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What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly? (The Complete Guide for 2023)

Macro of bed bug on a brown fabric

If you have a bed bug infestation, then you’re probably wondering, ‘what kills bed bugs instantly’? There are many treatments that carry the fame of being ‘instant bed bug killers.’

And so, in this article, I’ll go through the top ‘instant’ solutions and also discuss their limitations. It’s important to note that many of these solutions have drawbacks and do require some time to apply the treatment and get verifiable results.

So, read on to learn more about instant bed bug killers! I’ll be discussing home remedies as well as chemical treatments and touch upon when it’s time to call in the professionals. I also recommend checking out our complete guide to getting rid of bed bugs for a more comprehensive solution.

Home Remedies To Kill Bed Bugs Instantly

Bed bugs are pesky insects that can cause a significant bed bug infestation in your home. But don’t worry; there are several DIY methods and home remedies that can help you kill bed bugs instantly. Let’s look at them in more detail:

1. Diluted Rubbing Alcohol

Spraying diluted rubbing alcohol in surfaces

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One of the most effective ways to kill bed bugs instantly is using diluted rubbing alcohol. This home remedy is a popular DIY method that involves filling a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spritzing it on the suspected areas.

The alcohol, with its active ingredient being a powerful insecticide, can effectively exterminate adult insects. Plus, it also evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave any traces or bad smells behind.

However, it’s important to note that while rubbing alcohol can be an effective way to control pests, it is not a complete bed bug treatment. It can only kill adult bed bugs but unfortunately, not their eggs or nymphs.

It also requires direct contact with the bug in order to work, so if there are some that are still hiding in hard-to-reach areas like box spring seams, tufts, and bed frame headboards then they might not come into contact with it.

2. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Diatomaceous earth in a wooden bowl with a wooden spoon

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Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a natural pest control substance that can be a powerful tool in the fight against bed bugs.

Made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms, DE is a non-toxic alternative to harsh chemicals and insecticides. It is an effective way to kill bed bugs by causing them to dehydrate and die.

To use DE, you need to apply it liberally to the hiding places of these pests, such as the seams and folds of your mattress, box spring, bed frames, headboards, and even the tufts and crevices of your sofa.

Bed bugs, including nymphs and bed bugs eggs, can also hide in cracks and crevices along the walls and in carpets, so make sure to dust those areas as well.

Remember, it’s effective but not entirely an instant solution – it may take a few days for the bed bugs to come into contact with the DE and die.

For a severe bed bug infestation, using DE in conjunction with other methods like heat treatment, traps, or professional exterminator services may be necessary.

3. Vinegar

White vinegar on a glass bottle

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As you may have noticed, there are several DIY methods and home remedies available for bed bug control, one of which is the use of vinegar.

Vinegar, although not as effective as chemicals like pesticides and insecticides with active ingredients like pyrethroids, can be used as a temporary solution to kill bed bugs. It’s a readily available ingredient that can be put in a spray bottle and applied to the bedbugs’ hiding places, including tufts, carpets, and headboards.

However, vinegar only kills on contact and does not eliminate bed bugs eggs or nymphs. Plus, unfortunately, it may not react well with some types of fabrics. So keep this in mind before using vinegar as a DIY method to get rid of bed bugs.

4. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil in a glass bottle with leaves on a table

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Tea Tree Oil is a popular ingredient in many home remedies for various ailments, but did you know it’s also a potential solution for bed bug control? To apply it, you’ll need a spray bottle filled with a mixture of tea tree essential oil and water.

This natural insecticide can kill bed bugs and their eggs effectively, offering a chemical-free alternative to traditional pesticides and insecticides. However, it’s crucial to note that this method may not fully eradicate a severe bed bug infestation.

For heavy infestations, it’s best to combine home remedies with professional pest control services.

5. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil in a glass bottle with lavender flowers on a table

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Lavender oil, known for its soothing scent, is also a natural and effective way to kill bed bugs.

Traditional bed bug treatment often involves the use of chemicals and pesticides, such as pyrethroids, which can be harmful to both humans and the environment. However, home remedies like lavender essential oil, are becoming more popular as an alternative. Lavender contains an active ingredient that is lethal to these insects, including the nymphs and bed bugs eggs.

To use lavender oil for bed bug control, fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops of the oil, then spray it on your mattress, sofa, and other potential hiding places.

You can also use it on your bed frames and headboards, focusing on the cracks and crevices.

For a more comprehensive solution, it’s recommended to combine these DIY methods with professional pest control services, such as heat treatment or hiring a professional exterminator. Check out our complete guide to get rid of bed bugs for more comprehensive solutions.

6. Heat

Steaming bed foam

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Heat treatment is a chemical-free pest control method that involves raising the temperature in the infested area to levels lethal for bed bugs.

This method is effective as it can penetrate the hiding places of these pests, including their eggs and nymphs, without the use of pesticides or insecticides like pyrethroids.

