Bedbugs recently invaded my home — our living room sofas were infested. Read on if you travel frequently or love scoring secondhand furniture. I’m sharing my secret to combating and getting rid of bedbugs – inexpensively, of course!
First, let me tell you that a couple days ago — while in the trenches — I wouldn’t have been able to blog about this. I was disgusted. How could we have gotten bedbugs? Not pointing fingers here, but my guess is that family who had traveled all the way to California from Texas and stayed at different motels brought the unwanted guests. They could have also picked them up when they stayed with someone who had just bought couches at a thrift store.
Thankfully, we were able to catch the buggers before they reached other areas of our home. It would have cost a fortune to debug the entire house. Since our sofas are ivory colored it was easy to spot the bugs. We began to notice tiny specks of blood and their waste. Yuck!
Hours of frantically searching on the Internet for advice on how to get rid of bedbugs turned up not so good news. A professional exterminator would cost anywhere from $250 to $5000 per room depending on the extent of the infestation. And there’s no guarantee the problem would be resolved! This method would have also displaced us from our home for a couple of days because of the harsh chemicals. So add a hotel bill to the cost of hiring an exterminator.
An alternative method, heating the infested couch, is even more expensive, but it’s eco-friendly. Extreme heat is used to dehydrate the bugs. We would have had to drop up to $6000 for a heat treatment.
Online, many people recommended a powder called Diatomaceous Earth. I bought a bag at the hardware store and a bottle of EcoSmart Organic Insecticide for $15. Vacuumed the sofas thoroughly and sprinkled the powder all over and washed the slipcovers in scorching hot water. In total, I spent $95 to combat the suckers. Out of precaution I bought two bed bug mattress
protectors at Target for $40 each.
So far, it’s been 15 days and we have not seen any signs of bedbugs. The Diatomaceous Earth powder has worked wonders. Diatomaceous Earth is non-toxic and prevents bedbugs, roaches, ants and other creepy crawlies from reproducing.
I’ll be kicking out our sofas to the curb when our family finally leaves us, but I’ll leave a warning note on them. Wouldn’t want anyone to pick them up.
Bedbugs can hide in upholster and wood furniture. Before bringing any furniture into your home, make sure to thoroughly check for bugs. Use a flashlight to look for tiny blood stains! Beware, bedbugs have even been found in upscale hotels, stores, and theaters.
I expect to spend more money ridding my living room of bedbugs – including a new couch.
But I’m finally sleeping well. We saved thousands of dollars and won the battle against the bugs!
Do you pick up secondhand furniture from the curb?
I have picked up 2nd hand furniture from the curb, but nothing upholstered.
The diatomaceous earth is great for combatting fleas also. My cat is indoor/outdoor and she has a perch outside with carpeting on it. Fleas will move from something dark to something light so the carpeting is lighter. I sprinkle the diam. on it and it really works.
A friend had a friend with a camper van that became infested with bedbugs. I recommended the diatom. and after trying all the topical products (sprays, etc) the diatom. really did the job.
What I’ve read is that the food grade is better (used for filtering foodstuffs, so is purer) than the stuff used to filter swimming pools…
I came across some on sale on craigslist (2 bags) so I bought that and it’s lasted a long time since the area I use it on is small.
I’ve read when travelling and staying in hotels/motels, ALWAYS turn down the bedspread (or take it off) as that can be the primary source of pests..fleas, headlice, bedbugs, etc.
Yasmin, I love so many of your columns, they’re practical and down to earth.
@Lynda Thanks! I did buy the food grade powder which I forgot to mention. The stuff used in swimming pools is not safe for pets.
Gwen H. says
Thanks for the the information.
Shawna R says
Yazmin – You did the right thing to treat your bed bug problem, and I would check a few other areas. First, remove all the electrical outlet covers that are in the room that the sofa was in. I have read that the bugs crawl from the infested object and get behind the electrical outlet covers. Also, remove all artwork from the walls of the room and check the back of everything, especially picture frames. The bugs are notorious for climbing the walls and into the back of photo frames and paintings.
@Shawna Thanks for the tips! We did add the powder to the electrical outlets and dusted the walls. We will have to check our photo frames.
bedbug detection says
Thanks for giving such a nice information really i like it and i hope that other will also like it.
what attracts cockroaches says
Pest infestation is a very common household problem.
Many homeowners have no idea where the roaches are entering, let alone where they aare setting up camp.
Spray under kitchen cabinets, cracks, hard to reach areas and doors.
Linda Gardiner says
I used the chemical Permethrin. It is chrysanthamum flower essence. I did the dia earth, results not outstanding. I finally ended up spraying my computer chair at night and using the hand steamer in the a.m. Next step is to spray and drape the chair in a plastic drape cloth. The final step to the mattress is to drape it and put the garment steamer under the bed and let it heat up. I have sprayed with steam and that helped reduce them a great deal. This is an on-going issue as one floor up and across hall is a hoarder. I have been engaged in this issue for months. Tried this and that .. and the steam is the best weapon for bedbug elimination.
Mara Sweet says
I’ve never heard of using steam. Thanks for sharing that tip. I hope you get the situation resolved quickly!
Jessica Lahmann says
A friend of mine ran a small, kinda dumpy motel and she would put things that got left behind, in her basement inn case the owners ever came back looking for their things. BIG MISTAKE!! She is way infested, and after babysitting her baby a few times, now Im infested. Weve tried alot but after reading this, Im also going to give the steam a whirl because i have a handheld steamer and i think i can reach just about everycrevice with it. its my last option other than calliing the exterminator! ;(
Mara Sweet says
Ugh, that’s terrible. Good luck with the steamer! Please report back!
Tammey S. says
Hi. What happens if your allergic to diatom? My granddaughter and great granddaughter was living with me and my husband. My granddaughter(19) had her boyfriend(18) come over to the house when we wasn’t home. Usually, no big deal. When we came home, this day he was in the bedroom with my granddaughter and great granddaughter(15 mo). He was in her bed with her. He had been kicked out of my son and daughter-in-law’s home cause he had bedbugs out the wazoo. I know ya’ll probably didn’t want this whole back story. Sorry, there is more. We kicked him out ASAP. It wasn’t the fact that he was here, it was cause he was in the bedroom with our great granddaughter in the same room while they was in the bed. Plus, we didn’t know he had bedbugs. Our granddaughter laid on the couch in the living room, sat in the recliner, went in the spare room and laid on that bed, brought our great granddaughter to our bedroom and she laid on our bed, while our great granddaughter played on our bed. My home is 1,250 sq feet and every single room, and I mean every single room is infested. My house is wall to wall carpet except the bathroom and laundry room. Yes, even in the bathroom. HELP ME, PLEASE!! We are on disability, I can’t afford an exterminator. I’m so ugh. Thanks in advance. PS…I have a hand held steamer.
Tammey, I’m so sorry, that sounds like a nightmare! I would wash and dry everything you can on HOT and use that steamer everywhere else. Could someone else apply the diatomaceous earth and you could stay in a hotel for a night or two?