Best Bed Bug Sprays 2019 - ReviewThis
They’re creepy and they’re crawly… and a sure-fire way to know they’ve taken up residence in your home is if you wake up covered with itchy, red bites.
We’re talking, of course, of bed bugs. And these creepy pests are becoming more and more of a national epidemic for several reasons: our increased travel, lack of education on how to prevent infestations, and their growing resistance to traditional pesticides and other methods of eradicating them.
But never fear: We've compiled a list of the best bed bug sprays and other options, so you can get those unwelcome visitors out of your house, and enjoy a peaceful, itch-free sleep once again.
No sprays. No dusty powders. No chemicals, natural or otherwise. This innovative electric item works to kill bed bugs that infest your stuff, like bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, luggage, rugs, small pieces of furniture (it can hold a dining-room chair!) and more. How does it work? Open up the soft-sided, collapsible unit, plug it in (it requires two outlets on two separate circuits; there’s a 25-foot exensions cord included), and fill the 22-cubic-feet interior with the items you want to treat. The internal temperature ranges from 120˚F to 155˚F, hot enough to kill 100 percent of the bed bugs (adults and larvae) and eggs that are on the items inside. The unit comes with a timer that automatically shuts off the unit after the cycle (recommended cycles are 4 to 8 hours depending on load, although bugs start dying within an hour of being at 120˚F), and a wireless digital thermometer so you can check that the temperature has gotten above the needed 120˚F to be effective.
It’s the ideal solution to treat suitcases when you return from a trip where you might’ve stayed in a bed bug-infested hotel, or to safely treat kids’ toys and stuffed animals that would be unsafe to treat with chemicals. The one thing this unit can’t do, obviously, is to treat larger items like mattresses and sofas, or household surfaces like floors and walls. But for spot-treating items that are infested, it is a 100 percent effective solution, albeit an expensive one. By the way, the company also makes smaller units, as well as a giant unit big enough to put around a sofa or a mattress.
- Electric oven heats household items to a temperature that kills all bugs and eggs
- Nontoxic and safe: no chemicals or other spray/powder substances used
- Designed to be used on small pieces of furniture, bedding, clothing, stuffed animals
- Capacity of 22 cubic feet
- Product Form: Electronic Heating Unit
- Size: 39" x 39" x 27"
- Active Ingredients: Heat
- Effectiveness Time: 4 to 8 hours
- Manufacturer: BuggZapp
- Effectively kills bugs in luggage, bedding, and smaller furniture
- Completely nontoxic
- Easy to use
- Uses a lot of power: needs outlets on two separate circuits
- Very expensive
- Only used for treating bedding and items, not household surfaces or large furniture
With the PestReject Pest Repeller system, you get enough plug-in units to cover your entire house— six in all. That’s good, since each unit will only work in a single room, albeit a big one: the range is up to 1,600 square feet, but it can’t work through walls. The company recommends that the units be plugged in at a height of between 10 and 40 inches from the floor, which won’t be an issue in most home where standard outlet height is 12 to 16 inches above the floor. The units have a sleek appearance and a soft blue glow, so they double nicely as a night-light.
It’s important to know that the PestReject, like other plug-in units, emits high-pitched noises that negatively affect the senses and nervous system of insects and other vermin, and drives them from the space. These noises are at a frequency that can’t be heard by humans, dogs, cats, birds or other pets (although since it’s effective on repelling mice and rats from the house, it’s probably not a good solution for you if you have a pet hamster or gerbil!). It is not as fast-acting or as effective in actually killing bugs as liquid and chemical treatments.
In that respect, for a serious infestation, you might want to first treat with a powder or spray pest control method, and then use PestReject plug-ins to continue to repel the insects and keep your home pest-free. But, if you are concerned about introducing chemicals into your home, this set of PestReject pest repellers could be a nontoxic and safe solution.
- Plug-in pest repeller
- Works on multiple types of pests, including mosquitos, fleas, ants, rodents, and roaches
- Designed to last for years
- Comes with 6 units for whole-house coverage
- Product Form: Electronic ultrasonic device
- Size: 6.2" x 5.1" x 2.6'
- Active Ingredients: Ultrasonic
- Effectiveness Time: 2 to 3 weeks
- Manufacturer: PestReject
- Company will refund or replace if it doesn't work
- Chemical-free and odorless solution
- Easy to use: just plug in
- Comes with enough units for the whole house
- Lasts for years
- Ideally needs to be installed 10 to 40 inches from floor
- Better for prevention: doesn't kill bed bugs, just repels them
For a particularly bad infestation, sometimes only a powerful chemical cocktail will do to get your home bug-free. This option from Bedlam is one of the most highly rated sprays on the market, and it’s a product that many pest control professionals use in their own arsenal.
