The New York City Department Of Health And Mental Hygiene

Stop Bed Bugs Safely

What Are Bed Bugs?
What Does A Bed Bug Bite Feel And Look Like?
Are Bed Bugs Dangerous?
How Does A Home Become Infested With Bed Bugs?
How Do I Know If My Home Is Infested With Bed Bugs?
Should I Use A Pest Control Company?
Is It Necessary To Use Pesticides To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

How Can I Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

1. Find out where bed bugs are hiding in your home.

Use a bright flashlight to look for bed bugs or their dark droppings in bedroom furniture. Or use a hot hair dryer, a thin knife, an old subway card or a playing card to force them out of hiding spaces and cracks. Check:

• Behind your headboard.
• In the seams and tufts of your mattress and inside the box spring.
• Along bedroom baseboard cracks.
• In and around nightstands.
• Other bedroom items, including window and door casings, pictures, moldings, nearby furniture, loose wallpaper, cracks in plaster and partitions, and clutter.

2. Clean areas where bed bugs are likely to hide.

  • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, rugs, carpets, and clothes. To kill bed bugs, wash items in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Soak delicate clothes in warm water with lots of laundry soap for several hours before rinsing. Wool items, plush toys, shoes, and many other items can be placed into a hot dryer for 30 minutes to get rid of bed bugs.
  • Scrub mattress seams with a stiff brush to dislodge bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Vacuum mattresses, bed frames, nearby furniture, floors and carpets. Pay special attention to cracks and open spaces. Immediately after vacuuming, put the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed plastic bag, and dispose of it in an outdoor container.
  • If you find bed bugs on a mattress, cover it with a waterproof, zippered mattress cover labeled “allergen rated,” or “for dust mites.” Keep the cover on for at least one year.
  • If your box spring is infested, seal it inside a vinyl box spring cover for at least one year. If no cover is available, throw the box spring away.
  • Dispose of infested items that cannot be cleaned and get rid of clutter. Seal tightly in a plastic garbage bag and discard in an outside container.
  • Repair cracks in plaster and repair or remove loose wallpaper.

3. Be very cautious about using pesticides yourself.

Pesticides can be hazardous to people and pets. If you choose to use a pesticide, or a licensed pest control professional suggests you use one, follow these precautions:

• Only use pesticides clearly labeled for bed bug extermination. Never use a cockroach spray, ant spray, or any other pesticide that does not list bed bugs on the label.
• Follow label instructions exactly.
• Never spray pesticides on top of mattresses or sofas, or in areas where children or pets are present.
• Never purchase or use a product without a manufacturer’s label and never buy pesticides from street vendors.
• Avoid using “insecticide bombs” and “foggers” in your home. These products can spread hazardous chemicals throughout your home, and are not likely to be effective against bed bugs.

How Can I Keep Bed Bugs Out Of My Home?

• Wash clothing and inspect luggage immediately after returning from a trip.
• Inspect used furniture for bed bugs before bringing it into your home.
• Never bring discarded bed frames, mattresses, box springs, or upholstered furniture into your home.

How Can I Keep My Furniture From Infesting Someone Else’s Home?

• Never resell or donate infested furniture or clothing.
• If you throw infested furniture away, make it undesirable to others by cutting or poking holes in its upholstery or making it unusable. Tape a sign to it that says, “Infested with Bed Bugs.”

This fact sheet is available at nyc.gov/health. For more copies, call 311 and ask for “Stop Bed Bugs Safely.”

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