How Can You Kill Bed Bugs With Heat

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control

Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own?

Treating bed bugs is complex. Your likelihood of success depends on many factors, including:

  • How many bed bugs you have;
  • How much clutter is available for hiding places;
  • Whether your neighbors have bedbugs; and
  • Whether all residents of a house or building will participate.

Getting rid of bed bugs completely can take weeks to months, depending on the nature and extent of the infestation. To be successful, everyone will need to cooperate and do their part.

The following steps will help you begin:

You may have to follow these steps more than once to kill all the bugs and their eggs.

Identify the Problem

  • Identify the pest:
  • Collect a sample of the pest to show an extension agentExitor other insect expert.
  • Extension agents can identify the pest at no cost to you. They are trained in pest control and know your local area.
  • If an extension agent or other expert says the pest is a bed bug, notify your landlord if you live in an apartment. The units near yours should be inspected.
    • Landlords may have a responsibilityExit to participate in treatment.
    • Check the housing codes and laws in your area.
    • Inspect all areas that may have bed bugs, plus surrounding living spaces, to find out the extent of infestation.
    • Develop a Strategy

      • Make a schedule for completing the steps below. Be sure to include any personal plans, such as vacations.
      • Keep records through the whole process. Note the dates and exact locations where pests are found. This will help you track progress and better know where to target your work.
      • Keep checking for at least a year after you’re done to make sure all the bed bugs are gone.

      Keep the Infestation from Spreading

      • Remove infested items. Place them in a sealed plastic bag and treat them. Learn more about treatment methods in the sections below.
      • Items that cannot be treated should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and left there for up to a year to ensure any active bugs are dead.
      • Empty the vacuum after each use. Seal the bag as tightly as possible and immediately throw it out in an outdoor trash container.
      • Discard furniture responsibly if you can’t safely eliminate the bed bugs. Destroy it so someone else won’t be tempted to bring it into their home. For example:
      • Rip covers and remove stuffing from furniture items.
      • Use spray paint to mark furniture with "Bed Bugs."
    • Have infested items picked up as soon as possible by the trash collection agency.
    • Don’t discard furniture if you can safely eliminate the bed bugs from it.
    • Prepare for Treatment

      Preparing for treatment is very important; it will make it easier to monitor for bed bugs that haven’t been eliminated. This preparation should be completed whether you are doing the treatment yourself or hiring a professional.

      Kill the Bed Bugs

      • Make sure the methods you select are safe, effective and legal. See What’s Legal, What’s Not.
      • Considernon-chemical methodsof killing bed bugs. Some will be more useful than others depending on your situation. These and other methods can be helpful, but they might not get rid of the infestation entirely:
      • Heat treatment:You can use a clothes dryer on high heat. You can also use black plastic bags in a hot, closed car in the sun, but success depends on your climate and other factors. Do-it-yourself heat treatments might not work. Professionals have access to more intensive and proven methods that can even treat whole houses with heat. You may also purchase a portable heat chamber, which is usually quite effective.
      • Cold treatmentcan be successful in the home environment if the freezer is set to 0 o F. You must leave the items in a sealed bag in the freezer at that temperature for four days. Always use a thermometer to check the temperature, since home freezers are not always set to 0 o .
      • Steam cleaners(wet or dry) can get into cracks and fabrics to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture. The steam temperature must be at least 130 o F but should not have a forceful airflow, or it may cause bed bugs to scatter. Use a diffuser to prevent scattering.
    • If needed,hire a pest management professional or use pesticidescarefully according to the label directions:
      • Look for EPA-registered pesticides that have bed bugs listed on the label.
      • Use foggers (bug bombs) only with extreme care and only if bed bugs are listed on the label. Improper use can harm your health or cause a fire or explosion. Foggers should not be your only method of bed bug control. The spray will not reach the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide. See Should I Use a Fogger? for more information.
      • Carefully look for any evidence of bed bugsevery few days after you complete your initial cleanup and control processes.If you see bed bugs, either the initial cleanup missed some bugs or eggs have hatched. Retreatment may be needed.
      • Consider using different types of pesticides if repeated treatments are needed.Desiccants (chemicals that dry things out) can be particularly effectivein some situations since they work by drying out the bug (which means the bed bugs can’t develop resistance).
        • If using desiccants, be sure to use only products registered by EPA as a pesticide.
        • Do not use pool- or food-grade diatomaceous earth(made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms). This type of diatomaceous earth can harm you when you breathe it in. The pesticide version uses a different size of diatoms, which reduces the hazard.
        • Desiccants can be very effective but may take several months to work.
        • Evaluate and Prevent

          • Continue to inspect for bed bugs, at least every 7 days, in case any eggs remain. You can use interceptors, traps or other monitoring methods. Interceptors are placed under the legs of furniture to catch bed bugs and keep them from climbing the legs. Commercial and do-it-yourself interceptors are options.
          • Continue to protect your home from bed bugs.

