How do I stop bed bug bites in bed and protect the bed?

by nobugsonme on November 2, 2006 · 112 comments

in bed bug bites

There are different theories as far as what to do about your bed. Here are a few of them. Note that it is not possible to completely stop bed bug bites, but if you are very sensitive to them, you may be able to take steps to stop as many as possible by “isolating” the bed. Since there are negative aspects of this approach, according to some experts, another option is to not isolate the bed and instead “protect” it.

A. Protecting your bed from bed bugs
This means you make sure bed bugs are not harboring in the bed frame, headboard, etc., and that you encase mattresses and box springs in high quality bed bug-proof encasements.

You have to work with the protocols of your pest management professional. Most pest professionals we’re aware of do recommend encasements. A carefully-encased mattress (with encasement sealed and kept free of tears) may help many people to eliminate bed bugs sooner, avoid bed bug bites, and save or protect an expensive mattress.  Read our encasements FAQ for some of the pros and cons, and expert recommendations.

Bedbugs can crawl onto the bed and bite you, but you are taking steps to ensure they do not live there. If they cross poison on the way to you, any meal will hopefully be their last. You may use a Packtite Passive Monitor/BBAlert Passive Monitor, which encourages bed bugs to harbor inside so they can be detected easily. Alternatively, you may use pitfall/interceptor monitors like Climbup ® Interceptors or Blackout Bed Bug Detectors to catch any bed bugs climbing onto or off of the bed (read more about Climbup ® Interceptors and Blackout Bed Bug Detectors here). These two approaches (passives vs. interceptor/pitfall monitors) are quite different, and mixing them is not usually the best idea.

B. Isolating the Bed

Here, you are trying to get bedbugs out of your bed, and keep them out, so they cannot bite at night.

Isolating the bed is controversial, and though it may help stop bed bug bites in bed for people who are being bitten very badly, who have serious allergic reactions or who are in great distress, it also may actually mean you are fighting bedbugs longer. This is so because bed bugs may spread further around your home (and remember: this process won’t stop bed bug bites happening outside of the bed).

The theory behind isolating is that bed bugs will still try to get to you, but they should be trapped on the way, and you should be able to avoid bed bug bites while sleeping.

In a few cases, however, bed bugs are said to have dropped down from the ceiling to bite people in “isolated” beds. It seems to be a rare occurrence, but a possibility. More often, beds not thoroughly isolated have allowed people to continue to be bitten by bed bugs. If you’re going to isolate, you must be meticulous and thorough.

And remember, if bedbugs cannot bite at night, they will bite during the daytime, as you sit in chairs or go about your day. For this reason, many would recommend instead that you simply “protect” the bed, but do not isolate it.

Many people prefer to “protect” rather than “isolate” the bed because having bed bugs biting you in bed, or finding evidence they were there (cast skins, blood spots, etc.) is a sure sign you still have a bed bug problem and require further treatment. If you “isolate” and don’t react to bed bug bites you get during the day, it may be harder to verify bedbugs’ continued presence. Isolating may also mean they spread further around your home, since they may have trouble reaching you in bed, where they used to feed. Protecting the bed instead, and using pitfall/interceptor monitors like Climbup ® Interceptors or Blackout Bed Bug Detectors as a tool for catching bed bugs as the wander onto or off of the bed’s legs, or using Packtite Passive Monitors (aka BBAlert Passive Monitors) (which offer an easily inspected harborage for trapping and monitoring bed bugs) would be my preference.

C. Do not encase

We are aware of two highly regarded bed bug experts who do not recommend encasing mattresses or box springs. British PCO David Cain of Bed Bugs Ltd., and Dr. Richard Naylor of Sheffield University (UK), well known to forum users, both do not recommend encasements. It should be noted that David has a very hands-on approach to removing bed bugs from homes, and claims to take a long time inspecting and removing bed bugs. If your pest control operator uses such methods, and tells you not to encase the mattress or box spring, by all means, do not do so. It’s essential that your mattress does not have any tears or gaps which would allow bed bugs to get inside. Your pest management professional (or you, if necessary) should remove all bed bugs and eggs from the mattress and box springs. (Note: removing bed bugs with any certainty from a box spring is very difficult; eliminating the box, or encasing just the box with a strong encasement, are options to consider.)

If you choose not to encase the mattress, we would still recommend using the Packtite Passive/BBAlert Passive, designed by David Cain. It’s a small, inexpensive passive monitoring device. The design naturally encourages bed bugs to harbor there. The idea is that you check it for signs of bed bugs (like fecal stains) on a monthly basis, to determine if bed bugs are present. You can read more about Packtite Passive Monitors (BBAlert Passive Monitors), and find out how to get them, here.

Note on products mentioned:

You can read about Climbup ® Interceptors, a pitfall/interceptor monitor.

Buy ClimbUp Interceptor Monitors at Bed Bug Supply

Packtite Passive (aka BBAlert Passive) is an alternative to pitfall/interceptor monitors for those who do not want to “isolate” bed legs, or in cases where the bed frame does not allow their use. You can read more about Packtite Passive Monitors, and find out how to get them, here.

For mattress and box spring encasements, see our Encasements page. All other items below are available widely. You can also see or purchase them on Bedbugger’s Useful Stuff page.

What to do

Both protecting and isolating the bed require you to eliminate bed bugs from the mattress, box springs, headboard and bed frame, and then encase the mattress and box springs. So let’s start there.


The advice below assumes your home will be professionally treated by a Pest Control Operator who has experience with bed bugs. Protecting or isolating your bed, on their own, will not get rid of bed bugs. However, a PCO will tell you that you need to sleep in your normal spot in order to get rid of bed bugs, and protecting or isolating the bed will likely work well with the PCO’s treatment plan, which will likely include laying down residual pesticides that bed bugs will cross while trying to get to you.

You should wait to carefully clean your mattress, frame, bed, and home until a Pest Control Operator has verified you have bed bugs. Some have cleaned away evidence and been refused treatment by professionals or landlords.

Also, once bed bugs are verified to be present by those who need to see them, you should wait to encase your mattress until the Pest Control Operator has treated your home, because most PCOs can treat areas of the mattress (side, seams) and box springs as well as the bed frame / headboard with certain pesticides which are labeled for this purpose. Doing so and then thoroughly drying and sealing the mattress and box springs in encasements is best.

For protecting the bed or isolating the bed, everyone will need:

1. A zippered mattress encasement that has been tested to keep bed bugs in (or out), and that completely encloses your mattress (and box springs, if you insist on keeping them), the best you can afford. They are not all the same. Vinyl and cloth encasements are sold by a wide variety of suppliers, but few have actually been tested to keep bed bugs out (or in).

I would recommend Protect-A-Bed AllerZip encasements. They have been tested to keep bed bugs within the mattress even if the zipper is opened slightly — which gives you some insurance against accidents. Mattress Safe encasements also did well in Rick Cooper’s tests. Click here to read about bed bug encasements and to purchase them.

2. New pillows

3. Pillow encasements; buy with mattress encasements from same source. As for mattress encasements, they should be designed and tested specifically to keep bed bugs out (or in).

4. White sheets and pillow cases, cotton blanket (if you need to replace a comforter or other blanket). Cotton sheets and a cotton blanket are easy to wash and dry. (Comforters may harbor bed bugs even after a long stint in the dryer, and non-cotton blankets do not hold up well to dryer heat.) White color is not mandatory but may help you spot stains or insects; I’d avoid small patterns for this reason also.


If you want to “isolate” the bed, read the following items 5-12.

If you only want to “protect” the bed, skip down to “Steps for Everyone” under the next dotted line below.

5. Bed risers — they raise the bed, to help keep sheets and blankets off the floor, a must if you are trying to “isolate the bed.” They can be found at Bed, Bath and Beyond (or Bed Bugs and Beyond, as Bedbugger Bugzinthehood termed it, long before a company providing Vikane treatments appeared with the same name) or (like the other items below) on Bedbugger’s Useful Stuff page.

In 2009, the Climbup ® Interceptor passive bed bug monitor became available.  This product replaces and is, in my mind, preferable to the use of items 6-8 below. If you obtain Climbup Interceptors or BlackOut Bed Bug Detectors (introduced in 2013), you can skip the mineral or tea tree oil, vaseline, and bowls. You may still want to use bed risers, to help keep bed linens off the floor, but make sure they fit inside the pitfall trap well. You can read about ClimbUps and BlackOut here.

Climbup ® Interceptors, BlackOut Bed Bug Detectors — or other pitfall or interceptor monitors — one per bed leg. These will catch any bed bugs climbing onto or off of the bed, and are vastly preferable to items 6-8 because they catch samples, rather than deterring bed bugs. Note Climbup brand has been known to crack on thicker carpets. Putting something flat underneath them may avoid this problem, or you could try another brand.

If pitfall/interceptor monitors are not available, you may use items 6-7:

6. Mineral oil or tea tree oil (more expensive but some people enjoy the idea that bed bugs hate it; we’re told it may harm cats).

7. 4 bowls for holding mineral oil or tea tree oil under the legs of the bed frame. Stainless steel is the best choice, but other sturdy unbreakable bowls will do. If your bed risers have a little reservoir, you can simply keep that filled instead.

Warning: oil may damage wood and other items. Bed bugs may also be deterred from entering these traps.  If you use cups of oil, you won’t know if bed bugs are present and they may spread further from the bed and be harder to treat.   For these reasons, if pitfall/interceptor monitors are not available, consider very carefully whether you might instead choose David Cain’s approach described under method C (“Do not encase”) above.

8. Thick garbage bags (contractor bags) and XL and XXL Ziploc bags. Check the hardware dept of your favorite big box store for the contractor bags. They are usually not sold with the household trash bags. In the USA, XL / XXL Ziplocs are sold in Target stores (look near the storage section and/or the section with bags), Home Depot (near the home cleaning supplies), or online (see our Useful Tools page).

9. Murphy’s Oil Soap (for wooden bed frames), which is a contact killer for bed bugs and is good for cleaning wood and rendering it bed bug-free. Regular strength works fine. It is sold in ready to use spray bottles and a concentrated formula.

10. Quality duct tape: Use duct tape to ensure there are no sharp edges on a metal frame before you place an encased mattress on it.

11. You may need a new metal bed frame, if you are unable to get bed bugs out of your wooden bed.

12. Some have actually decided to discard mattresses and isolate an Aerobed< upon a metal bed frame. You could use duct tape to ensure there are no sharp edges on a metal frame before you place an Aerobed on it. (Please use caution with discarding items; seal them completely in plastic before moving them through or out of your home, label them carefully, and realize that if you live in a building or in a house which is attached to others, your neighbors may take them in and use them and become infested and you may be right back to square one — another reason to encase instead.)


Steps for everyone:

(See “Important” note at top.)

1. Strip the bed. Put all of the dirty linens into a garbage bag and tie it off well. Some suggest using plastic cable ties. You can also knot the bag’s top in one single knot (it must be airtight; push the bag. If air can escape, you are tying it wrong). Launder your bedding as soon as you can in HOT water, and dry on HIGH HEAT until completely dry and then some. When you take it out of the dryer, put it immediately into another garbage bag and tie it off, or use an XL Ziploc.

