You have three options for how to treat bed bugs and end your infestation.
Chemical treatment involves pesticides being applied at least three times at two-week intervals to catch newly hatched nymphs. Most effective pesticides labeled by the FDA to kill bed bugs will have a residual period where the pesticide remains active and effective at killing bed bugs for an extended period of two weeks to three months depending on the compounds. However, most residuals do not kill on contact and can take up to ten days for a bed bug to die.
If you are having many opportunities to kill bed bugs on contact, that means your infestation has grown large enough that the bugs are coming out to feed at all hours. Bed bugs do not have hairs, or groom themselves or lick their legs, so getting the pesticides on the insect requires that their bellies to be full so they drag them through the poison. Microbubbles of poison then work on killing the insect through its exoskeleton which can take up to ten days. Even after exposure to pesticides the bugs can still lay eggs and mate. You need to get to zero bed bugs.
Cedar based products and sprays for the most part only kill on contact, so does 91% rubbing alcohol. So does Murphy’s Oil Soap. But the point is, they only kill on contact. How many bed bugs have you personally seen and how many are hiding? Cedar based sprays do nothing to kill the bugs or eggs you can’t see. I do not advocate using cedar based sprays for anything more than contact killing, and do not suggest you use them as a sole method of treatment. They have their use.
I do advocate using a competent pest control company who will/should use a variety of pesticides to address the short and long-term problem. I have more details and what to expect here if you are having chemical treatment. Using a variety of pesticides plus the decluttering, laundry and treatment of your possessions is referred to as IPM or Integrated Pest Management.
Heating an entire room, storage container or an entire home is the fastest way to end your infestation provided all the preparation and post-treatment protocols are also met.
Heaters are placed in the infested room powered by a generator located outside, or heaters are outside and ducted into the home. Commercial fans are used to spread the heated air into every crack and corner of the room until the room reaches bed bug killing temperatures. The temperature of the room will gradually increase to between 120-135°F. Technicians check and monitor heat sensors placed in the room. The temperature in the room can increase to as much as 135°F. This temperature is high enough to kill bed bugs and eggs. You will be instructed to remove liquids, makeup, albums, pets or anything that could melt at those temperatures.
This treatment will take 4 hours or longer. Older homes or apartments that have hard to seal vents or cracks may not be eligible for heat treatment. If you introduce untreated possessions back into your heat treated home, you could re-infest your home making the heat treatment ineffective. Follow all protocols exactly and you can be done with bed bugs in a day! You can read more about heat treatment here.
Am I going to discourage you from trying to kill your bed bugs with a DIY approach? No.
Very few succeed at DIY treatment because of the level of ferocity and discipline you must exercise every single day to succeed and on very little sleep. However, it has been done and I’m going to tell you how. While I did have a professional company apply pesticides in my home, there was still plenty to do on my part to succeed. Just spraying an alcohol/cedar based spray around and doing laundry isn’t going to be enough. If you are hoping you can get rid of them without spending a few hundred dollars, you’re probably wrong.
They are not going away because you are angry with them. They are not going to go away. They have to die.
I am going to be completely realistic about what is involved so that you have no illusions about what you would need to do, spend and how much time it’s going to take you to succeed going DIY. Even if you hire a pest company there is a tremendous amount of DIY stuff you need to do anyway. Ready? Start here.