So it should come as no surprise that many happy (and itch-free!) customers report that this aerosol spray worked when other treatments failed. The company’s formula is a combination of chemicals that act to disrupt insects’ nervous systems, targeting both living bugs, their eggs, and continuing to work for weeks to come as insects encounter the residue from the initial application.
When sprayed, the substance foams up, which gives you better control and coverage. It can be used on mattresses, carpeting, and hard surfaces throughout the house. Because the chemicals can be harmful to humans and animals, the company recommends that everyone leaves the house while it’s being treated, and that the spray dries completely before the house is occupied again. The dry residue will continue to kill bed bugs for as long as 16 weeks after the initial treatment. While many people are concerned about using powerful chemicals in their home, this spray is an effective way to eradicate bed bugs when you’ve run out of all other options. Just make sure to ventilate your home well during treatment, and the fumes should dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the confidence that you’ll be able to sleep in peace.
- Effective on lice and dust mites, clothes moths, and carpet beetles
- Kills both bed bugs and their eggs
- Chemical-based spray that works on resistant-strain bed bugs
- Kills on contact and residue continues to work for up to 16 weeks
- Product Form: Aerosol Spray
- Size: 17 oz.
- Active Ingredients: phenoxybenzyl, cyclopropanecarboxylate, n-Octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide
- Effectiveness Time: 4 hours
- Manufacturer: MGK
- Continues to work after initial application
- Will not stain water-safe surfaces and fabrics
- Works even on pyrethroid-resistant bugs
- Prolonged contact to skin might cause irritation
- Aerosol cans are not good for the environment
- Has a strong chemical odor
MDXconcepts has developed a product aimed to offer a nontoxic alternative to bed bug sprays containing pyrethroids, toxic chemicals that can affect our respiratory system and our breathing system, and which can persist in our indoor environment for weeks to come.
The company’s Bed Bug Spray is as natural as it gets: the formula is made of vinegar, peppermint oil, and spearmint oil, ingredients that smell great but are fatal to bed bugs. To use, shake the bottle well, and spray areas where you’ve seen bed bug activity or where they’re likely to hide, such as around the edges of your mattress, in carpets, and in crevices or along baseboards and electrical outlets. The spray has a double benefit: the vinegar is a natural repellant, while the oils in the spearmint and peppermint will kill eggs, nymphs, and adult bugs on contact. The company even recommends you pour a little Bed Bug Spray into a small bottle that you can take with you on the go, ideal for spraying down movie theatre seats or treating an unfamiliar hotel room before tucking in for the night. The 16-ounce bottle will last for quite some time, even with generous dousing of the affected areas throughout your house.
Unlike chemical sprays, this is one spray that has a pleasant smell, it doesn’t spray, and users report that they’ve had success within a day of the initial application. If you’re a believer in the power of essential oils and natural ingredients, this one’s for you.
- Eliminates bed bugs in all stages of life: eggs, nymphs, adults
- Made of all natural ingredients
- Child and pet safe
- Product Form: Liquid spray
- Size: 16 fl. oz.
- Active Ingredients: Vinegar, peppermint oil, spearmint oil
- Effectiveness Time: Kills on contact
- Manufacturer: MDXconcepts
- Made of nontoxic natural ingredients, safe for kids and pets
- Kills bugs at all stages of life, from eggs to adults
- Can be sprayed directly on bedding
- Made in the USA
- Bugs returning after a period of time
Field tested in public housing environments by entomologists, this bed bug spray was put through its paces before going out on the market. It also has another feather in its cap: The Journal of Economic Entomology has declared this spray is the only natural product to kill 100 percent of bed bugs, and is also effective in killing its eggs. This was in a test of two professional pesticides and 10 natural products, and its performance was similar to the top professional pesticides, but safe to use in sensitive environments, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and public housing complexes.
What’s the secret? A blend of botanical ingredients target neuron receptors that are only present in invertebrates like bed bugs. This means the spray will have absolutely no detrimental effect on humans, pets, or other vertebrates.
