How to Treat Bed Bugs in Furniture

Bed bugs are a serious pest that can infest furniture and be very difficult to get rid of. Treating bed bugs requires a multi-step process, including inspection, preparation, treatment, and prevention. When it comes to treating bed bugs in furniture, there are both chemical and non-chemical options available. With some work, you can eliminate bed bugs from your furniture and prevent future infestations.

Inspect Furniture for Signs of Bed Bugs

The first step is to thoroughly inspect all furniture for signs of bed bugs. Look for:

  • Live or dead bed bugs – Adult bed bugs are oval, wingless, rust-colored insects about the size of an apple seed. Newly hatched bed bugs are tiny and translucent.
  • Molted bed bug skins – As bed bugs grow, they shed their skins. The skins look like hollow, translucent shells.
  • Rusty spots or reddish stains – Bed bug feces leave rusty or reddish stains on fabric and wood.
  • Eggs – Bed bug eggs are tiny white ovals about the size of a pinhead. They are often deposited along fabric seams or wood crevices.

Focus inspection along:

  • Seams, tufts, and folds of cushions and upholstered furniture
  • Under loose edges of furniture skirting
  • Inside drawers and joints of wooden furniture
  • Behind picture frames, headboards, etc

Thoroughly inspecting furniture takes time and vigilance. Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to spot the small bugs, skins, and eggs.

Prepare Furniture for Treatment

Once you confirm bed bugs, preparation is key to ensure treatment penetrates infested areas.

  • Remove all items and belongings from furniture. Inspect items carefully before moving to new location.
  • Vacuum all furniture surfaces, crevices, and joints thoroughly. Use crevice tool and vacuum upholstered furniture all over.
  • Use steamer to penetrate fabric and cushions. Heat kills bed bugs.
  • Empty vacuum contents right away into sealed plastic bag and dispose outdoors.
  • Move furniture away from walls and other items. Isolate and stand up infested pieces off the floor.
  • Remove drawers from dressers, nightstands, etc and set aside to inspect and treat separately.

Proper preparation exposes all bed bug hideouts so you can eliminate the infestation.

Treat Infested Furniture with Chemicals

Using pesticides is one of the most effective ways to fully rid furniture of bed bugs. Always follow label directions exactly.

Hire a Professional Exterminator

Hiring a professional pest control company is recommended for severe infestations. Professionals have access to stronger chemicals and methods homeowners can’t use. Treatments may include:

  • Heat: Heats furniture to lethal temperatures for bed bugs. Requires special equipment.
  • Chemical sprays: Potent sprays applied to all infested areas. More effective than over-the-counter products. May require vacating home temporarily after treatment.
  • Fumigation: Seals furniture in tent and fills with lethal gas. Cannot be done indoors.

Professional chemical treatments can be expensive but are thorough when done correctly. Get an inspection and estimate before scheduling.

Use Home Chemical Treatments

For minor infestations, there are effective over-the-counter chemical options:

  • Bug sprays containing pyrethroids: Sprays like deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, permethrin. Spray along seams, tufts, edges. Let dry completely before use.
  • Dusts with diatomaceous earth or silica: Apply with hand duster into cracks and crevices. Avoid breathing in dust.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Spray 70% solution into tufts and seams. Fast evaporation helps penetration. Let dry before use.
  • Essential oil sprays: Make DIY spray with clove, lavender, peppermint oils. Not as effective for severe infestations.

No matter what products you use, be sure to treat all infested furniture thoroughly, especially inside cushions and joints. Follow all label safety precautions when using chemicals.

Use Non-Chemical Treatments

If you want to avoid pesticides, there are some non-chemical treatment options:

  • Heat: Using a clothes dryer, run infested pillows, cushions, etc on high heat for 30+ minutes to kill bed bugs. Or rent a professional heater.
  • Cold: Put small infested items in a plastic bag in the freezer for 4+ days. Temp must be below 0°F.
  • Mattress encasements: Covering mattresses in a bed bug proof encasement traps bugs inside and prevents new ones from getting in. Leave on for at least 1 year.
  • Discard: Severely infested furniture may need to be thrown out if other methods don’t work. Deface to prevent others from taking infested items.

While effective, non-chemical methods take more time, effort, and trial and error to work. Be diligent and thorough when using these techniques.

Prevent Bed Bugs from Returning

Once you’ve eliminated bed bugs from furniture, take steps to prevent new infestations:

  • Inspect and monitor regularly for signs. Catch bugs early before they spread.
  • Reduce clutter and seal crevices so bugs have fewer places to hide.
  • Cover mattresses and box springs with encasements. Zip them shut.
  • Vacuum and steam clean upholstery, crevices, and edges frequently.
  • Be cautious when acquiring used furniture. Inspect carefully or avoid altogether.
  • When traveling, inspect hotel rooms for signs of bed bugs. Keep suitcases off the floor and beds.
  • Treat any infestations immediately and isolate furniture. Don’t allow bugs to spread to new areas.

With vigilance and preparation, you can keep bed bugs out of your furniture and home. Don’t wait until you have a major infestation – take action at the first sign of bugs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Treating Bed Bugs in Furniture

How do you get rid of bed bugs in couches?

  • Remove all cushions and thoroughly vacuum all crevices, tufts, and edges. Steam clean if possible.
  • Use pesticide sprays or dusts formulated for bed bugs along all seams, folds, and interior framework.
  • Encase cushions in bed bug proof covers for at least 1 year to trap bed bugs inside.
  • Consider hiring an exterminator to treat couch if infestation is heavy.

What home remedy kills bed bugs instantly?

Unfortunately, there is no truly instant home remedy to kill bed bugs. Chemical pesticides take time to work, while heat and cold treatments must be applied for an extended period. Professional steamers and heaters work fastest but are not immediate.

Does rubbing alcohol kill bed bugs on mattresses?

Yes, rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs living on or inside mattresses. The alcohol helps penetrate fabrics and kills bugs on contact. Spray or wipe down tufts, edges, and surface, allowing time to dry completely. Be sure to treat the entire mattress for elimination.

Can you get rid of bed bugs by washing clothes and bedding?

Washing clothes and bedding in hot water and drying on the highest heat setting can kill bed bugs living in the fabric. Use the dryer’s steam cycle if possible. However, washing does not treat other infested areas and is not a complete solution.

How do you know if bed bugs are gone?

It can be difficult to know if bed bugs are completely gone. Continually inspect for several weeks after treatment. Look along seams, tufts, and edges for live bugs, molted skins, eggs, or rusty spots. No signs for 2-3 weeks likely means elimination. But keep monitoring in case any were missed.


Bed bugs are challenging pests to eliminate from furniture, but it is possible with diligence. Inspect carefully, isolate and prepare infested items, treat using chemicals and/or heat, and take steps to prevent new infestations. Professional help may be needed for heavy infestations. With persistence and thoroughness, you can rid your home of bed bugs and enjoy pest-free furniture once again.