This post predates the Bedbugger Forums, which contain their own Success Stories about people who were able to get rid of bed bugs using various methods. Be sure and check those out also!
This was originally a post entitled “A little inspiration, from those who beat bed bugs.” We could all use a little cheering up now and then. Here some stories to cheer you on: those who fought bed bugs and won. Some are linked out to other blogs, while others come from our readers.
Don’t get depressed about the small number of success stories below; remember, people often take a long time after their problem is solved before they declare themselves successful. That is wise.
And maybe six months or a year after you stop reading this site, when your problem is long gone, you will remember to come back and email me your success story? If you want to share your story, please do not post it in the comments. Email it to nobugs a t bedbugger d ot com. Thank you!
First, a success story that started with bed bugs misdiagnosed as scabies.
Bedbugger reader Aaron writes:
To Whom it May Concern,
Thank you very much for your posting on teaching doctors how to
diagnose bed bug problems. Earlier this summer I was experiencing
intense itching all over my feet, ankles and legs. I was treated for
scabies and went through FOUR TUBES of permethrin, but to no avail.
Months had gone by and the itching and rashes were just getting worse.
Thankfully in early November, I FOUND THE LITTLE BUGGER! A
credit-card thin, small bed bug…resting it’s horrid looking body on my
bed. I found the culprit. I trapped him, called an exterminator and
sure enough; I had bed bugs. $275 later, 6 loads of laundry and three
visits from the exterminator, all bites have cleared.
Oddly enough I did not have bites all over my body, torso or anything.
It was only my lower body, but hey…I guess they do what they want and
I’m glad that I have it all out of the way. Everything’s been washed,
vacuumed, etc. and I’ve not experienced one problem since the
I was surprised to find out that downtown Cincinnati (where I live) is
one of the worst in the country for bed bugs.
I’d like to thank you for that posting to know I was not alone with my
Next, I’ve arranged the following stories according to types of dwelling, to give you an idea about how different solutions worked.
Bed Bug War: this fellow fought bed bugs in a single-family dwelling. I hesitate in sharing this as my one example of a single-family home dweller fighting bed bugs: I am not sure it’s representative. He did not hire an exterminator, just isolated the bed (see FAQs) and used Raid. But he did get rid of his problem. (Editor’s note: this was probably a light infestation and it was in a one-family home. I would not recommend that anyone try to fight bed bugs without an experienced PCO. If you’re in a multi-unit dwelling, you’re definitely going to need more than this. Even in a single home, remember, if your first attempts do not work, you can make the problem much harder to treat, and allowing the bed bugs to breed. You’ve been warned!)
From Bedbugger readers:
mgdecombe // Dec 23rd 2006 at 5:53 pm
Our experience, though we did not use a PCO and treated ourselves (I am a PCO for outdoor pesticide applications), might be a bit closer to the route most will have to follow to be successful. We found our problem on October 8, after I stayed in a hotel for 4 days in late August. We had started to notice bites almost right away, but couldn’t figure it out. Also found a cast skin about 3 weeks in, but had nothing to identify it against, so assumed it was a dead moth. Now that I know what I should look for, I realize my deep denial. Anyhow, we got on the problem as soon as we figured out what it was, and immediately did a huge purge, bag, and vacuum marathon which lasted for a few days. Isolated the bed. We interviewed several local PCOs and they didn’t have the slightest clue as to how to id or treat, and, indeed, mangled the two specimens we had saved. We decided to take matters into our own hands (something we NEVER would have done had I not been trained in pesticide safety over the last 25 years) We then sprayed the WHOLE HOUSE, including basement, including dusting electrical outlets. I think the full treatment was key to our success, as we didn’t treat just one area, causing them to scatter. Carefully timed treatments were also key, as well as constant vacuuming. Many of our things are still in storage, bagged and sealed. They will stay there for 18 months, at least, and will be cleaned and steamed before being brought back into the house. We’ve had no bites for over two months. A false-alarm about 3 weeks ago put me into an emotional tailspin, but it turned out to be either a single isolated bite, or a spider bite. We will treat the whole house one more time after the New Year, and observe carefully, continuing our vacuuming and laundry management (bagged clothing) for at least another two-three months. When the weather warms, I intend to unbag everything in our house in order to encourage any lingering or dormant BBs to emerge and show themselves, using ourselves for bait. I’m prepared to go right back into spray mode if they rear their ugly heads again. As anyone who has gone through this, or is going through this knows, it can have a devastating effect on your life. But persistence is the secret to success, and keeping your eye on the prize is the secret to sanity. It helped me a lot to hear of others’ success stories when we were in the throes of discovering our problem (I cried for two days straight). I needed hope and I found it in some of the stories of others on blogs and bulletin boards. Hope my story is helpful to one of you. Keep fighting! Don’t give up! Demand that your landlord take responsibility if you are in a multi-unit dwelling, and insist on competent pest control by professionals! If you are backed into a corner as we were and have to do your own pest control, research, research, research, and follow the label to the absolute letter. Use as much protective equipment as you can (I always use a respirator, goggles, gloves, hat, boots, and more if called for). You can win this battle. We think we have won, but are prepared to fight again if we need to!
