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University of Minnesota Extension

Bed bug prevention and control in the home

Quick facts

  • Bed bugs are very difficult to control on your own. We recommend you work with a professional to properly identify the problem and treat it.
  • If you are a renter, contact your landlord right away about a bed bug infestation. The landlord or property manager should work with a pest management professional to treat your home.
  • When you are working with a professional it is very important to follow any instructions they give you to make sure their treatment works the best it can to get rid of bed bugs.

Bed bug identification

Adult bed bug before biting

If you are not sure if you have bed bugs, see our page on identifying bed bugs. Or, watch this video.

This video on bed bug prevention and control (23:19) will help you:

  • Understand what bed bugs are and why they are a problem.
  • Take the necessary steps if you think you may have bed bugs.
  • Learn how to prevent these insects from getting into your home.
  • Understand how to safely control an infestation.

The video is also available in Arabic, Karen, Hmong, Spanish and Somali.

Hiring a pest management professional

The most effective way to deal with a bed bug infestation is to hire a pest management professional (PMP), also called an exterminator. Controlling bed bugs on your own is very difficult and most people cannot do it. When looking for a professional, take the time to do some research and find a good company.

The least expensive option may not be the best option.


Bed bug prevention

Bed bugs can enter your home in used clothing, furniture or bedding; by traveling along pipes and wiring; and as "hitch-hikers" on you or your visitors' clothing, shoes and bags.

It's important to be careful when travelling and staying in hotels or other people's homes that you don't bring home unwanted pests.


Getting rid of bed bugs

  • Do not use over-the-counter insecticides for treating bed bugs in your home. These insecticides are not effective.
  • If you use an insecticide, always read the entire label and follow all instructions. Do not use garden and agricultural insecticides in your home. They are toxic and can harm people and pets.
  • Children's toys also can be infested with bed bugs. You must clean bed bug infested toys in order to fully control the infestation.

It can be expensive to hire a pest management professional. If you cannot afford to hire a professional, the following steps will not eliminate bed bugs, but they may help you reduce the number of bugs in your home.


What not to do when you have bed bugs

  • Do not panic. You can control bed bugs with careful inspection and by using proper control methods.
  • Do not try to kill bed bugs by using agricultural or garden pesticides. Using outdoor pesticides to control bed bugs can make you or your family very sick.
  • Do not use products that appear to be “homemade” or “custom formulated.” Homemade products could be dangerous and they might make the problem worse.
  • Do not use products that have labels in a non-English language.
  • Do not apply pesticides directly to your body. This could make you very sick.
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol, kerosene or gasoline. These chemicals may cause fires.
  • Do not throw away your furniture. Beds and other furniture can be treated for bed bugs. Throwing away your furniture can spread the bugs and you would have to buy new furniture.
  • Do not store things under the bed. Storing stuff under the bed gives bed bugs many new places to hide. This makes it more difficult to get rid of bed bugs.
  • Do not move things from room to room. Moving your things from the room with bed bugs to another room in your house may spread the bed bugs.
  • Do not wrap items in black plastic and place in the sun. It will not get hot enough to kill all the bugs.
  • Watch a video about what not to do when you have bed bugs (02:36).

Videos and print materials

Our archive has printable materials and videos of the information on this page in other languages .


Authors: Stephen Kells, Extension entomologist, and Amelia Shindelar

Content originally appeared as materials for "Let's Beat the Bug: A bed bug information campaign to better prevent and control bed bugs," from the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota. 

Reviewed in 2023

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