Thursday, August 19th, 2010

How I Fought Bedbugs And Won

A MATTRESS IS A BAD GIFTIt started with three little red dots, an Orion's belt on my arm. "Spider bites," I told myself. But out of curiosity, I asked my roommate whether she had any bites too.

"Oh yeah, a bunch, actually," she said, and proceeded to show me clusters of bites on her stomach, arms and legs.

"Why haven't you said anything until now?!" I asked.

"They don't itch, I didn't think they were anything to worry about," she said. If there's a hall of fame for famous last words, this probably deserves a spot on the wall. What ensued were weeks of largely sleepless nights punctuated by nightmares galore, and blood, sweat, tears, public shaming and the ceaseless bagging up of everything I owned.

According to a 2009 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in half of all bedbug cases, people will not show any visible marks, which, scary. You may have them now and not know it!

For that other 50%, reactions will vary. They may or may not itch, they may be small and red or larger and blotchy. "Bites are often noted in linear groups of 3, sometimes called ‘breakfast, lunch, and dinner,'" it is often noted.

I learned if you shift slightly or breathe deeply as they're feeding on you, they think you've woken up and start to head back to the mattress, but when you stop moving, they then stop to finish their meal. My Orion's belt was a bed bug three-course meal.

Other frightening facts: they know when you're in your deepest sleep, so often feed about 2 hours before sunrise; they can find you by your breath because they sense and hunt out carbon dioxide; you'll almost never feel them biting you because they inject into you their saliva, which contains an anesthetic, while they withdraw the blood of their host; they can live for a full year or more without feeding, though a recent study by an entomologist out of Virginia Tech reported that newer generations of pesticide-resistant (?!) bedbugs survived only two months without feeding.

The good news? They aren't known to spread diseases! At least not yet.

For me, it wasn't enough to see the bites. I wanted a visual that bugs were living in my bed. I read that they hide in the corners of your mattress and box spring. You may not see the bugs but you'll see the fecal spots they leave behind (eww), which look as if someone took a fine-tipped sharpie to the seams of your mattress.

Google Image search results inevitably show the worst possible scenarios, no matter what you're looking up, but because I caught them early (no thanks to my roommate), mine looked like this, not like this. At this point, though I still hadn't seen any bed bugs, I knew what they looked like. Hours and hours poring over photos on the internet and I'd become a sort of self-taught expert. They are rust colored, leaf shaped, vary in size (from 1mm up to 5mm), flat and they have visible ridges across their backs.

If you have no bites and you see nothing on your mattress, you're probably in good shape. If you're still worried, don't call in the beagles yet. Try this cheap, do-it-yourself test that lures bedbugs with the carbon dioxide that dry ice emits.

So, I realized that my apartment was infested. Because never breathing again is not an option, I sought a solution.

Here is a short list of things that you should absolutely not do. Not only do these things not solve your problem, they're expensive and time consuming.

1. DO NOT PANIC. Panicking leads to doing all of the things on this list.

2. Do not throw away your mattress. Even if you put a sign that says, "bedbugs!" on it, you never know who might pick it up, including someone else in your building, which means you're making the problem bigger for yourself.

3. Do not buy a new mattress. If you haven't thoroughly attended to the rest of your belongings, they'll find your new mattress in no time.

4. Do not move. You'll probably move them with you.

5. Do not bring all your clothes to the dry cleaner. It's pointless, see above.


There are however a number of cheap ways to start combating the problem.

1. Get carpet tape (that's the thick, double-sided stuff) and roll a line of it in your apartment doorways, which will keep them from getting in or out of your room/apartment. (Some have suggested outlining your bed with it, which seems extreme and is not aesthetically pleasing but would work as a preventive measure.)

2. Put the legs of your bed in small plastic containers and put ½ an inch of baby oil in the containers, which will keep bugs from getting into or out of your bed (they're not good climbers).

3. Invest in mattress covers to cover your mattress and box spring.

4. Buy a gallon or so of rubbing alcohol and some spray bottles. Rubbing alcohol is your new best friend. It not only kills bed bug eggs, but also works as a repellent to keep them from laying new ones, and keeps them from biting you at night.

However, whatever the Internet says about being able to conquer the bugs all by yourself, I wouldn't try it. Just as it's unwise to get cut-rate Lasik, or fly to Mexico for plastic surgery, the risks outweigh the cost of paying a good professional.

My roommate had been working at a restaurant and the owner there recommended Mario to us. He was no-nonsense and comforting. He assured us that we weren't dirty people and that we had nothing to be ashamed of. Just last week he'd seen a bedbug crawling on a guy's shirt on the subway (oof) so really, you can get them any place! This somehow managed to make me feel both better and not-at-all better at the same exact time.

Before he could come and spray (fumigating almost never works in one shot, he said, and heating/freezing all your things costs a fortune and requires days in extreme temperatures, either below 10 degrees or above 115 degrees Fahrenheit), we had to take every object we owned, spray it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, and bag it. Electronics could be given a once over with alcohol wipes. All clothes had to be put in the dryer for 10 minutes and bagged.

"When I get there," he informed us, "I want all the bags in the center of each room, leave suitcases out, mattresses uncovered, all shelves and dressers empty. I will not touch your apartment unless this is done." Yes, sir!


Over the course of the next week, as I carried load after load of laundry up and down my 5th floor walkup to the corner laundromat, I couldn't think of anything worse that could happen to a person, short of terminal illness or loss of a limb. Even then, I assumed this had a silver lining: "Hey! Less body area to feast on!"

I sprayed myself head to toe in rubbing alcohol each night. I slept without covers and kept a flashlight next to my bed so that when I woke up in the middle of the night (I was being startled awake by nightmares several times an evening, go figure), I could try to catch them in the act. Why? I don't know. Too afraid to kill a bug with my bare hands, I'd probably have just flicked it onto something else to burrow in.

Every morning I'd spend fifteen minutes inspecting every inch of my body to see whether a bite I had was a new one or not (some people mark them with pens, but that seems, to me, to call more attention to them than necessary).

