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4 Best Bed Bug Sprays [and Which to Use!]

Bed bugs are among the most elusive pests to eradicate in a home. They love to hide until you’re asleep at night, then they sneak out to feast and are gone by the morning.

If you’re dealing with an infestation, you know how stressful it feels. What was once your sanctuary now makes your skin crawl from intruders.

Luckily, there are some great bed bug sprays that we can utilize to treat a bed bug infestation. These bed bug sprays are safe when applied as per the label’s instructions and can offer nearly immediate and long lasting relief! Follow along to see our best bed bug sprays to reclaim your home.

What are Bed Bug Sprays?

Bed bug sprays are pesticides that come in a wide variety. The ingredients and mode of action change from one spray to another. What they all have in common is that they are intended to kill bedbugs (and often many other bugs, too). There are lots of different chemicals that can do this. However, as we will see, some are better than others.

Are Bed Bug Sprays Effective?

It’s not especially hard to kill an individual bedbug. What’s more difficult is finding them and treating the majority of them at once.

Because bedbugs reproduce so quickly, a single bug is enough to restart an entire infestation by itself. You need a spray that’s going to kill every single one of the bugs and their eggs.

Most bedbug sprays on the market will kill bugs on contact. The key to a good bedbug spray is one that goes on killing even after the spray has been applied. This is called the “residual” effect, because even after the spray is dry and there’s no sign of it left, it keeps on working.

Here are some things we’ll consider when looking at our bed bug sprays.

  • Fast knockdown/contact killing. A spray with a fast knockdown is one that kills bed bugs quickly. Some sprays can take a week to kill a bug, whereas others can act in hours. When you’re in the middle of an infestation, you obviously want something fast-acting.
  • How long is the residual? This tells you how long the spray will keep on killing bugs that come into contact with it even after it’s dried. The longer the residual effect, the better your chances of getting rid of your bed bug problem. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a fast knockdown for a longer residual.
  • How often you need to reapply? This is linked to the residual effect. The quicker the pesticide wears off, the sooner you’ll need to reapply. 
  • How safe is it? Pesticides sold for public use have to be proven to be safe. However, part of pesticide safety is only using a pesticide for the purpose for which it was intended. Always read the label before applying any pesticide and never use it in a manner inconsistent with manufacturer suggestions.
  • Ready-to-use versus concentrate. Many bedbug sprays come “ready to use”. These products you can just start spraying right away, like an aerosol can or a spray bottle. Others are more highly concentrated and need to be mixed with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Which works best for you is going to depend on the scale of your problem. Professional bed bug killers tend to use concentrates as it’s cheaper in the long-run if you’re applying a lot. These chemicals are often more powerful, too.

Pesticide Resistance

Because bed bugs reproduce fast, there’s always the possibility of them developing resistance to certain chemicals. This has already happened in some bedbug populations. The most widely used class of pesticides by professional exterminators, synthetic pyrethroids, may be of limited use against bedbugs that have developed resistance.

To avoid this, it’s a good idea to use multiple pesticides from different classes of chemicals. This ensures that even if the bedbugs are resistant to one class of chemicals, they won’t be to another.

Best Bed Bug Sprays

Bedlam Plus Aerosol

Bedlam Plus Aerosol

Our top pick

Manufactured with the sole intent to treat pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs. Uses a combination of quick kill and residual control.

Why DoMyOwn instead of Amazon?DoMyOwn.com offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

Bedlam Plus was specifically developed to overcome the issue of pyrethroid-resistant bedbugs. One of its active ingredients, imidacloprid, is a neo-nicotinoid, which puts it in a completely different chemical class to pyrethroids. This means it still kills resistant bedbugs.

Another great feature of Bedlam Plus is that it kills bedbug eggs on contact. It’s actually rare to find a pesticide that can do this. Bedbug eggs have tough shells that ordinarily protect the creature inside from regular pesticides. Killing bedbug eggs is the key to getting on top of the bedbug’s reproductive cycle.

Bedlam Plus comes in an easy to use aerosol spray. It is safe to use in the home and works best as a crack and crevice treatment or spot spray. You can use a plastic straw to inject the pesticide into crevices in your bed frame baseboards.

While Bedlam Plus has a very quick knockdown of killing bed bugs right away, the residual effect is relatively short. It will continue to kill bugs for up to two weeks after treatment which means you’ll likely want to do that 2 week follow up to make sure you’re getting the entire population.

