In The Complete Vermin-Killer, published January 1777, I discovered a list of old-time recipes for getting rid of bed bugs. Back in the day, three out of four houses were infested with bed bugs. If you’re suffering from bed bugs bites, you may not find this list of home remedies amusing. However, I hope it will make you pick up the phone and call a bed bug professional. I promise we will not put rabbit guts under your bed.
Recipes I DO NOT RECOMMEND to prevent the breeding of bed bugs, from The Complete Vermin-Killer
House-Bugs. The method of destroying them.
Spread gunpowder, beaten small, about the crevices of your bedstead; fire it with a match, and keep the smoke in; do this for an hour or more and keep the room close several hours.
Boil a hand full of Wormwood and white Hellesbore in a proper quantity of Urine, till half of it is evaporated; and wash the joints of your bedsteads with the remainder.
Infuse a quantity of unslaked Lime in a quart of Water, which having stood three or four days, pur off the Water; add a quantity of common Salt, and apply this mixture to the bedstead, or other infected places, till the Bugs are destroyed.
Brimstone burnt under the joints and crevices of the bedstead, will drive them out, when they may be easily killed. The room should be kept shut while this is done twice or three times in a week.
Mix the juice of wild Cucumbers with good Tar, stirring it for two days, five times each day, and then rub it well on the bedstead.
White-wine Vinegar, mixed with the powder of Squills (note: Squill is a bulb used as a medicinal), and rubbed into the bedstead with a sponge will destroy Bugs.
They have been killed by the guts of Rabbits boiled in water, and placed under the bed.
Take the Gall of an Ox, and mix it with Vinegar; or mix Ox-gall with the dregs of Oil, and rub it in the cracks or joints of your bedstead.
Powdered Brimstone and old oil mixed together, is deemed a good ointment for the bedstead.
Rub your bedstead with Vinegar and Glue boiled together, which is accounted a sure destroyer of Bugs.
Mix a handfull of Wormwood and Rue, with common Oil, and as much Water as will cover the Wormwood and Rue; let this boil till the Water is evaporated; then strain away the Water from the Herbs, and mix with it an equal quantity of Mutton Suet, anoint the bedsteaqd with it; and the remedy is deemed effectual.
Wash your room and bedstead with Soap that has been left at the bottom of a tub after washing; first boiling some Onions with the Soap.
Strong Vinegar, mixed with Salt, being sprinkled in a room, is good against Bugs and Fleas. —Vinegar alone, or Rue, Wormwood and Rosemary, are good preventative remedies.
Twice a month, in hot weather, burn in your chamber three ounces of Guinea-pepper on a chafing-dish of coals, taking care to keep the doors and windows fast: but let no one remain in the room as the consequence would be very prejudicial.
Bruise Wormwood and Mustard, and boil them in Water for fifteen minutes; then mix some Salt with the Water, and wash your floors and bedsteads, as a remedy against other vermin besides Bugs.
Wash your rooms and bedsteads twice a week with Water, in which the rind of green Walnuts well bruised, has been steeped three or four days.
Wash your bedsteads, floors and walls, with Water made strong by the Boiling Colloquintida seeds in it for a quarter of an hour.
A Bear’s skin hung in your room, is said to be effectual to drive away Bugs.
Basket-makers fell a Trap made of Wicker to catch Bugs. It must be about eighteen inches in depth, and four feet an half long, or more if the bed be wide. Place this at the head of the bed, at the bottom of the pillow; and in the morning they will creep into it, when they may be easily taken away and destroyed.
Fill a number of bags pricked full of holes, with dried Wormwood, and lay them between your bed and sacking, mats or boards, and some under the bolster, and on the floor under the bed. The breeding of Bugs and Fleas is prevented by this practice.
Finally; and as a great promoter of cleanliness, keep your rooms decent, set open the windows early every morning, and lay your bed-cloaths open for some hours.