I know that having bed bugs can be extremely stressful! I've had that problem myself. And they're not just stressful because of their bite. They also poop a lot!
Bed bug poop looks like ink stains and have a brown and blackish color. You'll find them most of the time on fabrics (sheets & mattress). And they can smell pretty bad, but they're usually not hard to clean up. Keep reading to learn more!
The first thing you need to know is that bed bugs don't spread diseases. For decades many studies have shown that bed bug bites or poop are harmless to both humans and pets. Or so we thought.
Just a couple of years ago a study from Penn Medicine confirmed that bed bugs can transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, which is the parasite that causes Chagas disease. And that's one of the most deadly diseases in North, Central and South America.
But don't get too worried! The possibility of this ever happening is very very small. But in theory, bed bugs could transmit Chagas through their poop. But it's unlikely because in order to transmit Chagas through their poop a bed bug would have to defecate inside the wound they leave in your flesh after they bite. And that's highly unlikely because their mouth is very far away from where they defecate.
Anyway, I'm just telling you this so that you know the facts. But in my opinion, only unprofessional pest control companies will tell you about this so that you spend a lot of money on anti bed bug treatments.
The short answer is... yes! If you've found bed bug poop, that almost certainly means that you have bed bugs. And it's not just me saying that. A famous research by the American Society for Microbiology reached that conclusion as well.
However, this might not be true if you're visiting a hotel, Airbnb, etc. The hotel (or host) might have killed all the bed bugs but haven't cleaned all the bed bug poop. Bed bug poop is not difficult to clean, but it's sometimes hard to find all of it.
It would be wise, however, to contact the front desk or your host to ask them if they've had your room cleaned recently. Because if they haven't... you could get bitten. Or what might be even worse... you could bring bed bugs back home.
It's very important to know how to identify bed bug poop because it's usually the first sign that you might have bed bugs. Some people don't notice that they're being bitten for weeks, and finding bed bug poop early on is a huge advantage. The sooner you take care of the problem, the better.
Bed bugs only eat blood. So their feces usually have very consistent color (unlike other animals). The color is like a dark brown. Some would say that's even black.
Bed bugs are tiny (about 1mm), so their feces are very small too. They might look bigger sometimes because they tend to poop over and over again on the same spots.
Bed bug poop is surprisingly round. That's usually because they poop on fabric and it extends through the fabric evenly. Just think of it as a water drop. Most of the time it will spread the same in all directions.
This is a tough call. Because they're so small is hard to tell what they smell like. But while bed bug poop smell is difficult to tell, bed bug's smell (overall) isn't. If you'd like to know more about bed bug smell we have an entire post talking about the different smells that you might encounter and how to deal with it:
Bed bug's poop isn't like mammal's. It's always liquid! But because they usually poop on fabric, it looks more like a stain than actual poop. The only way you'll ever be able to pick up bed bug poop is if they've pooped on a surface that won't absorb liquid. In that case, the poop will dry and you'll be able to sweep it easily.
Bed bug poop can be found anywhere bed bugs are. But as we just mentioned fabrics are their favorite spot to hang out (and poop). It's because they have claws at the end of their legs, that help them climb. And fabrics are just a ladder to them!
The most common place where you'll find bed bug poop is in your sheets or mattress. Bed bugs like to poop right after they eat (or even while they eat). So finding bed bug poop in your sheets is very very likely.
They look like tiny ink dots. Like if someone had carefully used a fountain pen to stain your sheets.
Bed bugs like to feed on the same victim over and over again. That's why they usually live close to where their victim sleeps. They come out when their victim is sleeping and feed on their blood. And they can do this every single night!
To do so, they identify and remember their victim's smell. That way they know where to go to feed again. So... when you take of your clothes and leave them in your closet or on a chair (without washing them first), they'll recognize your smell on those clothes and go there looking for you. They won't find you there, of course, but they'll poop.
This is where most of the poop accumulates. But surprisingly, it's not the first thing that most people notice. Bed bugs love to hide on mattresses and come out to feed at night. Once they've fed, they'll go back to their hiding spot. And your mattress is their favorite hiding spot. Most people never look under (or in the corners) of their mattress, and it's close to their food source.
But mattresses aren't the only place where bed bugs can hide. They can also hide on or inside your walls! They're terrific climbers and most walls aren't a challenge to them.
If you have bed bugs on your walls (or even inside them), you'll almost certainly find their poop on the corners of the wall or close to the entrance of the wall (baseboard, electrical outlet, cracks, etc.).
If you do find bed bugs inside or on your walls, I would recommend you to check out these 2 posts we wrote because getting rid of those bed bugs is slightly different:
This is by far the most important section of this post.