You start looking for bedbugs on strangers on the train. You start imagining what kind of people let them get to the point at which piles of them are found in corners, and mattresses are covered like beehives. I was afraid to tell people I had bedbugs, afraid that if they knew, they wouldn't want me in their houses. I wouldn't blame them.

Bedbugs are, in a word, traumatic. But little by little, the bags started to accumulate. It turned out to be a great excuse to clean house. Any clothes that weren't worth carrying up the four flights of stairs after their cleansing trip in the dryer went straight into a Salvation Army bin outside the laundromat. I invested in those vacuum seal bags, which conveniently also saved me a ton of storage space! I felt good knowing that all the clothes I was wearing were sealed in bags that no bug could penetrate.

Vintage, delicates and things with sequins went to the dry cleaner-but even then, you have to tell them you have bedbugs and then they may request you take your business elsewhere, which is humiliating.


But guess what? There are worse things than being humiliated at the dry cleaner. Like, say, getting bed bugs.

Mario showed up a week later and nodded his approval. He surveyed the place with eyes that rivaled your average predatory bird. From the doorway he'd spot something across the room, walk briskly to a random spot of floorboard, and with his index finger would swipe up a bug no bigger than the head of a pin. He'd show it to me and then crush it between his fingers, leaving nothing but a spot of blood between them.

He was a machine. And the problem was worse than I'd thought. Though all small, there were bugs in rooms that nobody slept in, in places we never saw them. He tore the cheap fabric from the bottom of my boxspring and I saw, for the first time, the bugs in my bed. They had managed to climb through the goddamn seams!

Mario sprayed like crazy, every inch, up and down the walls, drenched my suitcase, drenched my mattress-and in the end, he said he was fairly confident he got them all.

We were instructed to let the mattress dry for 24 hours, to sleep somewhere else for the night and to cover them the minute we got back. We weren't allowed to wash the floor or walls for at least two months and were advised to keep our stuff in bags for same amount of time.

It's four years later, and I've lived to tell the tale. Looking back, despite the unbelievable hassle and the nightmares and all, I think I got off easy. I had some 12 bites in total, with no severe allergic reaction to them. We caught the problem fairly early. I live in a neighborhood where 10 minutes in a dryer only costs a quarter. What's more, I've been bedbug-free ever since.

Even now though, I keep the legs of my bed in little containers with oil in them. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it's a small price to pay for some peace of mind.

Jasmine Moy lives in New York City and suggests you use extreme caution before Google Image searching the subject at hand.

Previously: Bedbugs: Is No One Safe? One Woman's Story.

Top photo by pbump, from Flickr.
Second mattress photo by Commodore Gandalf Cunningham, from Flickr.
Photos of bagged clothes by proud bedbug survivor cuttlefish, from Flickr.

111 Comments / Post A Comment

LolCait (#460)

This was in no way comforting.


zidaane (#373)

Can I crash at your place tonight? They are doing something in my building.

I read somewhere that if you are not allergic to their saliva/venom(?) you won't have a reaction to their bites and won't see them.

carpetblogger (#306)

@kitten — I have to wonder if this is true. I can't believe I have never been bitten by one or seen one in my entire life but it seems to be the case…

Jasmine (#8)

OMG, right?! Ridiculous! Set up a dry ice trap! ;)

@LolCait I'm currently having a bedbug problem that I wouldn't have even known about if a friend, who is allergic, hadn't stayed over and gotten bitten. we then started paying closer attention… the more attention we paid… the more horrifying it got… idk how to deal with them… we live in an apartment complex… and it seems like every room has them. I think the best thing to do is leave.. knowing we'll be taking some with us. and then deal with it once we're in some kind of town home.

They can be smaller then an small ant, or bigger then a tick. and if they just hatched… you can't even see them. They don't get any kind of color *you can see threw them* until they make their first bite. (they get their color from your blood!!!)

And man are they fast, sneaky, and great at hiding. if you've ever thought something was crawling on you, and then went to look, or try to find it, and it turned out to be "nothing"? or ever had a small light sting that mildly itches and feels like it could be just some dry skin irritation… well guess what? there's a good chance you have bed bugs.

start spraying alcohol and cleaning, and looking for them… you'll start finding them and wish you never did.

Uncle Grambo (#579)

Where are the n00dz?

logovisual (#3,256)

So can I ask a question that never seems to get answered in these stories? What did this all actually COST you? The endless bags, the laundry, the exterminator? It seems like there's no way to get away from these things without dropping something like $800, which is potentially ruinous to most of us young broke New Yorkers.

Jasmine (#8)

The exterminator was $300 which I split with my roommate. The mattress covers were $30, the vacuum bags were cheap. Rubbing alcohol is like the last affordable thing in Manhattan, like 60 cents a bottle! The physical effort was greater than the cost!

The exterminator's fee should be paid by the land lord. Mattress covers are at least $80.00 but they are well worth it because cheaper covers (like vinyl) will break. Dry-cleaning and laundry are what's going to cost you the most after that, probably around $200 — $400 depending on how much you have to send to the cleaners.

Jasmine (#8)

In an ideal world with a responsible landlord, he will! Mine blamed me for bringing them into the building even thou, as I found out later, the people downstairs had them for a year and did nothing about it and that asshole KNEW. As a lawyer, I'd say: sue! But in reality the time it takes to do that isn't remotely worth the billable time I'm sacrificing so I let it go.

You're a lawyer, with no bed bugs?
*Call me

hey do you have the number for mario by any chance?

solidgold (#194,530)

@logovisual I'm in Jersey, so maybe it would be cheaper in New York (ha-HA!!) but when I was cursed with the dreaded bugs it ran close to $1800. $1200 for Terminex, $400 for dry cleaning (and thank goodness we had a dry cleaner that would even take our infested belongings), at least $75 at the laundromat, and the rest in garbage bags, vacuum bags, bedding and clothes that had to be replaced, etc.

