Bed Bug Powders come in several varieties and are considered some of the most effective home remedies for bed bug infestations.  There are powders available for anyone to purchase, and what is better is that they don’t require a license to use.  They are the first choice of many and have successfully tackled and beaten bed bug invasions.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny insects that make mammal blood their sole food; their human hosts rarely even notice that they’re being bitten.  These parasitic insects are infesting homes, shelters, dormitories, cruise ships, and hotel rooms across the country.  Though nearly eradicated in the 1930s, bed bugs are back and their numbers are on the rise.

How They Spread

Bed bugs infest everything in a room, so they’ll get into a suitcase or closet and get carried around on clothes.  When the clothes are worn or carried somewhere else, a new infestation is born.

How Can You Tell You Have Bed Bugs?

Skin rashes are common signs of bed bug infestations.  Some people also experience allergic reactions to the bites.  Possibly worst of all is the psychological trauma people feel when they know tiny bugs are feasting on their blood while they sleep.

What Can Be Done About Bed Bugs?

Treatments vary.  Conventional wisdom is that the best approach is a combination of pesticides and none-pesticide products.  However, pesticides can have adverse health effects on humans and are not the best first choice, though some people find them to be a necessary last resort.  Powders are an effective, poison-free choice.  They’re easy to clean up after treatment and they get the job done.

Another approach is to use a combination of diligent vacuuming, laundering, cleaning, disposing of clutter, encasement of mattresses, and application of bug powders.

Preparing the Home for Bed Bug Powder Treatment: Clearing Clutter

Bed bugs cling to everything, so the fewer things there are to cling to, the better.  Storage areas in closets, under beds, and in drawers can be hot beds for bed bug infestations.  It is unlikely a bed bug infestation can be eradicated if there is any clutter for them to cling to.

The first approach to a bed bug infestation, then, should be to clean out cluttered areas and get rid of anything that isn’t needed.  However, care must be taken in the disposal of infected items.  It is unwise to give away, leave at the curb, or carelessly throw away anything that might be infested with bed bugs because that will give them an opportunity to colonize in a new location.  The best way to get rid of clutter that might be infested is to carefully pack all items in tightly sealed plastic bags, then make sure they’re picked up by the garbage collectors.  It wouldn’t hurt to wipe everything down with a damp cloth, first.  First priority should be given to the effort to contain the infestation.

Wash all Clothes and Linens

All clothing in an infected room should be washed regularly.  Bed bugs and their eggs can be killed at temperatures above 120 degrees for at least 20 minutes.  So washing in hot water, then drying in a gas or electric dryer, will go a long way toward eliminating a bed bug infestation in the closet.  A standard dryer setting should work nicely, as they typically reach 120 degrees.

Linens should also be changed and laundered at least weekly.  It can’t be taken for granted that bed bugs aren’t present if they aren’t visible.  Females lay eggs pretty much everywhere they go and the eggs are much harder to see.  It’s best to assume they’re there, and take action accordingly.

Be aware that if there are bed bugs in the bedroom, they’ll be carried on clothing to other rooms, too.  Couch and chair cushions should also be washed weekly in hot water and dried in a dryer.  The rest of the room should be cleaned in the same way as the bedroom in preparation for the application of a powder.


The next line of offense is vacuuming.  It is imperative that the vacuum has a disposable bag or the bed bugs will simply infest the vacuum filter, too.  Only the tube attachments should be used so that no brushes that can be infested.  Everything in the room must be vacuumed, from the mattresses to the wall hangings to the window sills.  Dispose of the vacuum bag in a tightly closed trash bag and place outside in a trash can.  It would not hurt to also dust the trash can with bed bug powders.

Bed Bug Mattress Covers

The last line of offense and defense before using a powder against the bugs themselves is to encase the mattresses in the dwelling in good quality, bed bug barrier certified mattress covers.

These mattress covers are a physical barrier that bed bugs cannot penetrate.  They work two ways.  For bed bugs and their eggs that are already trapped, they provide a barrier to keep these bed bugs from biting people and from infesting the rest of the house.  They will eventually die while trapped inside the barrier.  The mattress, then, need not be replaced.

Treatment Options

Once all things left in the room have been thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to attack the bugs and the eggs that are left behind.  There are different treatment options available ranging from professional services to homemade solutions.  We will be primarily concerned with the home use of readily available bed bug powders.

Professional Services

Professionals are trained and licensed in bed bug removal.  They know the signs and know what to do to eradicate infestations.  Professionals also have access to stronger pesticides than can be purchased at the local super store.  Anyone considering using chemicals should use a professional service.

Application of Powders

Powders should be applied to all surfaces in the room.  Furniture should be taken apart, if possible, and the dust should be applied on all parts.  Soft furniture with folds and crevices should be given special attention.  All wall hangings, window treatments, and any other surface in the room should be treated.

Among bed bug powders, three types stand out:

  • Diatomaceous earth, also known as D.E.
  • Pyganic Dust
  • Deltamethrin, also known as Delta Dust

Diatomaceous Earth: A Bed Bug Powder

One very effective bed bug powder is diatomaceous earth.  D.E.  is a natural powder that comes from siliceous sedimentary rock.  The rock is actually the fossilized remains of the microscopic hard-shelled algae known as diatoms.

Once crushed into powder, it is dried by an oven.  Typically, the chemical composition is about 85% silica, 3%  alumina (mostly from clay), and about 1% iron oxide.  It is non-toxic.

D.E.  is used in many household and garden applications and is completely safe for humans.  As a light dust, it easily coats the tiny bugs as they walk through it.   Once a bed bug walks through the powder, it absorbs the waxy cuticle that surrounds the bug.  The bug then dehydrates and dies.

It is a good, long term treatment that can be applied in small spaces such as cracks and furniture joints.

Since it is an organic, non-toxic treatment, it is generally recognized as safe around humans and pets. Another advantage is that one application lasts a long time.  It is useful against many other insects, as well, so has the added benefit of ridding the home of fleas, ants, centipedes, cockroaches, and more.  D.E. is safe both indoors and out and can also be applied to the perimeter of a dwelling, helping to stop entrance or escape of bed bugs and other insects.

It is often used in conjunction with pesticide powders, and there are premixed commercial products available, Alpine Dust being one of the most popular.  Its active ingredients are Dinotefuran at 0.25% and D.E.  at 95%.  Dinotefuran is toxic to animals, so any pet bedding should be thrown out and replaced rather than treated.

Pyganic Dust

Pyganic Dust is a powder containing Pyrethrins, a botanical insecticide.  It has a low toxicity level to humans and pets and is effective and easy to use.  It kills a broad range of small insects and is easily applied into small spaces.  The active ingredients are Amorphous Silica Gel 15% and Pyrethrin 1%.

Apply according to directions above, and include a perimeter application.

Deltamethrin, or Delta Dust

The active ingredient of Delta Dust is Deltamethrin at 0.05%.  It is a pyrethroid ester insecticide.  It is considered one of the safest pesticides, classed as synthetic pyrethroids.

One of the most popular insecticides in use today, Deltamethrin is used by many professional pest control operators.  It is highly toxic to fish, so should be used with caution around fish tanks.  It is also a neurotoxin in humans and has been found to accumulate in human breast milk.

It is used pest control in many areas from home use to farm.  Upon ingestion, it will kill bed bugs.  Application is the same as with other powders.

Bed bug powders are an effective treatment and can help eradicate a bed bug infestation.  The trick is to be diligent and reapply as needed.  Done correctly, these treatments should completely free a home of bed bugs within a short period of time.