How Much Does Bed Bug Treatment Cost?
Itchy bites and dark spots in mattress seams are sure signs of bed bugs. A flamethrower isn’t an option, so it’s best to call in a pro. Bed bug treatment cost ranges from $300 to $5,000, or $1,750 on average.
- The typical range for bed bug treatment cost is $300 to $5,000, with a national average of $1,750.
- Bed bug removal cost can vary based on the infestation severity, treatment type, home size, size of the infested space, pest control company, type of furniture being treated, treatment frequency, labor, and geographic location.
- Signs of bed bugs include visible bugs that look like apple seeds, rashes and bites, a musty odor, seed-sized eggs, skins and shells, and black spots on surfaces.
- Some DIY methods of bed bug removal can slow down an infestation. However, in order to be rid of a bed bug infestation for good, a professional exterminator will need to inspect and treat the home.
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are persistent, pervasive, and proficient at escaping human attempts to kill them. While they do not transmit disease and aren’t dangerous unless their bites become infected, they’re still one of the most reviled insects out there. Once an insect that was rarely discussed, bed bugs are now so common that travelers report their presence in hotels, movie theaters, and mass transit—pretty much anywhere there’s fabric to nestle into and people to hitch a ride on.
Nobody should be embarrassed or think that a bed bug infestation is a statement about their housekeeping. It’s far more likely that the bed bugs are a souvenir from a vacation, the office, or the children’s school; they may even have arrived in that great chair from the neighborhood yard sale. Bed bugs are remarkably patient—they can survive for almost a year without food—and they can fit into the seams of mattresses, chairs, and curtains but also into the cracks around baseboards. Often by the time a family has enough itchy bites to start looking for the source, the infestation is already in full swing.
Bed bugs can be treated by a combination of chemicals, heat, physical removal, and even freezing. Still, bed bug removal must be complete to be effective; it doesn’t solve the problem if all the live bugs have been killed but not their eggs—when the eggs hatch, the whole process would have to be repeated.
This is a good time for a homeowner or renter to call in one of the best bed bug exterminators, such as Orkin or Terminix, who will know how to treat the problem effectively without endangering family members or pets. According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, hiring a bed bug exterminator costs $300 to $5,000, or a national average of $1,750. It’s essential for customers to understand the options, costs, and methods before hiring someone or trying to get rid of the infestation themselves.
Factors in Calculating Bed Bug Treatment Cost
There are several moving parts when adding up the costs of bed bug removal. Some are obvious—the more bugs there are, the more expensive bed bug removal will be—but others are less clear, such as the potential need to remove and replace existing furnishings or carpets.
If the infestation is discovered quickly and it’s still relatively small, the cost of bed bug extermination could be as little as $1,000 to $2,500. In contrast, a more extensive infestation (which is probably the case if there are visible bugs crawling around) can be $4,000 to $6,000 or more. Large infestations require more product and labor to treat, so costs will go up accordingly.
There are several options for the treatment of bed bugs; the one to choose depends on the space and the location of the infestation. The least expensive option is heat (thermal) treatment, which costs $1 to $3 per square foot. The cost goes up with fumigation, which can cost between $4 and $7.50 per square foot. Steam treatment is pricier at $250 to $1,000 per room, but it is typically a safe and effective method. Freezing is an alternative if furniture cannot withstand heat and costs $500 to $700 per room. Sometimes dogs can be useful in locating all infestation sites that aren’t obvious to humans; it costs $300 to $600 to have dogs sniff out bed bugs. Pesticides and chemicals are usually used in combination with one of these treatments, as they are effective in targeted areas but not as a whole-house solution; they will add $100 to $500 per room to the cost.
Unfortunately, extermination is not limited to getting rid of bed bugs in a mattress. They can hide out in other upholstered furniture, on baseboards, inside drawers, and even in electrical outlets. The larger the home, the more rooms have the potential to be infested, and the more expensive it will be to treat. If only one room is treated, costs could be as little as $200, but with increasing home size come increasing costs, due to increased materials and labor. A small studio or apartment only costs $300 to $900 to treat. A 2- or 3-bedroom home may cost $400 to $1,200, and a house with 3 or more bedrooms can cost from $800 to $2,500 or more. Treating a whole home may cost as much as $24,000.