Editor’s note: We do not encourage anyone to treat their homes without a licensed PCO who is experienced with bed bugs; mgdecombe was a trained PCO treating her own home. You should not try and do what she did!
With that out of the way, thanks for sharing your story, Mgdecombe. Your false-alarm is so like the stories I read on Caitlin’s and BBRUG’s blogs– people should not be complacent if they’re bitten once soon after treatment, and should definitely consider whether they are experiencing a surge in bed bugs. However, it does sound like an isolated bite can happen (and, of course, it could be a spider). If they were “coming back,” I’d expect more than one new bite, and it would be right to get into full gear once more.
Second, multi-unit dwelling, eliminated serious infestation, success stories from those who did not move:
In the Forums, in March 2008, reader Bugobsessed writes, after 60 days without bites,
I discovered the bugs in the last week of September ’07, though I had a mysterious rash on my hand and arm (the one I slept with under the pillow) since the end of August ’07. I had just moved to my new town in mid-August, so I attributed the “rash” to change in climate or soap or stress or whatever. I never thought of bed bugs until one day my husband and I were cleaning, we pulled the bed away from the wall, and there it was– the bed bug nest! We looked it up on the internet and there it was– helloooo bedbugs! I had never even heard of them before (aside from the bed time rhyme).
We quickly did everything you’re not supposed to do, like furiously clean everything and throw away furniture without bagging. By the first week in November I realized we needed professional help and I called my landlord who said the man upstairs had said something about bugs a while ago but thought it wasn’t a big deal! By deductive reasoning– I got my bedbugs from my upstairs neighbor who was in complete denial about the severity of his infestation. He lived for months without cleaning or bagging or anything– I was fighting against the currents.
After following the FAQ’s and cleaning ALL my clothes and bedding and furniture, I also sealed all baseboards, door frames, window frames, light fixtures, electrical outlets and cracks in all walls (including closets). I ordered food grade DE and dusted my couch (inside), bedroom, and even my cats like I was rubbing them with flea powder. I did laundry including my linens every 4 days. The PCO visited a total of five times.
The last set of bites I received was on January 10th, a typical BLD pattern, in my isolated bed. I dusted my bed frame with DE and washed all my linens, and that was the last I have seen of the bugs.
(Click Bugobsessed’s name above to read the rest of the story.)
Also in our Forums, in October 2007, reader Pleasehelpme writes,
I think I got bedbugs from either a headboard or a chest I bought at the end of June. It took me a few weeks to figure out something was up and then another week or two before I was able to get a PCO. It only took me two treatments before I stopped getting bitten.
When I was infested, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate at work, couldn’t do anything. It was awful. I went through so much hydrocortizone cream. I was coating my body with DEET and taking benadryl as a sleeping pill. I would wash my sheets every night, spray my sheets with rubbing alcohol before bed, sleep with soccer socks as gloves over my hands, lived out of ziplocks and garbage bags. I got bitten everywhere- my chest, my face, my arms, legs, thighs…
I’ve been bite free for about two months now. I’ve almost unpacked most of my stuff and I noticed that the scars from my 100+ bites are starting to fade. I plan on moving sometime in the first half of next year and am really excited about getting a new apartment (without roommates) and a brand new bed. Within the next two months I hope to be scar-free and then I’ll be really pleased. Actually, once I pay off my credit card bill I will be really pleased. All in all this probably cost me about $12-1500.
