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DIY bed bug treatment: myths and facts

Bed bugs can be a huge burden for home and business owners alike. The sheer thought of these blood-sucking insects is enough to keep anyone up all night. These crawling insects can deliver a multitude of aggravating bites that can itch for hours, and can sometimes be particularly troublesome to control.

More often than not people will try a DIY solution using home remedies to control bed bugs before contacting a pest control professional. Here, we dig into which methods that can be effective.

Still, if you have noticed any signs of bed bugs, we recommend you reach out to a pest control professional for a real solution to your problem. Ehrlich experts are prepared to get rid of them fast. Call us at 800-837-5520 or contact us online to set up a bed bug inspection today!

Home remedies for bed bugs

So, which home remedies for bed bugs actually work? And what can you do to help stop them from spreading? Read on to find out.

Ultrasonic devices

Like with most DIY solutions for pests, there has been a lot of discussion around using ultrasonic devices in order to repel bed bugs.

The idea behind this home remedy for bed bugs is to use ultrasonic devices, typically those that you plug into the wall. The high frequencies of the sound waves emitted from the device are believed to be uncomfortable for bed bugs, forcing them to leave the area.

Myth or Fact:
Myth. Like with most theories of using ultrasonic devices as home remedies for pests, these devices have no effect on bed bugs whatsoever. Michael F. Potter, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, explains that ultrasonic devices have never proven themselves to be effective control tools. "If anything, I would expect the bugs to utilize them as a haven since they often emit small amounts of heat."

Baking soda

When discussing home remedies for bed bugs, baking soda is often a popular option. But can baking soda kill bed bugs?

The method around this popular DIY bed bug treatment is to sprinkle baking soda around the areas that bed bugs typically inhabit, such as the mattress and the area around your bed. After a few days, you’re supposed to vacuum it up and repeat the process.

Baking soda is believed to get rid of bed bugs by absorbing the surface fluids on the waxy layer of a bed bug’s shell and cause them to dehydrate. It is also thought that the small granules of baking soda can cut into a bed bug’s shell and cause internal bleeding.

Myth or Fact:
Myth. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that baking soda is a successful home remedy for bed bugs.  Baking soda actually breaks down when it comes into contact with water, so the idea that it can absorb the thick fluids found on a bed bug shell is quite questionable. Although it may seem to work in some instances, it is not a guaranteed fix to fully remove a bed bug infestation from a property.

DIY bed bug control

Moth balls

Like with ultrasonic devices, moth balls are often regarded as a good DIY pest control option for multiple pests including bed bugs.

For this bed bug home remedy, it is suggested that you place a handful of moth balls around the common bed bug hotspots such as underneath your bed, sofa, or other furniture. The theory behind this method is that the chemicals used in moth balls have quite a pungent smell, something bed bugs don’t like. Because of this, it is believed that the smell of moth balls naturally repels bed bugs.

Myth or Fact:
Myth. Studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of moth balls as a home remedy for bed bugs. Changlu Wang and his research team at Rutgers University in New Jersey tested the effectiveness of this DIY bed bug treatment option. The results showed that the moth balls failed to wipe out bed bugs after 7 days. Although between 44-60% of the adult bed bugs died, the eggs and bed bug nymphs still survived.

Wash bedding

Beds are often the main area of your home that becomes infested with bed bugs. Because of this, it is believed that washing your bedding is an effective DIY bed bug treatment.

Strip the bedding from your bed, place it in a black bin liner and transfer it to the washing machine. Wash the bedding at a high temperature of at least 140°F, ideally for at least 90 minutes.

The theory behind this home remedy for bed bugs is based on the impact of heat. Bed bugs aren’t too fond of high temperatures; you could argue that it’s their worst enemy. The high temperature of the washing machine helps kill bed bugs – adults, nymphs and eggs.

Myth or Fact:
Fact. Washing your bedding is an effective method to get rid of bed bugs. The use of heat is a great way to eradicate bed bugs and is one of the main features of our professional solution of bed bugs.

However, it is important to note that although washing your bedding is a good home remedy for bed bugs, it is not a 100% guaranteed fix. Yes, it can reduce the amount of bed bugs in your home but it won’t fully remove them.

Talcum powder

Talcum powder is a popular home remedy for bed bugs, but how effective is it?

There are two methods for using talcum powder to get rid of bed bugs.

  1. Sprinkle talcum powder around the bed bug hotspots such as underneath bedroom furniture. Similar to baking soda, it is believed that talcum powder will get rid of bed bugs by causing them to dehydrate.
  2. Create a trap by putting some talcum powder in a bowl and placing them underneath your bed. Bed bugs will be able to get into the bowl but the talcum powder will make it too slippery for them to get out.

