The saying, “good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite” can be a scary thought. It gets scarier when you learn that half of the people whose homes are infested with bed bugs don’t even feel their bites and their presence.
Bed bug infestations can force you to throw out your clothes, furniture, and all kinds of other belongings. That is why it is a good idea to stay alert and take matters into your own hands once you notice even the slightest signs of their existence around you.
It’s not fun to move out while pest professionals raid every corner of your home and apply chemicals that take days to dissipate. There are sprays that will save you this entire hassle, or at least reduce the part where you have to contact an external party to help you solve the problem. But picking out the best bed bug spray is not as easy as picking out a deodorant. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of the best bed bug sprays for your home.
- Before Picking a Bed Bug Spray
- Top 10 Best Bed Bug Sprays 2020
- 1. Best Overall Pick: Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer
- 2. Best Premium Pick: Harris Pyrethroid-Resistant Bed Bug Killer
- 3. Best Budget Pick: CimeXa Insecticide Dust
- 4. Best for Hotel Mattresses: Bedlam Plus
- 5. Best Pet-Friendly: EcoRaider Bed Bug Killer
- 6. Best for Large Areas: SteriFab Bed Bug Spray Kit
- 7. Best Pocket-Sized: Travel Hygea Natural Exterminator Spray
- 8. Best for Hardwood Floors: JT Eaton Oil-Based Bed Bug Spray
- 9. Best Eco-Friendly: Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner
- 10. Best Plant-Based: Proof Bed Bug & Dust Mite Killer
- A Complete Guide to Bed Bug Sprays
- Bed Bug Spray FAQ
- How Long Before the Bed Bugs Are Gone?
Before Picking a Bed Bug Spray
You might not be aware your place is infested by bed bugs, as 30 to 60 percent of people show no reaction to the microscopic bites. People who do react show signs of itchiness, small red bumps, or blood blisters. These victims often call pest professionals thinking they’ve been bitten by flies, cockroaches, or other bugs.
Bed bugs are never the first suspects, and by the time you realize they are what is causing your symptoms, it may be too late to stop the spread. They can wait it out too, as they can stay hidden for months on end without a meal.
There are some important characteristics to keep in mind when choosing the best bed bug spray for your circumstances, so let’s discuss the main ones. For a more in-depth look at the following topics, look below for our complete buyer’s guide.
Since bed bugs have developed an immunity to chemicals originally used in sprays such as pyrethrin and pyrethroid, it takes stronger chemicals to take them out. These chemicals are usually called neonicotinoids, and may be listed on the container as Imidacloprid or acetamiprid.
There are also eco-friendly, non-toxic formulas that use clove oil or geranium oil, but they may not be as effective when it comes to larger-scale infestations.
Since these sprays need to extinguish a type of pest that is resistant to many other strong chemicals, none of them will smell like a tray of hot cookies. Be on the lookout for odorless sprays that still use enough chemicals to eradicate those pesky visitors, while not causing your place to smell like a lab accident for hours or even days.
If you have the misfortune of having bed bugs in your own home, you’ll want to go for gallon-sized containers, so size won’t be an issue when storing it. But if you just found out there were bed bugs in the last hotel you’ve stayed at and are on your way to the next one, you may want to consider a TSA-approved sized spray like the Travel Hygea Natural Exterminator Spray.
Contact sprays only kill the bugs that are visible on a surface, but bed bugs hide their eggs and larvae snugly within furniture wood or in the hardly accessible corners of mattresses. In that respect, residual sprays are more effective, but you have to steer away from the sprayed area for longer periods of time.
Length of Effect
Contact sprays make the bugs perish instantly, so it is only a matter of minutes before they are gone if you are able to hit them directly with the spray. Residual sprays have a less intense effect that can last anywhere between a few days to a few months and doesn’t need to be applied as often as the contact spray. This also means the product will last you longer.
We compiled the ten most effective bed bug sprays on the market. We chose different sizes and ingredients because bed bug situations come in many forms, so it is best to have a wide palette of solutions to choose from.
