Information is for general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney
Download or view a printable pdf of our Bed Bugs handout
How do I get rid of bed bugs in the home?
Getting rid of bed bugs is not an easy process, and most cases of bed bug infestation will require treatment by a pest-control expert. A variety of low-odor sprays, dusts, and aerosol insecticides can be used to eradicate bed bugs. These must be applied to all areas where the bugs are observed as well as spaces where they may crawl or hide. The pest-control company can help you determine if the mattress can be disinfected or must be discarded. Since beds cannot readily be treated with insecticides, it’s often necessary to discard infested mattresses and beds.
The pest-control expert may recommend certain forms of deep-cleaning such as scrubbing infested surfaces with a stiff brush to remove eggs, dismantling bed frames and furniture, filling cracks in floors, walls, and moldings, encasing mattresses within special bags, or using a powerful vacuum on cracks and crevices.
How can I prevent bed bug bites?
Avoidance of infested areas is the method for prevention of bed bug bites. Recognition of bed bug infestation and proper treatment of affected rooms (usually with the help of a pest-control specialist) is the best way to prevent bed bugs in the home. Those concerned about the potential for bed bugs bites in hotels should examine hotel beds and mattresses for signs of a bed bug infestation. Sealing your mattress in a bed bug prevention casing can be beneficial.
- Bed bugs are small, oval, non-flying insects that feed by sucking blood from humans or animals.
- Bed bugs can live in any area of the home and can reside in tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses, box springs, and bed frames.
- Bed bugs are most active at night and bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. The face, neck, hands, and arms are common sites for bed bug bites.
- A bed bug bite is painless and is not noticed. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign; redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur.
- Typically, no treatment is required for bed bug bites. If itching is severe, steroid creams or oral antihistamines may be used for symptom relief.
- Fecal stains, egg cases, and exuviae (shed skins) of bed bugs in crevices and cracks on or near beds are suggestive that bed bugs may be present, but only observing the bugs themselves can confirm an active infestation.
- A professional pest-control company may be required to help identify and remove bed bugs from the home.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bugs can live in any area of the home and can reside in tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as commonly as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress. Other sites where bed bugs often reside include curtains, edges of carpet, corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture. Since bed bugs can live for months without feeding, they can also be found in vacant homes.
How are bed bugs spread?
Bed bugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or even multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also be present in boxes, suitcases, or other goods that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bed bugs can live on clothing from infested homes and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing.
Common Sense Tips:
- If you buy clothing from a thrift store or used clothing store, wash well in hot water and dry on high heat a couple of times before wearing these items.
- If you can avoid it, do not buy used bedding; pillows, comforters or mattresses as these may be infected with bedbugs and cannot be easily washed.
For general information on pesticides, please call the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378
If you live in Multnomah County, please call the Bed Bug Hotline at 503-988-2847