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How Do DIY Methods of Treatment for Bed Bugs Really Work?

Do it yourself, or DIY, may be a great idea when it comes to things like refinishing a coffee table or hemming a skirt. When it comes to treatment for bed bugs, though, the results are very mixed. The Washington Post recently wrote about an entomologist researcher who tried "do it yourself" methods of getting rid of bed bugs. Changlu Wang, a researcher at Rutgers University, spoke at the Entomology 2013 conference about his team's results with DIY methods. Wang found that spraying bed bugs with rubbing alcohol, one of the more commonly used methods, did kill about half of the bed bugs, but half of them were still alive four days afterward. The research team also put mothballs in a bag with bed bug-infested clothing and found that the bugs were resistant to the mothballs -- eggs and younger bed bugs were mostly unaffected, although between "44 to 60 percent of the adult males died," the Post reports.

Other products aimed for at-home treatment for bed bugs have high failure rates

Wang's Rutgers research team also said that ultrasonic bed bug repelling devices do not work; the team discovered that in 23 locations with bed bug infestations, five of them had the ultrasonic devices. The team also tested a commercial product called Bed Bug Fix, which contains a variety of essential oils. The results initially looked promising in the lab, where the bugs did not get to feed on humans -- the product killed 92 percent of the bed bugs in two weeks. However, when the researchers sprayed other bed bugs and allowed them to feed on humans, the pest survived.

What does work when it comes to DIY treatment for bed bugs

Despite these negative results on do it yourself bed bug products, Wang still encourages people to use some DIY methods. The researcher recommends mattress casings that keep bed bugs out (we do, too), as well as washing potentially infested clothing in hot water and then drying them on high heat. Wang also had positive results with putting dry ice in a plastic bag when it came to eradicating bed bugs from things like toys and other items that are difficult to remove bed bugs from. However, the researcher noted that people could potentially burn themselves with the dry ice, so he urged caution.

Be alert for the possibility of bed bugs

The Post article also notes that "people's watchful eyes and mindful habits are the best ways of preventing infestations or stopping them early. "

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