Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!

It was a silly bedtime rhyme we said when we were kids—a line that meant nothing to me other than it was funny. Goodnight, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite! 

Years later I would learn that bedbugs are real and they are no laughing matter.

Bedbugs are parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on blood. They’re tiny, nocturnal and able to hide in cracks and crevices. They’re also really good hitchhikers, jumping into luggage from an infested hotel room or hiding in the seams zippers of clothing manufactured in an infested factory.

A problem worldwide, bedbugs are resurging, causing property loss, expense, and inconvenience. The good news, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) is bedbugs do not transmit disease. But they can torment their blood hosts in ways I won’t go into here. The best way to prevent bedbugs is with a regular inspection for signs of an infestation—droppings, bite marks and mysterious blood stains on bedding.

While hiring a professional pest control service that specializes in bedbugs might appear to be the best way to go, it can be very costly. You can do this yourself with remarkable and long-lasting success. It takes diligence, tenacity and somewhere around $50 to do the job right—far less than the thousands you’ll end up paying a professional bedbug service.

To get started you will need food grade diatomaceous earth and a powder duster. Make certain you are getting food grade product, not the type of DE used in swimming pools, which has been chemically altered to be ineffective for pest control. Food grade diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide that’s cheap, free of harmful chemicals, easy to apply around the house and safe to apply near food, pets, and children.

Step 1: Steam clean your home with a good portable steam cleaner. Bedbugs cannot tolerate heat above 130 F. (or cold below 32 F., for that matter). If you do not have a steam cleaner, perhaps you can borrow or rent one for now.

Step 2. Launder all washable fabrics including curtains, bedding, pillows and clothing in hot water—above 130F. You may need to adjust your water heater to accommodate. Dry on high heat and then store all washed fabric items in sealed plastic bags or containers.

Step 3. Vacuum the entire home—even crevice, crack, corner and place a teeny tiny bug could be hiding. Vacuum carpets thoroughly and steam clean the carpet as well. Dismantle furniture as much as possible, then steam clean and vacuum every surface. Pull the drawers out, turn items upside down to vacuum underneath. Looks for cracks in the wood and get into all the tight spots with a good hose attachment. Consider a total encasement mattress cover for every bed that is or may become infested.

Step 4. Apply food grade diatomaceous earth for both treatment and prevention. Use the powder duster to get the fine powdered DE into every crack and crevice; behind appliances, along windowsills and door jams. Remove electrical switch and outlet faceplates and spray in those areas. Work DE into furniture, mattresses, and carpeting.

Step 5. Leave the DE undisturbed for as long as possible, even up to a few weeks, before you clean it up. Even then, leave as much of the DE in place as possible—especially in areas that are not visible or bothersome like windowsills and baseboards.

Step 6. Repeat as necessary. Bedbugs are persistent. Your situation may require more than one treatment. Just know that repeating these steps is necessary to break the cycle of infestation. If you are diligent to use diatomaceous earth in your home, it will prevent future infestations.


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7 replies
  1. Jane
    Jane says:

    After suffering with these twice, I still say it is worth it to pay for a professional! Bedbugs are one of the worst things ever to deal with!

  2. Carolyn Opland
    Carolyn Opland says:

    I feel like the bedbug expert! I brought bedbugs home TWICE from staying in 1) Motel, 2) Hotel. The first time I discovered BBs early and did all the things recommended: exterminator who used a Hazmat suit, washed & dried everything (used contractor 3 ml bags sealed tightly & labeled), applied diatomaceous earth between carpet and walls and vacuumed-vacuumed-vacuumed. I also bought bedbug proof mattress and pillow covers. Here’s what I did the 2nd time: Wrapped 3 ml plastic all around mattress & bed spring & taped it all securely. Then I placed a glass bowl for each of the legs on the bedframe & put baby powder into the bowls. Voila! The bedbugs can’t crawl onto the bed BUT you must make sure no bedding touches the floor or that will become a road to you who will be their dinner. No more bedbugs & what an easy solution.

  3. Jetlyfe Skyhigh
    Jetlyfe Skyhigh says:

    I had the worst infestation, long story short my ex girl friend and I got into a big fight she left and went to stay in a cheap hotel for 2 nights. Well we made up and what do you know we have little visitors! Omg! Baking soda worked, and they came back. This was the only natural method that seemed to rid my house and clothes! Ultimate bed Bug Destroyer

  4. Sue Ryder Scott
    Sue Ryder Scott says:

    My millennial son lives in Fort Collins, CO where Bed Bugs are a HUGE problem (there’s even a website where you can check hotels to see what their bed bug rating is!!). Sadly, he and his roommates got bed bugs from a sofa they bought from a concession shop. It was a nightmare. They used every “do it yourself” treatment out there. Nothing worked. It went on for months and months. I shared your suggested treatment with him and this was his reply: “Doesn’t work. We tried this. We steam cleaned all the beds and curtains. Moved my bed to the center of the room. Put a ring of diatomaceous earth around my bed. And those creepy things found a way around still… crawling up the walls, onto the ceiling, and then dropping from the ceiling into the bed. Professional help is the only guaranteed way to go. ” It cost them over $1000 and the loss much furniture, clothing and things like luggage.

    The biggest lesson here is PREVENTION.

  5. Ginny Meacham
    Ginny Meacham says:

    I have another solution, and it works. I was a public health sanitarian for 25 years. I retired just about the time bedbugs were making their comeback. I continued to go to conferences to maintain my registration. One session was all about bedbugs. I think this lady was an Entomologist from a nearby university. She spoke of her experience of using talcum powder (pretty much the same concept as DE). Not just any powder…it must have TALC as the primary ingredient. How do I know this works?? Well my granddaughter was living with me at the time and brought some home. We vaccumed, sprayed the 90% rubbing alcohol, got rid of clutter etc etc. Still saw some (but fewer) bedbugs. After I heard this, we repeated all the above and topped it off with talcum powder. It looked like a snowstorm had hit the bedrooms. I did get rid of my old wooden headboard that I swear they were living in. Guess what?? GONE…never to return. So if DE is either not in someones budget or they cannot find it, several containers of talcum powder might do the trick.

  6. Deena Costley
    Deena Costley says:

    I just ran into an infestation this summer at a hotel and just trashed two suitcases because I’m not bringing them back into my house. Having a Sleep Number bed, I don’t think I’d EVER get rid of them if they managed to set up camp inside of it. We unpacked on the patio and took all of our clothes straight into the washer full of hot water.

  7. Richard Homewood
    Richard Homewood says:

    Re: Don’t let the bedbugs bite…Be very careful not to use a home vacuum when you do decide to vacuum up the DE. Use a shop vac. The DE will destroy a regular vacuum. This information can be found on but it is not in every article they have regarding vacuuming DE. Use a shop vac!


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