Bedbugs represent a significant issue. Once they invade your home, they assert total dominance. These tiny pests can interfere with your sleep, your living environment, and even your health. This underscores the urgent necessity to get rid of them the moment you become aware of their existence.

However, hiring a bed bug exterminator can be costly, especially if you are on a tight budget. This guide will provide you with 4 steps to get rid of bed bugs without hiring a professional exterminator.


4 Steps To Eliminate Bed Bugs on the Cheap

If you cannot afford bed bug treatment, worry not because these steps will help you kill the insects without spending lots of money.

1. Identify the Signs of Bed Bug Infestation

Before you begin the treatment, you need to know for sure that your home is infested by bed bugs and not other blood-thirsty insects. Typically, bed bugs will be present in places you spend most of your time in, like bedrooms and the living room. Below are the most common signs of bed bug infestation.

  • Bloodstains on your bed and beddings caused by crushing of the insects
  • Small blackish-red marks on your beddings
  • Bed bug shells
  • Bed bug bites on your skin
  • Small translucent white eggs

Once the insect bites you, your skin will itch immediately and start to swell. However, not all people are reactive to bed bug bites, which may make it hard to know whether you have an infestation.

To be 100% certain that you have a bed bug infestation, you can take a sample of the pest to an extension agent or a professional insect expert. The professional can identify the insect for you at no cost.


2. Prevent the Infestation From Spreading

This is the isolation stage, where you will prevent the infestation from spreading and prepare for bed bug treatment.

  • Start by isolating items that are infested by the pest and put them in sealed plastic bags.
  • Place items that are difficult to treat in sealed plastic bags and leave them for up to a year to ensure all active bed bug eggs are dead. However, do not place everything in plastic bags as it may increase your workload.
  • Vacuum your rugs, carpets and sofa and ensure you empty the vacuum after every round.
  • Place items that cannot be salvaged in a plastic bag and seal them tightly before throwing them in your outdoor bin.
  • If your furniture and mattresses are beyond saving, destroy them or mark them with spray paint before dumping them to prevent other people from bringing them to their homes.
  • Notify your trash collection agency to immediately pick up the infested trash to prevent the infestation from spreading in your neighborhood.

3. Start the Treatment

Now that you have isolated infested items and reduced the clatter, the most crucial step is to start the treatment. Make sure you use a safe, legal and effective treatment method.


Steam Clean Your Bed, Mattress and Furniture

  • Start by steam cleaning your bed and other soft furnishings in the room. You can use a vacuum cleaner, but it is not recommended as it will not entirely kill adult pests, their nymphs and eggs.
  • Steam cleaners give the best results because the heat kills the bugs instantly. The machine works at a temperature of more than 130 degrees F. This heat immediately roasts the bed bugs and eliminates the eggs and shells.
  • Remove all your beddings and steam clean the mattress from edge to edge, including mattress folds and seams. Once you are done with the top part, flip the mattress and repeat the cleaning process.
  • Steam clean your soft furnishings as well. You can brush your mattress and furnishings before cleaning for excellent results. Steam clean every inch of your bedroom couch as well.

Cover Your Mattress With an Encasement

After steam cleaning your mattress, cover it with a bed bug-proof mattress encasement to prevent bed bug bites. Although the encasement will not choke the bed bugs, it will prevent them from biting you. More so, the encasement is usually smooth, which means the bed bugs cannot hide in it.

Seal Cracks and Gaps on the Bed’s Headboard and Frame

Bed bugs normally hide in tiny cracks and gaps on the headboard and frame. After steam cleaning your bed, it is essential to seal any cracks and crevices. This way, the pests will not have anywhere to hide anymore.

If you find any cracks in your furniture, seal them as well using a silicone-based sealant. This type of sealant is strong and durable.

Use Desiccant Dust

After all that steam cleaning, there may still be some bed bugs left. This is where the desiccant dust comes in.

Carefully scatter EPA-approved desiccant in all your rooms, including rugs and furniture. The desiccant immediately penetrates the pest’s body and dehydrates it from the inside. The dehydration makes the bug’s exoskeleton collapse, resulting in its death. Desiccant dust is very effective because the pests cannot develop any resistance.

Desiccant made out of diatomaceous earth and silica aerogel is the best to use as it is safe for both humans and pets.

Caution: Avoid using pool-grade or food-grade diatomaceous earth because it can affect your health.

Vacuum Cleaning

Once the bed bugs are dead, you need to slowly vacuum your floors and furniture. Vacuum from room to room to get rid of the dead bugs and live ones, if any.

Before vacuuming, make sure you seal any cracks and gaps in your floors and furniture. This will prevent any remaining bed bug eggs from hatching and re-surfacing from those crevices.

Repeat the Process Every Week

After the treatment, you are not guaranteed immediate results. So, you need to repeat the process once a week for one to two months until you eliminate all the bed bugs.

The number of bed bugs will decrease after every treatment session until none are left.

Important: Besides steam cleaning, you can use other non-chemical methods to kill the bed bugs, like heat and cold treatment. If you are unable to use these methods, seek professional advice.

4. Evaluate, Track and Prevent

Evaluation is essential to make sure the treatment is successful. You can use monitoring methods such as interceptors and other traps to catch any remaining eggs or bed bugs.

The traps are placed under your bed and furniture legs to catch the pests, preventing them from climbing up. After every catch, ensure you get rid of the pests to prevent a second infestation.

Use the interceptors for several weeks until you no longer find any bed bugs. You can make the interceptors slippery by applying the recommended amount of talcum powder.


Why Is Bed Bug Treatment So Costly?

The cost of exterminating bed bugs is relatively expensive. For a single room, you can pay approximately $300 to $500 depending on the intensity of the infestation. If you are treating an apartment or an entire home, you can pay at least $1,500 to $2,500.

But why is the treatment cost so high?

Bed Bugs Are Pretty Hard To Spot

These insects can camouflage easily with their environment and hide in extremely narrow spaces. Only professionals with many years of experience can successfully track down the insects and eliminate them using specialized equipment. This is why professional bed bug exterminators charge high rates for their services.

Reinfestation Can Occur

These nasty bedbugs can come back after treatment. So, the exterminator will have to make follow-up visits to check whether the treatment was successful or not. And every visit will be included in the overall extermination cost.


Bed bug treatment is a long and tedious process that requires patience. If you do everything right, you will free your home of these nasty blood-thirsty pests. After the treatment, you still need to follow up using approved monitoring methods to eliminate the pests.


Steam cleaning is the best bed bug treatment method as it kills the pests instantly. The bugs cannot survive under the temperature of the steam cleaner (usually over 130 degrees F).

Bed bugs and other insects hate scents containing linalool, such as basil, citrus, cinnamon and mint. Placing these scents near places where the bugs hide could help bring them out. Lavender oil or spray is useful in bringing pests out of their hiding places.

It is difficult to completely eliminate bed bugs from your home, but it is possible. As long as you follow the treatment method correctly, you can kill all the pests within a few weeks. For best results, consider hiring a professional bed bug exterminator.

Scott Williams
Author: Scott Williams - Scott is a pest control expert and has worked in the industry for over 20 years, most recently in NYC, where he runs a pest control business. Scott loves to write articles, share his knowledge on exterminator services, and advise on safe DIY method.