When you realize that you have a bed bug problem the first thing you want to do is not to get bitten. The second thing is to get rid of them. But since getting rid of them might take a couple of days, it would be nice not to get bitten while you're at it.
Luckily for you, there's a way that will prevent them from bitting AND from pooping in your mattress and/or sheets. But keep in mind that this is just a temporal solution. You have to get rid of bed bugs like it or not. There're two things that you should do:
1. Start using a bed bug detergent.
This is an extremely simple way of not getting bitten. But for some reason not a lot of people do it! And it works like a charm.
Just clean your sheets using a special detergent and they won't want to crawl out of their hiding spot. But follow the instructions carefully. You have to clean your sheets every certain amount of time for the detergent to be effective.
This is by far the best one I've tried. It's made by a company that manufactures all types of products to kill bed bugs. This is by far their #1 best seller:
2. Use a mattress encasement.
A mattress encasement acts as a barrier. Bed bugs won't be able to come inside your mattress or come out (if they're already inside). So it's a good thing to have.
However, it's not going to protect you from other bed bugs living in your walls or furniture.
I honestly think that most mattress cases work ok. Especially because it should be a temporal solution to the problem (until you kill all of them). This one is Amazon's best-seller in case you want to check it out:
As we said earlier, bed bug poop isn't very hard to clean. But depending on where they've pooped and how long that poop has been sitting there for, it can be easier or harder.
The following 3 methods should work for almost any bed bug poop stain. The first method is less invasive than the second. And the second is less invasive than the third. So... start with method number 1 and move up if the stain doesn't go away. All these 3 methods work for any type of fabric.
If the stain is on your clothing or sheets, simply wash your clothes.
If the stain is sitting on your mattress or any other type of fabric that's harder to clean using a washing machine, make a solution of water and soap and blot the stain carefully until it goes away. It's important to blot the stain (not to rub it) because otherwise, you could spread the stain. It might take longer, but it's the safest way of cleaning it.
If the previous method didn't work, it's time to try a Hydrogen Peroxide solution. This method could be dangerous for children or pets, so please be careful when applying it.
These are the steps you have to take:
1. Create the mix: You'll use 2 parts hydrogen peroxide and 1 part dish soap. This could also be hand soap, although dish soap tends to work better for some reason.
2. Apply the mix with a toothbrush and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
3. Use a clean cloth and blot the stain until it has disappeared.
4. Once the stain is out, you'll need water to clean the soapy mixture up. If not, you'll probably get the "soap stain". So... pour a little water with a spray bottle and blot until the soapy mix is out of your carpet completely.
If you're wondering where to buy hydrogen peroxide, this is the one we've tested for carpet and rug cleaning and the one we usually recommend:
If the previous method isn't working (or you can't apply it for whatever reason), you could try steam cleaning. This will almost certainly work for any surface, but it's especially effective against bed bug stains on walls or fabrics.
If you're in the market for a steam cleaner that works great for almost anything, this is the one I would recommend. We chose one with a hose because it's the only way to actually clean all the walls. And since you're most likely (and hopefully!) not going to have bed bugs after you've killed them all, this steam cleaner is super useful for any other things. And it's very affordable!
Some of our readers have told us through our Ask an Expert section that they've found stains on their sheets that don't seem to be bed bug poop but are somehow related to bed bugs.
Since it's happened to many of you, we've included the 2 most common stains that you could encounter:
The first one is blood. Your blood, not the bed bugs. Right after they feed their mouth is filled with blood and the wound on your skin open. So it's likely that either the bugs moving (or yourself) could stain your sheets.
Cleaning blood is not difficult, but you need to know how to take care of it the right way. Try washing your sheets the way you would normally do. If the stain doesn't go away, we wrote a post on how to clean blood out of carpets a while ago. The methods on that post should help you get the stain out.
The second type of stain that you might encounter is the stain that's left after a bed bug has been crushed. This happens a lot, although you might not notice it. When you're sleeping and you move around, you could be crushing bed bugs without even knowing it.
If the bed bug hasn't fed recently, it's unlikely that it will stain anything. But if it has, it will leave a stain of blood in your sheets. Just clean it like you would clean regular blood. It's pretty much the same.
And that's it! Everything you ever wanted to know about bed bug poop in this ultimate guide. I hope you found it useful! And if you did, perhaps you'll find some of these other posts useful too!
Hello, I'm Jeremy. I used to own a blog about pest control until Jimena found me and asked me to join the Carpet and Rug World team. I'm passionate about carpet beetles, bed bugs, moths, etc. A lot of people don't understand how that's possible. I always say that the smile on a person's face when they get rid of the problem is worth it!