9 Non-Toxic Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs (& Avoid Them)

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I don’t like to bring it up — I really don’t. There are some things you’d just rather not know.

But have you ever said that cute rhyme creepy saying “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” to your kids? And then wondered why?

Are bed bugs a real thing to fear in this modern day and age, or just a thing of the past?

Unfortunately, bed bugs are real critters. And not only do they exist, but since the 90s they’re enjoying a major resurgence in the US and around the world.

And they may in fact share your bed with you at night!

Here’s what to do about it!

Bed Bugs: Know Your Enemy

First, a few fun facts about bed bugs:

  • Adult bed bugs are about 1/5th of an inch long, wingless, oval in shape, rusty-brown in color, and resemble a tick.
  • They’ve been around for thousands of years all across the world.
  • They do in fact bite and can consume up to 6 times their bodyweight in blood (human or animal).
  • Their bite marks can easily be confused with mosquito bites.
  • They come out only at night and hide during the day.
  • They do not live only in “dirty” places but can thrive even in a clean, well-kept home.
  • Many people with bedbugs in their homes are entirely unaware.
  • Bedbugs may hitchhike home with you if you travel, stay in hotels, live in an apartment building, or buy used furniture.

But wait — before you run upstairs and throw out your mattress, take heart!

  • Bed bugs and their bites do not carry or spread disease and according to the CDC are generally not a threat to human health.
  • A few simple preventative measures can greatly reduce the risk of bedbugs in your home.

Steps to a Bed Bug-Proof Home

Bed bugs are extremely difficult to get rid of once they get established in your home. These hardy bugs thrive under most conditions, reproduce quickly, and can live without food for up to 400 days.

Chemical extermination options are available, but how many people want chemicals sprayed in the places they sleep? In fact, over time bed bugs have become resistant to the chemicals that are allowed in extermination. It’s a problem all around.

Ready to jump in? Here’s how to tackle bed bugs head-on.

1. Inspect. Then Inspect Again

Prevention and early detection are your best resources against a bed bug infestation, so don’t delay! To start you’ll need a flashlight and a mirror.

Remember these critters are small, and their eggs invisible to the human eye. Most bed bugs are found on and around mattresses and bed frames, so start there.


  1. Carefully inspect the mattress and the boxspring for each bed in your home. Don’t forget to lift the mattress and the boxspring, checking underneath and in all seams and cracks.
  2. Look for bed bug feces–rusty brown smudges or spots that look like dried blood.
  3. Check all crevices and cracks in your bed frame. Even better, take the bed frame apart for a thorough inspection.
  4. Inspect the headboard and behind it.

If you find signs of bed bugs, try the following natural ways to combat them.

(If you don’t find evidence of bed bugs, skip to the all-important step 9.)

2. Physically Remove the Ones You Can See

Wage war. Flick them out of crevices with a business card, crush them in a paper towel, vacuum them up, or catch them on sticky tape. Do whatever you have to do to get rid of them.

3. Launder all Bedding

Gather up everything that is near the sleeping area and can be washed, including stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, and sheets. Launder and dry on a hot cycle. High heat will kill the bed bugs and any eggs.

4. If You Can’t Wash it, Freeze it

Certain items that can’t be washed can be bagged and put into the freezer. Extremely low temperatures also will kill the bed bugs and their eggs.

5. Vacuum Thoroughly

Vacuum the mattress top and bottom, bed frame, carpet, both sides of the headboard, and especially any crevices. Do this daily if you’re treating for bed bugs with the most powerful suction attachment you have. Make sure to seal and throw away the vacuum bag immediately (outside of your home).

6. Try essential oils.

Tea tree oil, cedar oil, and orange oil are harmful to bed bugs on contact. Mix with water in a spray bottle and lightly mist the areas you are treating daily.

7. Use Diatomaceous Earth

I’ve sung the praises of diatomaceous earth before, and it’s no exception when it comes to bed bugs. Professional exterminators even use it. Sprinkle mattresses, bed frames, and carpet with DE (wear a dust mask for this step). Vacuum up the excess before sleeping. I explain more about how DE works and cautions for using it in this post.

8. Remove Clutter Around Beds

Bed bugs don’t discriminate as they like both messy and clean houses. But eliminating clutter under and around beds helps cut down on their hiding places. Be sure to treat these items (using one of the above methods) if you have found signs of dust mites.

9. An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Bed bugs or not, don’t skip this step!

Treating a bed bug infestation costs time and money (not to mention stress!). Prevent them from happening by following these best practices before they become a problem.

