Guidelines for Control of Bedbug Infestations   

The following is additional information to provide to tenants wanting specific guidelines on how to control a bed bug situation. Much of this information comes from the Harvard School of Public Health. Do not discard or replace furniture and do not treat until you have a plan.

Your Rights and Obligations

Alert your landlord to the problem. Landlords and property owners have specific legal obligations to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants. If chemical control is needed, landlords will need to contract with a licensed pest control operator to apply the pesticides. Tenants have an obligation to cooperate with owners and landlords. This includes preparing the apartment so that the pest control operator can easily inspect the rooms and treat if necessary. Contact your property manager or landlord to discuss your respective obligations, and to agree on a plan to manage the infestation.

Search for signs of bed bugs. Carefully inspect the bed frame, mattress, and other furniture for signs of bed bugs and their eggs. Search for live (crawling) bugs and ensure they are bed bugs before considering treating. Ask your landlord to confirm that it is a bed bug. Bedbugs hide in tight cracks and crevices in furniture, baseboards, and mattresses.  

Landlords can ask for assistance from exterminators or the Health Department.

  • Reduce clutter to limit hiding places for bed bugs. Throw away unnecessary items, cardboard, stacks of paper, etc.
  • Thoroughly clean the infested rooms as well as others in the residence. Follow the instructions on the general bed bug flyer that describes locating all possible hiding places.

Furniture and Other Belongings

Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs, and use a powerful vacuum to remove bed bugs from cracks and crevices. Promptly remove the vacuum bag and seal well in a plastic bag to before discarding. Dismantling bed frames will expose additional bug hiding sites. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over, if possible, to inspect and clean all hiding spots. Leave the furniture in the room and away from the walls to allow for chemical treatment.


Mattresses and box springs can be permanently encased within special mattress bags. Once they are installed, inspect the bags to ensure they are undamaged; if any holes or tears are found, seal these completely with permanent tape. Any bugs trapped within these sealed bags will eventually die. It may be best to discard infested mattresses. Work with your property manager to arrange for trash pickup. Make sure that the discarded mattress is labeled to let others know that it is unusable. You do not want to have anyone else use it. Be extremely careful introducing a new mattress into your residence. To avoid problems with a new mattress, you can use a special mattress bag that is well sealed to protect it. Make sure to seal the zipper and any holes or tears with permanent tape.

Washable Items

Wash items such as clothing, bags, and stuffed animals, on a high temperature setting in a washing machine, and dry them on the highest heat setting in a dryer for at least 45 minutes.


Work with your landlord to have an exterminator apply treatment to the room and furniture. All furniture and items should be kept away from the walls to allow treatment of walls and crevices. Follow all recommendations for re-occupying rooms after the treatment is applied. To prevent bed bugs from crawling onto a bed, pull the bed frame away from the wall, tuck sheets and blankets so they won’t contact the floor, and place the frame legs into dishes or cups of mineral oil.

Caulk and seal all holes where pipes and wires penetrate walls and floor, and fill cracks around baseboards and cover moldings to reduce harborages. It may be necessary to take your personal items out of the infested room while extermination takes place. If so, be careful to clean the items beforehand as best you can to avoid carrying bed bugs into other rooms. Make sure that all items have been thoroughly inspected for bedbugs and cleaned before bringing them back into the room. A second or third treatment may be necessary in order to kill bugs that emerge from eggs.


Successful control of bed bugs requires cooperation between the tenant and the landlord. The landlord must provide extermination services, and the tenant must make efforts to keep areas clean and allow access to all areas for extermination.