How Does Bed Bug Heat Treatment Work


Bed Bugs

When Treatments Don’t Work

If the goal is to eliminate bed bugs, the job has to be done correctly. Bed bugs are so small that they can live in a crack the width of a credit card, increasing the control challenge.

Pesticides often are an important part of a control strategy but they must be used properly for the treatment to work. There can be many reasons for failure of a pesticide treatment to completely control the bed bugs, including:

  • Not finding all the bed bugs.
  • Inadequately preparing area (failure to remove clutter, seal cracks and crevices, etc.).
  • Overlooking treatment of any of the known resting areas (bed bugs may rest or hide in hampers, bed frames, even furniture).
  • Failing to treat nearby areas where bed bugs may have migrated (adjacent rooms or other apartments in multi-dwelling housing).
  • Disregarding recommended label rates (applying pesticides at too low a rate may not kill bugs and may speed up development of resistance to that chemical).
  • Not following up on treatment in an appropriate timeframe (many pesticides will not kill eggs, so treatment must be repeated after the eggs hatch, or the infestation will not be controlled).
  • Not allowing enough time for a pesticide to work (some pesticides, such as drying agents or growth regulators, may be effective but take some time to kill the population).
  • Bed bugs becoming resistant to a specific type of pesticide.
  • As insects, such as bed bugs, are exposed to a pesticide over time, the most susceptible ones are killed first, leaving only the less susceptible ones to breed. This can result in a rapid decline in relative effectiveness of the pesticide.

Pesticide Resistance as a Cause of Treatment Failure

While there is evidence of resistance in some populations to certain types of pesticides, pesticide resistance can only be verified in laboratory tests. Researchers are currently trying to determine the scope of the resistance problem, which will vary from community to community. This research will support the development and use of effective control strategies.

Because of the potential for resistance, homeowners and others trying to control bed bug infestations must always use pesticides appropriately and according to the label. It is also important to:

  • be vigilant in surveillance, identification, and monitoring efforts;
  • hire trained, experienced, and reputable pest management professionals; and
  • use a comprehensive approach.

For example, you may wish to:

  • choose different types of pesticides from the list of currently labeled ones for sequential treatments; or
  • use pesticides for which insect resistance has not yet been reported, such as diatomaceous earth, in combination with other control techniques.

Remember, as illustrated in the list above, resistance is only one of many possible causes of a treatment failure. All possibilities must be explored in any situation.

Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

Bedbug Treatments: Facts and Myths

What works and what doesn’t to get rid of a bedbug infestation?

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Bedbugs aren’t easy to get rid of, and in desperation, you might be tempted to try the first remedy you read about online. Unfortunately, many of these methods are ineffective—and some can even be dangerous. If you ever find yourself in a battle with these pesky varmints, make sure to separate fact from fiction before you fight back. Knowing what works and what doesn’t will save you time, money, and aggravation.

Fact: You’ll Need to Call Pest Control

The most effective means of getting rid of bedbugs is to call in a trained professional and have them apply a pesticide. Many pros also recommend giving your home a thorough cleaning because bedbugs can hide anywhere and pesticides can’t be applied to everything you own. You’ll need to get rid of clutter and launder anything washable in hot water. You may also need to steam-clean your carpets and furniture.

Fact: Pesticides Don’t Always Work

Bugs can develop resistance to pesticides over time, especially if they’re overapplied. Chemicals, such as deltamethrin, that were once commonly used to combat certain pests are no longer effective. According to research from 2017, bedbugs may be developing resistance to pyrethrums, the most common chemical used to combat them.

Fact: You May Not Have to Toss Your Furniture

If the infestation is caught early, a professional pest control application and diligent cleaning should remove these critters from your furniture. More severe infestations are another matter. If your mattress is torn or separated at the seams, bedbugs have likely moved inside, making treatment near impossible. In such circumstances, replacement may be your only option.

Fact: Mattress Covers Work

A number of companies make bedbug resistant mattress covers that form an impenetrable barrier around the exterior of your mattress. If you’ve had your home treated for a bedbug infestation, using a mattress cover can prevent any remaining bugs in your mattress from getting out and biting you.