Professional exterminators often use a steamer for this process, but DIY methods can also be employed using a simple hairdryer. However, it’s essential to note that professionals should carry out heat treatment for a more thorough bed bug control.

7. Silica Gel

Silica gel in a white pack

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Silica gel, a form of diatomaceous earth, is one of the most effective ways to kill bed bugs.

These tiny pests often hide in the cracks and crevices, as well as seams, folds, and tufts of mattresses and sofas. They can also be found in carpets, headboards, and even hiding in tiny spaces.

This is where silica gel comes in. It’s a safe alternative to harsh chemicals and pesticides. It’s a natural insecticide that works by drying out the insects, including the nymphs, effectively disrupting the bed bug infestation.

To use, simply apply the silica gel in a spray bottle and target the bed bugs’ hiding places. Be sure to treat the entire mattress, especially the seams and tufts, as well as the bed frames and box spring. Also, consider treating the carpets, headboards, and sofa.

For a more comprehensive bed bug control, combine silica gel with other DIY methods, such as heat treatment with a steamer, or use of essential oils like lavender.

8. Paint Thinner

Paint thinner with brush on a brown clay pot

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Paint thinner, a common household chemical, is often overlooked as a potential weapon in the battle against bed bug infestations.

While many people turn to professional exterminators for bed bug treatment, DIY methods can also be an effective way to kill bed bugs.

One such method is using paint thinner. When applied to the hiding places of these insects, the active ingredient in the thinner can kill both the adult bedbugs and the nymphs.

However, it’s essential to use caution. Chemicals like paint thinner can be hazardous, so always use a spray bottle for application and avoid areas where you might come into direct contact with the substance.

DIY Homemade Bed Bug Spray

Bed bug spray on a white bottle in the bedroom

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You can make a simple yet effective spray using ingredients like essential oils and rubbing alcohol.

Essential oils, such as lavender, are known to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Mix these ingredients in a spray bottle and apply it to the potential hiding places of bedbugs- including headboards, bed frames, and sofa tufts.

Other essential oils that will work great include thyme, tea tree, peppermint, clove, lemongrass, and eucalyptus.

Chemical Treatments To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

If non-chemical methods and home remedies aren’t for you, you can consider these chemical treatments instead:

1. Insecticides

Man spraying insecticide on bed

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Two popular insecticides used to eradicate bed bugs are pyrethrins and pyrethroids. These pesticides are among the least toxic to people and pets, act quickly, and offer long-lasting protection.

To kill insects, they also need a small dose. Bed bug resistance to these chemicals is a drawback, though.

In that situation, you (or your exterminator) might need to use a different insecticide, such as pyrroles like chlorfenapyr or neonicotinoids, which are nicotine-like compounds made synthetically.

2. Residual Treatments

Selective focus of an aerosol for bed bugs

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Residual treatments are insecticides that provide protection against bed bugs for several days, weeks, or even months after application. But they may not work instantly, depending on the chemical used.

However, they are an excellent line of defense against bed bugs because they can kill adults and eggs while also preventing infestations from re-establishing after initial contact treatments have been completed.

3. Bug Bombs

Pest control for bed bugs

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Both foggers and bug bombs kill bed bugs and are effective broadcasting solutions.

They are, however, highly toxic to both humans and pets, and you will be required to leave your home while they work. Many of these treatments can start working in as little as two hours.

Last Resort: Get Professional Treatment

Professional treatment for bed bugs by a girl worker

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When your DIY methods fail to kill bed bugs, it’s time to consider professional extermination. Professionals in pest control have a wider arsenal of tools and techniques to effectively handle a bed bug infestation.

They use potent chemicals and insecticides, with pyrethroids being an active ingredient, which are more effective than diatomaceous earth or essential oils.

They also employ heat treatment, which is one of the most effective ways to exterminate bedbugs, including the nymphs and bed bugs eggs.

In addition, professionals can accurately identify all the hiding places of these insects, including headboards, and the bases and seams of your furniture, ensuring a thorough bed bug treatment. They also provide prevention advice to avoid future infestations.

So, when your spray bottle, steamer, and traps aren’t enough, and your home becomes a battlefield with these pests, it’s time to call a professional exterminator. It’s the surest and most effective way to regain control over your home.


Other Bedbug Guides from Planet Natural:

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: A Complete 7-Step Guide

What Causes Bed Bugs? (Top 7 Causes of Bed Bug Infestations)

How to Check for Bed Bugs (Guide for Home and Travel)

Bed Bug Bites: Pictures, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Complete Guide to Bed Bug Traps (+ 3 Best Ones in 2023!)

What Do Bed Bug Eggs Look Like? Complete Guide with Pictures

Baby Bed Bugs: How to Identify & Get Rid of Them + Photos & FAQ

6 Early Signs of Bed Bugs (Top Indicators of an Infestation)

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From? And What Attracts Them?

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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.

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