Curious about killing bed bugs with heat? Join the club. Using heat treatment for bed bugs is one of the smartest ways to get rid of these buggers for good.
As more and more people catch on to the benefits of natural pest control options, heat is becoming one of the go to options when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs.
But does it work? And which heat treatment for bed bugs is the best? We’ve got you covered on all fronts here. Read on for everything you need to know about killing bed bugs with heat.
Does Heat Kill Bed Bugs?
In short: yes, heat kills bed bugs. In fact, heat treatment for bed bugs has been rising in demand as more people catch on to its unique advantages. Like what, you ask?
First of all, heat provides a way to kill bed bugs without using any pesticides. Chemical insecticides can have harmful effects not only on the bed bugs they’re supposed to kill, but also on anybody exposed to them.
As we become more aware of the potentially harmful effects of chemicals in our environment, more and more people are unwilling to apply them in their home.
Heat is all-natural so it’s safe and non-toxic for you and your family, it’s convenient and sanitary, and the best part? It’s very lethal for bed bugs.
Which brings us to another unique advantage of heat treatment for bed bugs – death by extreme heat is a guaranteed death.
You see, bed bugs are hardy creatures that are becoming more and more resistant to the pesticides most commonly used against them. Combine that with their astonishing reproductive rate and you can see why if we keep throwing chemicals at the problem, pretty soon the chemicals won’t work anymore.
One of the major advantages of heat is that the bed bugs aren’t going to become resistant to it. And a happy side effect is that your home won’t smell like a mad scientist’s lab after treatment.
At What Temperature Do Bed Bugs Die?
Studies have found that bed bugs will die at 113 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s sustained for 90 minutes or more. But they’ll die even quicker – just 20 minutes – at 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bed bug eggs are a little more resilient – to get rid of them, you need to expose them to 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes to reach 100% mortality.
So in short, the temperature you’re going to be aiming for is 118°F. Memorize that number. If you’re looking to kill bed bugs with heat, that’s the temperature you’re going to aim for.
Doesn’t sound that hot, does it? And it’s not, by human standards. It’s certainly warm enough to make us uncomfortable, but it’s nothing compared to the heat of even a conventional household oven.
But when it comes to bed bugs, sustained temperatures of 118°F and above work wonderfully well at killing bed bugs and their entire families. And that’s what makes heat such a superior way to wipe out a bed bug infestation…
Why Use Heat to Kill Bed Bugs?
So why is killing bed bugs with heat so great?
Heat makes a superior bed bug killer for one big reason: it kills bed bug eggs. This is critical if you want to actually solve an infestation, rather than merely reduce it.
Bed bugs lay eggs the same way teenagers distribute memes: carelessly, enthusiastically and prolifically. Which is why no bed bug treatment will be effective without dealing with the eggs.
But this is something that very few chemicals can do. The tough shell of a bed bug egg protects the growing embryo from all but the harshest chemicals.
However, even the toughest bed bug eggs are vulnerable to heat. The application of high temperatures will cook those eggs in no time.
So if heat’s so great, how do you use it in your own home to get rid of bed bugs? Exactly how do you expose these pesky blood suckers to heat high enough to kill them? It can all be done in the comfort for your home.
In fact, you have a couple of options. Let’s explore the best ways to kill bed bugs with heat.
DIY Heat Treatments for Bed Bugs
The great thing about using heat to kill bed bugs is that you can get started right away. Here are two options to start killing bed bugs with heat right in the comfort of your home.
The Washer & Dryer
This under-appreciated household appliance is hands down the easiest way to kill bed bugs and will soon become your best friend in your battle to get rid of bed bugs.
That’s because clothes dryers typically reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than sufficient to kill bed bugs for good.
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Use it for clothes, towels, bedding, stuffed animals, backpacks, sleeping bags and any other fabric that can survive the dryer.
The bed bugs will probably be dead after 30 minutes on high heat, but run it for at least 90 minutes to make sure you killed them all – including the bed bug eggs.
Note: Of course, you can first run everything through the washer at the highest setting before placing it into the dryer for a more thorough bed bug massacre.
Bed Bug Steamer
A steamer is probably the most handy tool you can have in your fight against bed bugs since it allows you to kill bed bugs in large, hard-to-wash objects that are likely to harbor the majority of the bed bug infestation, such as beds and couches.
