What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly? Bed Bug Treatments for Mattress, Carpet, Etc.

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | April 4, 2024

Woman surrounded by a mountain of bed bugs wonders what kills bed bugs instantly and what are the bed bug treatments for carpet, bed bug treatments for mattress, and what kills bed bugs in one day?

What kills bed bugs instantly without causing climate change?

Unfortunately, just like cockroaches, bed bugs have adapted and become more resistant to modern pesticide treatments, and are very adept at hiding away until the life-threatening insecticides dispersed to get them have dissipated.

Bed bug specialists are aware of these resistant strains of bed pests and have also adapted to this changing situation to solve your bad bug issues and guarantee you a good night’s sleep.

Fortunately, the answer to the question, what kills bed bugs instantly, doesn’t necessarily mean chemical pesticides.

Heat treatments (your dryer on high) can immediately kill bed bugs on clothes and other washable fabrics, but there are some additional options as well.

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs and What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly (DIY)

Certain DIY practices will have varying levels of efficacy and potency periods.

If you are only searching specifically for what kills bed bugs instantly, you may be able to kill a few of them, but what about the rest?

Graphic of what kills bed bugs instantly showing vacuuming, using baking soda, steaming, washing clothes at high temp, using hair dryers, double-sided tape, and diatomaceous earth, and drying clothes at temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some products that kill on contact may well take them out in an instant, but although there is a feeling of accomplishment that you’ve got one of the critters, there are probably another 10 who are mourning their buddy’s demise but laughing at the same time as you will have missed them out completely.

Here are another 8 treatment methods that will kill them instantly from mattresses, couches, curtains, carpets, and clothes.5

But even though they may give you a brief respite they will not permanently get rid of them nor will they get every single last one.

  1. Vacuuming
  2. Baking soda
  3. Steaming clothes, furnishings, etc.
  4. Washing clothes at high temperatures
  5. Hair dryers for blowing hot air into tight spaces
  6. The use of double-sided tape as traps is very effective
  7. Spreading around diatomaceous earth for bed bugs is a desiccant that gets them every time they come into contact with it.
  8. Run your bedding, clothes, curtains, etc, through a drying cycle on your machine at a temperature of 120°F or above.

How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs in One Day

Just as you can find methods of how to find bed bugs during the day, it is possible to research products that will get rid of bed bugs in one day so that by the time you’re ready to retire for the night, you can have a nice bug-free zone to rest your head.

Your best bet to clean out a particular room is to call in a pest exterminator.

A man standing in front of a gray gate while spraying chemicals for bed bug treatment.

(Image: Copla Group15)

A professional will have the equipment, products, and experience, and will recommend the most efficient course of action for a one-day eradication program.

Bed bug heat treatment will be one of the services they have on offer that is highly successful but It involves a lot of preparation with all the items below removed beforehand for the duration.

  • No pets can be left in the room
  • All plants should be removed
  • Any items possibly sensitive to high temperature have to be taken out to prevent any damage
  • Any fresh foods or perishable products such as chocolates will have to be stored elsewhere
  • Objects composed of wax or flammable polymers, or that are combustible materials
  • Don’t leave any alcoholic products behind, or those that contain alcohol such as perfumes and aftershaves
  • Computers, cell phones, technological gadgets, and even TVs should be disconnected or taken out of the hot zone
  • Remove oil paintings

This heat treatment procedure for bed bugs includes the use of commercial-grade electric heaters that will keep the room at a consistent temperature of about 145°F for between 6 and 9 hours. Your furniture, clothing, bedding, couch, and electronics should be OK and won’t harm your home’s structure, and at the end of the day, your bed bug control provider will let you know if it’s safe to spend the night in the sterilized room or wait until the following day.6

You can rest assured that the room will be cleared completely, yet the specialists may want to confirm it later unless a follow-up visit is required to get any stragglers. Fortunately, bed bugs can’t survive in very hot conditions for very long and will succumb to excessive heat.

A few of the hardier ones may try to seek out cooler areas within the hot box, but if the room is sealed properly they’ll have nowhere to run and hide.

