How to get rid of bedbugs: 6 Fast Facts


Bedbugs can be very difficult to eliminate if you have an infestation. We’re VERIFYING six ways to get rid of these pesky pests.
Bedbugs are tiny parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals in the middle of the night. Although they are not known to spread disease, bedbugs can be an annoyance and very difficult to control.
On Oct. 3, a viral post on X, which has garnered nearly two million views, claimed putting your clothes in the freezer for four days can kill bedbugs. Several people who commented on the post also shared their own tips on how to avoid a bed bug infestation.
We VERIFY six fast facts on how to get rid of bedbugs.
1. Washing and drying on high heat can kill bedbugs
Our sources say that clothing and other fabrics that are infested with bedbugs should be washed and dried at the highest temperature recommended by the manufacturer for at least 20 minutes to an hour. If done correctly, heat treatment is one of the most effective ways to kill all stages of bedbugs.
“We recommend that you wash and dry both as hot as you can get it. Standard hot water needs to be at least 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit more or less,” Floyd Shockley, Ph.D., an entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution, told VERIFY.
2. Steam cleaning is an effective bedbug treatment for anything that can’t go in the washing machine
Since bedbugs are nocturnal, they often hide in the cracks and crevices of mattresses, sofas, suitcases and other dark places during the day. That’s why the EPA, Rutgers University, Terminix and Smith’s Pest Management say steam cleaning is another effective way to control a bed bug infestation.
The EPA says that steam cleaners, both wet or dry, are able to get into the cracks and fabrics where bedbugs may hide. Just make sure the steamer does not have a forceful airflow because it may cause the bedbugs to scatter. A towel or a diffuser can be used to prevent scattering.
Entomologists at Rutgers University found that the high temperature of steam (near 212°F or 100°C) can kill bedbugs instantly. They recommend applying steam along sofa seams, crevices, and corners of bed frames and mattresses. Then reapplying steam every few days until no bedbugs are found. Just note that steam may potentially damage finished furniture surfaces and some fabrics, such as microfiber.
3. Freezing infested items isn’t a reliable way to get rid of bedbugs
Cold temperatures can kill some bedbugs when left in a sealed bag in the freezer at 0°F for at least three days, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. But the EPA and Shockley both say that standard freezers in most people’s homes do not get cold enough to guarantee all bedbugs will die.
“[Bedbugs] are sensitive to freezing, but the problem is, a standard freezer at home won’t get cold enough,” Shockley said. “So it will kill many, but it won’t kill all of them.”
The University of Minnesota Extension says it’s possible to get rid of some bedbugs by putting infested objects outside during the winter depending on your location. But they note that sunlight, humidity and temperature variations during the day may increase the risk that bedbugs will survive.
4. Rubbing alcohol can kill bedbugs but it’s not recommended
Some viral videos on TikTok claim isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, can kill bedbugs that are visible. However, the EPA, Orkin and Terminix do not recommend using rubbing alcohol to treat bedbugs because it is highly flammable and may cause a house fire.
“Rubbing alcohol is flammable, so it’s not really a good idea to spray it or soak upholstered surfaces or fabrics with it,” Terminix says on its website.
A Rutgers University study found rubbing alcohol with concentrations of 70-91% can kill bedbugs almost instantly if applied directly, but the scientists determined that only a maximum of 50% of the sprayed bedbugs died. These tests were performed in enclosed containers where rubbing alcohol was applied directly to the bedbugs.
“Since bedbugs are excellent hiders, using rubbing alcohol as a DIY treatment will probably miss bedbugs that will then continue laying eggs and feeding on blood. As a result, rubbing alcohol is not likely to control an entire bed bug infestation,” Orkin says.
5. Bedbugs are resistant to most insecticides available to the public
“Bedbugs — because of the way they reproduce, the rate at which they reproduce, their lifestyle of finding harborages — they’re really prone to developing insecticide resistance, and so, most of the common solutions of the past no longer work,” Shockley said.
Due to this insecticide resistance, the Alaska Pesticide Control Program says that bedbugs often hide until the insecticide dries up and is no longer effective or they move to nearby areas that are not undergoing bedbug control treatment.
6. You can hire a professional pest control company to control a bedbug infestation
If you are unable to control a bedbug infestation on your own, the EPA, the New York State Department of Health and the University of Minnesota Extension all recommend hiring a professional pest control service.
“If you find that they have spread beyond the items that you took with you — they got out of your suitcase, your garment bag or whatever — then it’s time to talk to a professional because [bedbugs] will find harborages in your home that will make it impossible to treat,” Shockley said.
The University of Minnesota Extension says a professional pest control company will work to perform careful inspections along with using non-chemical controls, including heat treatments, vacuuming, and steam treatments, to control a bedbug infestation. They also use commercial insecticide products that require special equipment and training to get rid of bedbugs.
If you do decide to hire a pest control company, the New York State Department of Health says that it’s important to make sure they have experience treating bedbugs.
“Many pest control companies have started having people with experience treating bedbugs because they have seen a surge in their population levels in recent decades,” Shockley said.


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