Top 10 Best Bed Bug Sprays 2020
1. Best Overall Pick: Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer
Having to deal with second-generation bed bugs that are immune to many pesticides limits your choices of sprays, which is why the Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer is the best choice. Ortho is a brand that even professionals use for pest control, and this spray will also keep stink bugs, dust mites, fleas, and brown dog ticks out of your home.
The Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer uses powerful chemicals like Imidacloprid and Deltamethrin in its composition, which enables it to kill the uninvited guests within minutes of spraying. This spray is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meaning it is safe enough to be used with kids or pets around, though it is not encouraged. It is not safe for aquatic life, so keep aquariums away.
This spray has a slight odor that can barely be sensed by humans or pets, but nothing noticeable. The spray does not generate dangerous fumes and is therefore not a threat to the environment. We encourage you to clean any fabrics (sheets or clothes) that have been exposed to the spray in the process.
The spray comes in a set of two sizes. If you are traveling, you can take the conveniently-sized 3 oz. bottle with you, as it is TSA-approved. For home usage, you will have plenty of substance in the 18 oz. bottle.
The Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer is named after its dual-effect. The 3-ounce bottle is a contact-killing spray, whereas the bigger container can be used as a spot treatment for mattress seams, suitcases, bed frames, furniture, and carpets. None of the two versions leave stains on linen, clothes, or water-resistant fabrics, as the formula dries fast.
Length of Effect
Spraying your house with chemicals once is not fun, but spraying it more than once would be an even bigger drag. This formula’s residue effect lasts between one and two weeks. Ortho recommends starting off with using the small spray on the infested areas (as the formula in the small container isn’t as long-lasting), and gradually moving to using the residual formula once every two weeks.
The Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer is very affordable. For the lasting and impactful effect it has, not only do you get your money’s worth, but you get two containers, instead of one, at this price.
- Comes in 2 sizes (including travel size)
- Dries fast, doesn't stain
- Long-lasting and fast-acting effect
- Acts against pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs, fleas, and dust mites
- Instructions and information on the packaging aren't clear
- The spray formula is not long-lasting
For a U.S. company that has been delivering effective pest control products since 1922, Harris once again shows no mercy to second-generation bed bugs. It does, however, show mercy on the nostrils, on the fabrics, furniture, and mattresses.
The two main active ingredients in the Harris “Black Label” Bed Bug Killer are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), and a pyrethroid insecticide called deltamethrin. While highly effective, deltamethrin can cause skin irritation, asthma attacks, and if used in high doses, it is neurotoxic to humans. Despite these side effects, the Harris Bed Bug Killer works best in combination with other treatment methods like bed bug traps or encasements. It is safe around children and pets, but not around aquatic life, like fish.
If you live in a place that has limited ventilation or are sensitive to lingering bad odor, the Harris Bed Bug Killer will put your worries to rest with its odorless formula. A few hours after use, there is a very slight smell caused by the chemical combination, but it dissipates very quickly and is virtually nonexistent after that.
This spray comes as both a 32-ounce bottle and a gallon container. While the gallon version also comes with a spray nozzle, it is less versatile to cover certain corners of the house and may require you to first pour some of the liquid in a smaller container. The 32-ounce bottle isn’t light either, but it is easier to keep around and use on bugs at first sight.
This spray kills bed bugs on contact, so it will not impact bugs that are well-hidden within furniture cracks. This implies a little house-detective work on your part, to locate the eggs and spray them directly. Luckily, the Harris Bed Bug Killer won’t leave any stains on fabrics, as the liquid dries after a few minutes.
Length of Effect
Although it is a contact spray, the protective effect can last for up to 16 weeks in which it can kill any bugs that make contact with the area it was sprayed on. After spraying once a day, the treatment should be reduced to a couple or three times a week, and all the way down to one spray per week. The effects will be visible… in that the bugs won’t be visible anymore.
The 32-ounce bottle is priced very fairly. The same goes for the gallon container. You get a lot of liquid for this value, which you can use for both inside and outside surfaces.
- Made in the U.S.