How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast Home Remedy

Concerns about how much does a bed bug exterminator cost has led many homeowners to research the most effective home remedies on how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress quickly.2

As soon as they have been identified as the source of your itchy red patches, you probably won’t want to climb back under the covers again anytime soon.

There are some products that you may already possess somewhere under your sink or in a cupboard that will be perfect for the job at hand, and one of the most common is rubbing alcohol.

It can be used to wipe down surfaces to deter the bugs from running riot around your rooms, but it is more effective as a do-it-yourself remedy when it is diluted with water and sprayed where the bed bugs are suspected of hanging out.

Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs and Is It a Good Bed Bug Treatment?

It is, but as you’re looking for products, you’ll ask yourself, What kills bed bugs instantly? You have to be aware that rubbing alcohol does have its drawbacks.

When coming into contact with the diluted solution, bed bugs will die off instantly as the alcohol acts as a solvent and burns straight through their outer exoskeleton.

If that doesn’t kill them then the alcohol serves as a desiccant, lethally depriving them of any life-sustaining bodily moisture.

A bottle of ethyl alcohol which is one of the home remedies for bed bugs.

(Image: ajay_suresh14)

The obvious advantages to using rubbing alcohol are that it is fairly cheap to purchase, it evaporates rapidly, disappears completely without leaving any residues, and won’t leave your house smelling funky for the next few hours. No one wants that.

Still, that’s no assurance of a win every time. For instance, it may eradicate adult bed bugs but it does not affect the insects’ eggs or young nymphs.

Furthermore, it requires direct physical contact with the insects to be effective or it just won’t bother the ones who have seen their buddies getting a lethal dose and run for cover.  Amazingly, one of the places that they seemingly know where you won’t be dispersing any alcohol-based insecticides is inside electrical outlets, so that’s where they head.3

As soon as they are safe and sheltered, they will happily wait while the alcohol naturally evaporates from all the surfaces and it’s safe for them to pop back out and go about their business of biting you. But apart from not being able to reach the bed bugs when they are concealed, there is one specific drawback to using alcohol as an instant bug-killer; it is flammable.

If you choose to spray it on beds, carpets, textiles, clothes, or furniture, it can pose a fire threat even though it dries rapidly. Airborne vapors are also very combustible, and there have been reported incidents where houses have been accidentally razed to the ground.

Whenever using this form of treatment, you should always wipe down and clean any surfaces to remove any risks of inadvertently starting a fire.

What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly? Vinegar Bed Bug Spray (Bed Bug Treatments for Mattress and More)

As a safe alternative to using products containing alcohol, vinegar is recognized as a safer choice, not only for killing insects but even for use in an organic weed-killer recipe. It needs to be diluted with water and functions similarly to rubbing alcohol in that it has to be sprayed directly onto the bed bugs to kill them.

Is it just as effective a method in how to get rid of bed bugs permanently? The strong acidity level in white vinegar goes to work as soon as it penetrates the exoskeleton by fatally attacking and damaging the insect’s nervous system.4

Once they’ve been properly sprayed, death will occur in just a matter of seconds. It is effective in eliminating individual bed bugs as you come across them, but it won’t keep future pests away.

Also, if you use too much vinegar spray, the acrid corrosive odor will permeate your whole bedroom and get up your nose. Just as with spraying rubbing alcohol, vinegar can be used safely on mattresses, clothes, couches, and furniture without causing any damage as long as too much of it is not applied.

Plus it only works on mature creatures and those bugs that have scarpered into places where the mist cannot reach will be able to live and bite another day.

Bed Bug Treatments for Carpet, Clothes, and Couches

Couch how to check for bed bugs? Mattresses and couches can be treated with the same insecticides sprayed over the surface to kill the bugs, as well as other treatments such as diatomaceous earth, steam, pesticide sprays, and vacuuming that can be used on both surfaces.

Clothes are easier to clean in that they can be steamed or cleaned in washing machines at high temperatures.