@Jasmine hi jasmine i know this thread is old but i am not sitting in my bklyn apt over whelmed & crying because I have found bed bugs in my couches, my sons bed & just now my own bed. I wish to throw all these things out but i know that wont help cuz theyll still be here. I guess i need to start with the plastic bags. Where did you find yours. Pleaaaaaase email me

Lora (#274,097)

@Jasmine – I know this thread is old but are you still able to answer a few questions? One, how exactly do you set up the dry ice trap. Two, how do you use the alcohol? Will the alcohol keep them from biting me while I am treating, and do you just spray alcohol on everything? The alcohol will dry how does it kill them? Please Help, it is getting worse by the day. I have been using diatamatious earth and that causes microscopic holes in their body and after two weeks they die. I have it spread on my bed and around my apartment so they all have to walk through it at some point. Can you email me at

cherrispryte (#444)

I would like to say that all of this bedbug coverage is absolutely terrifying, and I live 250 miles away from the epicenter. Also, I am itchy by nature, so I have already convinced myself I am covered in invisible bites.

I am like this too. I have also found out that Ohio has a super super bad problem with them. Also the Dept of Defense is being consulted for the development of a new pesticide. I want to fumigate everyone that comes over, but I think that would be rude. Maybe I will make them stay out on the porch with some dry ice before letting them in.

Van Buren Boy (#1,233)

If I ever see a single bedbug in my apartment I am going to the black market and buying napalm. That'll teach 'em a lesson.

Bedbugs are resistant to DDT. It actually makes the problem worse as it knocks out their predators.

sox (#652)

Including humans. DDT'll kill ya dude.

garge (#736)

Hold me.

And then look at ___ and tell me if they are bites?!

HiredGoons (#603)

The reason they bite close together is because they're following the veins.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Every mosquito bite I have found on my person this summer has filled me with unreasonable bedbug terror. Whenever my dog scratches, I part her hair and hunt to make sure she just has dry skin.
The flea horror stories…the bedbug horror stories…
Could somebody who is safely wrapped in plastic please give me a reassuring hug?

garge (#736)

Two years ago, I came home from a vacation early to have to a job interview. The day before, I woke up with bites on my back and flipped out, staying up all night and seeming like a junkie running dry in said interview. Only later did I discover that they were mosquito bites; no, I was not offered the position.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Can we have The End now, please?

"We had to take every object we owned, spray it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, and bag it. Electronics could be given a once over with alcohol wipes. All clothes had to be put in the dryer for 10 minutes and bagged."

What about books?

propertius (#361)

I was wondering the same thing. Put them in the oven?

I still think a centipede patrol is a good idea!

Jasmine (#8)

Books you can spray with alcohol. It doesn't damage leather and dries fast so pages won't wilt. If the problem is big, bag them up for the year…

Now there's a device called "pack-tight" which is suppose to heat delicates (like books) safely to the bed-bug killing temperature without damaging them.

By the time one discovers a bed bug problem, haven't they already spread into adjoinging apartments (or, more likely, they came from another apartment in the first place)? How long after one eradicates them will they "seep" back in?

Jasmine (#8)

That's why I keep the legs of my bed in baby oil. Without anything to feed on, they'll leave/die/at least not reproduce. Keep them from getting into your bed, you're safe. I'm sure other apartments in my building have them still…

Nancy1212 (#250,058)

I had thot the cups under the bed leg might help. I now am reminded that they somehow climb up and dive-bomb themselves from the ceiling.

18847534@twitter (#283,432)

@CaptainFantastic they dive bomb from the ceiling I have witnessed this. I first found mine lodged in a book nearmy bed I had been reading. All light and grey silvery things. I had he tell tale three bite syndrom too. Found out a new neighbor was combatting his and had given them to us !

damagegood (#3,923)

Here is the answer to the book problem:
Mario's contact, PLEASE
Maybe my downstairs neighbor is friends with homeless prostitutes

Jasmine (#8)

I called Mario who said that I wasn't allowed to publish his number (he can barely handle the clients he has now) but that I could give it out on a selective basis. Visit my blog and e-mail me if you ever actually need him, which I hope you never do…

@damagegood jasmine plz send Mario's phone number I'm a bout to go crazy

MaríaJosé (#4,706)

i've never had bedbugs, but two years ago I had lice and I felt the exact same way.
My little sister was 9 and there was an epidemic at her school. I felt humilliated, like somehow this could NOT happen to an adult.
My hair was super long, thick and just..A LOT,so my mother had to cut it. I'm quite dramatic, but I honestly thought that the nigthmare would last forever. It took more than a month to be totally lice-free and I'm still paranoic every time I brush my hair.

@MaríaJosé there is a grease the is made for black people… my daughter had lice from kids n her girlfriend told her to use it n she wouldnt have to cut her hair they fell out n died … she had to use a lice comg for extra precaution. … im not sure name of grease but i think its either blue or green … but its alot cheaper then cutting ur hair…

They also leave moldings or casings that look like toasted sesame seeds. So, if you're sweeping under your bed and find an errant sesame seed check the rest of your bed.

melis (#1,854)

If you're sweeping under your bed you have worse problems than bugs.

sajrocks (#2,067)

I forgot about the nightmares. Jarring myself awake every night thinking that I could feel something crawling on me, knowing that you can't.


bedbugsinfo (#7,001)

I've lived in NY for 10 years and have come across Bed Bugs way too many times! I think the government should take measure to start to eradicate Bed Bugs as they are multiplying

Joe –

First comment posted across the #7000 barrier! I feel like there should be a bedbug-shaped cake.

For the record, it's been only 39 days since the first trans-#6000 comment, compared with 54 days to get from trans-#5000 to trans#6000.

And any reference to old Looney Tunes features is purely coincidental.

(Yes, I'm bored.)

Jasmine (#8)

I actually 100% brag to people about being #8 which wouldn't have happened had I not stumbled across it just after they'd fixed their commenting registration…

melis (#1,854)

As a resident of semi-rural Northern California, I think I'm missing something about the whole bed bugs thing. Why is it The Worst? If 50% of people don't even react to the bites, what's the big deal? I feel like I should be more afraid because of everyone else's fear.

