Is it possible to control bed bugs with non-toxic materials? All you need to start is a EPA Exempt pesticide, which is safe or even just a mixture of alcohol and water with a little dish soap. Mix a gallon sprayer half and half with water and alcohol and a cup of dish soap. Then you will need some food grade diatomaceous earth (DE). You can get DE at a feed store or buy Fossil Shell Flour. Greenbug is one very good EPA Exempt pesticide. There are others. And you will need a hair dryer.
The first step in controlling bed bugs is to completely inspect the room to determine the extent of the infestation. Place close attention to the sleeping areas. They can be hiding anywhere but they will stay as close to the food source as they can. Small crevices in solid structures, such as the joints in the bed’s headboard or between the wall and the base board are the bedbugs’ refuge of choice. Strip the bed so you can inspect the mattress and box spring. Examine the seams and buttons on the mattress as well as any labels. Bed bugs will hide in all of these areas. Stand the mattress on end if you have to and examine the box spring if there is one. Stand it up and look at the underside, especially along the edges. Also look behind pictures hanging on the wall, between and behind any books or magazines in close proximity to the bed and in any furniture nearby. You may have to turn some of the furniture over and examine the underside. Carefully check anything that is under the bed including storage boxes. If there is any litter under the bed, it should be removed. Also check for dried cast skins (exuviae) from the molting process and fecal matter.
Before you start the treatment, there are a few preparations you should do. Wash all the bedding in hot water (120 + degrees). This will kill any bed bugs in the bedding. Personal items such as stuffed animals, blankets, etc. should be vacuumed and placed in plastic bags for a couple of weeks. If you have a clock, phone, radio or other appliance near the bed, they should be opened and inspected as bed bugs will hide in those places as well. Thoroughly vacuum the entire room including inside closets and dresser drawers. If the infestation is severe, you will have to use a crack and crevice vacuum tool to suck the bugs out from along the edge of the carpet, from behind switch plates which you will have to remove, from all around the bed frame, inside the box spring and inside any furniture in the room. If you see any eggs on the mattress along the seams, you can remove these by picking them up with duct tape. After vacuuming the room or rooms, remove the bag from the vacuum and discard it right away.
Next, use a steam cleaner in all the cracks and crevices and along the edge of the carpet and on the furniture to get any bed bugs the vacuuming missed. You want to get as many bed bugs as you can before the final treatment. If you haven’t got a steam cleaner, you can use a hair dryer.
Now it is time to treat the bed. Use a flashlight and carefully examine the seams, buttons and any folds in the mattress along with the headboard and footboard if they are present. Check the box spring and frame as well. Use the hair dryer and aim it at any crevices or voids in the bed frame. If there are any bed bugs hiding in the crevices, they will come out because of the heat. Spray any bed bugs you see with the EPA Exempt pesticide or alcohol and water mixture as well as all cracks and crevices in the bed. Spray the underside of the box spring as well. If you don’t see any bed bugs, then spray along the seams and around the folds and all the other areas mentioned. Make sure to use plenty of solution so the sprayed surface is wet. Then put some DE in a duster such as a catsup container and puff DE on all the sprayed areas, including under the box spring. This method will kill any bed bugs in several hours and the DE will prevent any from hiding in these areas in the near future. You can also sprinkle fine powder body bath powder on the mattress and rub it into the fabric.
Now you have to treat all the furniture in the room including night stands, chairs, couches, dressers, etc. Make sure you carefully inspect all the wooden furniture and treat them as you treated the mattress, box spring and bed frame. If any of the furniture, such as bunk beds, have metal framing, treat inside the metal tubing with EPA Exempt or alcohol solution.
Finally, you need to make your bed difficult for bed bugs to access. Tape up any tears in the box spring or mattress with duct tape or, better yet, enclose them in a zippered mattress cover used for dust mites. Put the legs of the bed in coffee containers filled with soapy water and coat the legs with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. Don’t let the bed touch any walls or let the bed covers touch the floor.
You can trap bed bugs by placing a heating pad on the floor with sticky traps around it or you can use duct tape, sticky side up. Put an Alka-Seltzer tablet on a damp sponge on a small plate on the heating pad. The Alka-Seltzer will attract any bed bugs in the area. Used on a damp sponge they will attract bed bugs.