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          Using Heat to Kill Bed Bugs

          The Achilles heel of bed bugs is heat. Once you expose bed bugs to 120 o F or hotter both the bugs and eggs die very rapidly (less than a minute). This is why the best way to treat clothes that may be infested with bed bugs is to place them in a dryer on high for a full cycle (even a low cycle is usually enough with most dryers). There have been many companies that have taken this concept and created heating equipment that can generate enough heat to bring entire houses up to 120 degree or hotter. This is an excellent method to treat for bed bugs as it is one of the few treatments that can eliminate manageable infestations in one treatment and also reduces the amount of pesticides introduced to a home. The issue is that many homeowners that are looking for ways to treat their bed bug infestation read about heat and think they can open their windows on a hot day and treat their home for bed bugs. It unfortunately is never that easy.

          There is actually a lot of protocol and technique to heat treating a house. In addition to needing equipment that will bring the entire house up to 120 degrees all at once, you want to heat the house up slowly and circulate the heat in a very methodical fashion. Bringing the temperature up slowly and proper circulation reduces the amount of cool spots for the bugs to hide in. In addition to this, furniture and clutter needs to be moved, turned and tossed during treatment to further address any cold spots that may exist. That is why a dryer is ideal for heat treating clothes because it is constantly tossing the clothes around which assures equal distribution of the heat. Obviously there isn’t a “tumble cycle” for your home and the only way to properly distribute the heat is to turn items by hand. The issue is that you should be turning those items during heat treatment which exposes the technician to high temperatures which can have adverse health effects if not done properly and carefully. This is why we recommend that heat treatment be performed by trained professionals.

          I also receive questions from the occasional homeowner about renting heaters and heat treating their houses themselves. Not only is this a risk from a heat exposure perspective, many heaters need trained professionals to use them properly and reduce exposure to any exhaust that the heaters may create. Many rental heaters use propane as a fuel source which can also pose potential health risks. More reasons why heat treatment should be left to professionals.

          When it comes to professionals performing heat treatments, just like any other service in any other service industry, there are good companies and not so good companies. One question you can ask a service provider you are evaluating to treat your home is what is the critical temperature for bed bugs, how do you evaluate when a room is at that temperature and how long do you hold it for? As mentioned before something around 120 degrees is the temperature you want to them to answer with. In addition they should be using temperature monitors during a job and recording temperatures at different location throughout the job. They should be holding critical temperature during a bed bug treatment for a minimum of two hours and ideally for 3-4 hours. You can ask the service provider you choose for heating records at the conclusion of the job. This way you can see if they held the right temperature for the right time in different spots in the home.

          1. Heat is a great way to treat for bed bugs but there is a lot of protocol and technique to doing it right
          2. There are several different aspect to heat treatment that can pose significant health risks if not done properly – this makes heat treatment NOT a suitable DIY method
          3. Always ask a service provider treating your home how they are going to do it and for temperature records upon completion of the service – you want to see them hold 120 degrees or hotter for 2-4 hours

          How to Kill Bed Bugs With Heat: 4 Super-effective Methods

          Heat treatment is considered as a safe as well as an effective way of getting rid of bed bugs in the house. Read this article to know more about how to kill bed bugs with heat.

          Heat treatment is considered as a safe as well as an effective way of getting rid of bed bugs in the house. Read this article to know more about how to kill bed bugs with heat.

          Bed bugs are pests that are commonly found in our household. They first infest your sleeping areas like beds, mattresses, sofas, etc. and later on spread to every nook and corner of the house. They enter your house in search of food for their survival. These tiny parasites feed themselves with warm blood obtained from humans and pets living in the house. They attack your body at night when you are sleeping, suck out blood by piercing a hole into the skin and then hide themselves in and around the bed. Next morning, you feel severe itching and swollen bumps appear all over the body. If there is a heavy infestation in the bed, then they can badly disrupt your sleep at night. Therefore, killing of bed bugs in the house is very important before they cause any serious harm to you or your loved ones.

