How to Kill Bed Bugs Naturally (and Fleas too!)

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Last updated: March 1, 2023

How to kill bed bugs naturally is really a very simple process, and can be effective for removing fleas as well.

Using natural products means you get the benefit of knowing that these little invaders are gone and that you haven’t replaced them with a house full of nasty chemicals.

Bed bugs and fleas breed very fast.

So the sooner you can get them under control the easier your natural pest control process will be.

Here is our simple guide on how to kill bed bugs naturally (and fleas too!).

How to Kill Bed Bugs Naturally – in 10 Simple Steps:

  1. Isolate the Problem
  2. Find the Bugs
  3. Hot Washing and Steaming
  4. Encase Your Mattress
  5. Go Hunting
  6. Vacuuming
  7. Use Natural Bug Killer
  8. Throw Them Out
  9. Bring in the Professionals
  10. Protect your Home with Natural Oils

Step 1. Isolate the Problem

Inspect your entire house for bugs, and make sure every room that is infested is closed off.

Don’t go moving toys or furniture from one room to the other, as you risk spreading the bugs even further.

Dedicate at least a whole day to getting rid of your bed bugs. As you may not be able to use some of your rooms as you clean them.

Finally keep your family and pets out of the way during the whole process. You don’t want the bugs to jump on them and use them as an escape route.

Step 2. Find the Bugs

Bed bugs are pretty crafty. They are tiny and they like to hide in little spots like the seams on your mattress, or in the corners of your bed frame.

Fleas have similar habits. However they tend to prefer a nice plush carpet to bounce around in.

man searching mattress for bed bugs
Search bed frames and mattresses – photo by Truly

In addition to this, bed bugs are happy to hang out in areas well away from your bed too.

For example, other hiding places include your favorite armchair, curtains, or in your folded clothes (yuck!).

Cracks and crevices like in your walls and skirting, or behind picture frames and wall outlets are also popular spots.

Anywhere dark and protected is the perfect place for bed bugs to hide.

bed bugs in mattress seams
mattress seams are a popular spot for bed bugs – photo by

Step 3. Hot Washing and Steaming

Bed bugs and fleas cannot handle high temperatures. Therefore this is an efficient natural way to kill them in a big group.

Put all your infested bed sheets, clothes, and curtains in the washing machine and wash in very hot water (140 °F) and dried for at least 20 minutes.

Some things that cannot be laundered, such as shoes and toys.

Instead, you can put them in the clothes dryer at high heat for approximately 10 – 20 minutes to kill the bed bugs.

For fabric items that can’t be washed in the machine, like a mattress or sofa, you can try using a steamer.

A steamer is designed to kill germs and bugs with piping-hot steam.

man using a steamer
A steamer is much easier to use than a normal iron on clothing or furniture.

Most steamers can go up to 221 °F (105°C) which is much higher than the required temperature needed to kill the bugs.

Steamers are handy as you can blow the hot steam into small nooks and crannies.

As a result, this is very useful for small edges around your bed or sofa.

Also, it can be used on hard surfaces, for example on bookcases or around table legs where bed bugs like to hide.

Step 4. Encase your Mattress

As you can guess from their name, your mattress is usually the most popular place to find bed bugs.

Of course, mattresses are nearly impossible to clean. Any moisture from washing or steam cleaning gets absorbed quickly and turns into damp and mold (which is more unhealthy than bugs).

A better solution is to fit your mattress with a bed bug mattress protector, or a mattress encasement.

A mattress encasement is a fitted sleeve that your mattress slips into, locking in the existing bed bugs, and keeping any new ones out.

The bugs locked inside cannot bite through the encasement, therefore they can’t bite you and will eventually die from lack of food and air.

You can find these cases on Amazon, and they are a small investment that can make a big difference to the longevity of your mattress.

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We have put together a short list here of the best mattress protectors for bed bugs if you need a quick recommendation.

Step 5. Go Hunting

Catching and killing bedbugs yourself is a natural (and satisfying) form of revenge.

Bedbugs can be forced from their hideouts, by using either a putty knife or a playing card.

Once the bedbugs have been forced out of their hiding space, you can catch them with sticky tape or crush them in tissues.

interceptor cup to catch bed bugs under bed post
Interceptor cups are a cheap way to catch bed bugs.

Another great tactic you can try is using special “climb up traps” for the legs of your bed.

These are called Interceptor Cups or traps. The bugs climb into them and cannot get out, because the inside surface of the cup is too smooth for them to climb up.

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These are used by pest control professionals to test for infestations, as well as helping to catch the bugs. Therefore you can trust they are a reliable solution.

In addition to this, they are also both very cheap and reusable.

Over the long term, they will also help you keep track of how many bugs are still around, and if your natural efforts have been effective.

Step 6. Vacuuming

If physically catching bedbugs is not your cup of tea, use your vacuum cleaner instead.

Use the hose of your vacuum cleaner around small, hard-to-reach areas like the seams of your mattress and the corners of your bed frame.

Give your carpet a very thorough vacuum using the highest suction setting.

woman vacuuming sofa

Using this technique maybe far more effective for fleas than trying to catch them with your hands, as they are very fast and slippery.

A handheld vacuum cleaner is handy for vacuuming small hard to-reach areas, like the edges of your mattress.

Step 7. How to Kill Bed Bugs with Natural Bug Killer

Everything I have mentioned so far may have been obvious to you already.

But here is the best natural killer for bed bugs and fleas, it’s called Diatomaceous Earth.