Top shot of a clusters of bed bugs showing an infestation that needs immediate bed bug treatment.

(Image: British Pest Control Association16)

For some clothes items that you do not wear regularly, you can seal them in containers or sealed plastic bags for a year. After that period has elapsed, all the bed bugs would have starved to death and the clothes would just have to be properly cleaned to remove their exoskeletons.

For carpets, the use of a powerful vacuum cleaner will capture a majority of the bed bugs that are sauntering out of sight right beneath your feet. Once that is done, you can get a steam cleaner to get the rest of them that held on successfully for dear life while you ran the vacuum over the carpet.

The combination of using more than one extermination method and persistence is the key to getting them all.

Realistically, How Long Does It Take To Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

It would be nice if within an hour all the bed bugs and their buddies could either be chased out of your house or killed stone. Probably the fastest way to kill a bed bug instantly is to grab a magnifying glass and squash it flat one at a time with your shoe.

But those little critters are fast, tiny, and experts at disappearing right before your very eyes into any cracks or creases they can squeeze into or under. Whether you decide to use home remedies to avoid the costs of shelling out for exterminator prices, you should brace yourself for a battle of wits.

The bed bugs will do everything to survive any extermination method you throw at them so be prepared to launch more than one assault to get the job done. Even professional exterminators who know how to get rid of bed bugs have to be flexible in the methods they employ because of the resilience displayed by these pests.

The path forward and the success rate will depend on the severity of the infestation and the size of the room or home that needs to be treated. In some instances, it might take anywhere from two to four treatment sessions before all the bugs are eradicated.

So how long does each session last? A DIY job or a visit from a bed bug specialist can easily take one to three hours for a small room to be completely cured of an infestation, or possibly an entire day for a house that has four or five large bedrooms where the bed bugs have been detected in each one.

Although there is no time scale for complete eradication that fits every circumstance, it’s safe to assume that you may need more than one treatment session which can realistically be from three to six weeks if the infestation is severe.

How To Know if You Have an Infested Bed Bug Mattress

Cockroaches and other household pests are fairly easy to spot and if your mattress was infested with any of them you would know about it pretty quickly. A mattress infested with 50 cockroaches would be undulating from every movement they made.

A mattress infested with hundreds of bed bugs would not be any different than a new one fresh from the factory. Until you looked a little closer.

Even though the adults are little more than the same size as an apple seed, and look very similar, they leave traces that they are sharing your supposedly safe sleeping space in the form of tiny red stains.

Apart from those almost unidentifiable stains on your sheets, which happen to be your blood after they have bitten you, by the way, there are translucent eggs that are no more than 1mm, and occasionally exoskeletons of bed bugs that have died.

These are confirmatory indications that they are roaming freely above your mattress, but the one sure sign, the indisputable proof that you have a bed bug problem is the red, itchy splotches splattered over your body. Just a glance online at pictures of bed bug bites would give you all the confirmation you would need to look for any solutions on how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress as early as yesterday.1

How To Prevent Bed Bugs and How To Keep Bed Bugs Away

It would be nice to think that your house may never be subjected to a bed bug invasion, but no one and no mattress is immune.

You can, however, practice certain preventative measures that will let them know they are not welcome in your home.

A close-up view of dead bed bugs on a white mattress.

(Image: r_neme13)

And it should start, strangely enough, the moment you’ve come back from vacation.

  1. Hotel carpets, mattresses, and drapes all may well have a couple of bed bugs hanging around ready to go on vacation themselves. Even though they can’t fly, bed bugs are notorious for getting about by hopping gleefully onto suitcases, jackets, and any passersby who get too close.
    As soon as you get home, give everything either a quick wipe down, a flash spray, or a spin in the washing machine on the hot setting to control any bed bugs.7
  2. Bed bugs cannot climb smooth surfaces and cannot get out of tightly sealed boxes. To prevent an infestation, you can keep the clutter underneath your bed to a minimum by placing your belongings in plastic bins.
  3. Known as an encasement, it is a protective cover that seals in the entire mattress and box springs so no bed bugs can hide inside any folds. Any bed bugs inside are going to die from starvation, dehydration, and lack of air, so make sure you purchase a bed bug-recognized cover that is bite-proof as they will chew themselves free.
  4. Even if you don’t think it’s necessary, regularly vacuuming your couch, curtains, carpets, and around your sleeping area will catch any eggs laid by a lone bed bug that may have wandered in on the coattails of your closest friend who just popped in for a coffee.
  5. Be mindful about laying the clothes you wear outside onto your bed or those of your visitors. You never know what you may have brushed against. Perhaps there won’t be any adult bugs that have followed you home, but it could be a few of their eggs that will hatch as soon as they relax on your bed or get hung in your closet.