- Safe around pets and children
- Requires some setting up, like pouring the liquid into a smaller container first
- Spray nozzle can be faulty, as it releases too much liquid in one spray
- Not effective on bed bugs or eggs that are hiding in hard-to-spot crevices
3. Best Budget Pick: CimeXa Insecticide Dust
If you are looking for results that last longer than a typical contact spray, consider using CimeXa Insecticide Dust. It kills bed bug adults and bed bug babies by drying out their exoskeleton, thus dehydrating and killing them.
CimeXa is made from 100% natural silica dust. While applying the dust, we recommend using a respirator mask, as large quantities of it can cause irritation. Until the dust settles, children and pets should not be around this solution. Nor should there be any objects around that they might come in contact with, such as toys or carpets.
This insecticide is completely odorless. It also does not leave stains regardless of what surface you use it on.
CimeXa Insecticide Dust is sold as a 4-ounce bottle. Considering 2 ounces is enough to cover a 100 square foot indoor area, there is plenty of dust in those 4 ounces.
This dust does not kill bed bugs on contact. While it can also be mixed with water and sprayed from a hand-pumped container, it is more effective if applied as a dry dust. One way you can apply the dust is through a hand bellow duster, which pumps dust into the cracks and hard-to-get-to places in furniture and mattresses. Another way is applying a little dust on the tip of a paint or a make-up brush and brushing it into those cracks, crevices, and even objects that hang on the walls, like picture frames.
We recommend purchasing the dust only if you know all the hiding spots the bed bugs are living in. Any spot you miss is a place for them to lay more eggs, and you may have to start all over.
Length of Effect
If the dust is kept dry and undisturbed, the residual effect lasts for up to 10 years. This means that the spots you applied the dust on will be death traps for the bugs for the next decade. It doesn’t work on eggs, but be sure you apply it to all the areas where adults and nymphs reside so they won’t lay any new ones.
It is priced like a mid-range spray, but it has four times less in quantity. However, considering that the effect lasts for ten years, the numbers are actually in favor of the CimeXa dust.
- Long residual effect (10 years)
- Can be applied as dust or spray (mixed with water)
- Leaves no stains
- Does not kill eggs
- Can be complicated to prepare and use
- Does not kill bed bugs on contact
- Not safe around children and pets
4. Best for Hotel Mattresses: Bedlam Plus
One of the bed bug removal brands that professionals use is Bedlam. You can now act as your own professional, granted your infestation isn’t critical, with the water-based Bedlam Plus. This spray leaves no stains on mattresses or furniture and is fairly non-toxic for how potent it is.
While the Bedlam Plus is a water-based spray, it acts on a mixture of synergized neonicotinoid and pyrethroid, which is a formula that specifically targets chemical-immune bed bugs. It is advertised as a low-toxic insecticide, but the bed bug mortality rate is 40% when it comes in contact with this spray. Like most bed bug sprays, it is even more effective when it is combined with other pest treatments.
This spray is what is considered odorless on the pesticide market (apart from a slight scent caused by the initial spraying of chemicals, which dissipates quickly). This is also why it doesn’t cause any stains on mattresses, carpets, baseboards, bed frames, box spring, or surrounding furniture. It is safe to use around children and pets and won’t cause any skin irritation if you happen to come in contact with it.
Bedlam Plus is sold as a 17-oz. can of spray, which is able to cover an average-sized room, including furniture, mattresses, and other fabrics. This portable spray is a great option for those that are facing a contained bed bug problem. It is an ideal choice for those who travel and want to use it as a preventive treatment when staying in new places.
This spray gets rid of bed bugs on contact, though its residual killing capability lasts for up to two weeks. It is easy to use out of the box, as you just need to shake it and spray the infested areas in the room. The crevices where they usually hide are corners of furniture, mattress seams, tufts, and folds, and other enclosed spaces, so you don’t need to spray the entire room.
Length of Effect
The residual treatment of this spray lasts for two weeks. So once the spray dries, it will keep repelling bed bugs and their eggs for 14 days after the treatment. Keep inspecting the sprayed areas for progress, and if you encounter bugs that haven’t died yet, you will have to spray again.