Myth: You Can Kill Bedbugs With Bug Bombs

Bug bombs, or total room foggers, release a pesticide into the air in your home. Most bug bombs contain pyrethrin, one of the chemicals used to combat bedbugs, so you might think this product is an effective way to eliminate an infestation. Not so.

First of all, bedbugs (and other crawling insects) typically flee when pesticide is released, heading for cover in the deepest, most inaccessible crevices of your home. Second, effective treatment requires directed applications in all the places where bedbugs hide: behind moldings and casements, inside electrical boxes, or inside mattresses, for example. Chemicals released by a bomb simply can’t reach such places adequately to kill all the bedbugs in your home.

Myth: Bedbug Sniffing Dogs are Highly Effective

While companies that use bug-sniffing dogs may claim a success rate of over 90%, the truth is, there hasn’t been a lot of testing to see if these claims are true. (And at between $500 and $1,000 for their services, that’s an expensive "maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t.") In 2011, two researchers at Rutgers University did put some bedbug-sniffing dogs through their paces in real apartment buildings, and the results were nowhere near as effective as advertised. The accuracy of the dogs’ detecting abilities averaged just 43%.

Myth: You Can Kill Bedbugs by Turning Up The Heat

Heat treatments do kill bed bugs effectively, but simply turning up your thermostat isnota heat treatment. To roast bedbugs in your home, you’d have to heat the entire house evenly to over 120° F for at least an hour (including the voids between interior and exterior walls and the insides of your furniture). No home heating system is designed to do that. Professional heat treatments usually involve sealing your home and using multiple heat sources throughout the house to raise the temperature.

Myth: You Can Kill Bedbugs by Turing Off The Heat

Temperatures below 32° F can and do kill bed bugs outside of the home—if temperatures remain below freezing for a prolonged period of time. but who wants to live in a freezing house? Moving out for the two to three months that it would take to starve bed bugs of their source of food (you) is equally impractical.

Do Bed Bug Heat Treatments Work?

How do pest control professionals get rid of bed bugs with heat?

Heat treatments are one of the strategies that pest control companies can use to get rid of bed bugs. Heat services involve the use of a unit that physically heats a room or entire house to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit which is optimal for eliminating bed bugs. A heat trailer is stationed outside to provide power for the heating units, and fans are placed in the treated areas to circulate throughout the space to evenly heat all of the items in the room.

Heat is filtered indoors

With all of the methods out there such as heat, freezing, and pesticides, what makes heat unique?


  • Bed Bugs Hate Heat-To effectively use heat as a means to kill bed bugs, the affected room needs to be heated up to 117-122 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs will die if exposed to such temperatures for an extended period.
  • Quick Results-If heat is properly used in conjunction with chemical applications, it can be one of the quickest ways to get rid of bed bugs. Services take an average of 6 hours to complete, and you can return to your home after it’s complete. This means you don’t have to stay overnight at a motel or a family member’s house while technicians use intensive practices to get rid of bed bugs.

A heat trailer provides power for the indoor units


  • Heat Alone Is Not Enough- Without the integration of pesticide treatments and encasements, heat treatments alone will not completely solve the problem.
  • The Size of the Space Matters- Although a lot of pest control companies will offer heat treatments for your entire home, this is not best practice. This tactic works best in apartments and condos wherethe spaceis small enough to contain the heat. If the space is too large, heat my not evenly reach all bed bugs. Fans are necessary to aid this effort.

Fans distribute the heat throughout the space

  • Not All Surfaces Are Equal-Different materials such as concrete create “heat sinks.” This means that concrete surfaces absorb more heat and other areas produce cold spots. Infested furniture needs to be rotated throughout the length of the treatment to ensure cold spots aren’t created where it touches the ground.
  • Bed Bug Bounce Back-Heat pushes bed bug activity down to a lower level. Without proper treatments and professional monitoring, the undetected bed bugs will resurface and multiply. Heat treatments do not provide any residual effect. Bed bugs can be reintroduced within hours and not die.

Cooper’s No-Prep Philosophy

What is No Prep?

No-Prep uses a combination of mechanical methods such as vacuuming, steaming, encasements, and monitors with targeted pesticide applications. We feel that there is no need for you to prepare your home for a bed bug treatment. Preparing your room disrupts the existing bed bugs and can spread them throughout your home, making it much more difficult to exterminate.