Sterifab

Steri-Fab Insecticide

Easy to use, with no dilution or prep required. Just spray STERI-FAB on mattresses, bedding, furniture, carpets, vehicles, and any other inanimate surface to control bed bugs, fungus, germs, mildew, mold, and odor-producing bacteria.

Why DoMyOwn instead of Amazon?DoMyOwn.com offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

Sterifab works a little differently from a conventional insecticide. This product is more like a disinfectant. As well as killing bedbugs on contact, it also kills bacteria and viruses on surfaces. As a result, it has uses around the home beyond killing bugs.

As a disinfectant, Sterifab will certainly kill bedbugs that are resistant to pyrethroids. Unfortunately, it has no residual effect. It will only kill bedbugs that are directly sprayed with the product.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it makes Sterifab ideal for spraying on bedsheets, pillows, and other areas that come into contact with your skin. You don’t want to be sleeping on a surface you’ve sprayed with a residual pesticide in case it gets absorbed by your skin.

Sterifab works best in conjunction with another spray with a longer residual. For instance, you could use Sterifab on your bedding while you use the more powerful Bedlam on your bedframe and baseboards. Often when it comes to bedbugs, a combined arms approach is the best tactic.

Bifen I/T

Bifen IT

Active Ingredient: Bifenthrin 7.9%

Leaves a long-lasting residual for up to 3 months, is odorless, non-staining, dries clear, and is safe around children and pets when used as directed.

Why DoMyOwn instead of Amazon?DoMyOwn.com offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

Bifen I/T, and its active ingredient Bifenthrin, is what is known as a broad-spectrum insecticide. This means it kills a wide range of pest species, including bedbugs. For that reason, it’s become a very popular pesticide with professional pest control operators.

Part of what makes Bifen so popular is its impressive residual effect. In the right circumstances (such as indoor applications), Bifen can keep killing bugs that cross an area where it has been sprayed for up to three months.

Unlike Bedlam, Bifen doesn’t kill bedbug eggs, but the long residual means that any bedbugs that do hatch out in an area where the pesticide has been sprayed already have an expiration date.

However, it’s important to note that Bifen is a pyrethroid product. Depending on the strain of bedbugs you have, it’s possible that they may be resistant to this product.

Also, Bifen comes as a concentrate that you’ll need to mix yourself. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when doing this, and don’t make the mistake of thinking a more concentrated spray will be more effective. Spraying a professional grade product like this means you will need professional grade equipment. For instance, a sprayer like this one. You should also use disposable gloves and an appropriately labeled respirator.

Tempo SC Ultra

Tempo SC Ultra

Active Ingredient: beta-Cyfluthrin 11.8%

Delivers the power of a powder formulation in a liquid, and allows for more even disbursement during application.

Why DoMyOwn?DoMyOwn.com offers professional-grade insecticides to DIYers while ensuring proper storage of chemicals. Couple that with their impressive customer service and knowledgeable staff, it’s the #1 choice.

Tempo SC Ultra is another professional product that requires specialized equipment to apply. As with Bifen I/T, you’ll need a sprayer, gloves, and a mask. However, if you have a large house or a very persistent bedbug problem, the upfront cost of this equipment can quickly become worth it because of the speed with which you can apply the chemical.

The active ingredient in Tempo is Cyfluthrin, another synthetic pyrethroid. While this makes it great for killing a broad range of insects and gives it a powerful residual of around 90 days, it does mean there is some risk of resistance to this product. Therefore, it’s best used in conjunction with a pesticide from a completely different class, such as Bedlam.

Should You Combine Sprays?

Any pesticide that is widely used runs the risk of losing its efficacy due to resistance in the population. In this sense, synthetic pyrethroids have been the victim of their own success. Due to the way resistance develops in a pest population over time, resistant individuals will soon come to dominate, rendering commonly used pesticides useless.

The best method of using bedbug spray is to combine different products in one treatment. I recommend using Bedlam as a crack and crevice treatment to get those quick kills right off the bat. Then you can immediately apply Bifen I/T along baseboards, underneath furniture, and in other areas where bedbugs may be hiding. Their long residual effect will continue to kill bugs long after the Bedlam has worn off.

A disinfectant like Sterifab offers a safe way to treat your bedding so that you avoid prolonged contact with residual insecticides is optional, but worth your consideration.

How to Apply Bed Bug Sprays

No matter what spray you choose, it’s only as good as the way you apply it. Before using any pesticide, thoroughly read the label and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. These are in place as much for your own safety as to ensure the efficacy of the treatment.

