bug killer Balowski explains that Aprehend is a biopest. It’s a natural fungal disease of insects. But it does not affect humans or animals. There are no toxic chemicals in it.
If most other natural solutions, aren’t that effective to begin with, they certainly become more impotent as time goes by.
In comparison, the fungal insecticide spores remain dormant on surfaces. And they only germinate when they come into contact with a bed bug.
Balowski says this is how Aprehend remains effective for up to three months after the initial spraying.
Best of all, unlike other natural remedies like vinegar, Aprehend does not have to be sprayed directly on the bugs to kill them.
“Bed bugs are extremely difficult to find because they hide out in harborages,” says Balowski, referring to the industry term for tiny nooks, cracks, crannies, and crevices in homes (and commercial buildings, hospitals, hotels, etc.).
“That’s why it’s really impossible to do it yourself. You can’t locate every conceivable hiding spot on your own.”
How does it work?
The way Aprehend works is, according to the product website, is like so:
It’s applied in two-inch wide barriers around the bed and items of furniture where bed bugs are likely to walk when they emerge from to look for a blood meal (your flesh).
When bed bugs cross the barrier, the spores attach to the cuticle of the bed bug. It’s from this point that the spores enact revenge for you on the blood-sucking critters.
Infested bugs carry the deadly (only to the bugs) spore back to the harborage.
Is it available where I live?
As of this writing, Aprehend is available for pest control specialists in 49 states. The lone exception, the most populous state, California.
“Due to additional dossier requirements and longer review processes in California, we cannot provide an accurate estimate for registration,” says Aprehend’s website.
Say what you will about the merits of environmental regulations. I appreciate strict government rules that prohibit companies from polluting the air and waterways.
But maybe pro-business anti-regulation zealots have a point when it comes to California’s policies. At least when it affects people in the Golden State’s ability to conquer the nightmare that is bed bug infestation.
How to get rid of bed bugs for good: option 2
If you do live in California, there is another natural solution for how to get rid of bed bugs fast: heat.
And no, I’m not talking about using a lighter at 3 a.m. to assassinate the bugs yourself.
Balowski says that DIY heat and steam treatments are ineffective. That’s because even if you kill a cluster of the bugs, there might be more hiding in areas where heat won’t kill them.
Moreover, even the strongest home heating system, measuring 80,000 BTUs, won’t get hot enough to thoroughly do the job.
In comparison, Balowski’s company uses a heating device with 800,00 BTUs. The treatment heats the home to 130 degrees. By the time the thermostat inside the home is 120, within 10 minutes, the bugs will die, Balowski says.
And when the home reaches 130 degrees, “it’s an instant kill,” he says, adding that it takes all day to do the job.
If you decide to go for the heat treatment, you might want to check in a hotel for the night. Balowski says that late at night, it’s still going to be very hot in your home.
One advantage of the heat treatment is there’s not much preparation for the homeowner. You don’t have to empty your dressers.
Still, there are some precautions to be taken. For example, you have to make sure you don’t have any lighters, aerosol cans, or other items that can explode. Balowski’s technicians supply homeowners with a checklist before applying the heat treatment.
In the 34 years Balowski has been in pest control, he estimates heat treatment has a 99.99% effective kill rate.
But sometimes, when a house is extraordinarily cluttered (a hoarder), a second treatment may be required.
According to Balowski, heat treatment is effective for 90 days.
Bed bug treatment
If you want to know how to get rid of bed bugs fast, again, don’t waste your time with DIY treatments you read about online.
Used green tea bags? Let me know how that works for you.
Juniper berries? Maybe it will help make your cellulite marks less visible. But for these mini vampires? That’s not how to get rid of bed bugs fast.
Speaking of blood, if you see red dots on your bed, Balowski explains these stains are not the result of you rolling over and squashing them. Rather, it’s your own blood.
These evil critters do two things when they bite you.
First, the saliva of the bugs contain a blood-thinning substance. And the second agent is a numbing agent. That’s why you don’t feel them in the middle of the night when they bite you.
Balowski also has a tip for travelers when checking into a hotel. He recommends that when you first get into a room, put your luggage immediately in the bathtub. Bedbugs don’t hide in there.
While your bags are in the tub, inspect the ribbon around the mattress. And if you have someone else who can assist you, pick up the headboard if you can and look behind it.
Even Balowski isn’t immune to the psychological trauma these insects can trigger.
Once, he recounts, he checked into a hotel and was so exhausted, he didn’t heed his own advice. He plopped down into bed and late at night experienced phantom itching.
The bugs weren’t really biting him. “It was just my mind playing tricks on me,” he says. “Bed bugs can be so mentally stressful.”
An equal-opportunity blood sucker
And it’s not just budget hotels that can be infested with them. Five-star hotels are equally vulnerable.
The same applies for residential communities.
“I’ve seen bed bugs in homes so clean you could eat off the floor,” Balowski says.
Dirty homes are not more vulnerable to an infestation. But they do make things more difficult for pest control technicians to eradicate.
Learning how to get rid of bed bugs fast by reading articles online may offer some hope.
But trying DIY techniques to get rid of an invasion is going to be at best, a long trial and error nightmare. And at worse, well, it’ll still be a nightmare.
Use DIY methods for beauty or making household cleaners.
When it comes to getting rid of bed bugs, though, leave it up to the pros.
And last bit of advice from expert Rick Balowski. He says never use bug bombs–they push the bugs further into the walls.
Do you have other pests that you need to try and get out of your house? Check out our article on how to use an all natural ant killer indoors.