Anyway, everyone here was really helpful and supportive. Thanks to everyone and good luck with your battles!
BBRUG. Start at the bottom to get the whole story. In a nutshell: she was fighting them by herself (no PCO) for 14 months, at which point the whole building was found to be infested and was treated. A year later they came back, but a month after that, she was bit for the last time. I think this tells us a few things: first, try to get your landlord to treat your whole building, or at least to check the whole building (an experienced-with-bedbugs PCO should do this). Second, do not simply treat yourself–get the landlord to have someone experienced come in. Even though BBRUG does not think they started with her, the fact that she was working on treating them in isolation probably did not help. Third, even when you see them come back, or are still being bitten after multiple treatments, and feel desperate, don’t give up. One thing a lot of these stories have in common is that even when they’re almost-almost-gone, you will be bitten. And then you won’t. Keep treating until you’re not, but don’t assume it will go on forever. Yay, BBRUG!
Like BBRUG, Caitlin of the BedBugBlog (founder of the Yahoo Bedbugger Group, from which we sprang) also had a serious situation in a multi-unit dwelling, and also did not move to solve her infestation. Again, the whole building had to be treated for there to be any success. And again, there were additional bites without the whole darn thing starting all over again. Start at the oldest posts, and note that she stops being bitten sometime around October 2005, over 14 months ago. Caitlin got several bites in August 2007, in an apparent re-infestation from an outside source. She posted about this on August 14, and by August 19, after one treatment, it appeared to be under control. Yay, Caitlin! (Note: the Bed Bug Blog is now defunct as of 2011, so links were removed above.)
Like Caitlin, A Picture of Me’s Caryn also did not move. Read her Bed Bug Diary. I should note that–also like Caitlin–Caryn got bed bugs again in February 2007, years later, and dealt with them promptly. By 3/14 she is blogging they’re gone. Realize also that she probably got them from someone introducing them into the building anew. They were definitely well out of her apartment, and probably the rest of her building.
Caryn’s and Caitlin’s stories are a good lesson that–assuming one has the “early warning system” of reacting to bites–you can get bed bugs a second time and it is not the end of the world. It is much easier to deal with because you can detect it early, you know what it is, your landlord (assuming it’s the same one) knows what it is, and everyone has their act together. Bed bugs are no picnic and I am sure the moment of realization of a second (new) infestation is horrific, but Caitlin and Caryn both reassured us it is not the end of the world, and can be dealt with quickly, with as little personal trauma as a few days in the laundromat.
From Bedbugger readers:
bugsinhellskitchen // Dec 29th 2006 at 9:29 am
We live in an apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan We had bedbugs a couple of years ago and through vacuuming, purging, bagging, caulking, and use of “questionable” pestisides we got rid of them. My husband fought tooth and nail for three solid months and we finally got rid of them. Haven’t seen one since but we still stay viligent: vacuum and keep everything bagged. And we’re extra careful when we stay in hotels.
Editor’s note: it sounds like bugsinhellskitchen also did their own pest control. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I really do not recommend this to readers, especially since now (2007) there are more PCOs with even more bed bug experience than there were a few years back when bugsinhellskitchen encountered her bugs.
Reader Collette bought an expensive steamer and used dry steam, a process which took eight hours and much muscle and elbow grease:
I made the smartest purchase of my life, I bought a dry steam cleaner. $1,500 of killing steam. This would be my weapon of choice. And I went to war. The war lasted 8 straight hours, during which I went through every inch of wood and mattress in my bedroom, with a flashlight in one hand and a steam nozzle in the other. I crawled into unbelievable spots, I moved unbelievable weights, I was super-human for a day. I made no compromise, did not skip one crevice, I followed them home. I found them, everywhere. I found their eggs, found their hiding places, sometimes in the tiniest little nail holes. And I steamed them. 310 F of burning steam. They did not have a chance. I knew that even one survivor could mean re-infestation. Then I left the room and took a shower. I had a cold beer. And I came back into my bedroom, sparkling clean, smelling like a dry-cleaner shop. And I knew they were gone. I just knew. Since then I have been sleeping like a baby. So does my husband, but he always did. They are gone.