Infested Space Size
While the type of treatment certainly affects cost, so can the size of the space to be treated. Some bed bug exterminators will charge a flat fee per room or provide a quote for the whole job. But because many elements of treatment are dependent on filling a space with heat or fumigation chemicals, the overall square footage of the room makes a difference, and larger spaces will cost more than smaller spaces.
As a general rule, customers can expect to pay between $1 and $8 per square foot for bed bug treatment. A small space of only 1,000 square feet will cost about $1,000 to $8,000 to treat. A 2,000-square-foot space will run between $2,000 and $16,000, and 3,000 square feet costs $3,000 to $24,000. Customers will want to be careful about trying to save on costs by cutting down on the number of spaces treated. If the bed bugs have made their way out of the treated space, the larger space will need to be treated as well.
Pest Control Company
Arrow, Ehrlich, Orkin, and Terminix are some of the top names in bed bug control. Pest control costs can vary based on the company that will perform the extermination. For example, Arrow’s bed bug treatments average between $500 and $2,800, but Orkin bed bug treatment costs $400 to $3,000. The cost ranges for the best-known pest control companies are listed in the following table.
|Pest Control Company||Cost|
|Arrow Exterminators||$500 to $2,800|
|Ehrlich Pest Control||$650 to $3,000|
|Orkin||$400 to $3,000|
|Terminix||$500 to $2,000|
The amount of furniture in a room that requires treatment can also affect the cost, both directly and indirectly. Many exterminators will charge an additional flat fee per piece of furniture in a space that requires inspection and treatment, such as couches, chairs, and cabinets. For example, in a bedroom, the bed, dresser, and nightstands are usually included, but a stuffed chair and vanity will be extra. Each piece of furniture needs to be treated individually, adding to product and labor costs. In addition, it’s possible that some pieces may not be able to be recovered if the infestation is too severe or if the item will be destroyed by the chemical or heat treatment, in which case the homeowner or renter will need to pay for disposal and replacement of the item.
If the infestation was large or occurred in a multifamily dwelling, the extermination company will likely recommend follow-up inspections (which may be included in the cost of the initial treatment) and further treatment (which will be a separate cost). Most companies offer a contract for these services to be performed on a regular basis; the contract will be priced out based on how frequent the inspections need to be, usually monthly, semimonthly, or quarterly, and the costs can be spread across the year. A quarterly inspection and treatment on average will cost between $1,800 and $2,500 per year, while semimonthly inspections and treatments can cost between $5,500 and $8,500 per year.
According to Zach Smith, owner of The Pest Dude, labor is the most significant cost factor for bed bug treatment. “Pest control companies are typically charging upwards of $150 per man hour, and that often includes charging for one-way travel,” he explains. “The homeowner is incurring quite a bit of cost for the convenience of having somebody else handle it.” Before the actual treatment, there may also be an inspection cost of $65 to $200. While DIY treatments can cost as little as $100, they are nowhere near as effective as professional extermination.
Unfortunately, those who live in a city with a high rate of bed bug infestations are caught in a financial trap. While there are likely more exterminators with experience in successfully treating bed bug infestations, they’re also in higher demand, which means they can charge more. Nearly all major cities have significant bed bug populations. Still, the highest concentrations are in large cities with travel hubs on the coasts (especially in the northeastern United States) and dotted across the Midwest. Several extermination companies release a list each year of the cities with the most service requests; in those cities, customers can expect to pay as much as three times what it would cost elsewhere. Some of the cities with the highest bed bug treatment costs are as follows:
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- San Diego
Additional Costs and Considerations
The immediate costs are related to the size and scope of the infestation and the location, but other factors play into the overall cost. While seeking out estimates for extermination services, homeowners and renters will want to consider the factors below before settling on a total budget.
Bed Bug Inspection
To compose a treatment plan, an experienced exterminator will conduct an inspection. While the additional $65 to $200 for the inspection may seem excessive, it can save money in the long run—there is no sense in treating a problem that doesn’t exist. The inspection will provide specific information about where the infestation is so that only those areas are treated. It will make sure that the insects aren’t just bugs that look like bed bugs. “When I go in to look for signs of bed bugs, I interview the residents and ask them if they’re getting bitten at night,” says Smith. “And then I also look all around beds, night tables, popcorn ceiling, headboards, and lamp bases, etc., for the little black speck marks that make up the droppings of bed bugs.” Many extermination companies waive the inspection fee if an infestation is discovered and they are hired to exterminate it.