Jasmine (#8)

Because it means you have bugs climbing on you and FEEDING on you at night, which, GROSS.

Also, if you left them unattended you'd bring them everywhere so spare your friends?

Jasmine (#8)

And if you own, that'll totally fuck up your resale value. Just sayin'

@melis you spred them to other peoples houses who will get bite and get really bad irritations…they get bigger… and bigger.. and bigger. they multiply… it can get to the point where you might as well fill 8 32gal trashmabs to the very max with bed bugs… and sleep on that instead of your actual bed. they infest and are imposible to get rid of. cool luck having friends or any kind of social life… when your at work, unless you fulling cleaned your cloths and your self… guess what? you have bed bugs on you. you can't just brush off a bed bug when someone says "what was that?"

it'd be like brushed off a roach and saying "no big deal? still coming over for dinner tonight? or "enjoy you stay at the Marriott Hotel sir"

Cate (#7,009)

Congrats on finally losing the bugs.

Bedbugs are an absolute nightmare. They are Hell. I don't know if I'll ever be the same.

Janell Rodriguez (#7,012)

i used to crash at a friend's place in Bklyn a while ago. The building was notoriously infested with bedbugs. My friend's room was thankfully free of them…or so i thought. I got bit 4 times and my reaction to them was HORRIBLE. I had tremendous swelling, redness, and the itching was BEYOND INTENSE. Also, there was incredible much i had to ice the areas. 2 on my left arm by my elbow and the other 2 in the exact location on my right arm. to this day, any itchiness i experience while laying down in MY bed, i attribute to bed bugs….i don't have 'em though. at least now i know that i REACT and will do so everytime i get bit. uggh.

There is nothing more terrifying about shared living than bedbugs, and I say that as someone whose flatmate once brought home scabies.

Macadoodledo (#7,016)

Thanks for this article. Earlier this summer, I was going through this too. My parents helped me tear my bed apart, but i didn't find any conclusive evidence of them. My house is 100 years old though so there are many places they could be hiding. I haven't had any bites lately, but I know they can go for a long time without any human happy meals. Can you explain how you used the dry ice to draw them out? I really want to try that. Didn't putting rubbing alcohol on your skin dry it out/irritate it? Thanks for the tips and YES internet research on this subject is scary!

Jasmine (#8)

I haven't tried the dry ice thing, but you put it in a jug and then put the jug in a pet food bowl but then you have to make a ramp out of paper/cardboard so the bugs can get in the bowl (but once they're in, they won't be able to get out). Seems if you make it in the evening and leave it until the dry ice evaporates, you'll find bugs in the bowl if you have them…

Rubbing alcohol didn't irritate my skin at all. I didn't put it on my face though, which is probably most sensitive. Use an astringent instead.

But really, if they're not in your bed, you probably don't have them! Which is good news!

Mdundee (#7,021)

We used heat treatment. Cost $1000 for an 1100 sq ft apartment. They came in one day. it was surprisingly easy. We had to put medicine anything else that could melt in the refrigerator. and that was it. They came in with giant heaters, got the apt. up to 140 degrees. they showed up at 8 in the morning. the left at 6 at night.

gotta say, if i had to do it all over again, this is definitely the route i'd go. no sprays. no tape. no plastic.

one day and you're done. in the end probably costs relatively the same amount of money after all the sprays and hassle.

crescent city (#175,886)

@Mdundee where did you find a heat treatment provider for $1000

jumpoverit (#6,805)

i had lice earlier this year (got it from my 11-year-old sister after a visit home – thanks, kathryn!), so i feel for you. one of the signs i had (and ignored for about 3 weeks) was swollen lymph nodes in my armpits. i wonder if bedbugs could have a similar effect.

sid (#7,024)

Very helpful post, and thank you for sharing.
I googled to find out any precautions that I can take when traveling (will not be staying in a hotel, so am not worried about that aspect), but am concerned about my bags on the 'plane and (paranoid) about something getting on/in my luggage. Do you think applying rubbing alcohol would help?

Jasmine (#8)

Alcohol can't hurt! But the key is to immediately clean/spray and throw your stuff in the dryer the minute you get back. Like, strip when you walk in and bag all your shit up and spray the hell out of your luggage. You'll be fine!

Brandon Wilson (#7,027)

Taking your clothes to Salvation Army is irresponsible. You are just passing off the bed bugs to someone else.

Jasmine (#8)

I cleaned them first, read more carefully!

BedbugRegistry (#7,029)

Isolating your bed is a good idea, but it isn't enough to prevent the bed bugs from reaching you. As many sufferers have unhappily learned, they are clever enough to climb the walls and drop onto the bed from the ceiling.

Leo Lei (#7,038)

Wow. I just read this and all I have to say is that every bed bug story, including my own, is always freaking traumatizing. I think what's worse than having bugs crawl on you is knowing you have a ton of work to do just to get rid of them. You def got lucky with only 12 bites. I got bit over fifty times, I'm allergic to them, and some of my scars won't heal for years to come. At the time, I used to be randomly paranoid of bed bugs crawling on me, and I would wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. It ruins your life in the most imperceptible way possible.

jj1k (#7,039)

i'm just coming off a very similar situation. thank you for posting pictures of your mattress. i also found it extremely frustrating searching for pictures online of less than worst case scenarios. my question is since your roommate had already experienced lots of bites how did her mattress look??

Jasmine (#8)

You know, I didn't actually look at hers. She didn't find any larger bugs either, I know that for sure. A few small ones i think..but there were a bunch more in her boxspring too.

crescent city (#175,886)

@Jasmine Exactly what kind of treatment did Mario use

Carol Gibson (#7,064)

What kind of bites would be going in an almost straight line on either side of the rib cage down to the outside of the legs?

