How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs On A Tight Budget In 2021

This is a life-saving guide for you if you’ve bed bugs but you can’t afford an exterminator. 

It includes resources, tips, and information on how to get rid of bed bugs on a tight budget.

In this guide, you’ll learn a 6-step process which is the cheapest way to get rid of bed bugs from your home without hiring a bed bug exterminator.

Plus, you’ll also find the DIY ways of getting rid of bed bugs that are myths. It’s recommended that you shouldn’t do them ever.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

Why Bed Bug Treatment Cost Is So High?

Let’s face it, the cost of getting rid of bed bugs is pretty high.

US-wide data says that the cost of getting rid of bed bugs for one single room is $300.

And that can quickly escalate to at least $2000 – $2500 if you were to treat your entire home or apartment.

So, why are bed bug treatment costs so high?

There are two reasons for it.

The first reason is that bed bugs are hard to spot.

They hide in the thinnest of gaps, and they can easily camouflage with the surroundings.

Tracking the bed bugs down by zeroing on their hiding places by tracing their signs of infestation (which you can easily ignore) needs years of experience.

The second reason is that bed bugs can come back after treatment.

So, to find out if the bed bug treatment is successful or not, the exterminator needs to pay many follow-up visits to your home. And that is also included in the costs.

Below is the table that shows you a reasonably accurate average estimate of bed bug treatment costs that established companies charged for a typical two-bedroom home.

Company NameAverage Bed Bug Removal CostsGuarantee Period
Orkin$400 – $300030-day
Terminix$500 – $350030 days – 90 days
Ehrlich$650 – $300030 days
Arrow$500 – $400030 days
ThermaPureMinimum $2000At least 180 days
Average Bed Bug Treatment Cost

But there’s some relief for you. There are cheap local bed bug exterminators that you can find near you.

Before you book them, you need to ensure that you ask the relevant questions to vet the local bed bug exterminators.

Now let’s get into how to get rid of bed bugs cheap and fast.

Ways To Kill Bed Bugs In Your Home Without Hiring An Exterminator

In this section, you’ll find out the ways to kill bed bugs by yourself in your home if you can’t afford bed bug treatment.

Your success in getting rid of bed bugs from your home lies in mirroring what the pros do.

Don’t panic. It doesn’t mean that you’d need to invest a ton of money on equipment and bed bug sprays.

But you’ll have to buy certain things so that all your efforts don’t go in vain. 

The things that you’d need to buy to kill bed bugs without spending a fortune might be lying around in your home right now!

And you don’t have to spend much if you don’t have them.

So, what can you use to kill bed bugs on your own? Only five things

  1. Steam Cleaner
  2. Desiccant dust 
  3. Plant-based safe to use bed bug sprays
  4. Bed bug-proof mattress encasement
  5. Bed bug interceptors

Further down the post, you’ll find out how each of these products plays a role in eliminating bed bug infestation in your home.

But before we get into that, one reality check. 

Getting rid of bed bugs on your own is a game of persistence. You’ll need to repeat the process for at least 2-3 days for the right results.

So, let’s now get into the process.

As you’ve found out, to get rid of bed bugs, you need to mirror what the pros do.

And the pros follow a four-stage process to kill bed bugs. These four stages are –

Spotting Signs Of Infestation > Isolating > Treating > Tracking

In the next few minutes, you’ll learn how the pros follow the above four stages.

Spotting The Signs Of Bed Bug Infestation

Spotting bed bug-infested items in your home is the first step before you begin anything to get rid of bed bugs.

You’ll find out which rooms bed bugs have infested and the things in the room showing signs of bed bug infestation.

Typically, bed bugs are present in the rooms where you sleep. 

And if you don’t isolate the infested items, bed bugs will spread out in different rooms to escape the treatment.

So, look out for the signs of bed bug infestation.

Typical signs of bed bug infestations are –

  1. Tiny blackish-red dots on the bedsheets, mattresses, and pillow covers
  2. Bloodstains on the bed caused by the crushing of bed bugs under your body 
  3. Bed bug shells
  4. Minute translucent white baby bed bugs (these are extremely hard to spot)
  5. Bed bug bites on your body

Any room where people sleep can have at least the first four signs of bed bug infestation. 

Some people are not reactive to bed bug bites. They don’t get the itch and bite marks despite bed bugs biting them.

That’s why many people wonder why I’ve bed bug bites and the person sleeping next to me hasn’t got any.

So, where do you need to check these signs of bed bugs?