2. Vacuum the mattress and springs really well. Especially in areas with stitching, piping, tufts and the plastic corner guards. You might want to take the corner guards off. You may also want to take the gauzy covering off of the bottom of the bed spring and vacuum inside. (Though box spring encasements are available, many people will want to discard box springs; be sure to seal in a bed-sized bag before moving through your home.) Used vacuum bags should be sealed in a ziploc and disposed of after use. If you have a bagless vacuum, empty into a ziploc and clean the bagless container right away. Otherwise, bed bugs or eggs may remain in the container/bag.

3. Put the mattress and springs into the new encasements and seal. If you use a Protect-A-Bed AllerZip encasements (with the BugLock Zip), you do not need to tape the zipper. Mattress Safe encasements also have a lock to keep the encasement closed.

If you use another encasement, you should probably tape the zipper and where the zipper closes on your encasement. This tape must not be allowed to come off; keeping it on can be very difficult. People have used Scotch Blue Painter’s tape, and National Allergy sells this along with their encasements, to be put over the zipper. Other types of very adhesive tape may work better, but none are foolproof.

4. Vacuum your bed frame. If you have a metal frame, put DE down in the legs and cover over all of the holes and spaces with duct tape.

Wooden bed frames, and fancy headboards and foot boards are very problematic and need extra considerations. These are addressed in another area of this FAQ.

5. Move the bedframe away from the wall.

6. Vacuum under and around the bed frame very thoroughly.

7. Put the mattress set back on the frame, very carefully, so you don’t rip the covers. (See comments above about duct tape; this can be used to reinforce corners.)

(Note: even though they are not necessary for protecting the bed, you may want to use pitfall/interceptor monitor bed bug monitors under each bed leg in order to detect bed bugs climbing onto or off of the bed.
The following steps are only for those “isolating” the bed. If you are only “protecting” the bed, skip to step 12.
8. If using pitfall/interceptor monitors (preferred method; see above): Put bed legs (or bed legs on risers) inside pitfall/interceptor monitors — one per bed leg. These will catch any bed bugs climbing onto or off of the bed, and are preferable to items 6-8 because they catch samples, rather than deterring bed bugs.

If pitfall/interceptor monitors are not available to you, put the bed on the risers, and put mineral oil (or tea tree oil) in the depression in the castors are resting in. If your bed is already high off the floor, or if the bed risers have no wells to put the oil in, put the legs in bowls of mineral oil.

Note: some people have traditionally recommended placing a row of vaseline and a separate row of double sided tape around the bed legs, above the mineral oil cups. I am not sure of the value of this if you are using cups of mineral or tea tree oil. People tell us double sided tape does not often catch bed bugs. However, if you are using Climbup ® Interceptors or BlackOut Bed Bug Detectors as recommended, do not place vaseline or double sided tape on the bed legs. You want bed bugs to walk into the Climbup discs and be trapped; you do not want them to be deterred by barriers.

9. Vacuum again, to hopefully pick up any strays that fell or crawled off of the mattress and box springs in the process.

10. Remember not to let your sheets and blankets drag on the floor while you sleep. Realize also that you may carry bed bugs into the bed, for example, by simply sitting on a chair where a bed bug was able to crawl onto your clothing. If you isolate the bed, try to hop in bed clean and wearing clothing which was itself isolated and kept in sealed plastic bags.



Everyone should:


11. Break out the new pillows and put encasements on them. See step #3 above and duct taping the zippers if necessary.

12. Put on clean white linens (so you can see blood or other stains more easily).

Change and launder them (and blanket, if used), preferably about every 4-7 days. Check the sheets every day for bed bugs, cast skins, and fecal stains that look like black ink spots.

If you “protected” the bed, this is evidence you still have bed bugs (helpful to know, especially if you do not react to bites). If you “isolated” the bed, this is evidence that the bugs are still in the bed.

Consider repeating the steps above of cleaning the frame and having it treated with pesticides, to ensure bed bugs are not living in the bed. And in any case, continue professional treatment approx. every two weeks until bed bug bites and all other signs are long gone.

13. Unless you are doing more cleaning immediately, take the bag out of the vacuum,and put the bag in a Ziploc bag or a securely tied garbage bag and put in an outside garbage receptacle. If you use a bagless vacuum, empty it into a bag and seal and dispose of this, and clean the bagless container. This prevents bed bugs and eggs from remaining in the container and potentially reinfesting your home.

14. Examine all of your precautions often. Encasements can get holes; try to avoid this. If it happens, promptly duct tape or replace them.

If you have a cat with claws, ensure the cat cannot make contact with the encasement (or even the encasement covered in bed linens). Keep the cat away from the bed if at all possible.

15. Optional steps:


Some Bedbuggers have used an Aerobed or air mattress, with or without a new cheap metal frame. You can’t encase the raised AeroBeds, so you will probably want to isolate the bed (per our FAQs) with bed risers and a cheap metal frame (see below). Remember to make sure there are no sharp edges on the frame (wrap with some duct tape if there are).


Wood Bed Frames:

If you have a wood bed frame, take it completely apart, if you can, and wash it down (every inch) with Murphy’s Oil Soap
. Spray the Murphy’s on and wipe it off. Don’t just spray it on a rag and wipe. The Murphy’s will kill bed bugs on contact, if you douse them. I don’t know what a light spray will do.

Since you are cleaning, you can pay close attention to all the little cracks and crevices in the wood and joinery, looking for all of the signs listed in step #13. The Pest Control Operator may spray the bed frame all over before you reassemble it. You may also consult the PCO about a pesticide you can use all over the frame if s/he will not do it. Take precautions and use pesticides only as labeled.

Captain’s beds (with drawers underneath a wooden platform) can be a bed bug nightmare. Consider destroying and carefully removing them. Otherwise, every piece will need to be disassembled, cleaned and sprayed with pesticide (by a PCO). A PCO who knows bed bugs will be able to advise about which items you should discard and which can be treated successfully.

Upholstered Headboards and Footboards:


Any upholstery is very difficult to treat successfully. Others may have different answers, but I would say to remove them from your frame, and vacuum and have the PCO treat them (or cautiously spray them with an upholstery safe insecticide). Let it dry completely, then seal the item in plastic wrap (ie. heavy painter’s tarp or shrink wrap plastic), duct tape all of the edges of the plastic and store it for a year to 18 months.

Another option that may or may not work is steaming with a very good quality steamer. A professional may do this as part of a PCO service. You may do it also. The steam may not reach deeply enough in heavily upholstered items without cooling and may only serve to drive the bugs in deeper. Some people have simply given up and tossed them out, frankly, as upholstered head- and footboards are hard to treat successfully. Again, ask the PCO whether the item can be salvaged.


The FAQ on isolating the bed was originally written by Dee in Colorado, from information she compiled by asking the members of the Bedbugger Yahoo Group, a great source of support and information, in your war against bed bugs. It was edited and revised several times by Nobugsonme based on information we have since gathered about the downsides of isolating, and about products which were not available when the original FAQ was written.

Note from Nobugsonme: I have made a number of significant changes as of June 2008, including removing recommendations that people use the mechanical killer diatomaceous earth (DE) around the bed and on the floor.

I also strengthened the warning that “isolating” is controversial among bed bug experts. Many people would recommend you “protect” but do not isolate the bed.

In June 2009, I added information on Climbup Interceptors, a new invention which is inexpensive and much preferable to cups of mineral or tea tree oil being placed under bed feet. I changed the directions to note that if this tool is used, people must NOT use vaseline or duct tape on bed legs, as it will prevent samples going into the monitor and being trapped.

If you choose to use DE in your home, read the DE FAQ, and ensure that your pest control operator approves of this self-treatment and where you’re doing it.

Among other things, I also changed the recommendations about mattress encasements. When this FAQ was written, few encasements were available, and few studies had been done about their effectiveness. Eighteen months later, it’s a completely different ballgame.

We have better products available now, and they can be more costly than the cheapest encasements which don’t work. But the best encasements can also be comparable in cost to ones that do not work.

If these pests are living in your bed and not crossing poison in order to bite you, you will never get rid of bed bugs. For this reason, I personally believe the quality of mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements are very, very important.

Thanks to Dee in Colorado, and all the other Bedbuggers who’ve contributed to this wonderful FAQ!

We learned everything we know by trial and error and advice from others. If you have had success with something other than what has been listed, please add it to the comments. Also, please feel free to add any other reputable sources for products.

If you need information on other aspects of your bed bug war, go back to the FAQs by clicking here. To read about or buy mattress encasements click here, and to buy DE, bed risers, metal frames, or any of the other stuff recommended above, you can click here to go to the Shop for Useful Tools page.

Disclosure: Please note that this site runs affiliate advertisements, which means if you shop through the banners and links in this post or in the Useful Tools page, for example, a portion of your purchase price goes to support running this site, at no additional cost to you. Be assured that we don’t recommend products unless we have found them useful, professionals active on the site have recommended them to us, or Bedbugger readers have recommended them to others.

updated 1/2019

1 nobugsonme November 2, 2006 at 3:00 am

This is from Parakeets:

I have a Breathe Right fabric dust-mite fabric cover on my mattress,
and a vinyl cover on my boxspring, so I have noticed the differences
betwen fabric and vinyl.

1) The fabric dust-mite cover is softer, not sweaty and sticky, and
most importantly- -doesn’t wrinkle or rip.

2) The vinyl cover rips (I have it repaired with Duct Tape),
outgasses, and folds over into lines of hard plastic “wrinkles” that
I am afraid the bedbugs could tuck themselves into. It is hot in
the summer.

The fabric cover is a lot more expensive and is not liquid-proof.
If a bedbug gets squished and the blood squirts, the stain is on the
fabric, which you can’t wipe down the same way you can the vinyl, so
I have some battle stains on the fabric cover.

I’d have to vote for the fabric. Choose carefully. If your
mattress has bedbugs, you have to leave whatever mattress cover you
choose on for 18 months since they can still be alive in there, just
waiting for you to open the zipper and let them out to feed. If
they are not feeding on blood, they are not growing to the next
stage, but they are still in there, hungry.

2 Dee November 2, 2006 at 3:16 pm

Other sources for XL & XXL Ziplock bags.
I have purchased them at some grocery stores, & Sam’s Club, which is the cheapest per bag I have found.

3 nobugsonme November 2, 2006 at 3:22 pm

Thanks Dee. I look at when I go, but they do not have them yet. I hope they will soon!

4 Christopher Gowen January 30, 2007 at 5:30 pm

costco does have t hem nowadays

5 nobugsonme January 30, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Hi Christopher,
It sounds like their stock varies from place to place.
They still don’t at my store in NYC, nor on their website.
But New Yorkers can get them in, Home Depot and Target. People elsewhere should check their local stores.

6 Jon March 12, 2007 at 3:46 pm

I found bedbugs in a ripped corner of my box spring. I ripped off the bottom gauze and found more on the wood. After removing all of the material from the box spring (bagging it to take out to the dumpster), I steamed the bugs with a small clothes steamer. The bigger ones took more to kill, but it worked. I vacuumed them out, then steamed all of the wood and cracks.

After that I put the mattress and pillows in plastic encasements.

I moved the bed from the wall, too. I’m still getting bitten, but not as much, although every time I wake up, I find another bug or two on my quilt or pillow. I get them up with a hand vac and flush them down the toilet or in a containet in the sink with hot soapy water.

I’m not getting much sleep, but I’m going to talk with the building manager and get on the list for the pest control guy. I didn’t even know they had been coming once a month because the only sign was near the office, not put under our doors like every other notice.

Apparently this problem was here for months before the bugs invaded my apartment and I had no idea the first little brown beetle I saw was a pest of this order.