TexandtheCity (#2,959)

Simultaneously glad and horrified that I read this … I found a similarly marked up mattress on my street corner last week and FLIPPED SHIT. I think I'm safe. For now …

darkgulfy (#7,084)

I used to live downtown in a small apartment… One night my Roommate saw a bedbug… We didnt think of anything bad but we kept seeing them over the next months. Finally the landlords which were drunks of course called the exterminator and he sprayed a week later or so… I definitely have long lasting damage from this… I cant fall asleep easily my whole body is itchy. I check my walls mattress every before falling asleep. trust bedbugs makes you go crazy! Also i just got color in my tattoo and i am allergic to the red ink and itchy spots around the tattoo didnt help at all my paranoia

pest control (#8,170)

I have been involved in pest control now for over twenty years and we have developed a system for treating and eradicating Bedbugs successfully. Our preparation sheet is very detailed and if the client has not prepapred the property properly our technicians refuse treatment. Over the years we have seen some pretty horrible sights but one infestation I will never forget. We pulled up outside a bedsit in North London and had to inspect a property as the landlord told us they were getting bitten. On inspection of the property we found a few bedbugs here and there nothing out of the ordinary. When we inspected the floor above we were shocked to see over 5000 Bedbugs. This poor guy hadnt bothered to report it and just left it for five years. It has to be the most horrific infestation of Bedbugs we have ever seen.

If you are interested in treating bedbugs yourself or want some more info about treatments this site has some expert tips

Bed Bug Bites (#11,512)

By now you've probably heard more than you ever cared to hear about Bed Bug Bites, particularly after last week's update on whether infestations are covered by homeowners' insurance.

crescent city (#175,886)

I have just determined that we have bed bugs and Jasmine your article was the first thing that gave me hope. My mother-in-law came down to visit from New York and her apartment building had a bad infestation but was supposely taken care of. But I am not sure if that is where they came from because my family travels alot. Can't just blame the mother-in-law, want to, but can't. I have started the alcohol treatment on the bed every morning and every night. Just spraying the alcohol is giving me peace of mind right now until we make a decision on the professional idea. Everyone's comments have been very helpful. Thanks

Oh my god thank you so much just so you know I'm 14 im not a grownup. I just wanted to say this really helped and knowing the fact that they don't give out diseases is really comforting and where I'm at alcohol don't cost much but about a buck for a a big bottle. Mom wont call the exterminator because she says that will cost to much. Dad said that he wants to use that double sided duck tape method and see if it helps. Oh and the alcohol one drop killed it in a instant so my dad sprayed us down with the stuff. I'm very happy right now you may think its because we found a way to kill the monsters that's only part of it I'm happy because so far I have not felt one bite me!!!!!!!!!!! Like I said thank you so much hope we get rid of them soon but again thank you!!!!!!!!!

Mrs.howard (#237,065)

Wow my whole life I heard good nite don't let the bedbugs bite?!,.,ok they r real I am52 and frost time here in Ohio the number place on the country. Thanks I only have seen 3lives one about10 dead. I have been fighting this a month . Without a good nitr sleep anymore. I suffer from chronic pain and it's been a nitemare… I feel sorry for people who have it bad I have only bite 2 times the fight goes on, this is crazy the best germ killer and it kills them Alcohol. And box and mattress encasements bedbugs proof only do this and everything in space bags. Clean and sweeper everyday. And spray alcohol lots all day good luck
Victoria Howard

I live in Oklahoma and I have been fighting these miserable little bastards for at least two years. I have sprayed professioally I have cleaned and this if the first time I have actually found rubbing acohol it is worth a shot. I am raady to burn my house down

GK (#238,913)

My story is little bit different. When I got the bites (several of them) I thought it is poison ivy and I got an allergy. After treating myself for a week (getting additional bites every night), I went to my dermatologist. He thought it is my body reacting to the poison ivy. After a week, I will still getting bites. I usually clean my sheets once every 2 weeks. When I started to remove the sheets and the skirt (between the mattress and spring box), I panicked!

I went to several websites and I called both Terminix and Orkin. Both asked for a lot of money and unfortunately, some commercial websites gives you the idea that you can do it yourself with less than $200 worth of sprays and traps! DID NOT WORK!

So, finally I called Orkin who treated the whole house (2 days ago) after almost 4 days of preparing the house for treatment. The whole family was resisting because of the work involved (they did not get any bites. Only my room was infested!!!) Finally, the technician came and treated the he told me that the infestation started in my room but just recently the stage 1, 2 and 3 started to migrate to the other rooms (he said you are lucky that you caught it early enough to treat it!) The good news, my kids never cleaned their closet since we moved to the house 6 years ago! They cleaned their rooms and threw away bags and bags of clothes. I did not want to send to the Salvation Army because I don't want to infest their facility.

So far, I spent about $2,500 (exterminator: $1,400, laundry and bags $100, useless chemicals and traps $600, encasements: $200 Dr. and medicine $200), staying away from work for 2weeks. By the way, when I found it is bed bugs, I called my office and told them what is going on. I asked them to inspect my cubicle by an exterminator company and probably need to be treated so I will eliminate bring bugs and eggs back and forth! But the psychological effect, the stress and the fights with the family to prepare the house for the treatment is horrible!

What really worked is the Climup cups that I placed the bed legs in. They will trap and bugs entering or leaving the bed so you can tell if the bugs are outside the bed or inside the bed!

The exterminator will come again next week for another “spot” treatment and inspection! I hope everything is ok. I will keep you posted!

One more theing, the technician told me to bag clothes that can not be washed in a sealed bag, place inside 2 or 3 dryer sheets (Bounce, Downy, …). It will kill any bed bugs by suffocation (lack of oxygen) and the chemicals in the dryer sheets!