Begin with from your bed. Check for these signs on the bed mattress, bedsheet, and pillow cover.

The bed is an obvious place where most of the bed bugs hide. 

70% of bed bugs hide in the headboard, mattress, box spring, and bed frame.

But you shouldn’t limit your search only to your bed. It’s because bed bugs hide within 6-8 feet distance from their primary host. 

So, they can be present in the rugs and carpets, upholstered furniture, and even inside dresser drawers in your bedroom.

Check for the signs of bed bugs on places like couch, carpet, accent chairs, wardrobe, and dresser drawers.

The living room is the next most likely place after the bedroom for the bed bugs to hide. 

Why?

It’s because bed bugs are good hitchhikers, and they can latch onto your clothing and products to travel elsewhere.

As you sit on the living room couch, bed bugs can also be present in the sofa and carpet of the living room. 

So, diligently look for the signs of bed bug infestation on all the soft furnishings of your home.

Bed bug infestation begins in one room and spreads fast to other rooms, especially when multiple people are in a home or if you sleep in different rooms.

That’s why you shouldn’t skip any single room in your home to check for the signs of bed bugs.

Now that you’ve spotted the rooms and items in your home with bed bug infestation, it’s time to get into the isolation phase.

Isolate Items That Bed Bugs Have Infested

It’s the isolation stage. Pros say that this stage is like preparing your home for bed bug treatment.

Your job is to take the items infested by bed bugs out of your home or in a room where there’s enough space.

If you’ve found any fabrics from your wardrobe or drawer with bed bug signs, put them in sealed plastic bags and keep them away.

Isolation is a crucial phase when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs. 

Pros do it because isolating bed bug-infested items stops bed bugs from spreading into different rooms and areas of your home.

When it comes to isolating the bed bug-infested items, please use your discretion. 

Do not dump everything in plastic bags as it’ll unnecessarily increase your workload.

Most of the time, you wouldn’t need to isolate anything but your bed, couch, padded or cushioned furniture like accent chairs and carpets.

However, if the infestation has gone over the roof, then you’d need to isolate items present in your dresser drawers and closet.

The Treatment Begins – Here’s How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs On A Tight Budget In 6 Steps

Now you’re in the meatiest part of getting rid of bed bugs cheaply. 

The tricks you’re about to find out will help you kill the maximum number of bed bugs or all of them.

Follow along with the steps for best results.

Step#1 – Steam Clean Your Isolated Bed And Other Soft Furnishings To Kill Bed Bugs

We don’t recommend using a vacuum cleaner on the bed to get rid of bed bugs.

It’s because vacuum cleaners don’t give you the best results.

Why?

Vacuum cleaners may remove a few bed bugs hiding in the bed, but they fail entirely in killing the adult bed bugs, their nymphs or baby bed bugs, and bed bugs.

Only heat can do these tasks. 

If there’s anything that kills bed bugs instantly, it’s the heat.

And steam cleaners produce heat at temperatures more than 113 deg F, which roasts the bed bugs and eliminates the baby bed bugs and eggs.

No wonder that pros use heat treatment as a primary way to get rid of heavy bed bug infestation.

Remove the bedsheet, pillow covers, and comforters from your bed, and take the steam cleaner.

Slowly use the steam cleaner on every inch of the mattress. Do not forget to cover the mattress seams and folds on the edges.

Those are the places on the mattress where bed bugs hide.

Flip over the mattress and use the steam cleaner the same way as you did on the upper side of the mattress.

Then steam clean the box spring, the headboards, and the bed frame.

You may use a brush to clean these places before steam cleaning. That’ll drive out any hiding bed bugs in the thinnest of gaps on these places.

Do the same on other soft furnishings that you’ve isolated. 

You’d also need to steam clean the underside of the couch, especially the couch’s legs.

Spend some time steam cleaning the soft furnishings and your bed. 

You shouldn’t leave any corners and inches during the steam cleaning. Because if you do, you’ll leave the bed bugs behind. 

Step#2 – Use Mattress Encasement To Cover Your Mattress

Bed Bug Mattress Encasement

Bed bug-proof mattress encasements are indispensable to stop bed bug bites.

After steam cleaning, you’d need to cover your mattress with a mattress encasement. 

That’ll deny any bed bugs (after steam cleaning, it’s unlikely that any bed bugs will be left) access to your skin.

It won’t choke the bed bugs, but it’s a great way to stop them from biting you once you start to sleep on your bed.