Sleepless, or darned close, in Vancouver, BC

7 nobugsonme March 12, 2007 at 6:19 pm

When you talk about monthly spraying, do you mean the monthly roach-spraying a lot of buildings do? If so, that’s not what you need. You need a bed bug expert, which is usually a different pest control operator (PCO) entirely. Your landlord needs to get someone in there right away. You need to follow instructions here for bagging your mattress right away. Look at the FAQS, and if you have questions, please follow the instructions here to post them. If you write here, they won’t get much attention, because you’re writing in the comments to a FAQ.

8 bugsrbitingme March 23, 2007 at 8:30 pm

I just had the exterminator come to my apartment and spray the bedrooms and within 2 hours another one was on my bed. I have bed risers so before I go to bed I’m going to put them up and out some water with pine in them. Maybe I won’t get bit tonite.

9 nobugsonme March 23, 2007 at 8:43 pm


If you JUST put the bed on risers, it may do little or nothing. You have to encase the mattress carefully first.

10 bugsrbitingme April 1, 2007 at 5:45 pm

I’ll start from the beginning. One afternoon I noticed a bedbug crawling across my comforter. I killed it and shook the sheet and another one came out. I went online instantly and looked up the little bastards and was terrified to learn I had bedbugs. That night I went to sleep and that is when they began to bite me. The first week I would wake up and have 3 or 4 bites from the night. I began to get scared to sleep in my own bed. I called 311 and filed a complaint against my building because they haven’t even supplied us with an exterminator in over a year. I got one 2 days later. I bagged up all my clothes that were exposed ( even the clothes in the closet). The guy sprays my apartment and when he leaves I began trying to put things back to order in my room. I didn’t remove any of the clothes from the bags. I laid down on my bed and within 2 hours a bedbug was on my bed. It’s been a at least a week and a half and although I didn’t sleep in my apartment for about 3 days I haven’t been bitten. I took careful steps to make sure I didn’t transfer any bugs to my friends apartment. And just so I could get some sleep, I take sleeping pills at home before bedtime. I haven’t seen a bedbug and I hope they would go away for good. And yes I’m still living out of XL ziplock bags. I actually like them.

11 nobugsonme April 1, 2007 at 7:02 pm

HI Bugsrbitingme,
I am glad things are better since your treatment. Since this is a FAQ, and the discussion is really about the FAQ, why don’t you go to the forums and post your comments or questions there–it’s much more active. 🙂 You can click here to go to the forums, or click the icon above right that says “forums” or click “get advice” in the top menu (that way, you’ll always know how to get there again.)

12 David May 13, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Under the right conditions, you could use the “nuclear option” for bedbugs that I accidentally discovered and it actually worked for me: I moved to a Northern state (for work) during the dead of winter, just after getting a few bedbugs in my house. I laundered all bedsheets and put them in plastic vaccuum-bags (space bags), then put the bed frame, matresses, and everything else I owned in a U-Haul rental truck and left it in the parked truck (outside) for 4 days in temperatures ranging from 10 degrees F to 25 degrees F. Killed everything. No problems since.

13 nobugsonme May 14, 2007 at 2:12 am

HI David,
Thanks for your comment!
I have heard of this working for some. But others have claimed they left things out under similar conditions for much longer periods, and the bed bugs survived.
I am very glad it worked for you, though! If you want to continue the discussion, we should probably move this to the forums, since it is off-topic on this FAQ about protecting the bed.

14 Kristin June 5, 2007 at 11:14 am

Do I have to throw my pillows out if I wash and dry them?

15 Karen Ford June 12, 2007 at 4:37 pm

I can bed bugs cause hives?

16 nobugsonme June 12, 2007 at 11:35 pm

Yes, I think anything that can cause an allergic reaction can also cause hives. If it’s bed bugs, and you are allergic, you might have bite marks as well as hives. The appearance can vary from person to person. Click “bed bug bites (photos)” in the top menu bar for a range of bite appearances and links to even more. The other FAQs in Bed Bugs 101 (click FAQs above) should help you find other signs to look for.

17 nobugsonme June 12, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Kristin, sorry we missed your question. You should wash your pillows on hot and dry them (drying them on hot for a VERY long time, like 90-120 minutes). Pillows, like mattresses, should also be covered with zippered encasements made to completely enclose the pillow or mattress. We have a link above to a discount from one retailer, but these can be found in other places too.

18 Buggin OUt July 3, 2007 at 3:47 pm

AHHHH!!!!!!!!!! I noticed that these little critters were on my bed and in the creases of my boxspring NOT the mattress itself and I FREAKED. I have always thought of them as s result of being unkempt and nasty. However this is not the case. I have sprayed and vacuumed and they have come back in monthly intervals (3-5 months) to be exact. I moved in April and they were ABSENT until about 2 weeks ago. I sprayed my bed down again and even have thrown away linens and washed one that I thought were infested. Should I just get rid of my mattresses? They are only 3.5 years old and I bought them new. What do I do!!!!!!!!!!!!!

19 nobugsonme July 3, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Hi Buggin Out,

Bed bugs are awful. In my opinion, since you have been self-treating for 3-5 months and you still have bed bugs, you need to get a professional Pest Control Operator who knows how to deal with bed bugs (they are not all experienced in this area). We have a FAQ on choosing one who knows bed bugs. We also have additional FAQs you may find helpful.

I would not toss the mattress until the PCO tells you to. In most cases, if you encase it as we describe in this FAQ, you can keep them in. Of course, they also live elsewhere besides the mattress and box spring, hence the need for thorough treatment of the entire home.

Please read the Bed Bugs 101 FAQs and the FAQ about choosing a PCO and please get one in there ASAP. You may not even be responsible for payment if you are renting (we have a FAQ on that too.)

If you have further questions, click “forums” get advice” in the tabs at the top of this page. Good luck!

20 Willow-the-wisp July 5, 2007 at 10:02 am

3-5 months … that’s a long time perhaps they there is an influx of them from some unknown source?

21 nobugsonme July 5, 2007 at 10:43 am

There could well be an influx from a neighbor (if any) and you should read this FAQ which explains why self-treatment in homes where someone else is attached to yours, is not a great idea:
It’s also possible that the methods you were using to self-treat were not working.

22 tammy August 28, 2007 at 11:21 am

i’ve been living in a motel for almost a year and recently those bed bugs having been attacking me, however my husband says that they aren’t bothering him. i have senitive skin and it felt like someone poured itching powder on me and i’d wake up with bites all over my arms and legs . i told the manager of the hotel some workers say they are roaches so i killed several more and showed them still they say the same thing but however i did research on them and they’re bed bugs . it got to the point i had to sleep in the truck cause i didn’t want to get bit anymore . they sprayed 3 times i even went to home depo and bought hot shotno mess fogger still there here. i’ve been washing linens almost every 3 days what can i use chorlox would they kill them help me please i feel like i’m going crazy here i only have 7 mths to stay here cause i’m moving out of state.

23 nobugsonme August 28, 2007 at 11:56 am

I’d call the local health department. You need an outside source of backup that these are not roaches. Better yet, pick some up on a piece of clear packing tape and tape to an index card. You can take them to the public health dept. and file a claim.
I do not think using a fogger is a good idea as it disperses them and they will come back.
Please read our other FAQs carefully, starting with “Think you have bed bugs? Some do’s and don’ts.”

24 tammy August 28, 2007 at 12:52 pm

besides itching& bitting you do some people experience trouble sawllowing like u have a fur ball caught in your throat

25 hopelessnomo August 28, 2007 at 1:23 pm

You need to see a doctor. It could be an allergic reaction to the bites or an allergic reaction to the pesticides that you and the motel have used. You should not wait.

26 nobugsonme August 28, 2007 at 7:38 pm

Yes, this is very frightening, Tammy. Some people develop severe reactions to bed bugs. If anything besides bite marks and itching is occurring, I’d go to a doctor. And if your throat is swollen and you have trouble swallowing, go to the ER. At least one other reader had to do that, and she could have died, she had such a severe reaction.

27 Lourdes August 31, 2007 at 10:58 am

I have an air bed how do I protect it from bed bugs they are driving me crazy, I have washed everything I own and put everything in plastic covers but they are still coming in. I think there coming from other apartments through the radiator. I’m at my wits end with them I even went to a hardware store and brought bed bug spray it works but they still come back with a vengence. I put vaseline on the air bed but they still manage to get on the bed. Does anyone have any suggestions?

28 hopelessnomo August 31, 2007 at 11:24 am


Bedbugs are not something that most people can treat on their own. You need the services of a professional who knows how to treat for them and has lots of experience. Hardware store spray is not likely to be of much help if you are getting lots of bites and they may be coming from other apartments. Sometimes spraying something yourself has the opposite effect and makes things worse.

You should notify your landlord immediately, since in most areas landlords are required to treat.

Please read the FAQs here. They will help immensely. There is one about what not to do and one about landlord / tenant issues. And many more.

As far as isolating an air mattress, some have put such airbeds on top of a metal frame which is then isolated in the usual manner. Others place the airbed on a plastic sheet with double sided carpet tape all around. I don’t have experience in either of these methods but you can get additional information and advice in the forums (click the blue bug above).

However, I would read the FAQs first before posting in the forums.

Please note that isolating your bed is not a way to kill the bedbugs. It’s just so that you can get some sleep. The idea is not just to avoid bites, but to eliminate the infestation.

Call your landlord and read the FAQs.

29 Kevin Gooknecht September 24, 2007 at 1:39 am

i never had bed bugs before until i got robbed. then i got new blankets and stuff because they stole those and i slept in the bed a couple days and never got bit. but i went to get in my bed tonite and saw small bugs crawling on my bed so i took my sheet off and whipped my blanket and there must of been 15 of the bugs… i have seperatly layed carpet peices nailed down and i have blankets on all my windows … what should i do? now that i no theres bugs in my bed i cant sleep:( any help u can give me on how they got there… mite they have come with the new blanket??? should i get a new mattress ? wat should i do?

30 nobugsonme September 24, 2007 at 10:40 am


You do not need to buy a new mattress. First, read the Bed Bugs 101 FAQs. You probably have bed bugs (not mites) and the photos in the links at the top of the page (Photos of bed bugs and signs of bed bugs) should help you identify them. Keep some samples on tape. Read the FAQs and then call a PCO. You probably want to seal up the stuff in bags that you know to be infested, blankets and such, but do not assume this will get rid of the problem. Bag your sheets separately–though blankets might be hard to clean and you might want to toss them, the sheets aren’t.

And yes, anything you buy might possibly be infested: person buys blankets and pillow, person takes them home, person returns them along with their bed bugs. I am sure it happens. Might mean the store is infested, but might also be just that item if package was opened and resealed.

31 WhatNext October 3, 2007 at 7:38 pm

Why the need to wash or get new pillows if they are going to be sealed in a new pillow case?

32 nobugsonme October 3, 2007 at 7:44 pm

The pillow encasements have closings that are not as carefully crafted as those of the mattress encasements. It’s also hard to keep tape on the small zip opening on a pillow encasement, since your head is pushing air out of it all the time. I would personally start with a new pillow, esp. since pillows can be cheap. But yes, you can carefully encase your pillows as long as you keep any gap near the zipper taped.

Everything with bed bugs is a judgment call: you have to take the maximum steps you feel you can. Most of us are very cautious because we have seen how persistent bed bugs can be.