          How to Kill Bed Bugs with Heat

          Studies have found that bed bugs and their eggs cannot tolerate high temperatures. If they are exposed to about 120°F, they die within 15-20 minutes. You know that bed bug infestation is not just confined to bed area. They can be found all over the house. Now, heat has to be applied on different household items in a different manner. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss various methods of heat application on bed bugs.

          Hot Water Treatment

          All the washable items like linens, sheets, pillows, cushions, furniture coverings, garments, etc. should be washed in hot water. Put these materials in washing machine and set the temperature at 130°F. Keep them in the hot water for about half an hour. After washing, put them in the clothes dryer for drying. Here too, heat them at around the same temperature. Alternatively, you can dry the washed items under the sun. The bed bugs and their eggs will succumb to high temperature of the water and dryer.

          Dry Heat Exposure

          There are many such items like leather jackets, shoes, stuffed toys, etc. which cannot be washed in hot water as they may get damaged in water. In that case, bed bugs in these items have to be subjected to dry heat. Put each object to be treated by heat in separate plastic bags and seal them properly. While packing them, make sure they are not tightly folded inside the bag because then heat may not penetrate deep enough where the bugs are actually hidden. Place these bags in a clothes dryer and turn it on at 120°F. Keep the bags inside the dryer for the next 15-20 minutes. After that, remove the bags from the dryer and allow them to cool down before you take out the contents. Finally, vacuum clean the heat treated items in order to clean up residues of killed bed bugs.

          Steam Cleaning

          Bed bugs in carpets, rugs and furniture of the house can be killed by steam cleaning. If you do not have a portable steam cleaner at home, then you can get one on rental basis. When the steam is pushed through the fabrics of the carpet, bed bugs trapped there come in contact with the high temperature of the steam and they die. While using a steam cleaner on a furniture, you need a machine with a small nozzle that can release steam into the small cracks and crevices of the furniture. If required, you can repeat steam cleaning treatment one more time after two weeks to ensure that all bed bugs are gone.

          Use Heat Gun

          Heat gun can be used for getting rid of bed bugs that are hidden in large areas like mattresses, beds and upholstered furniture in a bedroom. You have to take a few precautions before you start using the heat gun. First of all, keep children and pets away from the work area. Keep a fire extinguisher at hand. Do not wear any kind of loose fitted clothes while working with a heat gun. Set the temperature of the gun at 200°F. Hold the gun 4 inches away from the surface to be treated and turn it on. Move it gradually in circular motion on the entire area. While working on the mattresses, apply heat on both sides and do not forget its seams. Similarly, in case of beds and other furniture, heat should be applied on all the surfaces including the underside. Thus, you can eliminate bed bugs completely from all corners and crevices.

          Once you have freed your house from bed bugs, make sure you do not have another infestation. To prevent it, you must keep your house clean. You can continue with the thorough cleaning of the household items with hot water once in a month. After traveling, treat your luggage with the heat gun before you bring them inside your house.

          Does heat kill bed bugs? How hot? What temperature?

          Does heat kill bed bugs? What temperature kills bed bugs? How hot does it have to be?

          The simple answer is heat kills bed bugs!Heat has been scientifically proven to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs. The question is how long does it take for heat to kill bed bugs and their eggs and what temperature must be achieved for a complete ‘kill’?

          Much study has been done in recognized institutions in the past three years on this very subject. Now there is real data backed up by leading scientific researchers that give us the answers we’ve been looking for. Dr. Dini Miller Ph.D is one of a few leading researchers in the field of killing bed bugs with heat. Dr. Miller, among others, have concluded scientifically that not only is it possible to kill bed bugs with heat but have indicated at what temperature and for how long to achieve optimum results.

          What temperature kills bed bugs? How hot is hot enough?

          The next obvious question is. what temperature is required to kill bed bugs and their eggs? Again, a great deal of effort has gone into studying this very question. The answer is simply that by heating up the area in which bed bugs are found to 120 – 140 degrees for at least 4 hours kills most bed bugs and their eggs. However, reputable bed bug exterminators that use heat will routinely keep the home heated at that temperature for longer than the 4 hours. The reason for this is to ensure that the heat permeates into every crack and crevice in the home – especially behind baseboards and underneath air vents.

          Achieving the requisite temperature for bed bug extermination is best done via the glycol bed bug heat treatment system as that system can easily achieve the required temperature kill zone quickly and maintain that high temperature indefinitely without the use of propane or high-voltage electric heaters. The glycol system is simply more efficient and much safer than any other system.