Also, the bed bug-proof mattress encasements are smooth with no folds and creases on them. That means there’s no place for the bed bugs to hide in it.

Step#3 – Seal Any Gaps And Cracks On The Bed Frame And Headboard

Bed bugs hide in the thin gaps and cracks on the wooden bed frame and furniture.

So, it makes total sense to seal these gaps after you steam clean the bed frame and the headboard.

It’ll not only choke any bed bug hiding in these gaps but also deny bed bugs any place to hide.

It’d be best if you seal the cracks that you may find in all the furniture of your home.

Use a silicone-based sealant to do the work. Silicone-based sealants are robust, last at least for a decade, and most importantly, bugs can’t chew through them.

Step#4 – Scatter Desiccant Dust In Your Home, Especially In Your Bedroom To Kill Any Hiding Bed Bugs

Now it’s time to focus on the rooms from where you’ve picked up the items to isolate them.

There can be bed bugs hiding in the floors and furniture of these rooms.

So, scatter desiccant dust, primarily made out of diatomaceous earth and silica aerogel. These are safe for humans and pets.

Desiccant dust penetrates the bed bugs’ bodies and dehydrates them from inside. It works in the same way on other bugs too.

The dehydration causes the exoskeleton of the bed bugs to collapse, which results in their death.

But there’s a catch. You’d need to wait for at least thirty minutes to let the dust show its effect on the bed bugs.

Then you can move into the next step.

Step#5 – Vacuum Clean The Rooms To Remove Dead Bugs

Now it’s time to use a vacuum cleaner. 

Slowly vacuum clean your room’s floor and furniture. 

(Seal of any gaps and cracks hard surfaces of your room before vacuuming)

That’ll remove all the dead bed bugs and the live ones, if there are any. 

Bed bugs don’t lay their eggs on hard surfaces. And if they do, they’ll do it in the tiny crevices. 

But as you’ve sealed those minute gaps, so there’s no chance of baby bed bugs re-surfacing from those tiny fissures.

Step#6 – Repeat Step 1 to Step 5, At least Once In A Week

Pros come back to your home check for bed bugs even after bed bug treatment.

As you don’t have the luxury to hire a pro, it’s on you to do the job.

Despite doing all this, you’ll need to keep a tab and be eagle-eyed on any signs of bed bugs. 

You’ll find out in the next section how to do it. But for now, keep in mind that you need to repeat the process at least once a week for four weeks.

That’d ensure that you’re not only thorough with your process, but you’re nipping the bed bug problem before it starts to show up again.

As a follow-up, you can use plant-based bed bug sprays like Eco Raider and Bed Bug patrol on your bed, dresser drawers, carpets, and couch to ensure that you’re killing any hiding bed bug that you can’t see.

Studies done at Rutgers University have shown that these two sprays are highly effective in killing bed bugs.

Tracking IF Any Bed Bugs Are Showing Up After Treatment

Pheromone Trap For Bed Bug

Tracking bed bugs is an easy process, but it needs a strategic approach.

Pros do it when they pay visits to your home after the treatment to check if any bed bugs are showing up.

And how do they do it?

They use bed bug interceptors.

Bed bug interceptors are nothing but cheap cups that pros keep under each leg of your bed.

Why?

It’s because when any bed bug tries to reach you, it has only the bed’s legs to use to climb up on your bed to have its blood meal.

Bed bug interceptors give you feedback on how successful your bed treatment has been.

The lesser the number of bed bugs you catch on the interceptors, the better.

Bed bug interceptors are also known as bed bug traps. The interior of bed bug interceptors is slippery and a little bit sticky.

That stops the bed bugs from climbing up on the bed.

And when you don’t catch any bed bugs on the interceptors for two-three consecutive weeks, then viola! Your home is now free of bed bugs.

Always get rid of the bed bugs trapped in the interceptors. Use a small amount of talcum powder to make the interceptors slippery again.

DIY Ways Of Killing Bed Bugs That Are Myths

Now that you’ve learned how to get rid of bed bugs on a tight budget, it’s time to find out what activities you must avoid when you’re taking matters in your hands.

As you’re under a tight budget and you can’t afford a bed bug exterminator, you must not waste your time and money on methods that don’t work. 

That’s why this section is dedicated to dispelling myths that are doing rounds on the web and spreading like wildfire by word of mouth. 

Here are the seven myths that you should always avoid when you’re getting rid of bed bugs on your own. 

Myth #1 – Ultrasonic Devices Kills Bed Bugs

Ultrasonic devices against pests, especially bed bugs, are in vogue for quite some time. 