33 sheila October 7, 2007 at 9:21 am

‘bed bugs ‘ i like eveyone else have tried every trick in the book, to try and get rid of bed bugs. Iwas going mad every day cleaning every inch of the house , i was just about having a nerveous break down that is how bad they were effecting me .I eventually came up with an idea, i noticed that they seem to attack the feet first so i plastered toothpaste on and in between my toes, when i went into bed, and they seemed to be attracted to this, so that was half the battle. The outcome was they they crawled over my toes, got covered in toothpaste ,the toothpaste dried and they could not move. so at last i have found something that works it might be a bit messy but at least i can get to sleep at night i still go through my cleaning routine evey day and change my bed every day just to make sure. sheila

34 nobugsonme October 7, 2007 at 5:24 pm

I really would not recommend Sheila’s method. Even if toothpaste does deter bed bugs (and I have never heard this suggested before), it is not likely to do so long-term. Bed bugs can simply bite other parts of your body.

Sheila, have you had your home professionally treated to get rid of bed bugs?

35 Eason Sinclair October 10, 2007 at 10:16 am

Ok. I’ve read everything on this page. I live in a developing country. I have a washer but no dryer. I have none of the products mentioned that I should buy. We don’t even have good duct tape here. I’ve vaccuumed, and washed everything in 90+F degrees. Are there any natural deterents… like cockroaches hate bay leaves… is there anything I can do with things found around the home/kitchen that will make these bugges leave me alone?

36 nobugsonme October 10, 2007 at 11:25 am


91% isopropyl alcohol (often used for health care) can be sprayed on bed bugs you see and will kill them.

To kill bed bugs you cannot see, and to kill them as they appear, try to find some diatomaceous earth. Read this FAQ:

If English is not the primary language in your country, then go to the Wikipedia page linked from it. They give many names in other languages for this substance which can be bought worldwide. It is essential to buy the kind made for animal feed (food grade) and NOT the kind made for a swimming pool, which will not do the job and can be harmful.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is inexpensive, safe if you buy the right kind, and use it properly, and it will kill bed bugs. Steaming, if you can get a hold of a good steamer, might be good to do before applying the DE.

You may also be able to buy pesticide sprays. We normally do not recommend self treating, but this pest is difficult to get rid of and I would not attempt to fight with “natural remedies” besides DE–nothing is likely to work. If you have further questions, please go to the forums:

37 Margaret October 18, 2007 at 3:07 am

Like Eason Sinclair, I am living outside the US, in St Petersburg, Russia. I just today found the first bedbug after living in the apt for a month, and trying to figure out which lotion, shampoo, etc, I was allergic to. Guess I’m allergic to the bugs (my husband doesn’t show a trace, by the way).
I’ll have to speak with the landlady, but my guess is that it will be hard to get such aggressive treatment by a PCO as you are describing in the US. If we move out, we’ll have to launder everything and have books, etc treated, but it’s better than this miserable itching.
Our bed is a sofa bed–the whole thing is upholstered: the back and seat of the bed simply open up flat. In other words, there is no inside mattress that unfolds, as in most US models, but the cushions of the sofa actually are the bed surface. I don’t see how this can be isolated, short of sealing the whole bed, legs and all, in a huge bag. –Margaret

38 nobugsonme October 19, 2007 at 4:41 am

Hi Margaret,

You might be pleasantly surprised. I do not know anything about pest control in Russia. But I do know two things:

1) Many countries (even Australia from what I hear) have more potent pesticides available than are currently legal and labeled for bed bugs in the US. Perhaps Russia is one of them. I think the treatment available may not be as thorough or as “integrated” there as it is among the best PCOs here, but the chemicals used may be more aggressive there. And that may very well trump thoughtfulness, care, and XL ziploc bags.

2) One Bedbugger once told us that Russian women in the US were experts at dealing with bed bugs: he claimed they knew them from Russia. Maybe you can tap into this wisdom, if it is true. Talk to lots of people, of all ages, and see what you find out. But I’d go for the pesticides, too, and avoid herbs and things. Diatomaceous earth is supposed to be available worldwide. Make sure it is the kind for feeding farm animals (food grade). The wikipedia page linked from our DE FAQ has names in other languages, not sure if Russian is listed now, but it will likely help.

The only thing I am sure you are right about is the sofa. It is tricky. If the whole thing folds flat and is the size of a mattress, you could encase and keep it flat. But it might be hard to deal with. And encasements may not be available–you may need to order from overseas which is hard and slow and expensive.

I hope this helps and you get some relief soon.

39 Beth Willis October 25, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Hi, My husband brought the dreaded bugs home from a motel. I have called an exterminator to come. What my question is, do I need to wash all my clothes in my closet even the ones on hangers.

40 nobugsonme October 26, 2007 at 12:28 am

I would follow the PCO (pest control operator)’s preparation list. They should give you one. (If they do not have one, then they may not be experienced with bed bugs.) And I would say that yes, you probably should clean (hot wash, hot dry) and seal in bags all clothing, bedclothes, and linen. This will ensure that if they are in any of your clothes, they are dead. And that you are not bitten while wearing your clothes. It will also make it less likely that you transport the bed bugs to other places. See the FAQs for more information.

41 Beth Willis October 26, 2007 at 11:19 am

My husband talked to his Grandfather about the bugs because they were very popular back in the day. He said they sat there bed post in deisel fuel. What would you recommend us to put our bed posts in. I also wanted to say these bugs do not discriminate they dont care whether your house is dirty or clean. So anyone out there freaking out about this because you thought you werent clean enough its not your fault. Thanks!

42 nobugsonme October 26, 2007 at 11:44 am

Hi Beth,

I would not put your bed posts in diesel. However, if you read the step-by-step post above these comments carefully, we do suggest that during treatment, one option is to “isolate’ the bed, by putting a carefully encased mattress on top of a clean (bed bug free) bed frame on top of risers, and either (a) putting the risers in bowls of mineral oil or tea tree oil, or (b) putting mineral oil or tea tree oil in the reservoirs of the riser tops (some have a space allowing this). It really is a similar idea to what your grandfather did. But since you already HAVE bed bugs, you can’t just pop your bed onto the “moats” in this way. You’d be trapping bed bugs on the bed with you.

Everyone does not do this, and there are some good reasons people choose not to, but it can allow you to sleep without being bitten during treatment, if you are careful.

You are right that bed bugs are not caused by a lack of hygiene or dirty surroundings. Clutter does help them hide, but cannot bring them on.

43 ShirCVenus November 9, 2007 at 3:55 am

Hello, bedbugger.

I am Asian from South East Asia region.

I have stayed in this apartment for more than 8 years, there was no bedbugs problem at all. Until about 6 months ago, I moved to the next room in the same apartment as to accomodate my working desk in the room. This room was previously used to hang blazers, cloaks & coats we only need when out to colder country and storing all the mattresses.

I have encountered terrible bites and scarrings on my back, my feet and both arms too. All this happend after since I came back visiting outstate friend’s hotel. And, I don’t know whether I picked up some there else too cause i am a frequent traveller. The bites started from my back and spred to both feet, shins and up to thighs. I went for countless clinics and specialists, cause i though it’s some sort of allergic reactions. Blisters, swollen bites with huge marks. Typically triangle shape bites, may be this has something to do with bedbug scissoring and blade mechanism in feeding.

After failing in getting better with all the ointment and anti-histamine i got from specialist and doctors, I started with spring clean the room. Then, using household chlorine. It was okay for around 1-2 month. Until last few days, i started to get those bites back on my feet again, this time concentrate more on my arms, ear & palms. Yesterday night, I saw one red brownish hooping small insect jumping on my left arm and i squished it. But, it managed to survived and disappeared into the crevice. I couldn’t sleep whole night.

This morning, after reading up your FAQ and others comment, Wikipedia as well. Then only i realized, it has been these blood feeding bedbugs (fleas) that we don’t usually hear about that attacking me all this while.
I decided to take action in exterminating it today.

I have plenty of sources who would come across lab and industrial chemicals, I can obtain isopropyl alcohol. Does it work to exterminate all the adult, metamorphosizing nemphs & eggs by spraying them into the crevice, wooden wall lining, onto the closet, desk..?
Celite with percentage around 80 to 90 max is recommended? I once read in some article giving warning that high content may cause allergic reaction and are said to be carcinogenic.

Should I really need to get a metal bed frame? I been putting the mattress directly on floor. And yes, it is adjacent to the wooden wall lining, 2 windows & on wooden floor.

There are quite plenty of things in this room. (closet, hangers, bags, iron board, computer desk, computers, printer, wall phone, higher book rack, bookshelf & ventilator) Where & what should I start with? Please advise.

Thank you for your attention and help.

44 nobugsonme November 9, 2007 at 5:44 am

Hi ShirCVenus,
Sorry you have this problem.
One thing is very important: do you have bed bugs? Or do you have fleas? You mention them both together, but they are VERY different and treatment is very different too.
Please come to the forums (with the same username) by clicking the blue button at top right, so we can help. But remember–you must confirm whether it is bed bugs or fleas. (Photos should help.)

45 sandy November 14, 2007 at 10:16 pm


Well, I have bed bugs in my apartment too. The second treatment is scheduled for this coming Friday and was wondering at what point should I encase my mattress. Should I encase it before or after the second treatment, or should I wait until the third treatment. The Pest control guy said they will do at least 3 treatments. Thank you

46 nobugsonme November 14, 2007 at 11:05 pm

First, I would ask the PCO.

My own opinion is that it should happen after he treated the mattress once. And it needs to thoroughly dry before you put the cover on or sleep on it.

If he is not treating the mattress, then it can be done from day one, but most PCOs will, with appropriate chemicals.

47 sheila November 28, 2007 at 3:49 pm

Where can i buy DIATOMACEOUE OR DE at?

48 hopelessnomo November 28, 2007 at 4:16 pm

Read the FAQ for more information:

What is diatomaceous earth (DE)? Should I use it?

49 nobugsonme June 20, 2008 at 3:35 am

Revised and back online. Suggestions welcomed.

50 Belle72 June 20, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Thank you for updating!

51 Ugh July 16, 2008 at 7:34 pm

Just found out that I have bed bugs in my mattress. I will be moving in about a month out of my apartment. The mattress is about 5-6 years old. I’m thinking about discarding it and buying a new one when I move into the new place. Is there anything else I can do to avoid these things coming along to the new place? Should my soon to be ex-landlord treat the apartment for them once all of my stuff is out of the old place?

52 nobugsonme July 16, 2008 at 8:34 pm

How do you know they are only in your mattress? I’d assume they’re also elsewhere in the apt. and quite possibly in your other stuff.
You should have the landlord start treating now, in my opinion.

If you want to be sure not to take bed bugs with you, and you have the funds, consider having your belongings gassed with vikane en route to the new place.

If this is not an option, you will need to take great care, and even then, there’s no guarantee you won’t move them.

If you have further questions, please post them in the forums.

53 Igottheheebiegeebies August 6, 2008 at 9:32 am

I found bed bugs in my bed and box spring. I threw them out because I was so freaked out. I’m working with pest control who has already come twice and I’m still getting bitten while sleeping on my futon in the living room. I have encased the futon mattress and pillows. I have searched and searched around the apartment and have found no evidence of any live bed bugs but as stated I still wake up with the welts of having been bit over night. I believe they are inside my bed frame which is hollow and has small holes where the slats are attached. It’s complicated to explain it’s design – it came from IKEA. Anyhow…..anyone know what else I can do to get to these things if they are actually inside the frame?? I don’t want to lose anymore furniture but I’m at my wits end and can not sleep. If the sheet brushes against my leg at night I’m immediately up and awake I’m so freaked out and discusted. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

54 nobugsonme August 6, 2008 at 12:04 pm

The only thing I would suggest, igottheheebiejeebies, is considering isolating the bed with a cheap metal frame. (Metal can be infested, but the idea is you are starting from a clean slate and isolating the legs).