You can also use a steamer on box springs, bed frames, in the corners, nooks and crannies of wooden furniture, heavy comforters you can’t wash and dry, curtains, pillows, mattresses, sofas and other upholstered furniture as well as along the tacking strips of carpet and behind baseboards.
Pretty much anywhere bed bugs and their spawn may hide is fair game for a steamer. Steam is very effective for killing bed bugs on contact and can reach up to 3/4″ into fabric surfaces as well as 2 to 4″ into cracks and crevices.
A professional heat steam treatment costs $300 to $1,200 but you can pick up a home steam cleaner at a fraction of the price that you can use again and again to clean and sanitize your house, even after you get rid of bed bugs.
Our favorite, best value steamer for killing bed bugs is the McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner. It quickly heats up water – just 8 minutes! – to produce steam that is over 200°F, which is more than hot enough to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
If you want to get know more about the bed steamers for bed bugs – check out our in-depth article below.
Armed with a dryer and a steamer, you could kill off a huge chunk of your bed bug population. But if you have a full-blown infestation, you may need to bring in the big guns.
Professional Bed Bug Heat Treatment
What was that temperature I told you to memorize? That’s right, 118°F. Bed bugs and their eggs die at this temperature. But it’s important to note that they don’t do it right away. It can take a couple of hours to kill a bed bug at this temperature.
Many pest control companies use a heat treatment to bring an entire house up to this temperature and hold it there for hours at a time, killing all bed bugs inside. They do this in a few different ways, but no matter what heat source they use, the process is more or less the same.
Bringing large commercial heaters and fans to move the hot air around, they will raise the temperature of your house above the point of bed bug death.
As you can imagine, this is a very time-consuming treatment that requires a lot of specialized equipment. Don’t think that merely cranking the thermostat in your house is going to get rid of bed bugs, because it won’t.
Even if you could heat your home to 118°F with your regular heater, you need to remember that bed bugs are very mobile. As the heat rises, they will seek out the coldest part of the house. So the coldest part of the house needs to be 118°F or higher.
This means that the warmest regions, such as up close to the ceiling, will be far, far hotter.
Heat treatments can work if done correctly. After all, the science behind them is sound. That doesn’t mean that you won’t find horror stories of failed treatments and disappointed customers.
When choosing a pest control company, it’s essential to do your research. Do they provide any kind of guarantee? What’s their track record like?
It’s also important to note that bed bug heat treatments are costly. Expect to spend thousands of dollars on a treatment like this. And as with any other contractor that you invite into your home, you don’t necessarily want to go with the cheapest quote.
Bed Bug Heaters
If a professional bed bug heat treatment sound like a little more than you can budget for at the moment, there is equipment that will allow you to emulate it yourself.
If you have a lot of items in your house that you can’t simply toss in the dryer or clean out one by one, a bed bug hot box is the best thing to kill bed bugs on pretty much all your belongings.
These units can safely heat up to around 160°F and effectively kill bed bugs within a few hours.
The large heaters like the ZappBug Room can be pricey – but it’s huge enough to fit in furniture like mattresses and couches, as well as entire shelving units so you get rid of bed bugs from pretty much everything you own.
This is hands-down the most convenient option to heat treat all your stuff for bed bugs in one easy go, but if the cost is prohibitive – check around your area for bed bug heater rentals.
If it turns out that the cost of renting a unit for several days and the cost for buying a unit is roughly the same, check with your neighbors to see if they’d be interested in sharing the costs with you.
Especially if you live in a multi-unit building like an apartment or condo, there’s a good chance your neighbors are dealing with a bed bug infestation as well so you can likely all chip in for a quick solution.
Plus, this way, you can eradicate the bed bug problem from the entire building, making re-infestation a lot less likely.
Another option for treating smaller objects that can’t be places in the dryer is to opt for a smaller, portable heater. These are perfect for things like shoes, handbags, books, papers, tools, clothes, and even your suitcase, which makes it an essential bed bug prevention tool to take along when you travel.
The ThermalStrike Ranger is the best to take along on vacation – it folds up nicely, hardly takes up any room in a carry-on, and will prevent any bed bugs hitching a ride back home with you.