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About the size of an apple seed, a bed bug can cause more stress and anxiety than an insect many times its size. Put bluntly, bed bugs feed on human blood. Although they don’t spread disease the way some other pests do, their bites are usually uncomfortable, and there’s a stigma that comes with having an infestation. Some people even develop long-term psychological trauma or social difficulties after living with bed bugs.
However, plenty of professional extermination companies can take care of the problem for you quickly and efficiently. Rather than try to tackle this difficult infestation yourself, we highly recommend that you go straight to professionals like Terminix, Orkin or Bulwark.
Unfortunately, bed bug extermination is expensive, but we’ll walk you through what you can expect to pay for various types of treatments for infestations of various sizes. We’ll also recommend the best nationwide providers of bed bug control to get rid of the problem and keep it from coming back.
Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Part of the reason bed bugs are so hard to treat is that they reproduce rapidly and excel at hiding in even the smallest cracks and crevices—down to about the width of a credit card. They’re also active only at night, so you may have an infestation without ever seeing a live bed bug.
Bed bug bites tend to occur in straight lines across the skin, as along the edge of pajama hems or a fold in a sheet. Some people have no reaction to bed bug bites, but others will develop redness, itchiness or rashes at the site of the bite. Fortunately, bed bugs aren’t known to transmit diseases and serious allergies are rare, but their bites are still a nuisance.
Since many pests—including fleas, spiders, mites and mosquitoes—can leave bites that look similar, bites alone are not enough to diagnose bed bug infestations. If you suspect you may have bed bugs, look at your sheets, mattresses, box springs, bed frames and couches for signs such as small dark dots about the size of a pencil point (bed bug excrement) or red spots or stains (crushed bed bugs). You might also see shed skin that’s usually pale yellow in color or tiny bed bug eggs or eggshells.
Factors That Influence Professional Bed Bug Extermination Costs
There’s a wide range in bed bug treatment costs, and that’s usually down to the level of infestation, the size of the infested area and the number of rooms. Treating a single room and its furniture will be much less expensive than treating a one-bedroom apartment or an entire house. The more additional treatments your home requires, the more the overall process will cost.
Additionally, there are several different types of treatment that may be used depending on the specifics of the infestation, and these incur different costs. Finally, in large cities that often have bed bug problems, treatment may cost more because it is in higher demand. Emergency or same-day treatment, of course, is the most expensive.
Average Professional Bed Bug Extermination Cost
The average cost of getting rid of bed bugs is around $1,000, though the overall price may range from $300 to $5,000 based on the factors above. You can expect to pay between $50 and $200 for a bed bug inspection and then either an hourly rate or a flat rate per room or square foot. Here are some approximate breakdowns of these costs.
- One room: $300–$1,000
- Two rooms: $500–$1,200
- Three rooms: $1,000–$2,500
- Whole house: $1,700–$5,000
- Per square foot: $4–$7.50
- Per hour: $145–$225
Types of Professional Bed Bug Treatment
Depending upon the severity of the infestation and the specific conditions of your home, professional exterminators may use any of the following methods of bed bug removal. Typically, several of these treatment options are used together for best results.
Heat Treatment ($1–$3 per sq. ft.)
Although bed bugs are somewhat resistant to high heat, they can’t survive prolonged exposure to ambient temperatures of 120°F or more. One method of extermination involves bringing in heaters and fans to circulate hot air throughout a closed room.
You’ll need to vacate the room for the length of the treatment, but you don’t need to do much decluttering and you can return immediately afterwards. However, while heat kills both live bed bugs and eggs, it won’t prevent new infestations if there are bed bugs hiding in untreated rooms.
Chemical Treatments ($2–$4.50 per sq. ft.)
Pesticides are usually used in combination with other bed bug elimination methods because they’re best for spot treatment. Exterminators may apply liquid or powdered insecticides along baseboards, carpet edges and molding as well as along seams, folds and crevices in furniture.
Pesticides also have some residual effects, continuing to kill bed bugs after the treatment ends. Unfortunately, bed bug populations are developing resistance to some commonly-used insecticides, so these should be used judiciously.
Steam Treatment ($2–$7.50 per sq. ft.)
Steam treatment uses the same principle as heat treatment but is more directed and creates higher temperatures. The steam can get into the seams of soft furniture and mattresses more easily than direct heat, and it’s entirely non-toxic. However, just like heat, steam won’t prevent future infestation, and it can damage some household items.
Freeze Treatment ($3–$6 per sq. ft.)
