Beat Bedbugs with Eco-friendly Treatment Methods

Bedbugs have an incredible ability to develop resistance to synthetic pesticides in a short period of time, according to entomologists. That’s why it makes sense to utilize non-toxic, eco-friendly alternatives to treat bedbug infestations.

Bedbugs are very good travelers—they can hitch a ride on just about anything and will move from room to room. In fact, if a hotel finds bedbugs in a guestroom, it is important for the property to inspect rooms adjacent, above, and below that room. Bedbugs also can follow plumbing, electric lines, and cable.

From a detection standpoint, hotel owners don’t want the guest to be the detector. That said, there are a number of different products on the market to catch bedbugs before they proliferate. One product, which fits discreetly in a guestroom, includes a lure that mimics chemicals found on human skin. Another product generates CO2—a gas that attracts bedbugs. It also includes other attractants—a kairomone that attracts bedbugs seeking a meal, and a pheromone that encourages bedbugs to gather together in the harborage area of the device.


Encasements Extend Mattress, Box Spring Life
Many hotels already use mattress and box spring encasements to make it easier to detect, discourage, and kill bedbugs. Encasements extend the life of mattresses and box springs, keeping them out of the landfill. Be sure to purchase an encasement that does not allow bedbug penetration in the zipper area.

If a hotel already has an infestation or would like to prevent one, there are numerous spray products on the market that use natural ingredients. Often those ingredients are derived from plants. One entomologist said these products are either not good at all, effective, or moderately effective. Some of these products need to be applied directly on the bedbug. Of course, you do not always get that opportunity.

One company uses cinnamon bark oil as a main ingredient for its spray product while another uses geraniol, an oil from geraniums. Other options include a product that uses food grade diatomaceous earth and one that features a light clove and cottonseed oil mixed with a soap mixture. With these types of products, one does not need to put a guestroom out of service.

Heat Can Effectively Kill Bedbugs
Heat can also be an effective tool in the bedbug-killing arsenal, as long as the right equipment, temperature, and technique are used. Bedbugs will die beginning at 113 degrees. One supplier of heat treatment equipment says properties need to hold a room at 132 degrees for at least four hours to affect any bedbugs that may be in the wall. Most bedbugs tend to be within five feet of the headboard of a bed. Steam heat can also be effective for specific areas of a guestroom—the seams of a mattress, for example.

The other end of the treatment spectrum to heat is freezing. Carbon dioxide is applied, creating dry ice snow at a temperature of minus 100 degrees. Like steam heat, it can get in cracks and crevasses. This method provides an immediate mortality.

What is certain, according to The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control, is that “There is no single tool or activity that, used alone, will eliminate bedbugs, including pesticides.” Done thoughtfully, however, bedbug control can be accomplished without negatively impacting the environment, your guests, or your staff.

About the Author
Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News; To subscribe to the Green Lodging News e-newsletter, go to

Photo credit: Bedbug via Bigstock.