What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly?

Written by Rebecca
Updated: September 16, 2022
Image Credit Dmitry Bezrukov/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points

  • Some facts on this list include: bed bugs eggs are the size of a pinhead. Adults grow to the size of an apple seed.
  • A few products that will kill bed bugs instantly are: bed bug spray and insecticides. Otherwise deep general cleaning can sometimes do the trick.
  • Call a professional if the infestation is out of control.

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of. These vicious little buggers hide in our furnishings and, as we relax, scamper out to suck our blood. The act of the bite itself is almost imperceptible. But the symptoms are obvious.

A strong feature of their infestation is quick reproduction. Worse, the female lays in the vicinity of 500 eggs. No wonder these nuisances are such a pain!

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What Bed Bugs Look Like

Bedbugs may vary in appearance depending on region but there are similarities across the species.

  • Size: The eggs are the size of a pinhead. Adults grow to the size of an apple seed.
  • Color: Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown and become redder when well fed.
  • Shape: Bed bugs have an elongated or oval body.
  • Smell: The bugs leave a musty odor often mistaken to be the bedding or mattress.
  • Wings: They have wings but don’t fly.

Signs of Existence in Your Home

You can’t see bed bugs. They’re too small. But you can familiarize yourself with signs of infestation.

  • Small eggs or eggshells in areas where bed bugs hide
  • Poop; small dots that appear blurry
  • Rust-colored or red stains on your sheets or mattress that indicate bedbugs got crushed

Often, these identifiers show up when changing or cleaning bedding.

You can also find the bugs:

  • In curtain folds
  • In chair seams
  • In drawer joints
  • Under wallpaper
Bed bugs - signs on mattress
Signs of bed bugs on a bed mattress. Bed bugs are too small to see readily, but one should look out for signs of these pests in the home.

whitejellybeans/Shutterstock.com

Bed Bugs in the Home

Bed bugs are naturally scavengers and hitchhikers. Unlike cockroaches or houseflies, how clean you keep your home has nothing to do with the appearance of bed bugs.

Ironically, humans “invite” them into the home. We bring them back from vacations. Visitors drop them off. The critters attach themselves to luggage, people, clothing, old furniture, and other personal belongings. They hide their flat bodies in secluded spaces.

Unlike other invaders, bed bugs don’t need decay, filth, or organics to attract their attention. The main food source is blood. So anywhere they can find a human or an animal is a good move.

Bed bugs come out, usually in the middle of the night when we sleep, and work towards us to feed. Their bite contains a mild anesthetic that keeps us from noticing their presence as they eat.

Once upon a time, bed bugs were primarily a source of pain for hotels (because of the constant swapping of residents). Today, they are a major stress point for private homes and businesses. Enterprises from hospitals to clothing retailers and movie theaters have had to deal with these “travel bugs.”

What do the Bites Look Like?

The bed bugs prefer to feed while we rest. That means most of their activity takes place at night.

Bites have:

  • A size of 0.08 to 0.16 inches
  • A curved pattern, the result of up to four bites
  • Intense itching, mostly in the morning
  • Occur mostly on legs and arms
  • Blisters

These bites can be mistaken for the work of fleas, scabies, mosquitos, or body lice. There are allergic reactions like redness, itching, and swelling.

Additionally, a red itchy, swollen bump with a discolored center or smaller red bumps that look similar to welts are common. These patches of bites can look like welts, zigzags, blisters, or hives. A raised flat bump may also appear on the skin that seems inflamed or hot to the touch. Bed bug bites are not considered dangerous in a sense of fatality, however, if an allergic reaction occurs you may need to seek medical attention.

Treatment of Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites go away without treatment after a while. You can take an oral antihistamine or topical steroid. Serious reactions you want to take to a dermatologist.

Bed Bug Prevention

It’s believed we bring these nasty creatures in from the outside, usually after travel. Here are a few home remedies to stop that from happening.

Survey

When you stay elsewhere, seek out signs of bedbugs, including rust or red spots on bed skirts, sheets, or mattress tags.

Lift

Look for signs of bedbugs in bedding, bed frames, and furniture.

Elevate

Keep luggage and personal items away from and off the bed if you’re not sure it’s clean.

Examine

Carefully examine and shake items before packing and returning home.

Place

Once home, dry clothing on high for at least 15 minutes.

[Note the process acronym: Survey. Lift. Elevate. Examine. Place. SLEEP.]

Be aware bed bugs also hitch rides on used furniture. Make sure to thoroughly inspect these pieces before they come into the home.