  • Use of Encasements-Developed by entomologist Dr. Richard Cooper, bed bug encasements are specialized covers that zip around your mattress and box spring. The material is bite-proof, making it impossible for new bed bugs to enter and forcing the trapped bed bugs to die.

Encasements are installed to preserve the client’s existing mattress and box spring

Monitors-Bed bug monitors are placed under the legs of the bed and separately under the bed to catch bed bugs that crawl inside and cannot get back out. With this detection method, our technicians are able tomonitorthe infestation and reduce bounce back.

Monitors are placed to track possible future bed bug infestations

No-Prep Philosophy

Our Cooper technicians will utilize the following treatment methods to eliminate bed bug infestations in your NJ or PA home.

  • Encasement of all mattresses and box springs.
  • Following visual inspection, we’ll determine where fecal matter from bed bugs is found, and we will steam two feet around the affected area to ensure that they are eliminated.
  • Application of environmentally conscious pesticides. Our technicians will use pesticide dust to eliminate pests behind beds, switch plates, carpet tack strips, etc. Liquid pesticides are also applied to baseboards to exterminate any bed bugs that may be hiding there.

To learn more about No-Prep, please click here .

Is No-Prep more effective than heat treatments?

No-Prep uses a combination of chemical and non-chemical tools to get rid of the bed bugs in your home. Our technicians will use environmentally conscious pesticide dust to eliminate pests behind beds, switch plates, carpet tack strips, etc. Liquid pesticides are also applied to baseboards to exterminate any bed bugs that may be hiding there. In addition, we will steam two feet around the affected area to ensure that they are eliminated.

One of the biggest issues with heat treatments is the cooperation of the client. For example, if you try to use dusts and sprays on your own, bed bugs can be pushed into other rooms throughout your house or wall voids. Heat does not penetrate walls with 100% accuracy, so it’s possible they could survive the treatment. Keep in mind,heat treatments do not provide any residual effects, so if new bed bugs are introduced to the treated room, they will not die unless additional treatments are provided.

Other Bed Bug Removal Strategies


Bed bugs that are exposed to freezing temperatures can die. The colder the room, the quicker the treatment will work. Bed bugs begin to die once the temperature of a room passes below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s not as simple as opening your windows in the middle of January.

Chemical Alone

Insecticides such as dusts are applied to the areas where bed bug activity is highest. This includes baseboards, electrical outlets, behind hanging picture frames, crevices and voids, and exposed cracks in the walls of the treated room. The use of chemicals alone is not fast-acting, although it’s the most thorough strategy. You will need several technician visits to officially get the infestation under control, but it provides long-term residual effects that can last several months.


Some cleaning companies offer bed bug cleaning services which can be misconstrued as pest control. Unfortunately, you cannot simply clean out bed bugs. These services are more useful for preparing your home for a bed bug treatment if you are required to prep on your own. To learn more about bed bug cleaning companies and preparing your home for a bed bug service, click here .

DIY/Natural & Organic Products

Use of products such as cedar wood oil, tea tree oil, chemical-free sprays, ultrasonic electronic units, aerosol repellents, and glue traps do not solve bed bug infestations. Essential oils and ultrasonic electronic units are not proven to work at all. Companies deceptively market them as “safe” alternatives to pesticides without backing up their claims.

In a study done by Rutgers University , “Changlu Wang, Ph.D., and Chen Zha, entomologists at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Andrew Li, Ph.D., entomologist at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, tested 18 essential oils, three silicone oils, and paraffin oil and found that only silicone and paraffin oils showed any effectiveness against bed bugs.” Unfortunately, essential oils and other natural products aren’t your best bet.

Over the counter bed bug sprays also can be used, but keep in mind while these sprays are generally effective at killing bed bugs, they are only good for killing the bed bugs on contact. So if you don’t see where the bed bugs are hiding, you cannot kill them with the OTC sprays. However, if you see them crawling on your bed or luggage, these sprays can kill the bed bugs on contact

It doesn’t stop there. Ultrasonic units have been proven through entomological research to be ineffective. Entomologists Kasey Yturralde and Richard W. Hofstetter conducted thorough research and concluded that “There have been tests of these devices with other insects, and they haven’t shown any effect," Yturralde says. Now people can know that they won’t be effective on bedbugs either, she says, "and move onto other means of extermination."