For a resident of a potentially infested home, any evidence of bed bugs will feel like an emergency—and most extermination companies will want to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent the infestation from spreading. However, if it’s possible for the customer to evacuate and isolate the room with the suspected infestation for a day or two until an appointment is available, it will save the additional $200 to $500 an emergency call will cost. The sudden discovery of a widespread infestation that makes it necessary to leave the home, or bugs found in an apartment or multifamily home will constitute an emergency and will likely incur this extra cost.
Home Clutter and Cleanliness
When it comes to what attracts bed bugs, many people have heard the myth that they only target dirty homes. However, bed bugs do like to hide, and the more clutter in a space, the more opportunity they have to tuck themselves out of sight. This means that contractors working on the space will have to sort through clutter and inspect it to complete the treatment of the room. If there’s lots of debris on the floor or piled on surfaces, it can make the exterminator’s job more difficult. While it isn’t a good idea to move materials around the home before the inspection and treatment, removing trash and unneeded items in sealed bags outside the home will streamline the process and could save money. Those with severely cluttered homes or who need help decluttering may benefit from the cost of hiring a professional organizer, which ranges from $50 to $100 per hour. Clearing shelves and decor items to an outside holding space can be helpful, but the customer will want to check with the exterminator about their policies before moving those items.
Is the home built on a slab foundation, basement, or piers and beams? Pier-and-beam constructed homes must be treated underneath the house to eradicate potential infestations there, and homes with high open ceilings and exposed beams may also require additional treatment. Customers can expect to pay up to $30 per square foot for structural fumigation.
While killing the live bugs may be the immediate goal, it’s vital to look toward the future. Many treatments that kill live bed bugs will also kill those in the larval and egg stages, but not all—and there may be eggs and larvae in areas that aren’t ultimately treated because there’s no evidence of infestation. Customers will want to choose an exterminator who has a plan to manage the next stage of extermination, either through additional methods during the initial treatment or repeated inspections and follow-up treatments. In general, customers can expect to pay $100 to $625 per visit for a quarterly contract.
Bed Bug Treatment Cost by Type of Treatment
Temperature manipulation and chemicals are the only ways to eradicate bed bugs, larvae, and eggs. Some DIY solutions suggest barrier products, such as baking soda; those will deter the bugs from walking into a hiding spot but won’t kill them. Other DIY suggestions include rubbing alcohol and tea tree oil, which must be applied directly to the bugs. These help kill the bugs that are visible but won’t address the larger problem of infestation. Truly effective removal methods will kill bed bugs in all stages of life. The main types of bed bug treatment and their cost ranges are listed in the table below.
|Bed Bug Treatment||Cost|
|Chemicals and pesticides||$100 to $500 per room|
|Freeze treatment||$500 to $700 per room|
|Fumigation||$5,000 to $50,000 per project|
|Heat treatment||$2,000 to $4,000 per project|
|Sniffing dogs||$300 to $600 per project|
|Steam||$250 to $1,000 per room|
Chemicals and Pesticides
Chemical and pesticide treatments are available in liquid and powder forms and are great for spot treatments. They are usually used in combination with other forms of treatment because spot treatment alone is not widespread enough to eradicate an infestation. These will cost between $100 and $500 per room.
Freezing is a relatively new, chemical-free process to treat bed bugs. The insects can’t withstand cold temperatures, so an exterminator will close off a space and pump in freezing air at high pressure (resulting in a snow-like powder that kills the bugs immediately). Clean and safe, this method works well in areas that can’t tolerate high heat and is quite effective on visible bugs. However, since it can’t get through soft furniture such as mattresses or upholstered chairs, it may not kill all stages of bed bug development. A freeze treatment to eliminate bed bugs costs between $500 and $750 per room.
Probably the most effective treatment overall, fumigation involves tenting and sealing off the home and filling the entire space with a gas that will kill the bed bugs—and anything else living. Then the house will be flushed with clean air to remove any residual traces of the gas. All residents and pets will need to be out of the home for several days (and if staying at a hotel, they’ll need to include those costs in the budget). There are benefits to fumigation: It will also kill off any termites that might have also been present, and it will perform a complete treatment of the entire structure at once, including any bugs in the foundation or walls. Fumigation costs between $4 and $7.50 per square foot, so depending on the size of the home, customers can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000.