For the best results, the company recommends a three-step process: strip the bed of all linens and run them in the dryer at the highest possible heat for at least half an hour. In the meantime, generously spray EcoRaider Bed Bug Spray around the bed frame, mattress seams, box spring, and all nooks and crannies in your mattress and bed frame. Then spray other areas, such as other furniture in the bedroom, baseboards, moldings, and cracks in the floors and walls. Within an hour, as many as 90 percent of the bed bugs in the area will be dead, and the dry residue of the spray will continue to perform for as long as two weeks, after which another treatment might be necessary. But we’re betting that with the research and testing that went into this product, a second treatment will likely be unnecessary.
- Entymology journal says this spray is the only one to kill bugs 100 percent effectively
- Kills bugs at all stages of life
- Effective even on strains of bugs resistant to other treatments
- Botanical based neuron receptor
- Product Form: Liquid spray
- Size: 16 fl. oz.
- Active Ingredients: Botanical ingredients
- Effectiveness Time: 1 hour
- Manufacturer: Reneotech, Inc.
- Has no negative effect on humans and other vertebrates
- Kills on contact, and dry residue continues to kill bugs
- Multiple treatments might be necessary; results only last about 2 weeks
If you are wary of chemical sprays, powders, and baits because you have kids or pets, or maybe just don’t want those potentially toxic materials in your home, the Ultrasonic Pest Repeller might be a good option for you. Plug this little device into the wall and it sends out electromagnetic and ultrasonic waves that will drive the bugs away for good, since it disturbs their central nervous system. Measuring about 2.5 by 4 inches, the device simply lives in your outlet, and emits a light that changes color when it detects movement near it (yes, even the movements of the people and pets who live in the house).
This plug-in technology doesn’t just work on bed bugs: The company claims it’s also effective for vanquishing fleas, mosquitos, roaches, and even rodents. Although the coverage range is up to 1600 square feet, the company recommends having one device for every room, and that it might take a few weeks before you start seeing a decrease in insect activity. And it’s important to note that the Ultrasonic Pest Repeller, true to its name, doesn’t actually kill the bugs, but it repels them and hopefully will keep them from ever returning. But who cares, if it does the trick? In the meantime, though, you can breathe easy knowing there aren’t any toxic chemicals in the air.
- Electric, ultrasonic and electromagnetic repellant
- Noiseless, nontoxic, and eco-friendly
- Covers a space up to 1600 square feet
- Product Form: Electrical Device
- Size: 2.5" 4.1"
- Active Ingredients: Electromagnetic and ultrasonic
- Effectiveness Time: 3 to 4 weeks
- Manufacturer: Brison
- Money back guarantee if it doesn't work
- No need to replace or refill
- A nontoxic and chemical-free alternative to sprays and powders
- Does not kill bugs, but repels them
When President Calvin Coolidge discovered water bugs and roaches in his White House, he called on Harris, then only 2 years in business, to eradicate them. With this illustrious start, Harris is the older EPA-registered company. And it’s still going strong today. The company’s Toughest Bed Bug Spray is a chemical-derived spray that’s been developed to be resistant even to the strains of bed bugs that have evolved to be resistant to pyrethroid pesticide chemicals. This one-gallon package comes with a spray nozzle on a long hose, so it’s easy to spray into corners, crevices, and under furniture. The company recommends stripping bedding and drying it on high heat for 30 minutes, and vacuuming the entire house, then spraying mattresses and bed frames until they’re damp, and spraying other . Allow them to dry completely before making up the bed. While the company doesn’t make any claims to how quickly the spray works, it does say that the dried spray residue will continue to decrease bug populations for up to 4 months.
The one drawback? Customers complain that the spray bottle, an extendable hose with a spray nozzle, is badly designed. If you don’t remember to turn the nozzle to the closed position, the liquid can siphon off and leak. And other users complained that while in use, the sprayer didn’t always work, or it leaked badly. Hopefully the company will address these issues with a redesigned bottle, because the chemicals used to produce it have left many customers satisfied and bed bug-free.
- EPA-approved for use in homes with people and pets
- Effective on pyrethroid-resistant bugs
- Continues to kill for as long as 16 weeks after application
- Kills both bugs and eggs
- Product Form: Liquid spray
- Size: 1 gallon
- Active Ingredients: Imidacloprid, n-Octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide, d-Phenothrin
- Effectiveness Time: Within minutes of contact
- Manufacturer: Harris
- Long lasting - claims to kill for as long as 16 weeks after application
- Odorless and non-staining
- Might need to be combined with another treatment, such as powder, for more effectiveness
- Spray design has some flaws
If you have trouble sleeping because of the ever-present fear of bugs crawling up onto your bed and biting you, the Bug Snarer Bed Bug Traps will let you rest easier. The plastic devices fit under each let of your bed frame, and will prevent bugs from crawling up them. The exterior is ridged, almost like tiny stairs, so bugs can easily make their way up to the top, where they then fall into the moat around the legs, where an ultra-polished, super-slick surface makes it impossible for them to climb back out.
