Ants are painful, cockroaches are unsanitary, but bed bugs are just plain gross. This is still reason enough to want to rid your home of them.

The question is: how to kill bed bugs? These critters are sneaky, small and often evolve to resist pesticide. Home pest control remedies are available, but they are often unreliable and time consuming. Not to mention, it can be very difficult for the untrained eye to differentiate between different strains of bugs, and the wrong pesticide can be completely ineffective.

That being said, if you seem to only have a moderate infestation and want to take a shot at do-it-yourself bed bug extermination, follow these few steps:

The first thing to do is a very thorough cleaning. Wash all sheets and comforters (separately from clothing), and scrub floors and surfaces.

The next area to tackle is your mattress, the ideal real estate for bedbugs. First, inspect your mattress. Is it worn, filled with holes and appear to have dark, bloody spots on it? If so, you may need to just throw it out and buy a new one. Bed bugs can lay eggs inside the mattress, making it impossible to fully clean.

If your mattress seems to be in reasonable condition, buy a bed bug-resistant mattress cover. Many retail stores sell these for a reasonable price, and are very effective at insulating the mattress.

Make sure to never spray insecticide on your mattress, or anywhere else you may put your head, unless the label specifically says mattress-safe. Pesticides are highly toxic.

The next thing to do is caulk all holes in the wall, cracks, or anywhere else that bugs could crawl into the room.

Once the room is fully insulated, home-fumigation is the best thing to do. Bed bug extermination kits can be sold as aerosols, dusts and liquids. This method is a toss-up, as kits often cost between $50- $200, and are not guaranteed to work.

Unfortunately, the only way to guarantee a bed bug-free home is to call an exterminator. Professional pest control has highly specialized equipment and volatile chemicals that cannot be handled without proper care. While professional help can be expensive, most exterminators do thorough job: they come to assess the property, select specific chemicals designed to treat your exact issue, and return two to three times to make sure that the bugs are gone for good.

Exterminators rarely have a set price; based on the number of rooms, the accessibility of the area, your location, and the exact type of infestation, prices can greatly vary. The average price for extermination can range from $75 to thousands of dollars. Check your local pest control to find out the ideal solution to your bed bug problem.

See also:

Bed bugs: An irritating epidemic

Bed bug definition on

Bed bugs on Harvard School of Public Health

Bed bugs on

MNN homepage photo: egorr/iStockphoto