Pre-treatment preparation

For bed bug treatment to be effective, proper preparation is mandatory. Pest control companies should always outline pre-treatment preparation in detail and provide instructions on what to do. Pre-treatment preparation for bed bug control is generally done by the resident. Although some firms may offer preparation for an additional charge, this is uncommon. Preparation involves providing access for pest control treatment as well as taking measures to ensure that bed bugs are destroyed or contained. If a home is not properly prepared, the likelihood of successful control is not high. Although preparation may be difficult for some people (for example, seniors or handicapped individuals), it is essential for effective bed bug treatment. In such cases, family members, friends, or social or charitable agencies may need to provide assistance.


All furniture and appliances in the dwelling usually need to be pulled away from the baseboards, and it is commonly asked that all furniture containing potential hiding crevices, such as bookshelves and desks, be emptied and left open for the exterminator to spray. Items in tightly sealed containers are usually safe from bed bug infestation and need not be emptied.


Everything that can be laundered should be laundered in advance of the bed bug treatment. This includes stuffed animals, drapes, and any other fabric items.

Before transporting items to the laundry, they should be securely tied into plastic bags and emptied directly from the bags into the machines. Afterwards, the bags should be immediately disposed of. It is heat, not water, that kills any bedbugs residing within the laundered items, so the items should be washed in hot water, regardless of normal washing directions, and should be dried with medium heat (preferably high heat) for 20 minutes or more. For those who have the ability to measure the temperature of the water in their washing machine, or of the hot air in their dryer, the target heat range is 120°F (49°C). Once laundered, the items must again be placed into new, securely tied plastic bags.

If a marathon laundering session such as described above is financially prohibitive, it has been suggested by some that items need only be run through the dryer, not the washing machine. The heat of the drying cycle will effectively kill bed bugs at all stages — eggs, nymphs, and adults. However, the extensive water and spinning action associated with washing machines may assist in dislodging bed bugs from where they are residing within clothes. If absolutely necessary, residents can skip running items in the laundry machine, and simply put them in the dryer.

For items that require dry cleaning, the dry cleaners should be informed that the items in question are potentially infested, and that they should be bagged. It is important to note that many dry cleaners will refuse to clean potentially infested items.

It may be helpful to steam clean carpets. Although bed bugs will not be in the middle of the floor, they may be under the carpets at the edges of rooms. Vacuuming is especially important, however, as pesticide is applied at room perimeters. The more steps that are taken to assist removal, the more successful the elimination will be.


The mechanical removal of bed bugs by vacuuming is an essential step in preparing for bed bug treatment. Vacuuming alone will not solve the bed bug infestation, but it can substantially reduce the population. A crevice attachment should be used when vacuuming any potential hiding spaces for bed bugs. This includes mattress seams, box springs, bed legs, furniture interiors, curtains, behind pictures, under chairs, inside dresser drawers, etc. Baseboards should also be vacuumed — not swept — with the crevice tool prior to the exterminator’s arrival.

All carpets should also be vacuumed, preferably with a powerhead. After vacuuming, vacuum bags should be immediately removed and placed in doubled plastic bags. They should then be placed into a strong plastic bag for final disposal. Spraying inside the vacuum cleaner bag with an aerosol insecticide is a good idea. The bags should be stored outside of home before collection. Incineration is not practical in the vast majority of urban centres and may be illegal.