This solution is an ideal chemical-free option if you’ve got small kids (the traps can even fit under cribs or toddler beds), and they take moments to install. Most satisfying of all, you can periodically check the trap to see how many bugs you’ve caught (then vacuum them out or dump them into a bag, seal, and throw away. Some customers even report that the traps have caught fleas. However, as effective as it may be in catching bugs that are trying to get onto your bed and furniture, it’s important to understand it is not a whole-house treatment like sprays and powders are. And, if there are bugs already in your mattress, box spring, or bed frame, you’ll need to first treat these items with another method, such as a dust or spray. Don’t forget to also wash and dry your bedding at high heat, and make sure that the bedding doesn’t come in contact with the floor to offer another way for the critters to climb up onto your bed.
- Traps designed to fit under the feet of furniture to prevent bugs from climbing
- No chemicals - bugs are trapped inside and can't climb the smooth, polished surface
- Twelve-pack comes with enough to use for 3 beds or sofas
- Product Form: Plastic trap
- Size: 3" x 3"
- Active Ingredients: Physical trap
- Effectiveness Time: Unknown
- Manufacturer: Bug Snarer
- You can see the bugs you caught to know if it's effective
- Good nontoxic solution if you have kids/pets
- Not a good solution for serious infestations: only kills bugs that get trapped
This little bottle of insecticidal dust may be small, but it’s mighty. The engineered silica dust works much like diatomaceous earth, acting as a desiccant to dry out the insects’ exoskeleton. While it only works on living bugs and their nymphs (the larval stage of a bed bug), if the eggs have been dusted with Cimexa, the hatching nymphs will also meet their end.
The dust is packaged in a bottle with a pointed nozzle which is designed to be used as a puffer to blow the dust into cracks and crevices, such as into the cracks between floorboards and baseboards, in the gap behind electrical outlet plates, and other tiny areas where the bugs might lurk. Best of all, the dust will continue to work for years to come if it’s not disturbed or exposed to water. It’s designed to be resistant to humidity except in the most extreme situations. And it can also be an effective way to manage other insects, since it will work on any invertabrate: fleas, ticks, lice, roaches, silverfish and even termites will be affected.
For those concerned about the environment, this mineral-based substance is low in toxicity and is even a recommended product for green pest control services. The only downside: the bottle only comes with 4 ounces of powder (it’s packaged in a larger-sized bottle so it can be used as a duster). The company recommends 2 ounces of dust for every 100 square feet, so you’ll probably need to invest in several bottles.
- Insecticide dust works on adults and nymphs
- Odorless and non-staining
- Could be effective for as long as 10 years as long as its undisturbed
- Can also be mixed with water to use as a spray
- Size: 4 oz.
- Active Ingredients: Engineered silica
- Effectiveness Time: Several hours
- Manufacturer: Rockwell Labs Ltd.
- Will continue for up to 10 years, if the powder is left undisturbed, such as in cracks or under furniture
- Mineral-based and nontoxic
- Bottle is designed to be used as a puffer to treat cracks and crevices
- Does not work on eggs
- Package is very small
Diatomaceous earth has long been known as a wonder substance to kill just about anything with an exskeleton, whether it’s fleas, ants, roaches, or, yes, bed bugs. This generous, 4-pound package from Harris is a good option if you’ve got a serious infestation and need something that truly works. The nontoxic material is actually derived from fossilized sea creatures, whose bodies were made of silicon dioxide. Crushed into a fine powder, it acts as a dessicant to the bugs’ shell, drying it up and dehydrating them until they die. Because it’s a physical bug killer, rather than a chemical one, bugs are not resistant to it as they’ve come to be to so many of the chemical products on the market.
Diatomaceous earth has no odor, and is nontoxic to pets and people, although application is tricky because if you breathe the dust, it is not good for your respiratory system. It’s recommended you wear goggles and a dust mask, and clear the area of any kids or pets until the dust has settled. The bag from Harris even comes with a little duster tool, perfect for puffing the powder under beds, into crevices, and other hard-to-reach areas. While it takes a few days to see results, this is a highly effective product and as long as the dust does not get wet, it’ll continue to affect bugs. Furthermore, you can spread it as a barrier around your house; the bugs cannot cross it without becoming affected.