Note: Some dry steamers in the $400 range recommended by readers and PCOs can be found on the Useful Stuff page. It’s worth noting that some PCOs and individuals use steam followed by residual pesticides or DE. Whether you need these depends on your infestation–if they are deep inside a sofa, or in the walls, for example, steaming as per Collette’s methods might not kill them all.
Before you do your own pest control, please read this. If you want tips on how to choose a PCO, read this. And before you do anything, make sure you read our FAQs, especially this one.
Third: Success stories from those who moved
Finally, there are those in multi-unit dwellings who made the hard choice to leave for a new home. Please note that we know this does not always work. You can actually get rid of everything you own, move with what’s on your back, and nevertheless, somehow, end up with bed bugs in the new place. With that in mind, it’s worth studying what people did who managed to move without the suckas following them.
Some people leap and are lucky. This person took advantage of cold weather and moved then, leaving things out to freeze. I give you Windy City Mike (links no longer working as of 2010). It’s really important to note two things here: WindyCityMike moved with his stuff. But he did so carefully, after treating his home. He had multiple treatments and timed things so that he could escape with his stuff while the residuals were working. This is not a guarantee of success, but you have a much better chance of keeping your stuff (and not putting it in storage for a year, and not infesting a new home) if you think carefully about these things.
In contrast, A Big Fat Waste of Time offers a harrowing story, in which the hero felt she had to get rid of everything she owned and move in order to escape bed bugs. Though this would seem to represent what is many bed bug sufferers’ worst nightmare, the conclusion is spiritually uplifting, and this account made me feel like the worst case scenario would be okay, if that’s what it comes to. After moving to escape the bed bugs, ABFWoT tells us:
I start my new job on the 23rd and spend the first week going back and forth between work, the new apartment, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. I have only three shirts to wear to work. Out of fear of carrying luggage on the plane from Texas, I bought only enough clothes as I could fit in a small duffle bag, which I kept on my lap. On the 29th, while liberals march through Chelsea with anti-Bush signs, I run from Rockaway Bedding to Jensen Lewis to find a platform bed made of steel. I tell the saleslady at Rockaway that I am glad I found a steel bed. “Bed bugs?” she asks. She knows.
It arrives tomorrow between 8 and 12. In the meantime, I am sleeping on an air mattress on the floor.
At the end of my first week back, I make one final trip to the old building to pick up the cable boxes I’d left in such a hurry. It turns out the cable company will charge me $200 a box if I don’t turn them in. I wear one of my parent’s old t-shirts which I brought with me from Texas especially for this day. I wear some new Addidas shorts, which I am sad to part with. I meet the landlord there. He gives me the boxes. I turn in my keys. I go to the cable office in my t-shirt and shorts and turn in the boxes. I go to my gym, throw away my t-shirt and shorts, shower, and put on one of my work outfits and go to work. I can’t believe I never have to set foot in that place again.
The next day is my birthday. It feels more like a rebirth day.
I’m starting over in a new apartment, with a new job, with nothing, I tell my friend Margaret, an immigrant from cold-war Poland, herself.
“Like a baby,” she smiles at me.
Yes. Like a newborn baby.
Now some of my readers are going to say, “but Nobugs, that’s not the worst-case scenario.” (Some people claim to throw away “everything” and move and still do not escape them. Of course, there must be something left that carried bed bugs.) But I think we can learn a thing or two about the degree to which ABFWoT went to move away from the bugs.
The point of this post is inspiration, and I hope these accounts provide you with some, as they do me. There are many other wonderful bed bug blogs out there; I’ve chosen these partly for their inspirational and educational value, as well as the fact that their bed bug posts were easy to find, which is not always the case, when bed bugs take over a personal blog. There are also blogs that mention ongoing bed bug struggles and I’ve left those out here. But in reviewing the blogosphere, I want to mention one more source of inspiration: a priceless story of bedbug romance, from Bugged Out.
Thanks to everyone who shares their stories here. They do a lot to educate and inspire others.
If you successfully showed your bed bugs the door, and want your story included, please email it to me: nobugs a t bedbugger d ot c om. Make sure you tell me what name you would like associated with your post, and make sure you tell me I have permission to post it on the blog. It would be great if you mentioned your PCO, your city, and whether you were in an apartment or a single-family house, but tell us as much or as little as you like. If your story is on the web, but not linked to above, you can send me a link. Thanks!
Still fighting bed bugs? Go to the forums to leave your story and questions.