However, here are some general guidelines about the application of bed bug sprays:

  • Don’t spray residual pesticides on bedding or upholstered furniture. The most common method of human pesticide poisoning is through the skin. You don’t want to be sleeping on a pesticide that remains active for weeks. Instead, wash bedding thoroughly or use a disinfectant like Sterifab.
  • Don’t spray water-based sprays near sources of electricity. If you find that you need to spray behind an electrical outlet, switch off the power at the breaker before spraying. And let the pesticide dry thoroughly before turning the power supply back on.
  • Don’t spray an aerosol pesticide anywhere near a naked flame. The propellant used in an aerosol can may be flammable.
  • Don’t spray residual pesticides where children or pets are likely to come into contact with them.
  • Spray residual insecticides along baseboards, on bed frames, and on the underside of apostate furniture.
  • Use and aerosol as a crack and crevice treatment for the bed frame, baseboards, nightstands, dressers, and other furniture.
  • Residual insecticides are broken down by sunlight, so they are most effective in dark areas that don’t see any light. Luckily, these are exactly the areas where bedbugs like to hide.
  • After spraying your baseboards, avoid washing the area for as long as possible — at least a few weeks. Washing your floors will wash away the pesticide and reduce the residual effect.
  • Generally, the manufacturer’s instructions will tell you if you need to stay out of the area after spraying. However, no matter what pesticide you use, it’s probably a good idea to stay out of the house at least until the pesticide has dried. Six hours is a good guideline. And don’t forget your pets. Dogs, cats, and other animals should be taken out of the home before you begin to spray.
  • Pyrethroid pesticides, in particular, are dangerous to fish. If you have an aquarium, before spraying, switch off the air pump and place a damp towel over the tank. This will prevent any fumes from getting into the water and harming the fish.
  • For your own safety, it’s always a good idea to wear disposable gloves when spraying any pesticide. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward. If using a concentrated pesticide in a sprayer, it’s also wise to use a respirator.

Background on Bed Bugs

Of all the pest species out there, bedbugs are one of the most feared. These creepy creatures don’t spread diseases. They’re not generally harmful to human health. But having a bedbug infestation can be psychologically damaging.

Bedbugs have been around forever. However, after the Second World War, the widespread use of powerful pesticides such as DDT almost eradicated these bloodsucking creatures. But starting in the early 2000s, bedbugs made an astonishing comeback. They are now one of the most important pest species in the world and are found in just about every country on earth.

What makes bedbugs so horrible is the fact that they feed exclusively on blood. And they show a marked preference for human blood. Although they will bite dogs, cats, and other mammals if they have to, humans are definitely their preferred food source.

Bedbugs get their name from the habit of living in or near beds, where they can easily come out at night to bite people. The reality is, bedbugs can live in lots of places. Anywhere humans spend a lot of time, particularly at night, makes a great home for these insects

Part of what makes bedbugs such a challenging pest to deal with is that they are extremely good at hiding. For one thing, these insects are small. Fully grown bedbugs are around 0.18 inches long, which isn’t much more than the thickness of a quarter. The juveniles are much smaller. In fact, before bedbugs take their first blood meal, they are also transparent, so juvenile bedbugs can be impossible to see. Also, their bodies are flattened across the top, which allows them to squeeze into tiny cracks no bigger than the width of a credit card.

Bedbugs tend to come out at night, making them even harder to spot. But the real challenge of getting rid of bedbugs is overcoming their breeding rate.

An adult female bedbug can lay as many as 500 eggs in her lifetime. And in the right conditions, that lifetime could be only a few months long. All of those eggs will reach maturity in a couple of weeks and start laying eggs of their own. A single female bedbug could have millions of descendants within a single year. So any attempt to get rid of bedbugs needs to address this phenomenal reproductive rate.

Because bedbugs are so good at hiding, the best way to get rid of them is through a combination of different methods. Sealing up cracks and crevices that bugs may hide in can help. Washing and especially drying bedding and clothing on the highest heat possible is also strongly recommended. And an important weapon in your arsenal in the fight against bedbugs is a good bedbug spray.

What makes bedbug sprays so effective is that they can kill bedbugs that you can’t even see. The best sprays have a residual effect, which means that even after they’ve dried, any bedbugs that come into contact with the spray will still die.

Ways to Be Sure You Have Bed Bugs

Since bedbugs are so good at hiding, it’s possible to have them without knowing that you have them — at least for a while.

Often, the first sign you get that you have bedbugs is the bites. These generally show as small itchy red lumps, much like a mosquito bite. It’s almost impossible to tell a bedbug’s bite from that of a mosquito, flea, or some other bloodsucking insect. However, unlike fleas, bedbugs will bite anywhere on the body. Unlike mosquitoes, they will bite year-round, and bite more when you’re inside rather than when you’re outside.