There was a time when the population of bed bugs had declined to such a level that they were all but eliminated from the entire United States of America. That was in the 1940s.

For some reason, in the middle of the 1990s, they started to make a comeback, a resurgence that occurred not only in the United States but globally.

What Chemicals Kill Bed Bugs?

Chemical remedies for bed bugs are widely available in stores across the country, with many of the popular brands containing more than 300 chemical compounds that have been certified by the EPA,8 are strong and mean enough to kill pesticide-resistant bed bugs.

Concerned homeowners often think that if one room has bed bugs do they all, and this is often true. But, chemicals have drawbacks.

A scientists holding a small Erlenmeyer flask with liquid solution that can be used to kill bed bugs instantly.

(Image: Chokniti Khongchum17)

If you like to stay informed about what kills bed bugs instantly, how the chemicals work against your unwelcome bed pests, and how effective they will be, here is a brief description of them to help you get a better idea of how they work.

Biochemicals

You can purchase neem oil at any hardware shop, and it is always the first option for those looking for a natural solution to decrease the effects of climate change.

You will find that it is the only known biochemical product that has proven to be effective against bed bugs and other types of household pests without emitting any harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

What Kills Bed Bugs and Their Eggs: Desiccants

Desiccants are useful for treating bed bugs because, unlike with other pesticides that you may already have tried, bed bugs have not developed resistance and will succumb to lethal compounds in the products.

If you’re wondering what makes these products so effective, it’s because they create a severe dehydration response not only in the adults but also in the eggs and immature bed bugs.

Growth Control Agents in Insects

Insect growth regulators(IGRS) are interesting products in that they can either speed up a bug’s development or halt it cold turkey, depending on the chemical composition of the product.9

Many of these insect growth regulators hinder the insect’s capacity to grow into an adult and prevent it from constructing its protective outer shell that it needs for protection and to survive.

Neonicotinoids

Just like desiccants, they are effective against bed bugs that may have developed resistance to other pesticides and are a compound that you should want in a bug-killing product.

They are typically created artificially with the goal being that the chemicals target the nicotinic reactors that occur naturally in the brain and spinal cord of the bed bugs.

This disrupts the neurons, causing them to continually misfire until the bed bug just keels over.

Pyrethrins/Pyrethroids

Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are part of the first class of chemicals, really the first line of defense. Both substances have been widely available, approved, and used for years to eliminate common tiny household pests whose names you would probably recognize, but unfortunately, bed bugs are becoming somewhat immune to both substances when they are used individually.10

When they are combined, pyrethrins and pyrethroids may be more effective in eliminating these and other irritating house pests.

What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly and Permanently?

What works for your minor bug problem may not work for a major infestation for your next-door neighbor.

Both you and your neighbor will want to know what kills bed bugs instantly, perhaps what other types of insects have invaded your homes, and will more than likely try several DIY treatment methods to get rid of them all before deciding to call in a pest exterminator.11

A woman with question marks close to her wonders what kills bed bugs instantly and permanently.

(Image: Sophieja2318)

Even when the professionals treat your home, they may need to conduct a couple of visits to clear out any dormant bugs or those that may not have succumbed at the time. And even when your entire living space is finally occupied by only humans, that’s no guarantee that the bugs may not return one day.

After the first infestation, it’s always wise to instigate a few preventative measures to make it harder for them to get back into your bed, and be aware that they will try and sneak back in if the opportunity arises.