A bottle of Bedlam Plus falls in the mid-range category of pesticide prices. It also comes with a straw attachment that snaps easily into place and is ready to use. It is fairly priced, but considering its size, it is only enough for one room. We recommend exploring other options for larger infestations.
- Repels multiple pests like fleas and dust mites
- Easy to use
- Not very effective on its own, works better in combination with other treatments
5. Best Pet-Friendly: EcoRaider Bed Bug Killer
According to the Entomological Society of America, this spray has an impressive 90% mortality rate when sprayed directly on bed bug nymphs.
This non-toxic, eco-friendly, EPA-approved solution is safe to use around pets and kids. Its formula relies on botanical ingredients and contains geraniol, cedar extract, and the synthetic Sodium Lauryl Sulfate found in all effective eco-friendly sprays.
Insecticides usually have a funky smell or are odorless at best. The EcoRaider Bed Bug Killer actually has a pleasant lemongrass scent. Its cedar/eucalyptus odor dissipates quickly, but it is a thoughtful characteristic for the solution application process. Not only does it smell pleasant, but it also leaves no marks on fabrics, furniture, or floors.
The standard size of the bottle is 16 ounces. This makes it perfect for traveling and for spraying in places that are hard to reach. If you know you’ll be needing more appliances and constant refills. It also comes as a gallon jug size.
This spray works upon immediate contact with adult bed bugs, nymphs (young bed bugs), and eggs. It has a long-lasting residual effect, but its immediate impact is what makes this spray a reliable bed bug repellent. For optimal results, consider using it with a mattress cover and bed bug traps.
Length of Effect
Once it has been applied, the EcoRaider Bed Bug Killer has a residual effect of up to two weeks. After the spray dries, it continues to take out any form of bed bugs that come in contact with the spots that have been sprayed.
The 16-ounce bottle comes at a reasonable price. If you are looking to invest in a gallon jug, the price increases exponentially. Consider purchasing it if you are traveling and are looking for an effective preventive treatment on new places you will stay at.
- Eco-friendly and non-toxic
- Residual effect of two weeks
- Does not stain
- Pleasant smell
- Available in two sizes
- Scent may not be pleasant for everyone
6. Best for Large Areas: SteriFab Bed Bug Spray Kit
The SteriFab spray is a potent insecticide and sanitizer that is conveniently sold as two containers. As long as you don’t use it outdoors, this is a very viable option to take care of a bed bug infestation.
While this spray contains ingredients like decanaminium, dimethyl, chloride, alkyl, benzyl, ammonium chloride, and phenothrin, its main ingredient is isopropyl alcohol. In combination with a synthetic pyrethroid.
This mix is not only a great bed bug insecticide but also serves as a bactericide, a sanitizer, germicide, deodorant, and many other functions that are handy to have around the house at all times. This mixture makes it safe to apply on mattresses, furniture, carpets, and fabrics.
The formula used in this mixture is odorless. It does not affect pets or humans that come in contact with it.
Because it comes as a bundle, the SteriFab kit means one gallon of insecticide and 16 ounces of bactericide. You can purchase the two separately, but they deliver the best results when used together.
The SteriFab spray kit kills bed bugs and their eggs on contact. Once you locate the hiding place of the bed bugs, this mixture will kill any trace of their intrusive existence and also disinfect the area.
Length of Effect
This spray dries up within 15 minutes after it has been applied. It has no residual effect thereafter. After 15 minutes, it is completely safe to come into contact with the area that was sprayed.
For the quantity of insecticide you get, the SteriFab kit is priced very fairly. You can refill the 16-ounce bottle however many times you need to, out of the gallon jug, and you can easily travel with it, as the size is TSA-approved. It also doesn’t need any additional preparation before usage, except for shaking it thoroughly beforehand.
