When you discover bed bugs in your house, you must act quickly to eliminate them and prevent the infestation from growing. The best way to ensure that the extermination process is conducted according to standards is by contacting a certified exterminator.

Avoid applying insecticides on your own as these products may be dangerous for your health if used incorrectly. Also, they can make the bed bugs more resistant to treatments.

Contacting a certified exterminator

If you are the owner of your house or apartment building and discover that there are bed bugs, you must promptly contact an extermination company. It is advisable to contact an exterminator whose company is a C5 or D5 extermination permit holder and whose employees hold a CD5 extermination certificate from the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC). To make sure that an extermination company is a permit holder and that an employee is a certificate holder, check the Registre public de la Loi sur les pesticides du site Web du MELCC This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only) using the search tool.

If you are a tenant and there are bed bugs in your residence, you must immediately inform the owner of your building so that they can quickly contact an exterminator. If you are a tenant in a low-rent housing (HLM) unit, you must contact the Office municipal d’habitation in your region.

Whether you are the owner or tenant, follow attentively the exterminator’s instructions regarding preparation of the premises for extermination. Also follow recommendations during and after extermination. Each step is essential in order for the extermination to be effective and to protect your health.

Preparing the premises before extermination

Before the exterminator arrives:

  • Clear all the rooms. Avoid leaving objects or clothes lying around in order to limit places in which bed bugs may hide
  • Empty furniture drawers and closets in infested rooms and remove curtains and rugs
  • Treat fabrics, bed sheets and clothes for instance, and other infested items following these tips for treating fabrics and objects
  • Verify the condition of mattresses, bedsprings and upholstered furniture
    • If they are damaged, make them unusable by tearing them with a knife or scissors. Then wrap them in slipcovers or thick plastic bags. Close the slipcovers or bags tightly, so that nothing can get in or out, and throw them away. Wait for the infestation to be completely under control before getting new furniture
    • If they are not damaged, treat them on the spot with hot steam following these steps for treatment without washer or dryer. Place mattresses or bedsprings in an anti-bed bug cover after treatment
  • Vacuum the infested room. Vacuuming reduces the number of bed bugs but it does not kill them. Each time you use the vacuum, immediately toss the bag or the content of the vacuum in a plastic bag. Seal the plastic bag and throw it in an outdoor bin

Treating fabrics and objects

Fabrics are items made of woven materials, such as clothing, bed sheets, curtains, etc. Different treatments may be applied to infested fabrics and objects to get rid of bed bugs.

Treatment in the dryer

Treatment in the dryer is the best way to guarantee elimination of bed bugs.

Place your infested fabrics and objects directly in the dryer. Turn the dryer on at a very high temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Treatment in the washer

If you do not have a dryer or if the fabrics are dirty and must be washed before drying, treat them in the washer.

Make sure you respect the following conditions to guarantee elimination of bed bugs and their eggs:

  • Use very hot water. Water temperature must absolutely reach 60 °C (140 °F)
  • Make sure the articles are completely covered by water
  • Do a complete wash cycle

If you have a front-loading or high-efficiency washer, check the volume of water it can hold. If your washer’s water volume is not enough to completely cover the fabrics, do not treat them in the washer only. Also, follow these instructions for Treatment in the dryer or Treatment without washer or dryer.

Treatment without washer or dryer

If it is not possible to treat your fabrics and objects in the dryer or washer, apply one or the other of these treatments.

  • Hot steam treatment

Treat your fabrics and objects with a steam cleaner. Gather all your items to be treated in the infested room. Treat everything at the same time in this room to avoid infesting other areas. The steam temperature must reach 100 °C (212 °F). Take care to move the steam cleaner slowly over the items in order to conduct a deep treatment

  • Cold treatment

Place your fabrics and objects in the freezer at a temperature of at least -18 °C (0.4 °F). Lay out fabrics in the freezer without packing them in. Leave them in the freezer for at least 3 and half days.

Caution: Some domestic freezers are not cold enough. Make sure that the temperature of your freezer is at least -18 °C (0.4 °F) to apply this treatment. This temperature allows items to cool rapidly. Cooling of bed bugs must be quick in order to prevent them from adapting to the temperature and surviving.

Measures to take after treatment

After treating your fabrics and objects, take the following measures:

  1. Place the items in plastic bags
  2. Seal the plastic bags
  3. Place the plastic bags away from the infested room until completion of the extermination of bed bugs in that particular room

After-extermination recommendations

After extermination:

  • Respect the time recommended by the exterminator before returning to your home
  • Ventilate treated rooms
  • Avoid walking barefoot in areas treated for at least 48 hours after extermination
  • Regularly check areas treated to see if there are still bed bugs

When all the bed bugs have been exterminated, you can return fabrics and objects removed from the treated rooms to their place.

Waiting period before returning to residence

All persons and pets must evacuate the residence during extermination. After extermination, you must wait at least 6 hours before returning home.

This period of time increases to 12 hours for:

  • People with respiratory problems
  • People with allergies
  • Children

This period of time increases to 24 hours for:

  • Babies 0 to 12 months of age
  • Young children not yet walking 
  • Pregnant women

Last update: June 13, 2023


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