Alternatively, speak to the PCO about treating the frame. Diassemble it (remove every screw, take it apart). You can inspect it carefully and either use a contact killer on every surface OR have the PCO spray it professionally (even better).

Ikea furniture, since self-assembled, by its nature provides many places for bed bugs to hide. The plus side is you can usually take it apart.

55 reallyscared September 2, 2008 at 10:21 pm

yesterday i was at an apartment that had recently been treated for bedbugs. we wanted to remove the carpeting before the second treatment. after finishing up, i took a hot shower, threw away all the clothes i was wearing (including undergarments). my new clothes were in ziploc bags. and i left the apt. right after my shower. i didnt even have a bag with me.. just my wallet and keys. tonight after dinner (24 hours later) itchy bumps showed up all over my arms, almost out of the blue. could i have brought back bedbugs to my own house on my person? could i have been bitten while working in the apt. yesterday and the symptoms are showing up now? please help.. i’m freaking out..

56 nobugsonme September 3, 2008 at 12:52 am


You can react to bed bug bites up to nine days later. It would not surprise me if you were bitten during the visit to the apt.

(I wonder also if you ever visited before that, or if the inhabitant has been to your home or in your car, which may mean you may have brought them home before you were being so cautious?)

Please come to the forums if you want to discuss this (or anything else) further (you’ll get more responses):

57 really scared September 3, 2008 at 10:11 am

dear nobugsonme,

i started my own topic in the forums section entitled “can you carry bedbugs on your person?”
in my despair last night i didnt know exactly what i was doing. i would appreciate it if you would read the posts in that forum. thank you. you’ve been so helpful.

58 riya October 7, 2008 at 6:39 am

hi,i have seen small tiny walking,colourless insects,very small walking on walls at nite…
n 3 months back i saw a bug big red one which was in my home as i viusited a bug infrcted relatives home..
so would that be a bed bug?these r in every room and have very very tiny wings…n antennas

59 nobugsonme October 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm


Bed bugs do not have wings. See this page for help identifying one. Catch your bugs on clear tape and get a pest control operator or university extension office to ID them so you can get treatment.

60 carmena October 23, 2008 at 4:38 pm

i just moved to washington husband is in the service soour furniture was moved with a moving company..three days ago i woke up with 6 bite on my lower back up but cheek….i am preganant so i only sleep on my sides…the next day i found 2 more.. the next day i found non…this morning i woke up to one on my ankle.. all the other ones were in the same area…my husband is very hairy and has no bump…i have yet to see any bugs but i am certain its something in my mattress…i am going to buy another mattress but is there a way for me to isolate them just to my mattress and not through out my appartment….my apartment has new carpet thru out…i have a sleigh bed which is wood and all around my head board and foot board has leather interior…help i need a solution so it doesnt spread to my eight year olds room….the military mom who husband thinks shes crazy

61 nobugsonme October 23, 2008 at 5:16 pm

LOTS of people do not react. Entomologists suggest they may even be in the majority. Your husband is probably one.

If your furniture was moved and you have nothing new, it could be from the moving truck.

It could also be from a new item like new mattress, if applicable.

OR it could be in your new home.

You need professional pest control treatment from a company with experience killing lots of bed bugs. You also need to contact the moving company AND your landlord or seller (if you just bought the home). Because the bed bugs could have come from either source.

If you need more advice or want information, please come to the forums:

62 itchy & scratchy October 31, 2008 at 7:05 pm

5 days ago I woke up with around 100 bites on my trunk area plus a few on my arms & legs. They are very itchy and some are very sore. I went and got a bi-opsy today and will know in a week if I have bed bugs, in the mean while what can i do? I also have 2 dogs that sleep at the foot of my bed (one does sleep under the covers, the other on top) could there be a chance that I have been bitten by fleas? My dogs have never had a ‘bug problem, this is something very new for us, any advise??

63 prevention November 1, 2008 at 11:03 am

I encase my mattress and have taped the zipper opening, but I have a wool underblanket wrapped around the encased mattress, and a foam pad on top of that. My current encasement isn’t tall enough to fit them all within it. Any thoughts on this being a problem? I’m guessing it is, but I don’t know.

BTW, I’m doing all of this as a prevention. I don’t currently have a bed bug problem.

64 nobugsonme November 1, 2008 at 7:55 pm

HI prevention!

The idea of a bed bug proof encasement is that it keeps you from having to throw out your mattress should your home become infested with bed bugs.

(They can also be used to allow you to salvage a mattress once an infestation has begun.)

Having an encasement does not protect anything outside the encasement, and you should regularly look around to make sure you do not have signs of bed bugs on bedding or the outside of the encasement. (Treat encasements with care, though– they can rip pretty easily, even the good ones.)

65 Buggy Preggo November 3, 2008 at 10:13 pm

I moved into my first home just 5 months ago and its been hell. I have scars on my arms from the bed bug bites and my scratching them. I am pregnant and I cant get any sleep. At this point getting a pest control agent over wont do, they wont work inmy home because Im preggos and my son is asthmatic. anyway, what else can I do besides your 101 tips.

Buggy Preggo

66 nobugsonme November 4, 2008 at 12:00 am

Buggy Preggo,

Sorry you’re going through this.

There are experienced pest control pros who can use a variety of techniques including steam or thermal heat.

Thermal is probably more expensive but should be a one-shot deal. Steam is sometimes used along with dusts and must be done repeatedly in most cases.

I would not advise waiting, since having a baby and an asthmatic child won’t make treatment any easier.

If you need advice or support or PCO recommendations, please come to the forums:

67 goawaybugs93 November 15, 2008 at 1:02 pm

We just found out that we have bed bugs. I’m pretty sure my mom can’t afford a PCO and I have been gettin bites since at least August. At first i thought i was allergic to the new soap my bought but i saw them on my bed. Unfortunately, I took my comforter and ran to my brothers room. Now he has them too:( I don’t know what we’re going to do. We moved in late august and we don’t know where they are coming from. Our stuff was in a storage…could that be where they hitched a ride? PLEASE HELP! I AM LITERALLY BEING EATEN ALIVE! THERE’S NOT ONE PLACE ON MY BODY WHERE THERE ISN’T A BITE! THIS SUCKS

68 R. Davidge February 19, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I have bedbugs, live in an apartment, and have been fighting them a long long time. I am battle scarred and weary from our bedbug war.

A brief history for you: moved into my apt in the late 90s, started having bed bug problems in the 2003-2004 range. My husband fought them on his own because our crappy landlord would not, then the building changed hands, and the new landlord started fighting them, but uses a company that does not fix the problem (at least, they have not fixed it in my apartment).

When the landlord started paying attention to our infestation, we did it all! I did copious amounts of online research to get ready for the treatment. Then, We laundered all our clothes, microwaved our books and papers, put all the dryclean only stuff into the cleaners, moved all the furniture, supervised the spraying of the rooms we thought wwer infested, threw out irredeemable furniture, sprayed in drawers, in molding, light fixtures (pretty much every surface in our bedroom)and encased our brand new mattress, and taped up our plastic wrapped brand new box spring, and my husband thought we had it beat.

I was not so sure. . . unfortunately, I turned out to be right. Personally, I blame it on our landlord not using good people to treat the problem. I tried to convince him to spend the money to get a better trained bedbug pro in here, (not just a guy who’s earned a certificate and dictates to untrained staff what they should do in our apartment) but he doesn’t want to lay out the money.

Moerover, I would’ve called in a bedbug expert PCO many times over, but my husband has insisted on fighting them on his own because he cannot yet admit that they have him beat, and he doesn’t want to lay out the $, even though he agrees the landlord’s guys aren’t doing it.

Also, we have only treated our bedroom, because my husband thinks that is the only place they could be. I disagree, I think they could be anywhere in the apartment where things from our bed have lain or rested. Am I right? If so, our bbaby’s unused crib may have bedbugs just lying dormant, waiting for a host. What are the chances of bb’s just hanging out in the very little human used rooms, just waiting for the opportunity to get some blood and reinfest us?

Well, finally, we are outgrowing our apt. space and moving into a new place. I desperately want to leave this problem in this apartment and not transfer it to our new place.

I can get brand new mattresses,furniture, pillows, and all the replaceable items, including my baby’s crib with move-out money from my landlord, and I can wash and/or dryclean all of my and my family’s clothes.

However, what am I going to do about the possibility of bed bugs living in my photo albums, my paperwork filing system in the less used room, my CDs, my HDTV, my photo frames, my mementos, and my books (all of which are in my bedroom currently)?

I don’t want to throw these things out, as they are mostly irreplaceable. How can I save these things?

69 nobugsonme February 20, 2009 at 12:48 am

Hi R. Davidge,

One option when moving is to have a truck full of your stuff sealed and treated with Vikane (TM) gas (sulfuryl fluoride). This is not available everywhere, though in some places other types of gas fumigation can be done for bed bugs.

Please copy and repost your message in the forums. You will get many more responses there, and it’s kind of off the topic of this FAQ.

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70 yabiten April 6, 2009 at 8:54 pm

I just began renting a house, and because I couldn’t afford a new one, I bought a used mattress and bedspring that was donated to a thrift shop from local hotels, that really are know to be very clean. So, last week I moved in and I awoke with swollen bites all over one arm, and my boyfriend had not one. We went away for a day, and the night we came back, we didn’t get biten, but in the morning I noticed a wierd bug on the wall, and we jumped up to notice there was about three of them. I knew that was what bit me, so I’ve been wearing pants and long sleeved shirts to bed, and only a couple of bites. I went to Lowes and bought abug cleaner, and I cleaned the carpet under the bed and mattress with bleach and water. We didn’t find any in the mattress at all, not even where it has a small rip. We didn’t get bites at all that night.Well last night by bf decided to sleep in just his underwear and in the middle of the night he jumps up with over 12. We captured one and showed it to the landlord, who confirmed it was bed bug. He gave me some DE, and a fogger, and told me to get rid of the mattress, because no one had been living there all winter long, and he put down brand new carpet, and never saw a thing. He even asked the old renters, who said they never had a problem. I dont want to spend money, is there something I can inject in the mattress, and encase it? Is it also necessary to encase the box spring? How effective is alcohol or bleach in killing them? Should I throw out my comforter?

71 nobugsonme April 7, 2009 at 1:01 am


You could have gotten bed bugs several ways:

From the mattress,

From the thrift shop (which may have had them and then they crawled on the mattress),

From the house itself (and former tenants CAN have had bed bugs and not have reacted),

or from the moving truck.

There are other possibilities.

You must not assume they are only in the mattress. Encasing alone is not sufficient, though a good encasement can seal the ones in the mattress in.

Foggers are a BAD idea where bed bugs are concerned. DO NOT use it if you haven’t yet.

Please read additional FAQS:

And then post any questions you have in our forums where you will get many more responses:

72 Texan Mama May 24, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Hi. I don’t know if we have bedbugs for sure or not, but every morning I awake with a new itchy spot. At first I thought it was some kind of allergic reaction to something, but new spots keep showing up every morning.

