Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature Bedbug Treatments: Facts and Myths What works and what doesn't to get rid of a bedbug infestation? Share Flipboard Email Print Getty Images/Oxford Scientific Animals & Nature Insects Basics Behavior & Communication Ants. Bees, & Wasps Beetles Butterflies & Moths Spiders Ticks & Mites True Bugs, Aphids, Cicadas, and Hoppers Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Marine Life Forestry Dinosaurs Evolution View More By Debbie Hadley Entomology Expert B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University Debbie Hadley is a science educator with 25 years of experience who has written on science topics for over a decade. our editorial process Debbie Hadley Updated January 21, 2020 Bedbugs aren't easy to get rid of, and in desperation, you might be tempted to try the first remedy you read about online. Unfortunately, many of these methods are ineffective—and some can even be dangerous. If you ever find yourself in a battle with these pesky varmints, make sure to separate fact from fiction before you fight back. Knowing what works and what doesn't will save you time, money, and aggravation. Fact: You'll Need to Call Pest Control The most effective means of getting rid of bedbugs is to call in a trained professional and have them apply a pesticide. Many pros also recommend giving your home a thorough cleaning because bedbugs can hide anywhere and pesticides can't be applied to everything you own. You'll need to get rid of clutter and launder anything washable in hot water. You may also need to steam-clean your carpets and furniture. Fact: Pesticides Don't Always Work Bugs can develop resistance to pesticides over time, especially if they're overapplied. Chemicals, such as deltamethrin, that were once commonly used to combat certain pests are no longer effective. According to research from 2017, bedbugs may be developing resistance to pyrethrums, the most common chemical used to combat them. Fact: You May Not Have to Toss Your Furniture If the infestation is caught early, a professional pest control application and diligent cleaning should remove these critters from your furniture. More severe infestations are another matter. If your mattress is torn or separated at the seams, bedbugs have likely moved inside, making treatment near impossible. In such circumstances, replacement may be your only option. Fact: Mattress Covers Work A number of companies make bedbug resistant mattress covers that form an impenetrable barrier around the exterior of your mattress. If you've had your home treated for a bedbug infestation, using a mattress cover can prevent any remaining bugs in your mattress from getting out and biting you. Myth: You Can Kill Bedbugs With Bug Bombs Bug bombs, or total room foggers, release a pesticide into the air in your home. Most bug bombs contain pyrethrin, one of the chemicals used to combat bedbugs, so you might think this product is an effective way to eliminate an infestation. Not so. First of all, bedbugs (and other crawling insects) typically flee when pesticide is released, heading for cover in the deepest, most inaccessible crevices of your home. Second, effective treatment requires directed applications in all the places where bedbugs hide: behind moldings and casements, inside electrical boxes, or inside mattresses, for example. Chemicals released by a bomb simply can't reach such places adequately to kill all the bedbugs in your home. Myth: Bedbug Sniffing Dogs are Highly Effective While companies that use bug-sniffing dogs may claim a success rate of over 90%, the truth is, there hasn't been a lot of testing to see if these claims are true. (And at between $500 and $1,000 for their services, that's an expensive "maybe it works and maybe it doesn't.") In 2011, two researchers at Rutgers University did put some bedbug-sniffing dogs through their paces in real apartment buildings, and the results were nowhere near as effective as advertised. The accuracy of the dogs' detecting abilities averaged just 43%. Myth: You Can Kill Bedbugs by Turning Up The Heat Heat treatments do kill bed bugs effectively, but simply turning up your thermostat is not a heat treatment. To roast bedbugs in your home, you'd have to heat the entire house evenly to over 120° F for at least an hour (including the voids between interior and exterior walls and the insides of your furniture). No home heating system is designed to do that. Professional heat treatments usually involve sealing your home and using multiple heat sources throughout the house to raise the temperature. Myth: You Can Kill Bedbugs by Turing Off The Heat Temperatures below 32° F can and do kill bed bugs outside of the home—if temperatures remain below freezing for a prolonged period of time...but who wants to live in a freezing house? Moving out for the two to three months that it would take to starve bed bugs of their source of food (you) is equally impractical. Additional Resources: "Bed Bugs bite back thanks to evolution." Understanding Evolution, September 2010.Potter, Michael F. "Limitations of Home Insect Foggers ('Bug Bombs')." University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.Cranshaw, W.S.; Camper, M., and Peairs, F.B. "Bat Bugs, Bed Bugs, and Their Relatives." Colorado State University Extension.Wang, Changlu and Cooper, Richard. Detection Tools and Techniques." Pest Control Technology, August 2011"Bed Bug Myths and Facts, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene."Your Guide to Bed Bugs." Pest Control Technology, August 2004."FAQ List for Bed Bugs." New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.