Brielle Marie (#239,832)

Jasmine……..I read your story about bed bugs and Im freaking out. My 5 year old was complaining of bug bites I thought it was just mosquito bites but then a few weeks later her sister who is 6 years old said she was bite by a bug. I immediately freak out ran upstairs and check the bed and sure enough I found bed bugs. I work for a restore which sells used furniture. I must have brought it home somehow from my job I called my boss who has access to getting steriFab he gave me a gallon and I started on this exhausting job that I had ahead of me. I vacuumed,, then wiped with a hot bleach rag and sprayed with steriFab. I let it sit for 24 hours and then I put bed covers on, I have spent a total of about $300 for mattress covers for all of the mattress is in my house. Still freaking out at this point. I only found them in my younger daughters room on the corners of the bed nowhere else in their room I found 1 in my room and 1 in my older daughters room ripped every room apart and haven't found any sense in spring everything constantly vacuuming and throwing everything my children own away. This has got to be the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with in my entire life throwing away a stuffed
animals pillows dress up clothes I just didn't want to take any chances off at hiding anywhere. I did not allow my younger children to sleep in their bedroom I let them sleep in the older sisters room Wednesday night they slept there Thursday and Friday they went to their fathers Saturday to Sunday I see them now that this was a bad mood. After what I thought was the most amazing clean out ever My Children Family return back to their beds Sunday night I went to check on them around 12:30 at night and the bed bugs were all over the bed biting my younger daughter arms and legs and they were on their clothes but nowhere else in the bedroom. I feel i have lost this battle I'm mentally and physically exhausted from moving everything and freaking out every time I see any spec of black thinking that it's a bed bugs in other parts of the house. I haven't seen anything downstairs yet I have to learn could still be there that I just haven't seen it what do I do now do I call an exterminator or do I just continue with what I'm doing and pray for the best.?

Downhiller (#239,988)

I work in a hospital and I have a co-worker who has had multiple infestations since 2009. She has them again, on Wednesday, what looks like 1 baby jumped on me. I am wondering about the alcohol- does it need to be diluted with water before you spray it on walls etc…? What about when you wipe yourself down? I have not seen any signs of infestion yet, but I am very scared that I brought them home. Thanks!

BETTY (#241,311)


Krysta (#243,914)

@BETTY Please Read My Post I Got Rid Of My Bed Bug Infestation And Between Getting Rid Of Almost Everything And Then Having A Pest Company Spraying And My Carpets Cleaned Also Take All Your Curtains And Clean Cloths In Your Dressers And Closets And Dry Them In A Huge Industrail Dryer, Its Hard To Get Rid Of Your Belongings But It Beats Being A Snack For Millions Of Little Critters.. I Wish You All The Luck….

Jack Hatrick (#243,273)

Don't spray alcohol on your bed (or other furniture).  Here's why:
Neither rubbing alcohol nor vodka will kill bugs.  Don't believe me?  Put a little bit of each in a jar and wait.
It stinks, and it may dry your skin out and inhaling vapors may be harmful to your health.
It may discolor your furniture.
It's a serious fire hazard.  Alcohol is highly flammable.  It will make you and your furniture highly flammable.  Also, you shouldn't smoke in bed; keep all of your assets in cash under your mattress; use old, cheap, or secondhand ungrounded electronics and leave them plugged in when not in use; own or rent a home without any insurance whatsoever; or shoot off roman candles inside.
Your pets, children, and close neighbors probably won't thank you but hopefully they won't be torched, either.

Krysta (#243,914)

My Husband And I Moved Into A Nice Clean Appartment That We Had No Idea Was Infested With Bed Bugs, I Was Pregnant At The Start Of It And Had Barley Been Bitten My Husband How Ever Was Coverd In Bites Head To Toe, Once My Little One Was Born Both Baby And I Were Getting Coverd In Bites Along With My Poor Hubby, When A Pest Company Came In And Discoverd My Whole Appartment Was Covered They Were Not Only On The Bed And Crib But In My Kitchen And In Our Couch And Changing Table Every Where, Pest Man Could Not Believe How Infested We Were He Told Us If Your Willing To Part With Your Stuff It Might Be Best, Well We Did The Dang Bugs Were Even In Our TV's The Pest Dog Sniffed Them All Out, We Made Sure And Washed And Dried On Extream Heat, Our Curtins And Even Our Clean Cloths Hanging In The Closets, Long Story Short Once The Bed Bugs Were Gone So Was Almost Every Thing We Owned But We Did Gain A Peice Of Mind Knowing That There Was No Where Left For Them To Hide And We Were Finally Free Of The Bed Bugs, Now Three Years Later And I Have Never Seen Another One:) But When We Stay At Hotels I Check The Mattress And I Never Leave My Suitcase On The Floor… And Please Beware Bed Bugs Will Hide In Wood Like Dressers Bed Side Tables, Changing Tables And Even Base Boards When It Comes To Those Little Blood Suckers No Place Is Safe… Best Of Luck…

frustrated (#244,157)

Well to start things off I'm new to this bed bug thing… I have a side job as a HHA working in clients homes….my clients apt…had got bed bugs…I never really heard that much about bed bugs until I did my research on them…so I was really careful about being there…well it is now a year later after alot of treatments in the clients home & they are still battling with them….so now I'm at the point of leaving this client because of the problem…because I don't won't to bring them into my own home….I was covered up with protective gear really good..but Guess what it was to late…I eventually brought one home with me & now I have to go threw agony of pest control now…I fairly cought this early enough before I had a huge infesttion of these bugs I am going insane & crazy right now I can't sleep I am constantly cleanig checking thins & pasting the floors looking for bugs…lesson learned never work anywhere that. Has bed bugs no matter how you protect yourself you can still get them…I should have left a long time ago…I have a lot of regrets….never have I ever thought that I would get this problem…so mad at myself right about now….

fb100005979006962 (#245,696)

I work at a home improvement store and I can tell you that many people have open sores from scratching bedbug bites. I would not recommend spraying alcohol on them it will burn. I have seen bedbugs die when a drop of alcohol lands on them. Someone else told them thst baby powder kills them by blocking their breathing he said they breath through their stomach. I know people that have tried all of these remedies without success. Some have been fighting them for about a year spending thousands on exterminating and anti itch ointments not to mention antibiotic ointments for the infected bites.

z345 (#245,997)

..What about paper stuff? files, books etc? Did you spray with alcohol or store for over a year?And Shoes? I have some vintage shoes that are sequined and some that are fabric?

z345 (#245,997)

And Thank you for this Jasmine!

sunpiehas (#247,010)

I just got hit with bed bugs. I was so disgusted! Once I learned about it I immediately discarded my mattress. The super saw me, told me I was supposed to call him. But, I didn't know and secondly it's the management responsibility to educate their tenants on such matters. I have bite marks on my face , arms, legs, back, and stomach. This is very traumatic. Now im looking to file a claim against the management. Their was a tenant prior to me that had the same problem! And building management failed to notify their tenants. Yeah super exterminated, but the problem still persists! After all is said and done, im moving out!