Never buy them, not even for mosquitoes. The University of Kentucky scientifically proved that ultrasonic devices have NO impact on bed bugs. 

Ultrasonic devices are, in a word, useless when it comes to killing bed bugs. 

Myth #2 – Baking Soda Kills Bed Bugs

Baking soda can help to get rid of other pests but not bed bugs.

Why?

Baking soda dissolves when it comes in contact with a little bit of moisture or water. Given that the exoskeleton of bed bugs has moisture in it, it makes baking soda impotent against bed bugs. 

Myth #3 – Mothballs or Naphthalene Balls Kill Bed Bugs

Although not a complete myth, but mothballs are not 100% effective. 

Rutgers University’s research has found that mothballs could kill only 44-60% of adult bed bugs. Mothballs didn’t have any effect on nymphs and eggs. 

Myth # 4 – Talcum Powder Kill Bed Bugs

No, talcum powder doesn’t kill bed bugs. Period. 

Talcum powder, like baking soda, can’t penetrate the exoskeleton of bed bugs. Hence, it does not affect bed bugs. 

If there’s any powder that can kill bed bugs, it’s diatomaceous earth powder. 

Myth # 5 – Dryer Sheets Kill Bed Bugs

Dryer sheets can be bed bug repellent, but dryer sheets do not kill bed bugs. The smell from the dryer sheet can repel bed bugs, but bed bugs will eventually find a way around it to bite you. 

Myth # 6 – Essential Oils Kill Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are challenging pests to kill. And they’ve even developed immunity against many types of insecticides.

That includes pyrethroid sprays that kill many bugs and insects.

Having said that, essential oils are also not bed bug killers. But they’re bed bug repellers.

Peppermint and eucalyptus essential oil repels many biting bugs including bed bugs. You can wear them on your skin while sleeping to keep away bed bugs.

But essential oils won’t get rid of bed bugs in your home.

Myth # 7 – Bed Bugs Like Cold Rooms

This myth is rooted on the experience of many people who get bed bug bites with their ACs on during the summer months.

The temperature that most homeowners put their ACs make the bed bugs active.

But that doesn’t means that bed bugs like cold rooms.

Bed bugs can withstand cold temperature longer than heat.

Should You Dispose Of Bed And Couch To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

You shouldn’t unless bed bugs infested them beyond repair. 

A soft furnishing damaged by bed bug infestation will be full of reddish spots, bed bug shells and will even have dead bugs.

It’ll also emit a nasty pungent smell that bed bugs emit when the infestation is severe.

If you don’t notice these signs, you don’t have to throw them away. You can also sleep on the bed with bed bugs if you take appropriate safety measures.

Government Assistance For Bed Bugs

Many low-income families ask if there’s any government assistance for bed bugs.

Or does the government provide any financial help to get rid of bed bugs from their homes?

Sadly, the answer is no.

But many local health departments help with information on bed bug extermination and prevention. 

You can visit the websites of the local health department of your state to know more. All states have bed bug laws and regulations to protect your home from bed bugs and expensive bed bug treatment costs. 

What If You Live In A Section 8 Housing? Do You’ve To Pay For Bed Bug Removal?

Pest infestations, especially bed bug infestation, are common in section 8 housing. High turnover of tenants and lack of hygiene make section 8 housings at the risk of infestation.

But the best part is that Section 8 housing comes under federal laws, and it’s not your responsibility as a tenant to do bed bug treatment. 

As per Notice H 2012-5, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to pay for the bed bug treatment, not you. 

If you’re moving into Section 8 housing, then it’d be best if you get a bed bug inspection done by an exterminator

Some pest control companies do it for free, but some charge.

But the cost is significantly less, and it’s always wise to get it done before moving in so that you don’t have to suffer later.

Conclusion

In this guide, you’ve found out how to get rid of bed bugs if you don’t have money and cannot afford an exterminator.

In this post, you’ve learned the tricks that pros use to eliminate bed bugs in a home.

You’ve learned all the four stages that pros religiously follow when they’re treating your home for bed bugs.

There’s a detailed plan to use heat, pesticide sprays, and desiccant dust to kill bed bugs in your home.

Plus, this guide also reveals how to track your success with the help of bed bug interceptors, and the follow-up steps you need to take should bed bugs show up again.

Would you please share this guide with anyone who is facing the menace of bed bugs? It’ll save them money and protect them from a lot of agonies and sleepless nights.