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I know the panic, the dread, the embarrassment. This was a horrible experience for me! After trying others' advice and spending months battling these horrible little critters, I FINALLY got my house back! I want to share with you how I did it so that you can do it too! This article describes how to get rid of bed bugs yourself, without using toxic pesticides or paying thousands of dollars on exterminators! Do not give into the exterminator hype. If I can do it alone, you can too!
Learn to identify. I don't mean just knowing what they look like. I mean, learn male from female and the life cycle stages. Learn this first hand as you are doing the extermination. Later on, if you find a single bug, you will know if it is a recent hatch (could be a loner) or a female adult (that would require extermination of new eggs). Your battle against the bed bug will be much shorter if you can identify them well so that you know how to react. This can also relieve some of the anxiety and stress that comes from seeing a single bug after extermination. Knowing if a new bug is a male or female can let you know if you need to repeat processes or wait to see if he is just a loner that was missed or hatched after extermination. Also important to know is that females do not reproduce until they are adults.
You are going to kill the bed bugs with heat using your dryer and a hand held steamer. Using steam to kill these bugs is almost instant! They cannot tolerate heat. Your dryer can kill the bugs and eggs if on the highest setting for about 30-45 minutes.
Freezing temps will also kill them. If you have a deep freezer, you can put items in the freezer for 3 days to ensure everything has been killed.
I say above to not throw away any furniture you want to keep. "Want" is the key word. You must decide if it is worth it. Only you can decide. During my extermination I did toss out an old recliner because it was just too much of a risk. It had a decent infestation inside the chair. With all of the inside parts, nooks, and crannies, I decided that I would probably not be able to get every single one. So I tossed the chair.
Another example of when to toss is a torn mattress. If your mattress has a tear in it, then your protection of bed bugs being inside the mattress has been jeopardized. It most cases it can be salvaged. But, is it worth it? If you choose to keep the torn mattress you can steam the mattress inside and out. If you are not confident after steaming, you can add a mattress cover. (I do not recommend the cover unless your infestation was severe and you have a tear in the mattress cover.)
Question: How long do I steam to get rid of bed bugs?
Answer: How long you steam one place will depend on the article you are steaming. The bed bugs will die with just a few seconds of steam hitting them. You must move the steam over the item slow enough to make sure the steam would reach the bug. For example, in a wood item, you can move along fairly quick through any cracks or gaps. If you are steaming an upholstered chair, you want to go over the fabric slowly, especially in any places the fabric gathers to ensure any hiding bugs or eggs will get hit by the steam for at least 3-5 seconds. Many times you will see them come out as you get closer to their hiding places. They will feel the heat coming and try to escape it.
Question: Where do I get a quality, but fairly inexpensive, steamer so I can exterminate bed bugs without toxic poisons?
Answer: I would try Ebay. Remember as you search, it does not have to be fancy. Just a hand held small steamer should do the trick. I have seen them at Wal-Mart, Target, Harbor Freight, and other discount stores.
Question: Can you use a blow dryer if you do not have a steamer? Or does it have to be moist heat?
Answer: I do not know for sure. It would be difficult because the bugs let go of the object they are crawling on to drop and run when they feel danger. I think the blow dryer would not be hot enough to kill them instantly. Therefore, give them time to run. Steam is hotter than boiling water. The heat to kill the bugs does not have to be moist — just very high temperature. You can put all bedding and clothing in the dryer on high temp setting for 30 minutes or so.
Also, if you just cannot get a steamer, I recommend getting Diatomaceous Earth. It is a natural substance, no pesticide poisons.
Put it on your furniture, flooring, and items that can not be washed. Put it in the cracks and crevices. Keep it dry, and it will last a long time. It does not kill instantly. Once bugs have it on them, they will die in a day or so. Very good to use to kill the newly hatched after you have done a good cleaning.
Anywhere you can leave it; it will kill fleas and bed bugs that walk through it for months if kept dry.