AngryCanadian (#247,121)

This is a well-written article. It's true that dealing with an infestation is traumatic – you can't over-emphazize that. There is NO way to explain to newbies how much time, effort, money and misery you are in for to treat bedbugs… because you have to wash everything, clean everything, inspect everything, pack up things, throw out precious stuff… it is more than a full-time job. And you have to do all this for ONE bug or one humdred – it's the same stupendous amount of labour. Like the author, when it happened the first time we were so determined to be positive, to get rid of stuff and sweep clean – that in a way, with the right attitude, it can be an almost uplifting experience to take care of things. That is, the first time it happens. The second, third or more? No longer any chance of positivity. It is drudgery and misery, pure and simple. Why on earth isn't there a way to stop this disease? For me, I am "lucky" because I am very allergic to the bites and as soon as even a nymph stings me it hurts like I've been stung by a hornet! So I am an early-warning system. Believe me, it's a good thing (although the fever, pain, nausea and swelling isn't fun). But the bad news is that even ONE bite means the whole, exhausting experience Jasmine describes has to happen all over again.

nicol (#247,563)

I am currently thinking that I may have to go through the process. I had them whilst travelling in Italy and I was itchy for 3 months and scared. Now, currently living in Vancouver BC, I have been getting bites, although not every night, they are have that same crazy itch, although they don't bite every night, I do have 3 bites on my leg and they swell so much I can barely walk properly. We have had the house inspected although he said there is currently no signs etc for bed bugs. Has anyone else gone through the similar cycle as what I am in for bed bugs? Looking for more advice before getting a second opinion on the house as my landlord was not happy!
I have recently bought a matress bag and dryed all my clothes and done the rubbing alcohol… HELP

einetsb (#249,346)

Though I'm well aware that bed bugs are NOT a laughing matter!!! This article was very amusing – funny as heck! Thanks for the info!

Feetie (#250,602)


All of these stories are so stressing and panic written. This scares the shit out of me. Am I to understand that I would need to spray alcohol over mattress, couch, carpet, dresser, all clothes, all electronics and other furniture? Put white cups under bed legs? Bag up all clothing with dryer sheets, put double sided tape on all doorways? I just lost my Mom in April and my Dad Feb. 15th with my aunt, an elderly man I cared for and a family friend only to find I have, YES, bed bugs! I am living on disability, am horrified by spiders and any other bug that sucks blood. I never knew anything about bed bugs and now this has happened to me on the heels of losing my mother. I don't sleep at night and now I know why. They are biting me and it's waking me up. I have had a few bites but didn't think anything of it because as I said, I knew nothing about bed bugs. I wondered why I was not sleeping!!!!! Waking up 3 times in the night. I've sprayed bed bug spray several times now, used D E powder, steam cleaned my entire apt and was about to buy a new bed, this one is old and I think where they came from. I've had it for 4 years and got it from a family who had it in their garage. It is old anyway but little did I know it had bed bugs. I have a cubby hole with everything under the sun in it and a stairway with my collection of dolls there. It's carpeted here in my studio apt. What should I do? I don't have the money right now for an exterminator and my landlord said, after me showing one I had put in a plastic bag, that they are not bed bugs. Do I steam everything? I bought the machine because of the bugs, thought it had worked and have cleaned the mattress and sprayed chemicals on it, which is probably the reason I've been ill all the time, between the chemicals and the bugs themselves. The thought of something sucking my blood makes me sick and no wonder I have a panic disorder. So, since I am not able to get an exterminator right now, what do I do? Alcohol spray everything, chemical spray, get rid of bed, cover new one, which I won't even think of setting up until this place is clean, put white cups with baby oil in them, D E powder? Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I've already bought a bed cover but had to throw it away because it had bugs INSIDE it and the box spring ripped it…………. Someone tell me what to do, please??????????????? I am severely stressed out!!!!!

computy44 (#260,494)

Lights or no lights they still keep coming. When I first saw them I the lights were off. I saw something moving. I ran to turn on the lights and saw the bedbugs 2 of them. Now I spray rubbing alcohol all over the room and sleep with the lights on so I can catch and kill them faster. I see more of them with the lights on now. I am seeing 3 to 4 a day after one bites me I start itching and I wake up and look for them. Now I don't sleep much and I am tired all the time. I am in the process of moving out after I clean my clothes and check everything before placing my stuff in my car. I also put goldbond with mentol on my skin. That helps it stop itching the cheap way. Use the green medicated bottle.

Jay Moreno (#262,529)

By the way…cost varies from place to place but the one thing you can count on is that extermination is only guaranteed for 30 days. The only thing we can do is stay committed to your efforts. Not everyone can afford an exterminator and if you have family that visits you or vise verse you can expect their homes have to be exterminated as well.

HollyS (#268,594)

After realizing I had bed bugs about a month ago, I too took to the internet for solutions. I bought 2 gallons of different products using one daily around the floor and baseboards, etc. with no luck. I had washed everything, bagged it, vacuumed daily all to no avail. After reading this article I decided to try the rubbing alcohol. (I can't afford an exterminator, single mom with 2 kids in college). I starting spraying a few days ago in the same areas I had used the other products and did the mattresses thoroughly. I also purchased mattress & box spring covers yesterday. Last night I not only sat in the recliner where I was getting eaten alive a few days ago comfortably, I slept like a baby. I am going to keep up this routine daily for awhile to be sure, but I KNOW this is working. Luckily here in Iowa it is warming up so I can open windows, as the alcohol does have pretty strong fumes, but they only last for about 15 minutes. Thanks so much for the information!