Using intense, targeted cold temperatures to kill bed bugs is more expensive than using heat, but it is less likely to damage furniture and electronics. Freezing devices may use liquid carbon dioxide to create a sort of powdered snow to quick-freeze and kill bed bugs and their eggs. The “snow” is non-toxic, but it doesn’t penetrate soft surfaces very well, and it has no preventative effect.
Fumigation ($4–$8 per sq. ft.)
Finally, whole-home fumigation is one of the most disruptive and expensive treatment methods for bed bug control, but it is also one of the most effective for large or severe infestations. You’ll have to vacate your home for several days while pest control professionals seal off and gas the building. However, since you’re treating the whole residence at once, you’re almost certain to eradicate the problem and keep it from coming back.
Can I Treat Bed Bugs Myself and What Does It Cost?
We don’t recommend that you attempt to treat bed bugs yourself because you’re unlikely to be completely successful. There are just too many places for bed bugs to hide, and even a single pregnant female can be the start of a new infestation. If you try a DIY approach to the problem, you may just end up wasting your money as the infestation grows larger.
However, if you can’t scrape together the substantial sum required to hire professional help, here are some methods you can use.
- Launder all bedding and clothing in hot water of at least 120°F. You can also place items in the dryer at medium to high heat for 20 minutes.
- Seal infested mattresses, sofas and loveseats in special bed bug-proof encasements ($30–$50 each) for at least three months.
- Purchase and set off insect foggers (typically around $10). However, these have only a tiny fraction of the effectiveness of whole-house fumigation because they lack the power to get insecticide into every crevice where bed bugs could hide.
- Rent or purchase a steam cleaner ($100–$200) to use on all mattresses, box springs and soft furniture.
- Apply diatomaceous earth ($10) or silica gel ($10–$15) to your carpet to kill the bed bugs there, and then vacuum them up and dispose of the vacuum bag.
When to Call in Professional Pest Control
Simply put, you should call in pest management experts at the first sign of a bed bug problem. If you can catch the infestation early, it will be easier and less expensive to treat. Yes, professional bed bug extermination is expensive, but that’s because it’s so difficult and requires specialty equipment. Consider the costs of bed bug treatment an investment in your (and your family’s) health and psychological well-being.
Our Top Picks for Bed Bug Exterminators
When looking at pest control companies, you want exterminators with experience in treating bed bugs who can do the job quickly and efficiently. Here are our recommendations for the best nationwide bed bug experts.
Terminix offers bed bug inspection and removal by means of pesticides, steam, RapidFreeze devices and more. The inspection is free, and if the bed bugs return to a treated area within 30 days, Terminix will return to perform a follow-up treatment for free. Call (866) 569-4035 or fill out this quick form for more information or a free quote.
Orkin’s technicians are specially trained to find evidence of bed bugs and create customized treatment plans to disrupt the pests’ life cycle and eradicate them. The Orkin Guarantee also promises a 30-day money-back guarantee and free return visits. For details or a free estimate, call (877) 544-4104 or fill out this easy form.
Although Bulwark Pest Control is only available in select urban areas, the company does provide thorough bed bug extermination services. This family-owned business has a very high customer satisfaction rating, and it takes pride in treating its customers like family. For more information on bed bug removal, call (844) 567-2094 or fill out your contact info here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bed Bugs
Does my home have to be unsanitary to attract bed bugs?
No, this is actually a common misconception about bed bug infestations. Bed bugs can and will infest anywhere that humans sleep, and they’re often spread via travel in suitcases or folds of clothing. That’s why you’ll sometimes hear about bed bug problems in hotel rooms even if they are cleaned regularly and carefully. Although clutter and unsanitary conditions can hide the signs of bed bugs, these conditions are no more attractive to bed bugs than a completely clean home.
What kills bed bugs instantly?
The good news is that some household items like rubbing alcohol and tea tree oil will kill bed bugs on contact about 50% of the time. The bad news is that for every bed bug you see, there are dozens or even hundreds you don’t. You simply can’t kill each bed bug individually. Intense heat and cold, sustained for a few seconds or a few minutes, can kill bed bugs, but you need to get it into every crevice where they hide.
Will bed bugs stay in just one room?
Although one room can serve as the center of an infestation, rarely is the problem so isolated. They can crawl through tiny cracks in walls, electrical sockets and more, and they’re attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale as you sleep. Even if they don’t make the journey themselves, they can easily hitchhike on shoes or pant legs. However, the earlier you identify and treat the infestation, the more likely you are to be able to contain it.