Most Effective Treatments

The treatment of bed bugs requires a strategic approach that manages beddings and minimizes infestation in areas where the pests naturally hide and lay eggs. If the matter’s serious, you may need an exterminator to rid yourself permanently of the invaders.

Let’s review a few things you can do to implement the most effective treatment for getting rid of these invaders.

Diatomaceous earth

DE (diatomaceous earth) is dust placed around carpets, bed frames, and pet bedding. Bed bugs walk across the substance and take remnants with them. The DE essentially dries them and any bugs they come in contact with from the inside out.

Stay away from DEs used in pool filters. That’s a dangerous indoor inhalation.

Insecticides

Insecticides are infrequent bed bug killers. That’s because it’s difficult to apply everywhere you find the creatures. Read labels carefully and use insecticides as directed.

Covers

Encasements for mattresses and other framings are great home remedies. They both keep bugs away and keep current invaders from getting out. You can encase pillows too. Encasements should zip tightly.

Cleanup

Unused clutter around a bed bug’s habitat makes for excellent places to leave eggs and feces. Prevention treatments have no impact on magazines, newspapers, or mail. You have to throw them out. Don’t leave clothing lying around either. And never move items from one room to another. Take them straight to the wash or the trash.

Get rid of bed bugs - steam cleaning
The best way to kill bed bugs instantly is by using steam cleaning equipment.

Dmytro Golovchenko/Shutterstock.com

Ways to Kill Bed Bugs Instantly!

The best way to get rid of bed bugs naturally is with steam. Get yourself a steamer and you’re ready to treat unwanted guests.

  • Both pests and their eggs immediately die at temperatures of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Apply steam slowly and carefully to the folds and tufts of mattresses, along bed frames and sofa seams, and around edges and corners where bugs may hide.
  • Use steamer wands on your clothing and bedding.
  • If you have furniture that can handle temperature and moisture, slowly run steam over flat planes. Focus on crevices and seams, especially where you find screws and bolts. This is where bed bugs are most likely to live.
  • There are tricky hideaways, like recliners or upholstered items. You often can’t get deep enough into the cushions. Remove parts that come off and get to steaming.

Steaming every few days is a natural way to get rid of bugs permanently. But even being among the best home remedies, steaming isn’t always 100 percent reliable.

Another of the most effective treatments for eliminating bed bugs is the application of rubbing alcohol. Though not a full-proof solution, it’s effective on adult bugs (but only on about 60 percent of the time). It does not affect nymphs or eggs.

You also have to ensure every bug gets sprayed. One survivor can create a new populace inside of months.

Next Up…

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About the Author

My name is Rebecca and I've been a Professional Freelancer for almost a decade. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessing over cats and pet rats.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Home?

An effective DIY solution is to apply diluted rubbing alcohol. Alcohol decreases bed bugs permanently. Alcohol also evaporates fast, making it a safe alternative. Steam is another great way to rid yourself of bed bugs quickly.

What Chemical Kills Bed Bugs Instantly?

Pyrethrin is an insecticide extracted from chrysanthemums. The chemical is lethal to bed bugs. When applied, it flushes bed bugs from hiding places. Their attempts to escape will fail as contact with the chemical kills them no matter where they run.

What Do Bed Bugs Hate?

Bed bugs, like most arachnids and insects, despise the scent of cinnamon, mint, basil, and citrus. The elements contain linalool, a natural component used in pesticides. The odor won’t kill the critters. It drives them out and into any traps you’ve set. Bed bugs also react the same way to Vicks, which contains linalool too.

How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs When You Have No Money?

If your budget’s limited and your infestation serious, try steam cleaning, desiccant dust, plant-based safe sprays that kill bed bugs, encasements on beds and furniture, and bed bug inceptors.

Does Baby Powder or Baking Soda Repel Bed Bugs?

There are no scientific findings that support the myth of baby (or talcum) powder or baking soda ridding environments of bed bugs. Compounds like DEs dehydrate insects but these powders do not have the intensity to penetrate a bed bug’s exoskeleton. Now, bed bugs, like most insects, don’t cotton to baking soda but it doesn’t do much to scare them off.

Can You Starve Bed Bugs Out?

This would be difficult as adult bed bugs can go months without a meal.

What is the Main Cause of Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are everywhere but they aren’t nomadic. Bed bugs hitchhike. They attach themselves to luggage, clothing, personal belongings, furnishings, and people. The buggers travel with these items and get into the home.

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