I searched extensively for bedbugs in my mattress and could find nothing. I am going to next search the box springs. I looked in my wooden frame, and it appears there MAY be some bugs there so I am going to collect them and show them to a professional.

So, here’s my question: can you give me a ballpark figure as to the cost of getting a treatment? I’ve only noticed them in my own bed for about a week now (We’ve had this mattress/box springs for 3 years but the actual furniture for about 1 year). I have 4 kids, one more on the way, and haven’t noticed anyone with any bites. Do you think I’ll need my whole home treated or just my bedroom?


73 nobugsonme May 25, 2009 at 2:36 am

Hi Texan Mama,

Price of treatment can vary a great deal depending on where you live and also what kind of treatment is done. Price does not necessarily correlate to the quality of the job or the effectiveness.

Some one-shot solutions are available which tend to cost more (thermal treatment is one, another is Vikane– or sulfuryl fluoride– gas fumigation). If the price is within your range, these can be good options; thermal may be particularly attractive if you may be pregnant or have small children. Remember these methods will not help you long-term if you are being re-exposed to bed bugs (someone is bringing them home from an unknown source).

Often spray treatments cost less, but they may have to be repeated a few or even many times. (Steam is another option which can cut down treatments, though, coupled with dusts and sprays, will likely have to be repeated, perhaps multiple times.)

Some PCOs may inspect carefully. A detailed search may take hours. Those PCOs will probably have some sense of where bed bugs are and which areas need treatment.

Some PCOs will NOT inspect or will inspect only briefly. I would tend to trust them less as to where bed bugs are located. Remember some family members may react to bed bug bites, but many people do not react. This is not really a reliable indicator.

Canine scent detection (bed bug k9s, bed bug dogs) are also an option but the quality matters. A good team may be able to help find evidence; if you can see bed bugs, then you may not need this.

Please come to the Forums if you need support or have questions!

74 nobugsonme June 6, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Today, I adjusted the styles of headers (and added alert boxes) to make the FAQ easier to read. I also updated a lot of the information based on current theories and available tools.

I added a third option (“do not encase”) to the other options (“protecting” and “isolating” the bed) to reflect an additional theory which is against encasing mattresses. The proponent of this theory that we’re aware of is David Cain of Bed Bugs Limited. If David was my PCO, and he told me not to, I would not encase! However, I do note that most PCOs do recommend good encasements, and most probably use different methods from David.

I further highlighted the controversial aspects of “isolating the bed,” which many including myself would not now recommend.

I changed the “isolating” directions to recommend the use of Climbup Interceptors under bed legs instead of cups with oil, vaseline, and double-sided tape, because the passive bed bug monitor (Climbup) allows you to trap samples, whereas the other methods may simply deter bed bugs. Would you rather stop bed bugs and have evidence? Or just deter them? I think it’s a no-brainer!

However, I did leave information from Dee’s original FAQ on isolating with cups and mineral or tea tree oil, and double-sides tape / vaseline, in case people insist on isolating but cannot get Climbup Interceptors in their country. I still don’t like the isolating idea, but I realize some people will do this anyway, so I am choosing to provide the information alongside the warnings against it, so people will have all the information.

If you have additional suggestions, please note them below!

75 helpplease June 7, 2009 at 8:44 pm

one day i was gettn ready to get in bed when i notice a little black bug on my bed and then about a week later i seen another one i was wondering if they were bed bugs? i work at a group home where they have bed bugs what should i do?

76 persona-non-bugga June 7, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Hi nobugs, Listing Climbup interceptors under “protecting” in the first paragraph and under “steps for everyone” is a little confusing to me.

If the interceptors perform as advertised, then using them would mean that the bed’s been isolated (as opposed to merely protected under this FAQ’s definitions). For the specific purpose of acting as a barrier, they’d function similarly to the bowls filled with oil. The difference being that the interceptors reveal the direction of the bedbugs.

Or is it that bedbugs are assumed to be less likely deterred from trying to cross the path of these interceptors ( as opposed to mineral oil, vaseline, etc.)? Even if that’s the case, the bed is still being isolated.

If someone doesn’t isolate the bed, they’d be forced to vacuum/inspect/clean their bedframe a lot more frequently. The mattress and boxspring would have to be moved and handled a lot more, risking tears to the encasements. Cleaning the bedframe once doesn’t preclude them bedbugs setting up shop in them again if the frame isn’t isolated.

Relying on blood spots on the sheets to tell whether you’re being bitten in bed seems touch and go to me. During my months-long bout with them, I had dozens & dozens & dozens of bites but only two or three blood/fecal markings on my bed. Yet, sleeping in bed was where I was getting bit, because I didn’t spend a lot of time at home back then.

If double-sided tape doesn’t work well, then maybe it should no longer be included. Maybe reconsider recommending it (?), since there’s so much to do already when it comes to treating bedbugs.

Compliments to you, nobugs, on managing and editing these FAQs. I marvel at it. 🙂

77 nobugsonme June 7, 2009 at 11:11 pm

helpplease, look carefully at the photos here of bed bugs at different life stages. Try to determine if you saw a bed bug. Of course, it’s possible to have bed bugs even if you saw a different kind of bug, but bed bugs are not black. Hope that helps. You may want to take some basic precautions to try not to bring them home from work. Please come to the forums if you would like advice on that!

Persona-non-bugga, Thanks for your response and kind words.

You’re right! I can see that it is confusing — the advice about the Climbup Interceptors. I do think they should be used instead of true isolation (cups of oil, vaseline, tape) because I do think trapping is much preferable to deterring bed bugs, which I think the oil, vaseline, etc. may simply do.

I replaced my statement about vaseline and tape being controversial with this, at step 9 in “isolating”:

Some people have traditionally recommended placing a row of vaseline and a separate row of double sided tape around the bed legs, above the mineral oil cups. I am not sure of the value of this if you are using cups of mineral oil. People tell us double sided tape does not often catch bed bugs. However, if you are using Climbup TM Interceptors as recommended, do not place vaseline or double sided tape on the bed legs. You want bed bugs to walk into the Climbup discs and be trapped; you do not want them to be deterred by barriers.

Is that better?

You’re right that “protecting” is tricky and requires subsequent inspections and that visual inspections are not sufficient. My idea is that trapping bugs going onto or off of the bed is not a bad idea for anyone to try, if they have access to this product. (I may be wrong.) People who “only encase,” the bed do also need repeated treatments and inspections. This is one of the problems of encasements — the good ones, sealed and untorn, work well. But moving them repeatedly makes them prone to tearing. So what do we recommend, then? I am not sure and am open to suggestions. Some will say “isolate;” true isolation — with cups of oil — makes bed bugs move around.

But “isolation” with Climbup TM should not do so, so should there instead be one set of directions, not two?

Or — ? I welcome all input on how to make this FAQ clearer and more useful. Thanks again!!!

78 persona-non-bugga June 7, 2009 at 11:49 pm

Oh, I think trapping bugs is great too! Detecting is better than deterring, for sure.

I just think interceptors – if they really do act as barriers – in addition to functioning as detectors – qualify as tools for isolating the bed. They may not have the drawbacks of some of the other methods of isolation, but they still are intended (in part) to keep bedbugs from getting on or off the furniture. And they may work better as isolators than double-sided tape or drippy vaseline.

So, as a reader (and it may just be me) the distinction between protecting and isolating gets muddled in my mind, and I get insecure about whether I’m comprehending the entire FAQ properly.

Maybe make two subcategories of isolating the bed –

“isolating the bed with interceptors”
“isolating the bed without interceptors”

This is just some feedback of my impressions. I wouldn’t even call them suggestions. Goes without saying.

79 V Huynh June 29, 2009 at 7:43 pm

My studio has bedbugs and the whole unit was treated today–first treatment. The Terminix guy will return next week for another treatement. I’ve been sleeping on the carpet due to my bad back instead of the Murphy bed provided by the landlord. When I asked the Terminix guy whether I should continue sleeping on the floor, he said it’d be ok but I should place some plastic on top of the carpet. Since I discarded my blanket, I decided to buy a cheap sleeping bag and use it unitl the full treatment is complete. Is it a good idea? Some people say it’s a bad idea to have a sleeping bag, so I don’t know what to do and I should sleep from now on? Also, the Terminix guy said It would be ok to continue using my wooden chair, TV stand, but not the upsph0tered chair and the Murphy bed. This afternoon my landlord will be removing the chair, the bed and the box springs out of my studio. I’m really terrified to the point of having a nervous breakdown. I cannot afford to move out since I live in SF and the rent here is outrageously high. To continue living here, i wonnder how I can sleep on the carpeted floor safely and what kind of blanket I should use? Any advice you may have would be most welcome! Thanks in advance

80 nobugsonme July 1, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Hi V,

The problem with the upholstered chair and the Murphy Bed is that if bed bugs are nesting in them, they can keep feeding on you, and multiplying.

If they are not nesting in your bed or chair, they may need to cross the room to feed on you — this is good, since this means they may cross poison and die.

So the sleeping bag poses the same problem as the bed and chair — they can live in it, and feed on you.

I would recommend sheets and a washable cotton blanket, which you could wash and dry on hot weekly. That way, bed bugs may nest in your bedding, but you’ll at least wipe them out on a weekly basis. (Some people would advise washing more often, but in my experience, it gets to be too much work.) This is not feasible with the sleeping bag, since we really do not know how long to dry a sleeping bag to be assured it is bed bug-free. Thick items like this are tricky.

Some people would recommend an aero bed (inflatable mattress) for comfort, but unless you have a regular bed frame and choose to isolate the bed, bed bugs will crawl up on your sleeping area and bite you.

Plastic may help, in a minor way, but is probably not much of a deterrent. Some people surround this kind of sleeping arrangement with double-sided tape, but it will not necessarily catch bed bugs.

This is unpleasant, but remember — if the Terminix guy knows his stuff, they will be crossing poison on the way to each meal, as long as you are not hosting them in your bed itself.

If you want more feedback (or feedback from more people), please post in our forums!

81 JustCantDeal September 29, 2009 at 3:39 am

I recently moved out of an apartment in which my neighbor had bed bugs. While still at the apartment I had an exterminator come and check for them after my neighbor confessed to having them. The exterminator said that I was free and clear but when I got to my new place welts started appearing on my kids. I found that I had an infestation in my couch so in complete horror, I threw it out (which I have heard is a bad idea after researching the issue). I also had my kids start sleeping elsewhere because the couch was in thier room. I had an exterminator come out and he has treated once was some kind of gas. Now, even after treatment, I have found them in another couch in the playroom and in the couch in my living room. I need to know if gas treatment is even effective and why are they still spreading? What can I do to start getting rid of them on my own and keep them from spreading inbetween now and the next treatment? I would also like to know if it was even possible to bring them with me from my old apartment even though the exterminator said we “absolutely didn’t have them” and if so why did we only start getting bit after the move? Please help me!!! I am ready to pull my hair out!

82 nobugsonme October 5, 2009 at 1:56 am


We do not know what your exterminator used. Do you? He should tell you.

Vikane gas is sometimes used, but the entire structure has to be tented, so you would know if this was done. If it is done properly, it should eliminate all bed bugs in one shot.

If this is not what was used, try to find out. You can ask questions about it on our Forums.

83 robin rodriguez October 11, 2009 at 9:14 am

a friend of mine has gotten bed bugs after purchasing a NEW mattress… althought she can not prove it…. she bacame infested right after… i am now getting a new mattress… how can i avoid the same thing happening to me?….. what can you do to make sure you don’t get bugs from the store or the delivery truck used? Please let me know.