Myth or Fact:
Myth. Like with baking powder, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea of talcum powder getting rid of bed bugs by causing them to dehydrate. This is because the powder is not sharp enough to penetrate a bed bug’s exoskeleton. Using talcum powder as part of a bed bug trap can have some success, but it does not fully eradicate a bed bug problem.

Rubbing alcohol

The use of rubbing alcohol is among the most popular home remedies for bed bugs as it is believed to both kill and repel these biting insects.

Purchase a bottle of rubbing alcohol from your local pharmacy and pour the contents into a spray bottle. Apply the solution to the common bed bug hotspots such as underneath furniture and on your bed frame.

Myth or Fact:
Myth. It all depends on the alcohol percentage. Another study conducted by Changlu Wang and his research team at Rutgers University showed that after being sprayed with rubbing alcohol, half of the bed bugs still survived after four days.

However, it is believed that an alcohol percentage of 90% or above will effectively kill bed bugs. But this concentration of alcohol can have a negative impact on your health, while also causing a major fire hazard, and is NOT advised.


Just like heat, bed bugs aren’t too fond of the cold. That’s why freezing is often another DIY treatment option.

Place infested items such as pillows and duvets into your freezer.

Myth or Fact:
Fact. Freezing infested items is an effective home remedy for bed bugs. For this bed bug home remedy to be successful, the temperature of the freezer must remain at or below 0°F, and the items should be left in the freezer for at least 4 days. However, like with most home remedies, it is not a foolproof solution to fully remove bed bugs from your home. But it is an effective way to help reduce the number of bed bugs in your home, and to remove them from infested items.

DIY bed bug control

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is regarded as a natural form of bed bug control.

For this DIY bed bug treatment, it is recommended that you dilute around 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle filled with water and apply the solution to the common bed bug hotspots. This home remedy for bed bugs is believed to work as the tea tree oil soaks into a bed bug’s exoskeleton, leading to suffocation.

Myth or Fact:
Myth. This bed bug home remedy is only partly effective when it is sprayed directly onto the insect, and thus will not fully solve a bed bug problem. Furthermore, it is argued that only undiluted tea tree oil will work, which is something that can be harmful to humans and is NOT advised.


Dryer sheets

Like for mosquitoes and gnats, dryer sheets are also believed to be an effective home remedy for bed bugs.

Place scented dryer sheets underneath your mattress, in cupboards and drawers, underneath sofa cushions and any other areas you might expect bed bugs. The idea behind the success of this DIY bed bug treatment is the scent of the dryer sheets repels bed bugs.

Myth or Fact:
Myth. There is no scientific evidence to support the success of dryer sheets repelling bed bugs. Even if the scent of the dryer sheets does repulse bed bugs, they will often find a way around them to get to their food source.

DIY bed bug control


Due to its simplicity, vacuuming is often regarded as a successful home remedy for bed bugs.

Vacuum your home thoroughly. Pay close attention to the bed bug hotspots such as underneath furniture and between wall joints. Use the attachments to get into the hard-to-reach areas as well as along the seams of your mattress, cushions and pillows. Once finished, empty the contents of the vacuum in an outside trash can.

Myth or Fact:
Fact. Vacuuming is an effective DIY bed bug treatment. Unlike other home remedies, this process can help remove both adult bed bugs and nymphs as well as the eggs. It is important to remember to empty the vacuum in an outside trash can to help reduce the possibility of them returning. However, like most DIY pest control solutions, vacuuming will not fully eradicate bed bugs from your home, but it can help reduce the numbers.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a popular home remedy for multiple pests, and bed bugs are no exception.

Apply a fine amount of diatomaceous earth along the seams of your mattress, bed frames, and furniture. This home remedy for bed bugs is believed to work by causing the bed bugs to die of dehydration.

Myth or Fact:
Fact. Diatomaceous earth can be an effective DIY bed bug treatment. However, there are a couple of elements that lead to its success.

  1. It has been suggested that the amount of diatomaceous earth applied effects how well this home remedy for bed bugs works. Too much and the bed bugs will simply navigate around it, and it can also be bad for your health if inhaled.
  2. A study detailed on the Pest Control Technology website examined the effectiveness of Diatomaceous earth to get rid of bed bugs. However, the results showed that as a stand-alone treatment, it’s not a foolproof solution. The most effective way to use diatomaceous earth to get rid of bed bugs is alongside other bed bug control options.

Professional bed bug control

The best way to get rid of bed bugs is with the help of a pest control professional. At Ehrlich, we have bed bug solutions such as heat treatment to eradicate bed bugs from a property.

Think you have a bed bug problem? Get in touch with Ehrlich today.



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