Right Guard or the generic equivalent has as it's # 1 ingredient denatured alcohol, sure it makes your place smell like a gym, but it kills the little buggers dead, just hose them til their wet.
Last year I thought I would help a lady out by letting her stay in my camper over the winter. Wrong, she was a pig and infested my camper. After I kicked her out, I thru away close to 40 trash bags of rubbish, and am just now getting a handle on the bed bug infestation. Eventually, I'm probably going to have to bite the bullet, and have an exterminator get behind the interior panels.

Nialls-girl (#271,153)

Im 14 and my mom got bedbugs because my uncle was living with us and he was a slob and we live in the bad part of town well my mom got bedbugs from someone over at those apt. But recently mOved and has a pretty decent size infestation and now because i dont live with her i live with my older brother i took them home with me in my backpack and are now in my room i am so paranoid i had started sleeping on the floor when im home my brother has yet to find out about the bugs and i really dont want to tell him because he might not let me see my mother again and he is super tight on money however my mother knows about us having bugs and is willing to buy me any product that will work so i suppose im asking what can i do to get rid of them for good without him finding out might i note that im super scared of him so telling him really isnt an option i have school tommorrow and have to wake up in an hour and yet i havent gotten any sleep because of my paranoia please help me!!!!

Mommy1st (#278,949)

I tried the alcohol thing and it worked. Thank u sooooooooo much . I filled spray bottles and sprayed every room in my apt including the wooden floors. <3

Mizelle (#279,899)

I'm mortified right now!! In the past week I have found four live bed bugs. I'm super pissed over the fact that my child had been getting bit and I took him to the doctor only to be told it was hives and allergies……almost two months ago!! He even expressed his concern of bed bugs (albeit we had no clue at the time there were any) and the doctor assured us he wasn't being bitten! But after seeing one crawling across our bedspread one morning, I went on an inspection frenzy starting with his room. I found nothing but went ahead and sprayed everything down with 90% alcohol, steamed and vacuumed everything. My guess is the bastards relocated to my daughters room BC she began getting bit. So I repeated the same process with her room and found two live bugs. That was Saturday. Today its Monday and upon reviewing the co2 traps under my bed I found one trapped. Im sick, disgusted and suffering sleepless nights paranoid over bugs! My fear the mother load of all fears is barricading and multiplying in my room, under my bed. I have so much stuff under the bed, in my closet and far worse than all of that on the other side of my house is a new addition we built that is incomplete and being used as storage (or in My opinion, hoarders heaven for my husbands "I can't throw it away" haven which is about to result in divorce). My skin is crawling 24/7 at the thought of what I might find from one minute to the next. I am constantly looking under beds with flashlights, turning into a paranoid mess. I'm afraid to tell anyone, afraid to have an exterminator come to my house for fear the neighbors will figure it out. I'm a clean person and this whole ordeal is making me OCD. Hell, I'm afraid if my own kids know what's going on they may "slip up" and tell someone resulting in all of us being viewed as the plague. This is beyond embarrassing despite how common people claim bed bugs have become. When u hate bugs period, having them invade your space/bed drives you insane. How in the heck did this epidemic unfold?!?!?! Please help me with dealing with this. I fear we will never be able to conquer this if an exterminator quotes some outrageous price and we aren't able to control it on our own.

chrissy (#280,697)

Jasmine Pleaseeeee ask Mario if he will travel to Pa. I'm at my wits end. I tried everything. The alcohol, bedbug spray, vaccuming, DE with no end in site. My son is about to have a baby and I'm terrified they will bite my grandson. The exterminators here charge outragious prices that I can't afford. I can't sleep, I'm depressed and cry all the time. I feel that they have won. Please ask him. Thank you.

yentacat (#285,369)

@chrissy If you can scrape up the money have the heat treatmen!

If you can find a flat rooftop and its summertime like now, no need for expensive heat treatments for your belongings. Drag everything you have onto the roof in the middle of the day and send these disgusting parasites to hell!!! Remember though, it must be hot outside and the sun needs to be shining bright. The heat from the roof will fry these bastards!!! I did this in a second story apartment i lived in and it helped, to bad my landlord was a POS and wouldn't do anything about it. In the end, I trashed everything, and I mean EVERYTHING i owned and moved. The only thing I took with me was my clothes which I left out in the snow for days to freeze any remnants of this fowl parasite to death, then carried one load of clothes at a time into my new home and dried each load after washing twice on max heat. I've lived here for four years now, and can say that I haven't seen one since. I feel for anyone who has to deal with this, and if I get them in the home i purchased I will seriously consider burning it to the ground!!!

Maureen Ko@facebook (#283,585)

Take your dryer exposed unusable clothing to the Salvation Army bin? #&^&T&())!!! Pig of a suggestion. Talk about spreading your problem to unwary and unwilling innocent people. Ugly suggestion. Ugly article. Ugly author!

Lily (#284,878)

Hi Maureen. To Jasmine's defense, she was very responsible about not spreading those horrible bugs to others. If you read carefully, she said that because she lived in a 5 story walk-up apartment which means there's no elevator, it was not worth the pain and effort to bring up the clothes that she didn't really like. She took the time to properly wash and heat dry all her clothes and sorted the ones she didnt want and then donated them.

yentacat (#285,369)

WE are spending
$2800 to have a heat treatment. WE caught it fairly early so not all over our 4+ bedroom house. Heat treatment is the most effective way to eradicate them. It destroys eggs, nymphs and adults. Is is unfortunate that is so cost prohibitive, and my husband is unemployed, so we sure didn't need this right now. You also have to remove certain things so they dont get damaged or melt. I have a home business and relocating my inventory is insane. Hopefully after Monday we are home free. BE CAREFUL THRIFTING…as this is most likely where they came in from. Until they come we are spraying our mattress box spring with alchohol, and putting sheets pillows comforters in the dryer. Its hellish and I wouldnt wish it on my worst enemy.

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