If you’re waking up to find something has bitten you in the night, you may want to inspect your home for bedbugs. Check out our guide on how to check for bed bugs for more comprehensive tips.

Identifying a Bedbug

As stated above, adult bedbugs are around 0.18 inches in length. They have a dark reddish color that can sometimes appear closer to brown depending on how long since they last fed. A bedbug that has fed recently will be a brighter shade of red and will be engorged with blood. If the bug is squashed, the blood that comes out will be noticeable.

Bedbugs are insects, and as such, they have six legs. Their bodies appear round from above, tapering toward the head end. In size, shape, and color, they resemble an apple seed. When disturbed, they can move quite quickly, but their natural instinct is to hunker down and try to stay hidden.

For some photos that can help you identify bedbugs, check here.

Common Places to Find Bedbugs

As the name implies, bedbugs are often found in or near beds. This is because it allows them easy access to people during the night. But bedbugs have no special preference for beds. Move to the couch, and they will follow.

If you think you may have bedbugs, here’s where to look:

  1. The seams on the sides of your mattress. This is the number one place for bedbugs to hide. The seams on a regular mattress are just big enough for bedbugs to hide underneath and feel secure while still being close to people they can feed on.
  2. Cracks and crevices in the bed frame. Anywhere two pieces of wood are joined can provide a gap large enough for bedbugs to hide in. They can also hide in screw holes. Although this applies more to wooden bed frames than metal ones, since metal is too smooth to allow bedbugs to cling on easily, they can live in metal bed frames too.
  3. Baseboards. Baseboards usually have enough of a gap underneath or behind them that bedbugs can hide in. Check baseboards in your bedroom and throughout your house, paying special attention to areas where people spend the most time. It’s not impossible to find bedbugs in kitchens and bathrooms, but it’s a lot more common to find them in bedrooms and living rooms since this is where people spend most of their time.
  4. Books, soft toys, and other items. Bedbugs can hide in the spines of books and like to make homes in plush toys. They can hide in just about any household object, but they prefer things with a rough surface such as paper, fabric, and wood. Smooth plastic and metal make it harder for them to cling on and lay their eggs.
  5. Living room furniture. Don’t forget to check sofas and armchairs. These upholstered items of furniture are perfect places for bedbugs to hide.
  6. Electrical outlets and radiator pipes. Bedbugs can often slip in behind electrical outlets or in the holes in walls and floors that heat pipes pass through. If you live in an apartment, this is one of the ways bedbugs used to spread from one unit to the next. So make sure to check these areas too.

Identifying other signs of bedbugs.

Often, the first sign that you have bedbugs isn’t the bugs themselves. These creatures are so good at hiding that it’s common to be alerted to their presence by some other sign. The major ones are:

  • Bites. As mentioned above, bites resemble those of mosquitoes. But if you have a healthy bedbug population, the bites will steadily increase in number. Bedbugs have no real preferences to where on the body they bite you, though if you wear pajamas, they will tend to bite exposed areas of skin. Also, be aware that some people have no reaction to the bites, and can be bitten without even knowing it.
  • Droppings. This is one of the most reliable signs of a bedbug infestation. Unlike the bugs themselves, the droppings they leave behind can’t run. Because bedbugs only feed on blood, the droppings they leave are essentially black specks of dried blood. You may find these on your mattress, on your bedsheets, on your bed frame, or anywhere the bedbugs are hiding.
  • Blood spots. Sometimes, you may roll over on top of a bedbug in your sleep and crush it. This will leave behind a blood spot on your sheets or pillows. If you’re finding tiny specks of blood on your bedding without any apparent injuries on your body, it’s probably a good idea to check for bedbugs.
  • Shed skins. Like other insects, bedbugs have a hard exoskeleton that they need to shed to grow. When they do this, they leave behind a shed skin. Over time, these skins will accumulate in areas where the bedbugs hide. The skins resemble an adult bedbug but are hollow and more of an orange color. They are very light, and so they can travel on air currents.
  • Eggs. Bedbug eggs are very tiny, at 0.009 inches in length. As well as being tiny, bedbugs tend to lay their eggs in dark areas that don’t get disturbed very much, so they stay hidden. However, if you have good eyesight, you may see the white eggs if they have been laid on a dark background. Bedbugs cement their eggs to rough surfaces such as fabric, so you may see them on a mattress or sofa.

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