  • Purchase bed bug-proof mattress encasements for all mattresses and boxsprings in your home. These can reduce dust mites too and are a worthwhile investment for healthy sleep and the life of your mattress.
  • Fill all cracks and joints in headboards and bed frames with caulk or sealant, cutting off bed bug hiding places.
  • Install bed bug traps under the legs of each bed. This solution is cheap, easy, and one of the most effective ways to detect and stop bed bugs before they are a problem! Routinely inspect traps and return to step 1 often!

If you’ve fought the good fight against bed bugs, share how you did it below. What other methods worked for you?


Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


71 responses to “9 Non-Toxic Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs (& Avoid Them)”

  1. Isaac Rabinovitch Avatar
    Isaac Rabinovitch

    Until you get rid of them, showering before bedtime with a soap containing citrus oil (very toxic to insects) will make life less itchy.

  2. Stephanie Avatar

    Wash clothes every week. Put clothes in dryer before wearing or iron them. Clothing worn should be kept in a isolated space such a a hamper with a trash bag insert to keep them spreading. Exterminate monthly. Use dryer sheets in bed mattress and couches.

  3. Paul Ferreira Avatar
    Paul Ferreira

    If you’re infested, the only effective way to get rid of them in your home is using a professional heat system. Everything else is more of preventative measures.

  4. srikant Avatar

    Thank you for telling a blog about how to protect our home from pests. It is very much a serious issue. The information provided is very relevant.

  5. Tiffany Avatar

    I have to say that we moved into a house a few years ago that was infested with bed bugs. Sadly we didn’t know this until we were moved in and they had gotten into everything. They were everywhere, from our pantry, closets, got into our living room furniture, every mattress and bed frame. It was horrible! We tried DE and EO spray and it didn’t help. Sadly we ended up having to have our entire house sprayed with chemicals 7 times! I inspected the house a couple times a day and always found either bugs or eggs. It took 6 months to be completely rid of them and I was freaked for the next year that they’d show up again if we missed one! This was all covered by the landlord. If we could have talked him into it I would recommend the heat treatment. They bring a machine into your house that heats it to the heat that all bugs and larva will die and keep it at that heat for an accurate amount of time. It’s very costly but chemical free. Most people think bed bugs will just be generally near beds and it’s not true at all. Our master closet had several hiding in creases of the trim and under clothes on the shelves. Sorry for the book about our bedbug experience. ?

  6. Meegan Avatar

    We took my son’s best friend in when he had no place to go and he is living with us now… and shortly after started finding these in his room first.. then in my son’s room. I have encased the mattresses in both rooms and my son is treating with spray daily and vacuuming and washing his bedding. We can’t seem to get rid of them and I am starting to have panic attacks and cannot sleep at night and when I do I have nightmares about these things.

    I have my folks visit in a few months and I am terrified of them encountering bed bugs here. I have ordered a bag of DE now as well as a kit that allegedly is supposed to help. I just can’t help but think that no good deed goes unpunished. I am terrified of talking to anyone here about it, already not social and can count the number of people i consider friends on one hand. Praying that once these new items arrive, it will turn the tide.
    I cannot utilize alot of the essential oils due to allergies so I am hoping the DE will work, read a lot of praises. I had to toss my son’s dresser as they had gotten into there, reluctant to buy new bed/mattress/dresser as I am worried about them just going to nest in there. Sorry for the ramble, not really had a chance to talk to anyone about this.

  7. Amanda Avatar

    I used a handheld garment steamer, going over each area 3 to 4 times a week. After 2 weeks, everything was dead. I did use a borax and boiling water solution to scrub my walls as an extra precaution, which is an old solution from Victorian England.

  8. Irene Avatar

    This article is right on point. I had a bed bug scare a few years back. I bought DE, I bought the mattress bed bug cover, and I bought the under bed leg “bowls.” The most important thing to do is make sure they are not “no-see-um” bugs! They aren’t fun either, but I was SO GLAD when I found out I did not have bed bugs and I had one helluva scare! FYI: I still have a bed bug mattress cover, I still have the “bowls” and I still use DE! I firmly believe in DE and still use it for the other “crawlies.” I won’t be without it ever again!

  9. Erin Avatar

    Why is Diatomaceous Earth only #7? It’s the actual thing that kills the bugs.

  10. Ari Avatar

    My mother went to her friend’s house not realizing the woman had bed bugs and brought home literally 1 bed bug. Her doctor told her to get the strongest rubbing alcohol she could find and spray her bed twice a day for a few weeks. It worked, it finally showed itself and my mom killed it. As for myself I used the small orange raid foggers for fleas but they kill bed bugs. I also used a spray I ordered online Bye bye bugs. It works and is worth the money. Use tea tree oil or peppermint oil, lavender oil. And wash everything afterwards. Vacuum vacuum vacuum. If you have children the spray bye bye bug won’t harm them, natural ingredients and spray everything else if you don’t want to use bombs. Clean and disinfect. Good luck

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