- Odorless and non-staining
- Comes with a powder duster tool
- Continues to kill for weeks
- Registered with the EPA
- Size: 4 lbs.
- Active Ingredients: Diatomaceous Earth
- Effectiveness Time: 48 hours
- Manufacturer: Harris
- Good for getting into cracks and crevices
- Comes with a duster tool for a very thorough application
- Works quickly and lasts a long time
- Effective on resistant bed bugs
- Can be messy to use and leaves a powdery residue
So, aside from those itchy bites, how can you tell if you have bed bugs? There are a few telltale signs:
- Dark spots or rusty stains on your bedding (this could be bug excrement or the mark left when a bug is squished—yuck!)
- Spots around electrical outlets, molding, or the underside of mattresses
- The bugs themselves, which are reddish brown and no bigger than an apple seed
There are many companies that specialize in professional bed bug removal, but it’ll cost you. And with numerous products on the market that will do this very thing, it can save you a bundle by trying it first on your own. A good-quality bed bug spray or chemical treatment can rid your home of these pests within a matter of minutes. There are many bed bug treatments on the market, from chemical-based ones that will kill within minutes, to plant-based versions that are a little less toxic. Bed bug treatments come in powder form, sprays, even plug-in devices that send out sonic waves to repel the little buggers.
But once you’ve eradicated them, the battle is not over. Be sure to read up on the many ways you can make sure bed bugs are completely out of your life, and how to keep them from coming back. For instance:
- Infested bedding or clothing can be bagged in plastic and put in a freezer for at least 4 days to kill bugs and eggs
- Use a steam cleaner to hit up your baseboards and hardwood floors, to kill bugs with the heat
- Don’t buy secondhand furniture or textiles where bed bugs might hitch a ride into your home
- Put blockers under the feet of your beds and other furniture; these coaster-like devices will prevent bugs from crawling up into your mattress
- Vacuum frequently to suck up any stray bedbugs that find their way into your home.
- Check sources like the Bed Bug Registry before you travel to make sure you don’t stay in an infested hotel
Read on for our picks for the top bed bug sprays and substances on the market so that if you’re ever the victim of this unpleasant infestation, you’ll know just what to buy.
Q: How long does bug spray last?
Depending on the type of bug spray you’re using, the expiration date could be as little as a year and as much as three years. DEET is likely the most reliable form of insect repellent. It’s particularly effective for long periods of time, which is why the government doesn’t require an expiration date. But most manufacturers suggest disposing of it after about three years.
Most insect repellents have a shelf life of about three years, but manufacturers encourage consumers to dispose of these repellants after two years. Since insect repellent ingredients vary, be sure to read the label to get a better feel for expiration date.
Q: What kind of risks are associated with the use of DEET?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified DEET as non-carcinogenic for humans and animals. That essentially means that there’s not a substantial amount of evidence linking cancer to humans or animals. Originally developed to protect the US Army in bug-infested areas. DEET is often confused with DDT, which is toxic to humans and was ultimately banned.
Substantial environmental risks have been linked to the use of DEET. Since so many people use this product, it can currently be found in waste water and soil. And DEET is lethal to fish in high doses.
Q: Do natural insect repellents work?
While natural insect repellents have been found to be useful alternatives to DEET and picaridin, they generally last for a much shorter amount of time. Oils like lemon eucalyptus have proven to be effective as insect repellents but their effectiveness fades after about an hour. The CDC recommends this particular oil as an alternative to DEET. Other natural repellents like soy-based products have been found to be more effective than oils, offering protection for more than 90 minutes. But they’re still not quite as reliable as DEET or picaridin. However, the risks of using products that can substantial amounts of DEET may be high enough to consider a product that requires more consistent applications.
Q: Is picaridin toxic to humans?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, picaridin is slightly toxic to humans. Based on research that was conducted on mice and rats, picaridin is not considered to be carcinogenic. But it did point to changes to the skin. In one study, rats and mice saw thickening skin, and dark spots after substantial exposure to picaridin. Picaridin, like DEET, has been found in wastewater and soil. But researchers don’t think it’s likely to end up in ground water sources. Picaridin is also somewhat toxic to fish.
Q: Is bug spray safe to use around children?
Depending on the type of bug spray you’re using, manufacturers deter the use for anyone under the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using insect repellents with the lowest concentrations of DEET on children, pointing to potential developmental risks. The Academy also encourages parents to keep insect repellents away from the hands and faces of children in order to manage consumption risk.