This stuff is amazing for all kinds of pests. As soon as the bug touches it, it cuts through its hard shell and dries them out from the inside.

diatomaceous earth powder

How to Kill Bed Bugs Naturally with Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a natural product itself, made from fossilized shells.

Therefore it is sharp and hard enough to cut through the tough little bodies of bed bugs, fleas, and even ants.

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It normally comes in a powder form and is available in Food grade (some types are even fit for human consumption).

With this in mind, you can be comfortable spreading this natural product around your home without harm to your family or pets.

The most effective way to use it is to lightly dust your bed frame and other affected areas, and vacuum it up after a few weeks.

Don’t forget areas where your dog or cat likes to roam, like their bed, or favorite spot on the lounge.

Diatomaceous Earth powder can be messy to use, so I recommend using a powder duster to help spread the powder neatly around your home.

These days there are also eco-friendly sprays available to use to kill bed bugs too.

For example, this one from EcoVenger is designed to kill bugs on hard surfaces, and soft items like toys that are harder to wash.

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Step 8. Throw them Out

This final step is about making sure that the bugs that leave your house stay gone.

Make sure that every vacuum and garbage bag that leaves your house is tightly sealed to prevent any escapees.

If you just can’t seem to get rid of every single bug, it may be time to admit defeat and start throwing things out.

Bed bugs and fleas breed frequently and rapidly.

Because of this sometimes the only solution is to get rid of that old mattress and send those bugs back to nature.

Step 9. Bring in the Professionals

This may seem contradictory if you are looking for a solution to kill bed bugs naturally, but not all fumigators are made equal.

There are plenty of professional pest controllers who take a more natural philosophy. This means they will use less harmful chemicals to solve your pest problem.

The best kind of pest controllers will get rid of your infestation quickly with low harm to your family and your home.

A quick Google search will help you find someone experienced in natural pest control local to your area.

Step 10. Protect your home with Natural Oils

Mother Earth provides the perfect natural solution for protecting your home from bed bugs by using natural oils.

lavender flowers in field

Lavender oil is considered highly effective against bed bugs.

This is because they seem to find the smell and the taste very unpleasant.

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Tea tree oil, Eucalyptus and Peppermint oils are also not attractive to bugs and are totally harmless to humans (some are even beneficial!).

As another example, Tea tree oil in can be used to repel lice, which is another common household pest.

All of these oils are easy to apply.

When using a concentrated oil, dilute a few drops of the oil in water and spray around your room using a spray bottle.

All of these oils are safe and easy to use on both hard surfaces and fabrics.

To make the effects last longer, you can also leave a few drops in key hiding places.

Not only will you be bug-free, but your home will smell beautiful and clean.

Final Thoughts on How to Kill Bed Bugs Naturally

Getting rid of bed bugs naturally can be a simple process.

Do it thoroughly at first and you will succeed in protecting your home from these invaders for a long time.

Remember that prevention is the best cure.

By using natural products around your home you can easily stop these bugs in their tracks!

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Bel Herron

Ecostalk is your destination for finding and sharing great green ideas to help you live healthier, happier and in a more sustainable way.

10 thoughts on “How to Kill Bed Bugs Naturally (and Fleas too!)”

  1. Bed bugs are a real nightmare if you ask me. I’m not very trustworthy, which is why I never wanted a stranger coming in my house telling me how to clean and kill bed bugs. My mind was set that I was going to handle it on my own. The steps you mention here are the same I took. Locating the blood suckers’s hideout, isolating clean areas from infested ones and treating. You’ve missed one step, explaining the details, the sheets. All of them need to be washed with high temperature, if you have a dryer, the same.
    I didn’t know that such a thing existed, mattress encasement. Thanks to for bringing me in on it. Also, the thing is that bed bugs eggs can be left behind, unnoticed. It’s easy to miss a grain of rice.
    Thanks for these advises. In regard for a pest control company, I have few tips that never seem to fail. Even if you’re desperate to call an exterminator don’t show it on the phone. Ask them what do they offer, how much is it, what other services do they provide etc. Most people believe pest control companies are the same, not entirely. The process on technical approach towards the problem is what counts. Talking big over the phone doesn’t show much. That’s it.
    Hope I’ve been any help to the others reading this peace of content.

    Timmy Griffin, Pest Technician @Pest Control London

    • Hi Laura,
      Thanks for your comment!
      There are many methods in this post you can try to get rid of bedbugs on your niece’s beds.
      You can start with washing all of your linens in very hot water, and by vacuuming or catching and killing all visible bugs.
      You could use a mattress encasement to trap any bugs inside your mattress, and natural oils like lavender oil on your bedframe to deter any future bugs.
      Good Luck!

  2. I am curious if there is anything one can put in drawers or the closet to get rid of bed bugs. When I treat my bed, they might chose to hide in other locations. How to discourage them?

    • Hi Sheryl,

      Thanks for your comment, there are a few options in the article you could try. For example, you could use Diatomaceous Earth powder by spreading small amounts in the cracks and edges of your drawers and closet. This should kill the bugs when they come in contact with it. Essential Oils such as Lavender Oil may also help to deter the bugs from returning.

  3. Thanx for posting thisI found it very informative and will try these suggestions!But u failed the mention where they come from??How did they get into my place in the first place??Thanx again

  4. I have been using baking soda on my mattress and on the carpet. I have been washing all bed items and before putting clean items on I sprinkle baking soda all over my mattress, on pillows, when changing sheets again I sweep up old baking soda on the mattress and apply new.. Am putting all items that go in my draws into large plastic bens,. Furniture is old so throwing away triple dresser, and chestier draws.

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