          Bed Bug Heat Treatment Cost

          Learn about bed bug heat treatment costs and considerations. While costs can vary, the right professionals can help make sure your bed bug treatment is worth every penny

          Bed Bug Heat Treatment: Cost and Considerations

          From your mattress and box spring to your carpet and baseboards, bed bugs can nest almost anywhere in your bedroom. In fact, most bed bug infestations occur within a few feet of their human blood meal host, like your bed or other furniture. Not to mention, they can hide in crevices as small as nail indentations in your wall. As so, bed bugs can be hard to kill, no matter how prepared you think you might be. That’s why a bed bug heat treatment can be one of the most effective solutions. Costs will vary depending on the type of treatment used and the size of the infestation.

          Successfully getting rid of bed bugs relies on early detection, proper preparedness and correct treatment methods. That’s where heat treatment comes in. So what is bed bug heat treatment, and how does heat kill bed bugs? Let’s look at some of the common methods used by some pest management professionals .

          Can a Hot Box Kill Bed Bugs?

          By placing items such as shoes, dry cleaning, blankets, bags of clothing or even luggage into a hot box, sustained heat is used to kill bed bugs. Generally, a dryer is used for clothing and linens, and a heat chamber is used for the items that can’t be put into a dryer. In both instances, the heat penetrates small crevices that cannot be inspected. Lethal temperatures for bed bugs range from 117–122° degrees Fahrenheit. The walls of hot boxes reach a higher temperature than the suggested lethal range, though, to permeate the belongings placed within. This can help kill all bed bugs in all their life cycle stages.

          How the box is heated is important. The wrong or misused heat source can cause fires, so caution must be used with this method. Also, some items may become damaged by the heat source if it’s too close or too hot. Proper ventilation must be applied to some heat sources, such as gas or propane, for them to be safely used inside a building, and you should always check manufacturers’ laundering instructions of all applicable items before heating any item in a dryer or heat chamber.

          Will Steam Kill Bed Bugs?

          Will steam kill bed bugs? In short, yes — steam is another form of heat that can help kill bed bugs, larvae and eggs. Steam treatment is no more labor intensive than other methods. However, it’s not meant to penetrate materials deep enough to kill hidden bed bugs. In fact, the University of Minnesota states that steaming can kill bed bugs in cracks and crevices no deeper than 2⅜ inches.

          Steaming works best on items such as box springs, bed frames, blankets, sheets, curtains and pillows. It can even be used on several items without causing destruction. That said, steaming utilizes high heat (up to 230° Fahrenheit) and could damage certain items. Not to mention, it can pose dangers to children and adults when mishandled. As so, you should consult a pest management professional and the applicable manufacturers’ laundering instructions to determine whether steaming is the right solution for your home .

          Can Dryers Help to Kill Bed Bugs?

          As discussed above, regular residential clothes dryers can also destroy bed bugs. In fact, the washing machine and hot soapy water can help kill them. There are many items that cannot be washed, though. Instead, these items may be able to run through a dryer cycle without damage. This includes stuffed animals and "dry clean only" items. The heat of the clothes dryer alone can kill bed bugs. It’s recommended that you dry items on high heat for at least 20 minutes. Be aware that some items cannot go in the washer or dryer. Always refer to the manufacturers’ laundering instructions. Additionally, it’s important to keep freshly cleaned items away from the infestation. If not, they can easily become reinfested.

          How Much Does Bed Bug Treatment Cost?

          So how much does bed bug heat treatment cost? Prices can vary, depending on the pest management professional, the type of heat treatment used and the size of the infestation. Be sure to do your research when it comes to local pest control companies to ensure your bed bug treatment cost is worth every penny.

          How to Prepare for Bed Bug Heat Treatments?

          If your home is about to undergo heat treatment for bed bugs, preparation is vital. While your pest management professional should provide any necessary instructions, North Carolina State University also recommends completing the following actions prior to treatment:

          • Do not move items to another room in your home. This may cause the infestation to spread to other areas.
          • Seal all items on the ground in plastic bags. If these items are infested, sealing them can trap bed bugs inside.
          • Launder sheets according to the manufacturers’ instructions and store them in sealed plastic bags upon cleaning. Do not remove these items until your pest management professional has deemed them clean.

          If you have bed bugs in your home, schedule an appointment with Terminix. Our trained technicians can help determine the best solution for your home, which may or may not include some type of heat treatment. They can even help walk you through the necessary steps for preparation so that you get the most out of your service.

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