- Does not leave stains
- Safe around children and pets
- Serves as more than just an insecticide
- Not suitable for outdoor usage
- No residual effect
7. Best Pocket-Sized: Travel Hygea Natural Exterminator Spray
For those that want to take precautionary measures before embarking on a trip, this travel-size spray will put your mind at ease. It is non-toxic and odorless, which makes it a great traveling companion.
The main active ingredient in this bed bug spray is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is used in all non-toxic insecticide options. Other ingredients include Sodium Chloride and Citric Acid. All in all, this is a safe product to use around pets and children.
The Hygea Natural Exterminator Spray is odorless. Once you spray it, you don’t have to worry about any unpleasantly smelling toxins polluting the air around you, even if ventilation around you is limited.
This spray is one of the most preferred travel-sized bed bug sprays. It is sold in a 3-ounce bottle, with a small spray nozzle that won’t break easily. It is TSA-approved and can travel with you in your hand luggage, no problem.
Contact or Residue
The spray kills bed bugs on contact. Even if the quantity is small, the solution inside is powerful enough to take out bed bugs instantly.
Length of Effect
The Hygea Natural Exterminator Spray does not leave a residue effect. It can be safely applied on mattresses, fabrics, and anywhere bed bugs may hide once you arrive in your new room. We recommend spraying your luggage when you leave, to prevent bed bugs from being your future travel companions.
For the small quantity, the Hygea Natural Exterminator Spray will cost you a pretty buck. A bonus is that the spray nozzle comes with a protective plastic cap, so it doesn’t get accidentally pressed on inside your luggage.
- Effective on contact
- Not cheap
- Liquid comes out in the form of mist, which dissipates quickly even on contact
8. Best for Hardwood Floors: JT Eaton Oil-Based Bed Bug Spray
For more severe infestations, JT Eaton offers an oil-based formula that is sure to get rid of bed bugs in large quantities. The solution will creep up on them in their most hard-to-get-to hiding places.
This oil-based bed bug spray uses natural pyrethrum as its main active ingredient. Pyrethrins are extracted from chrysanthemum flowers and the ingredient itself is a potent enemy against bed bugs. The formula also includes a repellent called piperonyl butoxide that fools the bed bugs into getting out of their hiding spots and coming into contact with the pyrethrum.
The JT Eaton Oil-based Bed Bug Spray has a certain unpleasant odor that evaporates quickly after use. This is common for formulas that are mostly oil-based and include synthetic chemicals.
This spray is sold as quart-sized or gallon-sized. The quart-sized bottle is good for spraying on spots that are infested, while the gallon-sized jug will keep your 32-ounce bottle refilled, in case the infestation doesn’t go away after the first treatment.
The JT Eaton Oil-Based Bed Bug Spray is a contact insecticide. Although this formula contains many strong chemicals, it leaves a minimum of oily residue behind, which disappears in 24 to 30 hours. Ideally, you can use it on anything wooden, such as bed frames, floors, moldings, and baseboards. These are the places with the most joints and cracks where bed bugs like to hide, but be careful, as the oils may cause these areas to be slippery while the solution is still present.
Length of Effect
Once sprayed, the effects last for 24 hours. Spraying a little every day for the first week and then gradually reducing the sprays to 2 or 3 times a week should show quick results, as this insecticide is really strong and effective in the long run as well.
Both the gallon-sized and the quart-sized jugs are priced just below what is considered standard for bug sprays. Not only is this a mid-to-low range high-performance insecticide, but it also comes with a one-year limited warranty in case it proves to be unsuccessful in your situation.
- Effective formula
- Doesn't require additional preparation before use
- Recommended for large infestations
- Suitable for cars
- Unpleasant odor
- Length of effect isn't very long
- Leaves some residue on the sprayed spots
- Unsafe for mattresses and fabrics
9. Best Eco-Friendly: Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner
Harsh chemicals can and should be a cause for concern for anyone. But the Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner puts those worries aside and relies on an all-organic formula to stop bed bugs from forming colonies.
The Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner uses a mostly non-toxic, natural oil formula that includes geranium oil, distilled water, citric acid, and ethyl lactante. It does feature one synthetic chemical (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, also known as SLS) which is a cleansing agent and is even found in shampoos, so it isn’t a toxic chemical. Not only are bed bugs eliminated when they come in contact with this formula, but it keeps the sprayed area clear of other bed bugs too. Pets and children are safe around this pesticide.
Because the spray contains plant oils, the Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner does have a slight odor. It won’t bother your nose too much, but it is a good idea to air out the space after usage.
The spray comes in a 16 oz. bottle. For larger spaces, it can also be purchased as a gallon size jug.
The spray works on direct contact. It kills eggs or adult bed bugs and does not cause any stains when applied on mattresses, sheets, covers, or carpet. Due to its all-organic formula, it will not irritate your skin if you are exposed to it. However, an all-organic formula may not be as effective if you have a serious infestation, in which case it will work better along with other pest control methods.
The spray nozzles on both the 16-ounce and gallon containers have a wide spraying zone. So if you don’t know for sure where your bed bug problem may hide, the Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner will cover large areas for a thorough result.
Length of Effect
Spraying your place on a daily basis for two weeks will get rid of the bed bug problem. Eco-friendly repellents such as this one don’t emanate toxic fumes, so it is safe to be around it while it works its magic. The spray works by killing bugs – at any stage – upon impact. In some cases, it might be necessary to apply it more than once over the course of some weeks, as all-natural formulas aren’t as heavy-duty as sprays that use more synthetic chemicals.
The Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner isn’t for everyone’s budget. Since it is the most effective out of all the eco-friendly formulas, it will cost you a pretty penny. However, you also get a 60-day money-back guarantee for that value, which is plenty of time to figure out if it can do the job for you or if you will need something stronger.
- Water-based, all-natural formula
- Kills upon impact
- Made in the U.S.
- Comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee
- Not cheap
- Has a slightly unpleasant odor due to the oil combination
- May not work for very serious infestations
10. Best Plant-Based: Proof Bed Bug & Dust Mite Killer
Although this spray serves more like a repellent than a bed bug killer, it is a very effective one at that. It is among the most eco-friendly sprays on our list due to its main active ingredient: neem oil.
The Bed Bug Spray by Proof is EPA-approved, and it works based on a natural pesticide called neem oil. The main active ingredient is azadirachtin, which is found in neem oil. This component disrupts the mating of bed bugs by serving as a hormone they are naturally drawn to, but that doesn’t provide nutrition and drains them.
Although it appears in the Directory of Least-Toxic Pest Control Products, applying it will require opening the windows or a fumigation mask. It is environmentally-friendly and safe for children and pets, but as is the case with all insecticides, steer away from it if you can.
Given that it is based on natural ingredients, the combination of oils does give off a certain unpleasant smell. But you only have to worry about it until it dries off, which happens fairly quickly.
The Proof Bed Bug Spray is most popularly sold as a 16-ounce bottle. There is also a 3-ounce bottle if you know you’re headed somewhere new for a very short period of time and need to slip it in your carry-on baggage. Both versions are travel-friendly.
This spray gets rid of bugs on contact. It doesn’t require any additional preparation before usage. The spray nozzle is very durable, so all you have to do when you see a bed bug is spritz it, just like you would a bottle of Windex.
Length of Effect
The residual effect of applying the Proof Bed Bug Spray lasts between one and two weeks. Your best bet is to be vigilant and spray the bed bugs as they appear, so that they may be affected on contact.
The spray comes at a very affordable price. Moreover, a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is offered with each bottle, along with a refund policy of 30 days after purchase. The refund policy is also easier to work around in comparison to other companies.
- 30-day refund policy
- Unpleasant smell
- More a repellent than a bug killer
- The residual effect does not last long
A Complete Guide to Bed Bug Sprays
There is no better treatment for a bed bug infestation than calling a pest control professional. But that implies a much bigger hassle than you could go through by taking matters into your own hands before the situation truly gets out of hand. The first step is determining if you actually do have a bed bug problem.