84 nobugsonme October 14, 2009 at 1:45 am

Hi robin,

It is impossible to be absolutely sure. I suspect many companies are becoming more clued in about this. I really hope so, anyway.

You should call the corporate number (don’t just ask a floor salesperson) and ask what the company’s policy is on carting away used mattresses. Many retailers deliver new mattresses and offer to take away old ones. Some put those in the truck and drive off. Bed bugs can spread this way!

Another thing to consider is whether the mattress is sealed or wrapped in plastic. A mattress sealed in an airtight manner is a good sign, though I know some companies wrap mattresses more loosely.

Another question you might ask is whether the company uses contractors for deliveries. This can mean trucks are used for other purposes at other times — which can mean exposure to bed bugs even if the company does not take away mattresses.

Keep in mind that learning the signs of bed bugs and inspecting the new mattress thoroughly may help you avoid an infestation.

Please let us know how it goes. Consider posting on the Bedbugger Forums to ask others what companies they ordered from, but remember, service and procedures may vary from place to place. Good luck!

85 bitebedbugsback November 4, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I’m a little confused about the differences between protecting the bed and isolating it. The note after step (7) under “Steps for everyone” suggests using Climbup Interecptors. If a person protecting their bed decides to do this, the only other differences between the two methods is that isolating the bed requires vacuuming again (step 9) and not letting your sheets touch the ground (step 10). Is that really much of a difference (especially if the person protecting the bed vacuums everyday anyway and their sheets naturally don’t touch the ground)?

86 nobugsonme November 4, 2009 at 9:30 pm

You’re right, bitebedbugsback. It is confusing. I apologize for that — they USED to be very different processes, before ClimbUps were available. I was trying to edit the page to reflect the availability in many places of the ClimbUp Interceptors, and the increasing doubt in my mind that isolation with cups of oil around the bed legs is still a good idea. (I don’t think it is.)

That said, for people who can’t use ClimbUp Interceptors (for example because they live where these cannot be obtained easily), and who feel they must isolate the bed somehow (for example, because they have a horrific number of bed bugs or an extreme bite reaction), I wanted to make sure they had the old “isolation” suggestions available.

That said, when I have time, I will try and rework it again to make it more straightforward — putting the protection advice together, and then offering the isolation alternative only for those who cannot use ClimbUps.

87 MoonD November 9, 2009 at 9:11 am

Was my comment removed? Strange…. I posted a method that I’ve learned to recommend over the course of speaking to many different hostel managers, etc. and posted it — but it seemed to have been deleted. Some of the info overlapped with info on this site (which is actually a coincidence!) but it was still a very relevant comment to the subject nonetheless. I’ll post it again with a few edits… If there is a more appropriate place to post, please let me know!

(Rest of post removed.)

Admin’s response:


Yes, I apologize for not clarifying.

Your post was removed because you are recommending that people completely douse their entire beds in 91% isopropyl alcohol.

While you note that precautions should be taken when using alcohol in this way, you also suggest this as a method for travelers (citing your experience in hostels).

I don’t think this is a great method for home use (flammability and fumes are two issues), but I think it is very unsafe to create a potentially flammable situation where others may not be aware of it. If you completely douse a hostel or hotel bed in alcohol, what happens to the guy who sleeps there the next night, completely unaware of what has been done?

Because of these concerns, I did remove the post here.

If you want to post this in the forums and discuss it, you’re most welcome to and I apologize for any inconvenience:

88 MoonDD November 10, 2009 at 6:44 am


There probably was a misunderstanding but, nonetheless, I respect your concern! Alcohol can indeed be extremely dangerous to use which was why I included in the post a sound method that one could go through to literally witness this level of danger with their own eyes — albeit in a safer controlled environment. Too many people are setting their homes, apartments, etc. on fire because of this lack of understanding beforehand (i.e. smoking a cigarette, etc.)! But I didn’t think it was necessary to remove the post altogether as I clearly had included far more ideas, approaches, and relevant details than just using alcohol (the using of red LED nightvision lights to search out bugs at night, for example is relatively new — this information is not yet available elsewhere)! Not just this, but I had every intention of adding on to the comment with more details should a misunderstanding had arisen. I’ll post in the forum : )

But I did want to point out that I didn’t recommend people to ‘douse’ or ‘drench’ their beds in alcohol and apologize if it could have been interpreted that way. That, in itself, would not only be dangerous in the long run (it would take a really long time to dry, as you pointed out, and would be flammable the entire time!) but such a drenching would also be unnecessary and wasteful as well! 99% Isopropyl alcohol, for example, dries in a matter of minutes when ‘sprayed’ (as in misted). And the small bit about using a “high-quality spray bottle” was actually none other than to ensure a proper mist (because cheaper spray bottles can do a very poor job of properly ‘misting’, will often run off the sides, drip, etc. — it’s better to spend the extra $1 on a quality bottle and/or to get rid of a bottle that is of inferior quality)! I think I see where the ‘dousing’ impression could have been given though — esp. with regard to the use of alcohol being recommended alongside or in the same paragraph as using boiling water. *apologies — this will be corrected! But there were plenty of other details in there that a reader could have made use of!

I also apologize for writing in a way where it could have been interpreted that I recommended to do the same meticulous “bed isolation” method to hotel beds or while traveling — as this simply was not the case of intention : ) With regard to traveling, I was only referring to the placement of one’s clothes in a white bag and sitting it next to the bed before going to sleep — a technique that is also appropriate and beneficial in hotels. This prevents bed bugs from getting into or onto your clothes in the middle of the night (whether in home or at a hotel) and also prevents bed bugs from getting out of your clothes overnight while you sleep [which is good for both the traveler and the hotel]! You can see this was my intention if you reread the post [but hey! you deleted it!] but there perhaps was a bit of ambiguity to it. I’ll try to correct this in the forum : )

It would probably take a few days to rewrite in an even more complete manner to address your concerns! Another thing I noticed after the fact was the strange similarity of the layout of my post to the article itself on this site — which is, literally, a coincidence! Please know that I didn’t read the article before making the post! I quickly searched on the internet a place where I could share my personal experience in successfully dealing with bed bugs and first found the bed isolation section on this site to be most appropriate!

But you didn’t have to remove/delete/eliminate such a long and carefully written post altogether! You could have just moved it elsewhere to the forum : ) The internet is a very beautiful thing in that it is possible get information out rapidly. The ‘alcohol’ idea is one that the majority of people are already finding out about or have heard of! My intention was to include details that helped to make use of such a flammable liquid safer (i.e. the buckets of water, controlled flame test, etc.)! I tried to do that but will try harder : )

89 nobugsonme November 10, 2009 at 1:13 pm


I am sorry you are disappointed, but you should understand how easily people do misunderstand even carefully worded suggestions. Yours was pretty clearly telling people to spray a flammable liquid (which emits a pretty strong fume) all over their beds and mattresses — even though the next night someone might come along and light up a cigarette and drop some ashes.

Incidentally, have you tested the flammability of the bed once the alcohol dries? It doesn’t matter how cognizant you are of the flammability of this bed if someone else comes in the next day and starts a fire.

You also gave suggestions for using diatomaceous earth — which actually requires a lot more thought and care. That’s not my opinion, but that of many. We have a DE FAQ and I would recommend it to others over a sentence or two about using this product.

I don’t mind that your post had a similar layout to one of our FAQs, but I would suggest in the interest of saving your time and our readers’ time, perhaps instead of giving your own detailed procedures, you might simply comment on our FAQs as to where you disagree or would add a step? That would seem to be most efficient for all involved. Of course, if I see a recommendation which seems dangerous to me, I may delete it.

You are welcome to post your comments on the forums, as I said. I am sorry there is no easy way for me to move a post there, or I would have done so.

90 MoonDownNow November 11, 2009 at 7:43 am


I definitely have the right to be disappointed in this case! : ) I’m really surprised (and still am!) that you deleted my post! I wasn’t expecting it — esp. not within a general comments sections. You’re describing standard isopropyl rubbing alcohol as if it were a strange, mysterious or unknown flammable liquid that people are not familiar with. Most people are hearing of the fact that isopropyl alochol is a superior contact kill for bed bugs (as even exterminators have told me this many times — esp. when they were not liable to it’s consequences). You seem to be speaking as if you’re not familiar with alcohol. You’re also speaking as if the idea to spray an infected mattress with rubbing alcohol is any different to the actions you would have otherwise expected a person to take if they were suggested to try killing bed bugs using isopropyl alcohol. I’ve done it with a high degree of success many times and know of many others who have used it! It doesn’t mean that it is the best method for all people, of course not — only that it works. Vikane gas also works but I wouldn’t want to be caught a mile away from the stuff.

My impression of your response is that you’re saying you would delete any comment that describes a successful treatment using alcohol — which has sort of put me on alert. Or that you would delete any comment that described in detail the ridding of bed bugs using the cheapest and most relatively non-toxic substance available — avoiding the need to pay for an exterminator over and over or avoiding the need to overreact and purchase overly expensive items (such as double-sided tape, etc. — when it makes much more dispensable sense to use $1 duct tape curled over on itself with the sticky side out, for example). I strongly disagree with your logic in this case but still appreciate the site nonetheless. I’m grateful for it.

You asked me if I tested the flammability of the bed once the alcohol dries which leads me to believe that you are intrinsically against the use of regular rubbing alcohol in general to kill off bed bugs — despite the fact that it is known to be extremely effective (of course, with a real potential risk of fire if not carefully handled). This doesn’t mean that the truth should be redacted simply because you disagree with it! Of course, a bed is no longer flammable once the alcohol dries (which is usually in only a matter of minutes unless puddled)! And keeping two 5-gallon buckets of water nearby also goes a long way in increasing the safety of using rubbing alcohol since diluted alcohol is quickly weakened and much tougher to ignite (try lighting 50%, for example). The vast majority of people setting their homes on fire were not cognizant of alcohol’s flammability! And the actual risk of igniting the resultant fumes is relatively low as far as I know (because I certainly have NOT had success in igniting the fumes within a crock-pot but would be interested if someone were to come forward with sources saying otherwise).

You also seem to want to demonize my suggestion of using diatomaceous earth — which I felt unfair towards DE in general. Much of what is written in the DE FAQ on this site is actually on the label of the diatomaceous earth package itself — instructions for how to use it, etc. I suggested using it as a simple passive killer on a bare floor (i.e. not carpet) around an isolated bed to help kill off bed bugs that would attempt to crawl back up a newly disinfected bed. But I also included brief reference to other powders such as the wettable deltamethrin powders, etc. Of course, I wasn’t intending to write a manual on DE or powder for that matter — only to point out yet another case of my reasonable experience of having used the product (DE) and nothing else in conjunction with alcohol to success. Having tried basically every recommended method and pesticide available to deal with bed bugs, I see nothing wrong with coming to the conclusion (through considerable tried and tested experience in multiple households) that most of the expensive resorts often recommended for combating them are unnecessary (…often ineffective attempts at overkill) and that it is possible to get rid of an infestation using just alcohol, a passive killing powder (whether DE or deltamethrin, etc.), and a thorough, intricate methodology to uproot them and leave bed bugs with no place to live peacefully. A methodology of sorts that a person would be required to do either way eventually — with or without a professional anyway (or they’ll simply be calling the PCO back to pay him thousands as the vast majority of people have done so). It’s very possible to leave the PCO out of the picture altogether.

