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2 Healthy, Eco-Friendly Ways to Treat Bed Bug Infestations

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Bed bug infestations are frustrating because they're nearly impossible to treat. And there's even a not-so-flattering social stigma attached as well. But you don't have to resort to extremes like spraying harsh chemicals or even ingesting bed bug pills to exude bed bug pesticides from your skin. While they can be effective--bed bugs feeding on ivermectin-laced blood die within three hours--chemical treatments pose health concerns. Try one of these two eco-friendly treatment methods instead.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) say integrated pest management methods including heat treatment and diatomaceous earth can be an effective approach, especially since bed bugs have become resistant to chemical pesticides. In a May 8 joint statement, the EPA and CDC still recommended judicious use of effective chemical pesticides with the caveat that those pesticides are becoming increasingly ineffective. Overuse and misuse of pesticides is also becoming a public health concern.

If you choose to treat the infestation yourself, bag up all of your clothing before you begin. Wash all of your bedding and clothing in hot water (adding a bit of bleach if possible) and dry on high heat. Follow up by treating the rest of your home with one of two eco-friendly methods.

1. Heat treatment

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From the Organic Authority Files

The most effective eco-friendly bed bug solution available is heat treatment. You can rent a professional heat chamber from an extermination company or contact a bed bug removal professional to treat an infestation. Heat treatment brings the overall temperature of the affected area up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 90 minutes. The heat destroys any bugs that have infested your home, as well as their eggs.

You'll want to treat all cloth furniture, like mattresses and couches, by passing the heat steamer close to all surfaces. Once the heat treatment is complete, you should vacuum all bed bug debris and immediately throw out the vacuum bag or container contents. 

2. Diatomaceous earth

You can also apply diatomaceous earth to kill bed bugs. Treat washable fabrics and steam clean your mattress and box springs if possible. Dust food grade diatomaceous earth liberally around the legs of your bed. Make sure no fabrics touch the floor and that your bed doesn't touch any of your room's walls. Dust diatomaceous earth between your mattress and box springs and along the edges of your mattress. 

Spread diatomaceous earth on your flooring and work it into the carpet. Repeat the diatomaceous earth dusting process weekly for a month.

Once you have completed treatment, have an exterminator reinspect your home. You'll need to make sure that bed bugs are no longer present to prevent re-infestation. If just a few eggs or bed bugs remain, the bed bug infestation can spread again. An eco-friendly bed bug solution will ensure that your home is chemical- and bed bug-free. If you already have bed bug bites, consider easing your itching naturally by rubbing lamb's ears or garlic chives onto your bites.

Keep in touch with Kristi on Twitter @VeggieConverter

Image: USDAgov

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