Signs You Have Bed Bugs
It is impossible to spot the first group of bed bugs that enter your home. If you are experiencing their presence for the first time, there are certain signs to look for that will confirm you are dealing with bed bugs and not any other pest. Let’s do a little recap of what signs to look for:
Itchy Red Spots
It is actually better if you notice red spots on your skin, because you’ll be aware of the problem right away. Many people don’t show any physical reactions to bed bug bites, so it may take them longer to find out their blood serves as dinner for these uninvited guests.
Bites That Form a Line
What sets bed bug bites apart from other bites is the pattern. Usually, bed bug bites form a line, or multiple lines, wherever they may appear on your body.
Blood Stains on Sheets
Because bed bugs usually feed during the night, you might see just how much they fed off you in the morning. Bed bugs are usually drawn by humidity, such as when you sweat in your sleep. If you toss and turn while they are feeding, you might squash them during the night and see the bloodstains on your pillow and sheets in the morning.
Dark Spots on the Mattresses
If your mattress or bed sheets have dark or rusty-colored spots on them, we hate to gross you out, but they are smeared fecal matter that the bed bugs produce. There is also an unpleasant odor that goes with the spots, of course. Sometimes, you might even see the dead bed bugs around these dark spots.
Bed Bug Shells
As they grow, bed bugs shed their skin and leave their shells behind. These husky white shells are usually found on wood or fabric, such as the dimples of your sofa cushions or in the joints of your furniture.
Bed Bug Eggs
If you find even smaller white spots than the bed bug shells, those are their eggs. Bed bugs lay them in the most inaccessible crevices of furniture and cushions, so you will need a flashlight and a good eye to trace the eggs. They may be easier to see using a black light.
Be Careful Where You Go and What You Bring in Your Home
Contrary to popular belief that bed bugs indicate unclean living conditions, bed bugs can spread from one house to another. If you recently visited a place that may have had old furniture or simply another place that was infested with bed bugs, unbeknownst to you, there is a high risk you brought them with you. Another common cause is purchasing second-hand furniture, second-hand mattresses, or bringing in one of the two off the street, thinking what your neighbors took out of their home is a great find.
Picking the Best Bed Bug Sprays
Sprays are very effective if you know how and where to apply them. There are different sprays for different bed bug situations, so we based our choices on the most important criteria to help you find the one best suited for what you are facing.
All the sprays on our list are EPA-registered, which means they are effective and safe to use by consumers who are not pest control professionals.
The most effective sprays use pyrethrins or pyrethroid, both of which are powerful chemicals that affect the nervous systems of bugs and kill them. Sprays like Bedlam Plus and JT Eaton Oil-Based Bed Bug Spray successfully use one of these two ingredients in their formula, along with other strong insecticides.
If the level of toxicity is a concern, you can opt for a low-toxic solution like the SteriFab Bed Bug Spray Kit, or even all-natural sprays like Eco Defense Bed Bug Cleaner and EcoRaider Bed Bug Killer.
These eco-friendly solutions rely mostly on a non-toxic cleansing agent Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and natural oils, while the Proof Bed Bug & Dust Mite Killer relies on Neem oil, which is highly effective against bed bugs on its own.
Some second-generation bed bugs developed immunity towards pyrethrins, so they won’t go down as easy. Luckily, such sprays as the Ortho Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer and the Harris Pyrethroid-resistant Bed Bug Killer use even stronger chemicals named neonicotinoids, like Imidacloprid.
The best bed bug sprays are low on odor and high on extermination potency. All-natural sprays tend to leave a slightly unpleasant odor due to the mixture of oils that is used. An exception being the EcoRaider Bed Bug Killer, which has a lemony scent. Opt for the odorless sprays on our list if ventilation is an issue for you, or you know children or pets come in contact often with the spots that have been sprayed.
If you are routinely traveling to new places, opt for travel-sized sprays. Most of the sprays on our list also come in TSA-approved sizes, whether you stick it in your carry-on luggage or in the cabin suitcase. If your infestation happened in your house or at your workplace, consider purchasing the sprays that are offered in big sizes, like the gallon jug sized ones. These won’t give you the feeling that you are running out of liquid and still aren’t seeing results, as treatments need to be done regularly to finally pay off.