After sealing off the space to be treated, an exterminator will pump in superheated air to bring the temperature over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs can’t tolerate high heat, so they will die off. This method is effective and has the benefit of not filling the home with chemicals, which is ideal for sensitive individuals or homes with small children. However, thermal treatments do not include any preventative measures: Because there are no chemicals, there is nothing left behind to catch any stragglers who may have survived. Therefore, many exterminators pair heat treatment for bed bugs with strategically placed chemicals to deter future infestations. Bed bug heat treatment costs between $1 and $3 per square foot, averaging between $2,000 and $4,000 for a whole-house treatment.
Bed bugs have a distinct scent—if enough are present, the human nose can smell something like rotten raspberries. Trained dogs can alert an inspector to the presence of even a small number of bed bugs. This can make the $300 to $600 in additional inspection costs well worth it—the dogs will help locate all points of infestation to ensure treatment is specific and complete. Hotels often use sniffing dogs, as careful and close physical inspection is time-consuming and not as accurate as a canine nose.
The high temperature of steam has a similar effect to thermal treatment with one significant benefit: Steam can be forced through fabrics and soft furnishings effectively. Therefore, it can be used to permeate mattresses and upholstered furniture without ruining them. The steam’s high temperature, especially with some force, will kill bed bugs in all stages of life. Costing between $250 and $1,000 per room, steam isn’t inexpensive, but it’s efficient.
Do I Need Bed Bug Treatment?
How can a homeowner or renter know that they have bed bugs? It can be initially difficult to tell—especially in the warmer months. People travel more and are exposed to sun and chemicals that can cause unusual rashes. Mosquitoes, gnats, chiggers, and other outdoor insects can cause itchy bites. But there are ways to tell if a home has bed bugs that residents can look for alongside these unexplained bites.
Bed Bug Sightings
Adult bed bugs are approximately 5 millimeters long and dark brown, about the size and shape of an apple seed. They’re generally flat, but they will puff up into a rounder shape and turn redder after feeding. Earlier in life, bed bugs are smaller, lighter in color, and harder to see. Residents will want to check the headboard, bedside tables, joints of walls and ceilings, behind wallpaper, crevices, and along the seams of mattresses and box springs. They’ll want to look during the daytime: Unlike cockroaches, bed bugs won’t scatter in the light, so there’s no need for the resident to hunt in the darkness with a flashlight.
Rashes, Blisters, and Bites
Unfortunately, bed bug bites masquerade as other types of bites and rashes. They can look like eczema, inflamed mosquito bites, or hives. Even worse, some people do not develop reactions to these bites at all. So even if there are no signs of bed bug bites on a home’s residents, this doesn’t necessarily mean the home is bed bug free. The bed bug injects a small amount of anesthetic into its victim’s skin to cover up the sensation of having something stuck on the skin while it feeds. Some people respond to this anesthetic as it absorbs after the feeding is complete. Residents can look for clusters or straight paths of raised welts that intensely itch or burn, sometimes forming a rash that spreads out between them. They’ll also want to check sheets and pajamas: If the bites occurred while sleeping, there might be specks of blood from the bites on the fabric. If there’s no other likely explanation, the resident will want to check with a doctor or start looking for other signs of an infestation.
Bed bugs are not solitary insects; they prefer to congregate. The combination of the bugs themselves, molted shells, and eggs creates a kind of sweet, musty smell, sometimes described as the smell of rotten raspberries. A resident who smells that particular scent while poking around for bed bugs will want to call in an exterminator promptly. If the smell is noticeable, the infestation is probably large enough to warrant some help.
Bed bug eggs are tiny—about 1 millimeter in size. They are white or clear and usually laid in clusters, so those with a good eye might spot them embedded in fabric or small cracks or crevices.
Skins and Shells
Bed bugs grow larger as they get older—sometimes after one good meal. When they grow, they shed their “shells,” or exoskeletons, and grow a new one to protect their larger size. These shells are left behind. In a large infestation, there might be piles of what look like translucent bed bugs. These will be light, dry, and differently sized. Shells will accumulate in places where the bugs congregate in corners of bed frames and headboards and along baseboards.
Black Spots on Surfaces
Bed bugs ingest the blood of their hosts, digest it, and then excrete it as liquid waste. The stains left behind by the waste will not be red, like blood, but rather dark brown or black. They will appear as pinprick-size dots along the seams of mattresses, on wood slats under the bed, and along baseboards.
