Summary:Spray and dust insecticides can be used to eliminate any bed bugs and eggs that may have been missed during the cleaning of bedding and bedside furniture.
Using bed bug spray/dust
The most important part of any bed bug treatment is to thoroughly clean places where bed bugs hide and lay their eggs. These areas include mattress seams and folds, cracks and crevices in bedroom furniture, baseboard molding, and other places near beds where bed bugs might hide (see Bed Bugs for additional information). Cleaning can be done with an ordinary vacuum cleaner and mild upholstry cleaner, but steam cleaners work well also.
Once hiding places are as clean as possible you can apply some type of residual insecticide to control any bed bugs and eggs that you might have missed with cleaning alone. This application is tricky, however, because products applied to bedding or bedside furniture has the potential to contact anyone who subsequently sleeps in the bed. For this reason the material applied must be safe and used strictly in accordance with the label instructions.
Bed bug (4th instar larva, unfed) - about 1/5". After feeding bed bugs become less flattened, more rounded.
Insecticidal dusts (see below) should be used to treat crack and crevices around baseboard moldings, bedside furniture and the like. Dusts are easy to apply to small cracks and openings without danger of over-application and spillage. Dusts also exhibit longer residual activity than most other types of insecticides.
Is bed bug spray necessary?
Surfaces like mattresses can be treated with a residual spray insecticide but only use products that are specifically labeled for this use (check package instructions). The table below lists products that currently (Feb. 2010) are registered but this list can change so check product labels carefully.
Residual spray insecticides are not absolutely necessary if all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. However, it is easy to miss a few areas where bed bugs might be hiding, or a few eggs that are tucked inside the fold of a mattress. This is where a residual insecticide comes in, to eliminate the last few survivors of the cleaning process.
Apply a very light spray to mattress seams and folds, the undersides of bedside furniture and the bed frame. Do not saturate, a light spray is all that is necessary. Bed bug sprays alone should NOT be substituted for thorough cleaning of mattresses and treatment of cracks and crevices with a dust insecticide.
Products like Kleen Free (tm) are enzyme-based clearers, and are not registered or tested as insecticides. They work like other soaps that have insecticidal properties (see Insecticidal Soaps for more information), and like other soaps they don't exhibit any residual insecticidal activity.