You might associate bug spray effects with what you see in commercials, where the cartoon cockroach crosses its eyes and dramatically folds over once it is spritzed. Most bed bug sprays aren’t that quick and the treatment may require more than one spray. Some sprays paralyze bugs on contact, while others need to be soaked deep into the spots you know the bed bugs are hiding in, and will take a while killing them off gradually
Contact sprays are usually effective on bugs that you see on the surface, so if your infestation isn’t serious yet and they’re just beginning to be your roommates, these sprays will put your mind at ease. If bed bugs have been lingering around your living space for a while, you need something with a longer-lasting effect that slowly affects their life cycles and also takes out their eggs, nymphs (baby bed bugs), and larvae.
Residual sprays are more effective at killing entire colonies of bed bugs, although we advise you to only use them if you and your loved ones can stay away from the rooms that you apply them in.
Length of Effect
If you use contact sprays, they take out bed bugs instantly or within minutes. But this requires you to use the spray every time one turns up, which might end up affecting the air around you after too many sprays. Usually, you can’t find every single bed bug in your house, so most of them will go into hiding once they sense a spot has been sprayed with a contact spray. Residual sprays will take anywhere from days to months to work, which allows you longer wait periods between applications.
The best way to compare the cost of a bed bug spray is per ounce, and to take into consideration how much you will really need. If you are traveling, it might be worth investing a little bit more in a high-end travel-sized spray with a high concentration of active ingredients. If you are staying in the infested place for a longer period of time, consider a gallon size jug and its smaller version as a spray recipient, or use one of your own if you have it. Any empty Windex recipient will work.
Bed Bug Spray FAQ
Where Do I Apply Bed Bug Spray?
Watch this video to hear a pest control professional describe the behavior and preferred hiding places of bed bugs.
Bed bugs work night shifts, so by the time you’re looking for them, they’re already in hiding. Here are some of their preferred hiding spots:
- Bedsheets and linens
- Bed frames and pipings
- Furniture joints
- Corners of the room, such as where ceiling and wall meet
- Luggage from a recent trip
- Wooden floors
- Door and window frames
- Behind frames on walls
- Power outlets
- Drawers in wooden cabinets
- Upholstery on sofas and armchairs
Look for any signs of eggs in the crevices of these places, especially in the folds and tufts of mattresses, due to the heat they sense when you break the tiniest sweat while sleeping. For them, that means lunch is ready.
Before applying a bed bug spray to any of these places, make sure the spray is safe for the respective surface. The label will tell you if it is suitable for fabric or furniture. Sprays that are safe to use on furniture also work on cars. Natural bed bug sprays are safe to use on any surface, although some of the oil combinations can leave a minor residue, which dissipates fairly quickly.
How Do I Apply Bed Bug Spray?
There are certain precautions to take before spraying spots in your room or house. Here are the most important steps to take before, during, and after spraying:
- Remove all the infested fabrics and bedding. Put them in a plastic bag and dump them in a tumble dryer. Set the dryer at its highest temperature for at least half an hour, since extreme heat also kills bed bugs.
- Open your windows, if there are any in the room.
- Shake the spray bottle well, so the chemicals are agitated and ready to act.
- Start spraying meticulously in all cracks and crevices you can reach, with extra emphasis around the bed (that’s the item that even makes up half of their name). Make sure to spray evenly in all places. If you are using an aerosol spray, hold the nozzle directly on the area you want to spray.
- Let the spray dry on every sprayed area and don’t touch them until they do.
How Long Before the Bed Bugs Are Gone?
There is no exact period of time in which you can expect your problem to be over. It all depends on the level of infestation. The bigger it is, the longer it will take. Some sprays even have a residue effect for up to a year, but those are usually meant for very large spaces.
It is recommended you use the spray a few times on contact. Don’t get your hopes up for a single use of the bottle. Some sprays only paralyze the bed bugs at first, so they’ll need a few more hits to be killed.