How to Save Money on Bed Bug Treatment Cost
Bed bug extermination presents financial challenges; it can seem never-ending, and it’s not something that most people plan and save for. Those who live in an area where there aren’t many exterminators may not have many options to lessen the costs, but there are several factors to consider.
- Don’t waste money on DIY. If you really do have bed bugs, you’re probably going to need professional help in the end, so put your money toward solutions that will be most effective.
- Don’t throw out your mattress and furniture. In most cases, exterminators can treat them and kill the bugs. If it is too difficult for you emotionally to sleep on a mattress you know had an infestation, then by all means, replace it. But otherwise, don’t automatically assume these pieces are lost.
- Follow up on your treatment plan. If you don’t follow up, you’ll risk wasting all the money you spent on your initial course of action when you’re facing reinfestation. Follow-up plans are not, in general, an attempt to pry more money out of your wallet—they’re designed to make sure the extermination is complete.
- Follow directions from the exterminator. Remove trash and unwanted items to outdoor trash, but don’t move other items through the house unless you’re directed to. If you need to leave the house, take only what you are instructed to take.
Questions to Ask About Bed Bug Treatment
When any professional is being interviewed, there are certain questions customers will want to ask. It may be tempting to skim over some of the most important questions to speed up the process when calling a professional to investigate a bed bug infestation, but that’s not advisable. Effective bed bug treatment needs to be thorough and will involve some of the most personal spaces in the home. It’s crucial for the customer to take the time to be comfortable with the professional, even if it means taking a little extra time to investigate. Customers can consider asking the following questions while vetting their shortlisted pest control professionals.
- Are you licensed and insured?
- How much experience do you have?
- Will you itemize your services in my contract?
- What is your timeline and process?
- Which method of extermination will you use in my home, and why do you think that will be the most effective option for this case?
- How will you know if the treatment has worked?
- How should I prepare for the treatment?
- Will we have to leave the house during treatment, and if so, for how long?
- If we have to leave during treatment, what should I leave in the house, and what should I remove?
- Is your treatment safe for me, my children, and/or my pets?
- Does the contract include any follow-up visits?
- Do you offer financing?
Nobody wants to endure the inconvenience, expense, and skin-crawling discomfort of knowing bed bugs have been in their house. But with careful, effective treatment and follow-up, a home The following question, along with their answers, will help customers start the planning process.
Q. How much does it cost to exterminate bed bugs from a 1-bedroom apartment?
The average cost to treat a studio or 1-bedroom apartment is between $300 and $900. In rare cases, renters insurance may cover bed bug treatment, but it’s advisable for renters to check with their provider to be sure. It will be a good idea for the renters to notify the building manager immediately (before treating) that bed bugs have been found. It’s possible the bugs traveled to one unit from someone else’s and that there’s a larger problem in the building, in which case treating one space will not solve the problem for long.
Q. How do you kill bed bugs in leather, cotton, or foam?
In general, bed bugs can be killed in leather, cotton, and foam the same way they’d be killed anywhere else: with heat, freezing, or chemicals. Chemicals can be trickier on these materials, as it is unsafe to use chemicals in bedding, and the chemicals may damage leather products. For foam and leather, heat treatment or steam is the best approach. With any of these materials, it’s best to hire an experienced exterminator. These materials can be effectively treated, but it may take a bit more time.
Q. How can I prevent another infestation?
Since there are so many ways to get bed bugs, the best defense is a good offense. Do everything possible to protect your home from bed bugs. First, if an extermination treatment has already been completed, make sure to pay attention to all of the exterminator’s recommendations for follow-up treatment and inspection. Then there are some additional precautions to take. Check any secondhand furniture pieces—even hard-side pieces—for any signs of infestation before bringing them in. Some experts recommend encasing them in plastic and leaving them in the sun for a day, effectively heat-treating them, and then vacuuming thoroughly. When traveling, check the seams of the mattress and headboard for signs of bed bugs before bringing suitcases into the room. Leave any clothes in the suitcase and keep the case zippered. Check the luggage rack for signs of bed bugs, or keep the cases in the bathtub. After getting home, consider placing the suitcases into black plastic bags and leaving them in the sun for a day or two, or remove the clothes and immediately wash them and dry them (even if they’re clean!) before putting them away, leaving the suitcases outside to heat. Reduce the clutter in the home to offer fewer hiding spaces, vacuum frequently to catch any bugs that have made it inside, and consider purchasing a protective mattress cover that will offer bed bugs fewer places to hide.