So, when you learn what kills bed bugs instantly, keep it handy under the sink or in the cupboard because you never know when you might need it again.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly

How Much Does Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Cost?

On a square foot pricing format, it can cost between $1 to $3 per square foot. For an average bedroom of around 132 square feet, that would amount to a price of between $132 to $396 for a heat treatment service that kills bed bugs instantly.

What Are the Ways To Learn How To Check for Bed Bugs?

For a mattress or a couch, how to check for bed bugs, an unusual yet efficient method is sniffer dogs which are a surprisingly accurate way to identify a bed bug infestation.

What Temperature Kills Bed Bugs Instantly?

When exposed to prolonged temperatures of 120°F or more, it’s just a matter of time before the bed bugs are going to be meeting their maker.

What Diseases Do Bed Bugs Spread?

None whatsoever. They may be irritating and annoying, but they are not known for spreading any types of diseases like mosquitos are capable of doing.12

Why Don’t You Feel the Bites of Bed Bugs?

You will never feel the point at which a bed bug has bitten you as it injects you first with an anesthetic before dining on a small portion of your blood.


References

1New York State. (2021, May). Bed Bugs – What They Are and How to Control Them. NY. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/pests/bedbugs.htm>

2Michigan Department of Community Health. (2023). Bed Bugs & Mattresses. MICHIGAN. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/emergingdiseases/Folder1/mattress_fact_sheet.pdf?rev=3de3646c39c2476f8de5ab1bb04fd025>

3Peter, K. A., Krawczyk, G., & Crassweller, R. (2023, March 9). Fungicides, Herbicides, and Insecticides. PSU. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://extension.psu.edu/fungicides-herbicides-and-insecticides>

4NC State. (2023). Nervous System. NCSU. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://genent.cals.ncsu.edu/bug-bytes/nervous-system/>

5Harrison County Health Department. (2023). Bed Bugs, DIY Treatment. IN. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://www.in.gov/localhealth/harrisoncounty/environmental-health/files/Brochure_Bed_bugs_DIY_treatment.pdf>

6Merchant, M., & Brown, W. (2013, June). How to Select a Bed Bug Control Provider. ARKANSAS. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://healthy.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/pdf/HowtoSelectBedBugControlProvider.pdf>

7United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, June 12). Top Ten Tips to Prevent or Control Bed Bugs. EPA. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/top-ten-tips-prevent-or-control-bed-bugs>

8United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, November 15). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://www.epa.gov/>

9Krysan, J. L., & Dunley, J. (1993). Insect Growth Regulators. WSU. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://treefruit.wsu.edu/crop-protection/opm/igrs/>

10United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, October 5). Pesticides to Control Bed Bugs. EPA. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/pesticides-control-bed-bugs>

11University of Minnesota. (2023). Insects that infest homes. UMN. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://extension.umn.edu/household-insects/insects-infest-homes>

12MN Department of Health. (2022, December 23). Diseases that can be Transmitted by Mosquitoes. MN. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <https://www.health.mn.gov/diseases/mosquitoborne/diseases.html>

13Bedbug Pic 3 (1-22-15). r_neme. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped and Resized. From <https://www.flickr.com/photos/127939039@N04/16156988170/in/dateposted/>

14Rubbing Alcohol. ajay_suresh. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Resized, Adjusted Color Balance, and Adjusted Brightness and Contrast. From <https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajay_suresh/51013600587/>

15Control de plagas en las industrias alimentarias, bebidas y farmacéuticas. Copla Group. CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. Cropped and Resized. From <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Control_de_Plagas.jpg>

16Pests – Bed Bugs. British Pest Control Association. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Resized, Adjusted Color Balance, and Adjusted Brightness and Contrast. From <https://www.flickr.com/photos/95230066@N07/29810217955/>

17Chokniti Khongchum. Pexels. From <https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-laboratory-flask-2280571/>

18Sophieja23. Pixabay. From <https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-question-mark-person-decision-687560/>