AdviceNewsSan Francisco

5 Ways to Kill Bed Bugs on the Cheap

Updated: Feb 04, 2024 08:29
The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news

Everybody by now has heard a nightmare story about bed bug infestation or lived through it themselves. If you live in a city, chances are you know someone whose had to call an exterminator, or even had to move out of their place all together because the little bastards have taken over.

Bed bugs are no joke and can ruin your sleep, your home, and your life if you let them.  We sat down with a professional bed bug exterminator from to find out everything there is to know about protecting yourself from bed bug infestations, how to get rid of them, and how much these things can cost.

If you’re poor, here are things you can do to get rid of bedbugs on the cheap, before you have to call an exterminator:

dead bed bug brokeasssuart

1.Remove all of the bedding & clothing

and anything else that can be washed and put it in the washer at a hot setting. If it can be put into the dryer, (like shoes and stuffed animals) put them in the dryer for at least 20 min to kill all bed bugs that are latched on.

2. Vacuum

Vaccum wherever they are and be absolutely 100% sure to locate where they have laid eggs if they have been there for more than a day.  Thorough inspection throughout the area where bedbugs could be hiding, particularly under clutter, bedding, inside the mattress, inside box spring, behind baseboards, and in dimly lit corners. They are nocturnal and only reveal themselves at night.

vacuum dra

3. Bug Bombs

Some store bought bug bombs can kill bed bugs, but rarely will kill the eggs that they lay which is why it is important to kill the eggs. I would recommend letting off two bug bombs in a single room to suffocate them as much as possible.

4.  Mattress Bags

If you believe the bed bugs to be setting up shelter primarily in the bed and box spring, I sometimes suggest to get one of those plastic mattress casings and seal up your mattress and box spring. They should be sealed for at least a year as some bed bugs have been known to last many, many months without food and water, but no bed bug has made it to a year. So if they are isolated, they will die in the zipped up cover.

Signs of Bed Bugs on the Mattress

Signs of Bed Bugs on the Mattress

5. Destroy ALL the Eggs

Bed bug eggs are the most dangerous part about bed bugs, and even if people think they are gone after setting off bug bombs, they hardly will destroy eggs, and after being hatched, a bed bug will be reproducing other bed bugs within 50 days of being laid, so if their eggs are not destroyed, the bed bug problem becomes a prolonged one.

this is what a bed bug looks like

this is what a bed bug looks like

Any advice on how to choose a good exterminator, or how to save money in that area?

Make sure your exterminator has familiarity and experience in dealing with bed bug problems in the bay area for a number of years, as bed bugs will adapt depending on the environment. Local exterminators are more familiar with how bed bugs will act in the various properties they see throughout the day.
Be sure to find out if a follow up appointment for bed bugs is included in the cost as it is almost always necessary to check back a few weeks later to make sure all the bed bugs are gone and all eggs are eliminated. Money can be saved by setting off your own bug bomb and doing the free activities listed above to take care of as many bed bugs as possible to make the job lighter on the exterminator and the job overall cheaper. Many exterminators will include time and labor as a cost, so if you take care of a lot of that, the cost will be far lower.

How much does a bed bug extermination cost someone typically?

The extermination prices range so widely depending upon the extent of the bed bug outbreak, and the chemicals and processes needed vary as well. A small apartment bedroom or hotel room could be between $300-$500, while a totally infested full size house that needs to be fumigated can run around $1000-$1500 with follow up treatment.

The bigger infestations require major chemicals and often tents, depending on the size of the property/building, these definitely work much better but require a bigger footing of the bill. Small spraying jobs cost much less, but may not work as well.

Price depends on the amount of bed bugs and how many areas they are infested in. Prices often include inspection, treatment, and follow up appointments (however many necessary)

The major thing I think your readers would be interested in that bed bug can be a super expensive bill if they let them stick around too long. Once they lay eggs and repopulate, there is nearly no way they are going away without professional help. The best way to save money is action immediately as a bed bug is discovered. I’m talking that if you discover a bed bug biting you at night, right then is the time to put the clothes and bedding in the washer, anything else in the dryer, start inspecting, start vacuuming, order a mattress and box spring seal, and keep a close eye out immediately after.

How do you know for sure you have bed bugs?  Or distinguish their bites from other pests?

Mostly, people will be unsure whether or not it is bed bugs if they had not physically seen them, but woke up with bug bites on their skin and are not sure exactly what has bitten them. Bed bug bites are distinguishable from common biting insects like fleas and mosquitos. A mosquito is more erratic with their bites, and bight the skin that is uncovered, and will leave a red bump in various places on visible skin rather than pinpointing an area. A flea will bite more so the feet and ankles of a person, and will more or less be all in the same area. Bed bugs feed for up to ten minutes until their entire body fills with blood, and they look much different than starving bed bugs. They look like a small apple seed with legs, skinnier when hungry, more round when full of blood.
Bed bug bites tend to be grouped together

Bed bug bites look like this

Bed bug bites differ from fleas in that they target any exposed area of skin while a person is stable and not sleeping. They do a good job of being quick when moving and hardly wake people in the middle of the night. If you do wake up and move, be on alert to see if you catch any bed bugs running away and feel your skin because usually there will be a skin bump immediately start to swell. If you catch sight of one, it’s best to spring into action.

This post was made possible by a small and local exterminator outfit called “Pest Control Oakland” they gave us a couple bucks and a lot of good advice.  They’ve been in business since 2011.  They are properly licensed, bonded, insured, and they obviously know their stuff.  You can find them at

Broke-Ass Stuart works because of reader support. Join us now.

Howdy! My name is Katy Atchison and I'm an Associate Editor for Broke-Ass Stuart.

I want to take the time to say thank you for supporting independent news media by reading Supporting independent news sources like Broke-Ass Stuart is vital to supporting our community because it amplifies the voices of a wide variety of diverse opinions. You also help support small businesses and local artists by sharing stories from Broke-Ass Stuart.

Because you're one of our supporters, I wanted to send over a pro-tip.

Our bi-weekly newsletter is a great way to get round ups of Broke-Ass Stuart stories, learn about new businesses in The Bay Area, find out about fun local events and be first in line for giveaways.

If you’d like to get our newsletter, signup right here, it takes 5 seconds.

Previous post

Magical Third Date Ideas in San Francisco

Next post

Heyyy, Sailor! - The LGBT Fleet Week Party

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little experiment. I enjoy covering & Publishing Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

If you're a writer, artist, or performer who would like to get your work out there, or if you've got great things to promote, we've got 200K followers and really fun ways to reach them. We love making things with other Bay creatives, for our partners, and our community. Don't be shy.
alex at
IG: @alexmaksf