Things To Consider

Price-If something sounds like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. It’s understandable that you want to find something that works with your budget, but the problem is that when you see companies charging $99 for a heat treatment, it’s not a good sign. Trust your gut when it comes to quality.

Units are placed around the room to push out heat

Guarantee-Most companies will offer you a 30 day guarantee after their “one and done” heat treatment. Unfortunately, bed bugs can multiply if even one they don’t get all the bed bugs during the treatment. Heat monitors, mattress and box spring encasements, and pesticide applications should be usedin additionto heat treatments for everything to work. If all of these things aren’t used, bed bug populations will go below a detectable level when the service is complete. After 30 days, the undetected bed bugs will multiply, and the pest control companies will blame you for reintroducing the pests. Look for companies that offer longer guarantees if you want to ensure your bed bugs are removed.

A typical living room will look like this once the heating stations are in place for treatment

Expertise-Is the company you’re considering a local township operation or is it a regional or a national company? These things matter when it comes to solving the bed bug problem at your home. It’s easy for one or two people to buy a heating unit and call themselves experts but it’s difficult to build a reputation and develop bed bug solutions with entomological research. The more knowledgeable the company is, the better trained and better equipped their technicians are.

What should I do if I find bed bugs in my house?

If you find bed bugs in your house, don’t panic anddo not throw out your mattress or furniture. Leave them as is anddon’t move things around. By throwing things out or moving things around, you are disrupting the bed bugs and forcing them to relocate to other parts of your home. By keeping the bed bug where they were originally found, it makes it easier for a technician to get rid of the problem as quickly as possible. Do not spray your house with chemicals or use any store-bought products.

Call Cooper Pest Solutions. We can provide you with a FREE* no-obligation estimate. Once properly identified, treatment by our dedicated bed bug technicians can begin as soon as the next day.

If you live in an apartment that currently has a bed bug problem, you’ll need to contact your landlord or property manager first. Your landlord might already have a contracted pest control company, and if they do not have a contracted pest control company, they will need to contact us directly. For more info on bed bugs in apartments, please click here .

*Conditions apply based on bed bug activity and we reserve the right to charge $125 for inspections where bed bugs are not clearly present. May not be applicable for apartments depending on apartment type and ownership.

Do Bed Bug Heat Treatments Really Work?

Do Bed Bug Heat Treatments Really Work?

Bed bug heat treatments are an effective, environmentally friendly way of getting rid of pesky bed bugs. Everyone hates waking up and finding tiny bite marks on their bodies and those infamous little stains on their sheets. It is such an unsettling feeling. You can wash and wash, but they’re stubborn little creatures. It takes more than that to get rid of them. In most cases, it takes a bed bug control professional.

Some people are embarrassed to admit (sometimes even to themselves) that they have bed bugs. They think bed bugs are the result of unsanitary living conditions, but the truth is that bed bugs have been found even in some of the cleanest environments. They are very resilient, so it is easy for them to catch a ride into your house on a shoe, a piece of furniture, a backpack or someone’s clothing.

The most commonly known treatment for bed bugs is to have an exterminator spray chemicals around the infected area (usually your bed). No one is ever excited about the idea of having chemicals sprayed in the same area they lay their heads, but most people do it anyway because they think they have no other options.

However, there is another option – bed bug heat treatments. They work by using high levels of heat to kill the bed bugs. How is that possible? Simple, it is the same concept behind boiling something to sterilize it. All life forms have a temperature at which they can no longer survive. This includes germs, bacteria and yes, you guessed it, bed bugs.

Bed bug heat treatments have been around for a while and have more benefits than the standard chemical sprays. Heat treatments pose no threat to your health, they take (in most cases) only one day to be completely effective, the treated area requires no “detox” time afterwards, and best of all, they kill all bed bugs, regardless of stage.

Bed bug heat treatments are not new, but they sure seem like they are when you consider how many companies are only offering chemical sprays as a solution to this common problem. If you have hesitated to treat your bed bug problem because of the undesirable treatment, try something that is far safer and faster acting. Try bed bug heat treatment.

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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