Eliminate Bed Bugs Step-by-Step

Bed Bug Control

Photo Courtesy of NYSIPM/Cornell

The New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYSIPM) Program at Cornell University recently produced new bed bug resources to help homeowners prevent and control bed bugs. Following are just a few of the tips and resources from that site (reprinted with permission.)

How to Deal with Bed Bugs

  • Don’t bring home hitchhikers: Traveling? Inspect your hotel room before you call it a night. Examine your luggage thoroughly with each new place you go. Wash and dry clothes with hot water and high heat as soon as you get home.
  • Freeze it: Bag small items; place in your freezer for 30 days.
  • Buying used furniture, bedding, clothes? Inspect thoroughly. Wash and dry bedding and clothes with hot water, high heat. Steam is an option, but make sure stuff dries out so it doesn't mold.
  • Check everywhere: Keep bedroom furniture an inch or two from the wall and a flashlight handy for easier cleaning and inspecting. Bed bug-proof mattress covers and light-colored bedding make them easier to spot.
  • Remove: Say goodbye to clutter in your bedroom to get rid of bed bug hiding spots. Getting rid of stuff?  Cover in plastic so bugs don’t fall off and make sure the items are in a dumpster or ruined so people don’t take them home.
  • Vacuum often: Floors, walls, mattresses, baseboards, furniture ... Get rid of the vacuum bag as soon as you’re done in case you sucked up a bed bug.
  • Pesticide options: Leave it to the professionals. Some sprays simply repel bed bugs, spreading them around. Make sure pesticides are labeled specifically for bed bugs. Always read and follow the instructions on the label.

    Another resource developed by Cornell/NYSIPM is a Bed Bug Graphics series, which teaches individuals how to inspect, identify, and manage bed bugs using Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Bed Bug Graphics provides a series of step-by-step fact sheets by Matthew Frye with illustration and design by Karen English.

    Bed Bug Management—One Step at a Time!

    (Click the link to download the graphic pdf.)

    Step 1: Inspection

    Step 2: Get Rid of Clutter

    Step 3: Vacuum Here, There, Everywhere

    Step 4: Clean Mattress and Bed Frame

    Step 5: Heat Treat Everything That’s Safe to Wash

    Step 6: Make Your Bed an Island

    Step 7: How to Dispose of an Infested Mattress

    The series provides a light-hearted look at the serious matter of bed bugs, providing simple to follow instructions in seven steps. For example, Step 4: Clean Mattress and Bed Frame illustrates and list four simple steps:

    1. Use a steam cleaner on the mattress and box springs.

    2. Steam (140 degrees) kills bed bugs on contact only.

    3. Use the brush or crack and crevice tool to apply steam directly to plush items.

    4. Clean hard surfaces with warm, soapy water and a soft 4-bristle brush. Use orange, lemon or pine-based soaps.

    That's it – the mattress and bed frame are clean, and a click on "The next step is Heat Treat Everything That’s Safe to Wash" takes the reader to Step 5.

    All of the documents cited above, as well as more information on bed bugs and their control, are available on the Cornell/NYSIPM website, the sheets can be downloaded as PDFs or viewed as presentation (created with Prezi software).

    The fact sheets are also being created in Spanish and will be available by year end.