Does Bed Bug Powder Really Work? (Find Out Now!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When I was about 20, I lived in a gutted warehouse in Newark for a while. I had no furniture and slept on an airbed. The place was so grimy, we still had bed bugs, rats, centipedes, mice, and roaches. When I told my landlord, he gave us bed bug powder. Did it work? Well…Let me tell you my experience and advice.

Bed bug powder is composed of diatomaceous earth, which can kill almost any bug. This includes bed bugs. However, bed bug powders are not enough to fully exterminate most bed bug infestations once they take hold. They can only limit how much it spreads.

If you have some bed bug powder around the house, that’s a good start to an extermination project. However, there’s more to it than just that…

Do You Need Pest Control Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

What Is Bed Bug Powder?

Bed bug powder is a formulated pesticide that is usually derived from a mixture of talc and diatomaceous earth. At times, it may also have trace amounts of chemical additives to help speed the killing process along. You can pick some up at most hardware stores.

Does Bed Bug Powder Really Work?

Yes, but it doesn’t always work very well. Bed bug powder can kill bed bugs. It does it by causing small dust particles to get caught in the chitin of bed bugs. When this happens, the bugs start to lose water. Eventually, they die by dehydration. So, yes, it can work.

How To Use Bed Bug Powder

Bed bug powder is the easiest possible type of pesticide you can use. Just sprinkle the powder in the crevices and regions you believe are infested by bed bugs. After that, you just have to wait until the bed bugs begin to die out. The best way to do this is with a puff sprayer, but it can also be done manually.

Some individuals also add bed bug powder to water, then place it in a spray bottle. Spraying bugs with this mixture generally speeds up the killing rate. It’s also good for spot treatments, too.

Is Bed Bug Powder A Good Cure For Bed Bugs?

Unlike other pesticides, bed bugs cannot develop an immunity to diatomaceous earth. That puts it ahead of the pack. However, there are several problems that limit its efficacy as a bed bug cure:

  • It takes weeks to work. In order for bed bugs to die from the powder, you’re going to have to give them time to dehydrate. This can take anywhere from seven to 14 days. Sometimes, it can take even longer. The problem with this, of course, is that bed bugs multiply faster than that.
  • You have to have them get in contact with it. You can’t just put powder piles in a corner and hope for the best. Your mattress and blankets have to be coated in the stuff. It will wreck your stuff and sleeping in your bed will be a skin-drying nightmare. If the bed bugs somehow migrate elsewhere without touching powder, you won’t see any results.
  • It has to be spread everywhere, and some crevices just won’t take to it. Getting the powder spread out is going to be an issue. You may have a hard time getting all the areas that are infested. Putting the powder in every little nook and cranny can be hard, especially if you have limited access to those points.
  • The bed bug powder only works for as long as it’s there. No one likes having a home heavily coated in a layer of dust. That’s exactly what this powder will do to your house. You are going to get tempted to sweep and vacuum everything in sight. Problem? That means the bed bugs can’t come into contact with it.
  • Some types of bed bug powders will also degrade over time. It’s good that it’s environmentally safe. It’s bad when you get sick of reapplying the stuff on a regular basis. Ick.

Is Bed Bug Powder Dangerous?

While it is not as dangerous as regular pesticides are for pets and babies, it’s not totally safe. Talc is a known carcinogen linked to ovarian cancer. Diatomaceous earth, while not linked to cancer, isn’t safe either. It has been labeled as a major respiratory risk.

If you want to use bed bug powder, then you will need to make sure that your pets don’t get too close to it. In some sensitive animals, it can turn into a breathing hazard. On a similar note, puppies and barefooters might notice that floors treated with bed bug powder will start to burn and dry out feet. It’s just not pleasant.

The Verdict On Bed Bug Powders

Bed bug powders can work, but only to a limited degree. If you were hoping to rely on these powders to kill off your entire bed bug population, think again. They can slow down the growth of bed bugs, but they do not work quickly enough to guarantee that your bed bugs won’t be able to reproduce fast enough to replace the ones that died.

Many people tend to think that you can rely on one type of pesticide to get rid of bed bugs. I wish this was true. I really do. Unfortunately, bed bug powders are best treated as a way to prevent bed bugs from spreading to other rooms and as a way to get other pests to pass away too.

If you are working with bed bug powder, there’s no way to mince words. The vast majority of the time, you are going to have to get a professional exterminator to work with you. It’s just the way it is. With their help, though, you’ll be able to get the problem under control.

Do You Need Pest Control Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

Will bed bugs always die if a room is treated with bed bug powder?

Bed bugs literally need to step in the bed bug powder in order for them to be affected by them. If they avoid the powder, then they won’t die. This is one of the many reasons why exterminators do not suggest using it for a full-blown infestation. It is not very effective and tends to be more of a waste of time than anything else.

Will baby powder or baking soda kill bed bugs?

Bed bugs tend to be very sensitive to powder-style pesticides. Both baby powder and baking soda kill bed bugs by dehydrating them. Believe it or not, they tend to be some of the most common ingredients in bed bug powders marketed by big brands.If you are in a bind and want to slow the spread of bed bugs, both baby powder and baking soda can be used as a bed bug powder. It may not be as effective as diatomaceous earth, but it will work well enough.

What is the temperature that kills bed bugs?

It depends on whether it’s the bug itself or the eggs. Bed bugs die at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s an instant death. If you want to kill the eggs, too, then you need to grind up the heat to around 122 degrees. Most heat treatments, though, will use heaters that raise the temperature to 140 degrees to ensure a clean, even heating of everything in a home.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

More by Ossiana Tepfenhart