How to Treat Everything For Bed Bugs


There are a few tools that are very helpful for treating bed bugs in your things, and there may be more than one option for different items.

  1. Bed Bug Heater/Oven: Great for whatever won’t melt. Kills bed bugs with heat in just a couple of hours. Purses, backpacks, toys, books and papers (heat will dry these and possibly loosen glue in books), car seats, baby items.

  2. Washing/Drying: Great for bedding that can survive multiple dryer cycles, some cloth toys, some backpacks. Use your own judgment of what will not damage your possessions or your dryer. Most objects can be “cleaned” or treated by other methods.

  3. Steaming: Very helpful for treating bed frames, furniture joints, carpets. Helpful for pre-pesticide treatment around baseboards. Limited by what the steam can reach.

  4. Long-term storage in sealed containers, eighteen months is suggested. Or put things in a sealed container and throw a NUVAN strip inside and wait three weeks.

  5. Nuvan ProStrips for infested vehicles, un-washable/un-heatable items like car seats, paper, plastic or liquids in sealed containers. Read the label for guidance and disposal

  6. One is a steamer and the other a bed bug heater.  Most everything that isn’t alive like plants, can be treated with no-pest strips in sealed bags or containers for several weeks. You could use your car as a sealed container for this purpose and of course you cannot use it with a No-pest strip inside. Many things will benefit from being treated with steam, or heat. Some things can be thrown in a washer or dryer, or treated in a dishwasher. 

Furniture “can” be steamed acknowledging that hot steam may damage surfaces, and possibly damage paint, and varnish. It can also loosen glue used in wood joints.  Nuvan No-pest strips, can be used for furniture and other items, in a confined space like a garage, shed, rented pod or container, or moving van, for a minimum period of two weeks or more to catch hatching eggs.  

Do not use no-pest strips in a building, garage or enclosure that vents into your home or occupied space. As mentioned earlier, active (out of the package) no-pest strips should not be located in spaces that people or pets occupy for extended periods. Read and follow all directions. Furniture can be treated using no-pest strips in a sealed pod, shed or moving truck or van. This is preferred over spraying pesticides on furniture that children, adults and pets may come into physical contact with. Once removed, the strips leave no residue. Furniture can be sprayed with pesticides if the label lists furniture, but if there is an alternative method that leaves no residual on the furniture, I would vote for that option. I just don’t like poison on my furniture if I can avoid it. If it’s not on the label, don’t do it. Large furniture like sofas, chairs and tables could be placed in a rented container or rental truck with a no-pest strip inside. You would want to keep the furniture in  the container for a minimum of 14-21 days to kill eggs and hatching eggs. Also do not use powdered pesticides on your furniture or bed. You or your children, or pets will inhale it.

Follow all directions on the label of every product you use. I am sad to say that in online forums, I frequently see people writing they have put Diatomaceous Earth (DE) on their mattresses and couch cushions. DE will never come out of those NEVER! No amount of vacuuming will remove all D.E. from upholstery or rugs.  Once applied to fabrics it’s forever and you should not use it unless the label says you can. If the label doesn’t mention furniture or bedding assume IT’S NOT SAFE. Those can never be fully cleaned and should be safely disposed of. Just don’t put powdered pesticides on your rugs, furniture or bed. Clothing:  Your washer and dryer will do most of the work here. Items that cannot be washed can be put inside a portable bed bug heater. Toys: Depending on what the toy is made of will determine how you decide to treat it. Some baby toys can go into a dishwasher. Many toys can be safely heated in a bed bug heater. No-pest strips leave no residue after the items have been properly aired out. REMOVE BATTERIES BEFORE HEATING ITEMS IN A BED BUG HEATER. DO NOT PUT BATTERIES IN A BED BUG HEATER.

Baby Furniture & Car Seats: Baby furniture like cribs, changing tables and car seats can be treated with Nuvan No-pest strips in a closed vehicle, sealed storage container, POD, moving truck, or unattached garage or shed.  