I see you as having deleted the methodology — not the suggestion to use alcohol (which is an extremely common suggestion, by the way). But I think I see that you’ll disagree either way and am reluctant to even post in your forum now : ( Because, if you don’t want me to post on this particular site, I won’t.

You’ve hurt my feelings!

And, for the record, I don’t disagree with your FAQ : ) And can barely understand why you’d want me to contend with it. I simply wanted to share my experience here (also pointing out the use of red LED nightvision lights over standard flashlights in the middle of the night, etc. — a suggestion I’m sure will eventually make it on your site) but realized it was necessary to write up a quick step-by-step process to express it.

You seem to not want that experience posted here. I’m hurt and rejected.

91 meli February 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

hey y’all. can’t keep up with this site too well because there are so many of us desperate people, and the threads are so long. i wonder now if my recent posts on d.e. and rubbing alcohol were accepted. i, too, live in a household with an asthmatic, so pesticide is out of the question. it probably should be anyway since in most cases it is horrifyingly toxic. but in my case even herbs that are likely to repel (lemongrass, etc.) or repel and kill bed bugs (neem) seem to be a problem in parts of the home, leaving me few choices.

seems to me a complete lifestyle change is called for if we’re going to minimize or eliminate (a girl can hope) our infestation without breaking our lease and/or disposing of all our belongings…and hoping for the best in new lodgings, etc….

freshwater, less abrasive diatomaceous earth, rubbing alcohol, and boric acid will be part of that process, but all will be used with extreme caution. educate yourself very well about the properties of these substances, people! and do not use the wrong d.e..

our idea is to think like bed bugs and contain while cleaning, laundering, and eradicating frequently, and begin to store everything in airtight containers as a lifestyle. we will also try to protect the beds and isolate anything we can that will harbor bugs, and isolate the asthmatic’s room and everything in it in every way possible. which might mean more bites for me, and i seem to be the only one noticing them so far (scars all over my legs!)

most absolutely cannot afford expensive treatment or pesticide exposure. it’s all well and good to blame landlords or hotel owners, but keep in mind at this rate they’re going to keep being re-infested no matter what they do, and the most popular solution is very toxic chemicals.

cities know about the problem and are doing nothing. government should be sponsoring furniture (metal bedframes free of crannies, lightweight mattresses without openings) designed not to harbor bed bugs, and providing heat treatment to the general public for their furniture (like one city does…is it seattle?)

winter really slows them down. something i read recently left me sorry i didn’t turn off the radiators and go on vacation for the coldest days of the year. the warmer weather has me getting ready to get my butt in gear and fight these things.

92 meli February 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm

p.s. if someone in the household is more sensitive than others to bites, or if you want to avoid bites on your face for social reasons while dealing with the problem, lemongrass deodorant really seemed to keep them off my upper body last summer; they bit my arms, back, and neck literally only on days when i didn’t wear it. lemongrass lotion or a lemongrass tea spray on the hair and arms can smell pretty good and might work as well.

the deodorant didn’t stop them from driving me insane by biting the heck out of my ankles. however, after lots of reading and a little experience i am convinced that if you repel them completely without catching them on the way, they will probably just spread out and infest a wider area of your home or building! so that was not part of my strategy.

93 Going insane... March 28, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Me nor my husband react from BB bites… I am guessing that is why it took us so long to even notice we had them. The infestation isn’t bad. We sealed our couches with shrink wrap, but every once in a while I’ll see a little one. I haven’t seen any adult BB’s since we wrapped our couch. Anyways.. we are moving in a couple of days and I am TERRIFIED that I am going to bring them with me. I’m a very clean person I vaccum religiously, wash my bedding twice a week. This makes me sick. I’ve become so paranoid and all I can think about now are these damn BBs…. Please someone give me some advice.

I threw my mattress out and am sleeping on an Aero bed. My 4 year old’s room is our room as well now. My bedroom is completely bare. I am at my witts end.

94 nobugsonme March 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Hi Going insane,

It is very difficult to move without taking bed bugs.

Were they living in your couches? If so, are you bringing them with you?

One of the ways of making sure you do not move bed bugs is to have a moving truck full of your stuff treated with heat or Vikane gas. It is not cheap.

Have you had treatment? How many times and what kind? If you have bed bugs present in your home now, you will very likely bring them unless extreme measures are taken.

Please post your follow-up responses and additional questions to the forums where you will get more feedback.

95 orange May 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Forgive me if I’m asking something obvious, but why is protecting and isolation necessary? Don’t PCOs treat EVERYTHING in your house? Or will they exclude the bed from treatment?

If they treat everything every two weeks, why do you (nobugsonme) say that a person will never get rid of bed bugs in they live in the mattress and the bed is not protected?

96 nobugsonme May 21, 2010 at 12:07 am

Hi orange,

Just to be clear, as noted above, I do NOT recommend isolation. I do recommend protecting the bed (as long as your PCO does not prefer to skip encasing mattresses — I can think of only one, in the world, who says this; if he was my PCO, I would do exactly as he says.)

Many PCOs will treat the mattress with appropriate materials. They should treat the bed frame. However, mattresses — and this is even more true of box springs — often have spaces in which bed bugs can harbor which the sprays cannot reach.

And even if every bed bug on the mattress is removed or killed, new bed bugs can return to harbor there. Many PCOs also feel that encasing a mattress which HAS been rendered bed bug-free allows you to check if bed bugs have returned to the surface of the mattress or box springs, while preventing them from hiding in them.

“A person will never get rid of bed bugs if bed bugs live in the mattress if it is not protected” because as long as you are sleeping on a bed harboring bed bugs, they will continue to bite you and reproduce.

I am not saying you can’t get rid of bed bugs without an encasement. It is possible for a PCO to kill all bed bugs in treatment. However, most of them do seem to recommend good encasements because they (a) keep any stragglers or eggs inside, and (b) help one identify future bed bugs harboring there.

It is also possible to utilize an encasement which does not do its job. It’s important to make an effort not to rip them. Sharp frame edges should be duct taped, or some suggest box spring corners wrapped in felt.

I hope this helps.

97 orange May 21, 2010 at 7:33 am

nobugsonme, this does help, I’m just wondering what I can do if I have a cat with sharp nails, who loves to scratch. Protecting the mattress doesn’t seem like a viable option in my case. Does it mean I’ll always have bed bugs?

98 nobugsonme May 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

Hi orange,

No — I don’t think that needs to be so.

The point is you need to get bed bugs out of your bed, otherwise it is very difficult to kill them.

Cats are problematic. If a cat is going to scratch your encasement, then the encasement does not work (and this can help you continue having bed bugs).

Some people have recommended:
* Keeping cats off of the bed. Yes, I realize how hard this is, but it works for some people.
* If you trim nails regularly AND use a traditional type thick “mattress pad” over the encasement (the type that covers the entire top and sides of the mattress), the cat may be unable to ruin the mattress encasement. If you do this, I would suggest you need to wash and dry that mattress pad (NOT the encasement) on hot every week. Make sure you buy one that can handle this.

There may be other options. Your pest pro may have a good plan.

A mattress which is well-designed may not allow bed bugs to harbor in it, so some people may choose to go without. However, if the cat has ever scratched the mattress, it will probably already allow bed bugs to harbor in it. (And if the cat has never scratched the mattress, you probably would not be worried about the integrity of an encasement in the cat’s presence, right?)

Also, keep in mind box springs are even more attractive as harborages. You might consider getting rid of yours if you cannot encase it with confidence. (Some PCOs recommend mattress encasements for box springs as they feel these are more sturdy, but again, they can rip.)

I strongly encourage you to post to our forums which are very active, and where you will probably get many responses — and can see old threads on cats and encasements. Almost nobody reads the comments on old posts here except me. :-p

99 orange May 21, 2010 at 11:05 am

So what about getting rid of the bed altogether and sleep on a plastic sheet covered with a material sheet outlined with DE or some other poison?

Thanks for the advice. I will read the old threads.

100 nobugsonme May 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I don’t think that’s very practical, orange. But float it on the forums and see what others say.

I think it would be uncomfortable.

I would not want to sleep encircled by DE because of the danger of it making contact with your lungs. Inhalation is a problem. You don’t particularly want contact with skin either.

Some people have used an Aerobed if they were insistent on discarding the bed. I know that might seem like something a cat can scratch — you’d have to look into that.

I would probably personally go for the encasement UNDER the mattress pad which gets washed and dried weekly.

101 orange May 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Thank you for your advice. Nothing is impossible, hey? 🙂

102 www July 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I found out recently I have bedbugs and have researched your site semithoroughly and I have an interesting and maybe unique situation with a rare shortage of variables that I thought might be useful to bring up and into question here:

– I live in an artist studio where very few other people live (i.e. not legal)
– I myself do not respond to the bites
– I have very little money and after hearing so many accounts of spending thousands of dollars in failed attempts I decided not to go the PCO route instead steaming everywhere myself, then getting an approved mattress cover and some d earth
– What I have done is encased my bed, placed it in the middle of my raised loft area, kept it stripped of bedding and pillows and surrounded it with a light field of d-earth, Using myself as the bait AKA if they want to feed they have to pass through something that will end them.

What do you think is the validity of this method? since I am the only real prey for them for quite some footage, is there a chance this will wipe them out over time? I realize it is not a method for everyone, but given I am not willing to PCO, it seems sensical to me/ my situation. Also, because the general area I live in is so heavily infested, does this work well as a stand in for prudent preventative/preperative care????

(ALSO: I have since started storing all sanitized clothes in plastic bags 30 feet from the sleeping area, and make sure I sleep here every night so they don’t stray, take a shower every morning when I wake up)

103 nobugsonme July 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Hi www,

I appreciate your creativity. It is impossible for anyone to say if this will work for you.

DE can be a useful tool so I’m not saying it won’t work, but I suspect cases are rare where DE is the only method involved in a successful treatment.

Here are some factors which may make it difficult:
– they must cross the diatomaceous earth (DE) in order to be killed.
– If the DE is too thick, they may avoid it.
– If they are in the bed platform or bed itself, they can keep feeding on you indefinitely and live and breed.
– Some brands/formulations of DE may be more effective than others; see our FAQ on DE for a link to a study about this:
– If other areas of your home are infested (and this is generally the case after a time), they will keep feeding on you elsewhere in the home, and live, and breed.
– If neighbors are infested, bed bugs will keep coming. If neighbors are infested, and you’re not the only one in a non-legal residence, others may also be skipping proper bed bug treatment, which lead to the bed bug problem getting worse and worse until you are seeing lots of bed bugs. At that point, you won’t be able to keep living there.
– You need to ensure you are not kicking up the DE and inhaling it. If it gets into your lungs, it can cause serious problems. Our DE FAQ gives some pointers (such as wearing a respirator mask during application). You also do not want to have contact between DE and your skin, as it can be an irritant.

That said, as for the potential effectiveness of the approach, mine is only one opinion and a speculative one at that. It’s unlikely anyone can give a definitive answer.

If you can borrow, rent, or otherwise get your hands on a steamer, steam may be helpful to you in addition to the dust:

And while I normally do not advocate self-treatment with pesticides, if it really is your only option, you may also want to research the safe and effective use of pesticides.

Steam, a dust, and pesticides together may do more to help you in your fight, though I stress that the possibility of infested neighbors can really sabotage your efforts.

I strongly urge you to repost your query on our Forums, which are heavily used. You can expect much more feedback there:

Good luck and I really hope you are able to beat this problem.

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