Or they can be heated in a bed bug heater oven designed to treat infested items without using any pesticides. Heat is a pesticide free way to kill bed bugs in your stuff. Warning: high temperatures may loosen some joints in furniture if they are glued together. If you have a portable bed bug heater, you can easily treat and re-treat car seats, baby swings, some strollers, whatever will fit safely in the portable heater. Electronics: Some electronics could be damaged by high temperatures. Many instruction manuals list dangerous heat levels. Electronics can be treated with no-pest strips as well. Laptop batteries should not be heated.

Photos and photo albums: Photos and delicate documents can be treated with no-pest strips. It is always possible that delicate photos or other documents could suffer damage due to exposure to the ingredients in any pesticide.  Another option for photos, delicate documents, antiques, etc., is to simply put them in a sealed tub or bag for eighteen months. Even if there were bed bugs or eggs in those items, the bugs will be dead at the end of that timeframe. Record albums and CD’s: Vinyl record albums must be removed from any area where heat treatment will occur. Your technician should provide you with a list of items to remove from the space to be heated. Records and CD’s can be treated with no-pest strips. Plants: Plants must be removed from rooms where heat treatment is happening or where no-pest strips are active. Plants may be returned to rooms where heat treatment has cooled down or where no-pest strips have been removed from the space for 24 hours.  MakeUp, shampoo, and lotions: You may need to remove these for heat treatment. You might want to ask your pest control technician if you need to remove these types of items for pesticide treatment. Probably not, but check with them. Shoes and boots: Here is another place where a portable bed bug heater comes in handy. Exposure to high temperatures for an extended time can loosen some glue on shoes which could result in permanent damage. 

Shoes and boots can also be enclosed in a bag or tub with a no-pest strip for a couple of weeks. Craft supplies: The type of craft supply will determine how you treat it. If you can seal it in a bag or tub and drop a no-pest strip in for a few weeks, you can be confident those items are probably free of bed bugs. Some items may dry out or be damaged by exposure to high temperatures for several hours. These suggestions apply to yarn, and sewing supplies as well. Fabric can either be laundered, washed and dried or heated, ironed or bagged with a no-pest strip. File Folders, books, and magazines: Follow the same guidelines as for craft supplies.  Paper, including pages in books and magazines, can dry out from being heated. Additionally, prolonged heat may loosen the glue on bindings and book covers.  If you have valuable books in your collection keep this in mind and consider no-pest strips as an alternative. You can also simply isolate these items for eighteen months in sealed containers rather than treat them at all.  No pesticides would be needed, just isolating your possessions, you might not need anytime soon.

If you live in multi-family housing, condos, or a duplex, you can seal cracks and crevices around the baseboards and windows with caulk, even if you don’t have bed bugs.  Even better apply a very thin layer of D.E. under the baseboards and then seal and caulk them. This will help prevent bed bugs and other pests from coming in from other units. Wear a mask when applying D.E. Empty closets and shelves in rooms where bugs have been found. You or your exterminator will need access to these spaces. Unplug electronic devices in rooms to be exterminated, so that cables and cords don’t make it harder to treat the space. This will make the area more accessible. Be sure to vacuum around the edges of the mattress and piping. Always check under mattress labels and buttons. Vacuum around the inside ledge of your bed frame that holds the mattress or box-springs, and around the floor under the bed and between the bed and the nearest wall. Do this even if your mattress is encased. If your mattress is not encased you may be harboring bed bugs inside of it. Get encasements to be sure you are not providing bed bugs easy access to you. Encase both the mattress and box spring if you have one.  For cushions and pillows, the bed bug heater is easy and effective in killing bed bugs and eggs. It will take hours for sofa pillows, or thick cushions, but it gets the job done without pesticides.

 Steam clean or vacuum floors, furniture and carpets that do not have pesticides on them.  Empty wooden bookshelves, desks, dressers, nightstands, etc., and remove drawers if possible and wipe them clean. You can vacuum the bottom of drawers and the insides. Don’t forget under and behind your dresser too.

 Bed bugs can and do hide between the joints and seams of wooden and metal furniture. This may include coffee tables, television stands, drawers, bed frames, photo frames, and box springs.

Joints and seams in furniture may be sprayed with alcohol or treated with steam. Neither lasts longer than when you apply it but everything you do counts as getting closer to zero bed bugs.