How Much Does Thermal Bed Bug Treatment Cost
How Much Does Bed Bug Extermination Cost?
On average, most homeowners spend between $1,000 and $2,200 to exterminate bed bugs. Depending on the level of infestation, you can expect to pay $200 to $400 per room for bed bug treatment. Get free instant estimates from bed bug exterminators near you.
Average Bed Bug Exterminator Costs
On average, most homeowners spend between$1,000 and $2,200to exterminate bed bugs. Depending on the level of infestation, you can expect to pay$200 to $400per room for bed bug treatment. Costs depend on how big the house is, how widespread the infestation is, the treatment used, the number of treatments, and where you live. For a small isolated issued in a single bedroom might cost you$300, whereas a large home fumigation will cost about$4,800.
|National Average Cost||$1,579|
|Average Range||$1,000 to $2,200|
Maybe you’ve tried your own methods of pest control and bed bugs are still there. It’s highly recommended you call a professional bed bug exterminator as there may be health risks involved. Pest control experts will not only exterminate your bed bug problem, they will also teach you how to prevent bed bug infestations in the future.
Table Of Contents
Bed Bug Exterminator Costs By Home Size
Pest control professionals will charge by the room, by the total square footage, or give you a flat fee, but most infestations will require more than one visit. For bed bug heat treatment, most homeowners report spending$300 per room, or$1,579for their whole home. Here are the average prices based on home size for a standard treatment.
|Bed Bug Extermination||Average Cost|
|1-Bedroom Apartment||$300 – $800|
|2-3 Bedroom House||$400 – $1,200|
|Whole House||$1,000 – $2,500|
|Per Square Foot||$1 – $3|
Bed Bug Treatment Cost
Your bed bug extermination service might suggest one or more of the following ways of treating your infestation, depending on how extensive it is:
|Bed Bug Treatment||Average Cost|
|Heat Treatment||$2,000–$4,000 ($1–$3 per square foot)|
|Fumigation||$4,000–$6,000 ($4–$8 per square foot)|
|Chemicals & Pesticides||$200–$400 per room|
|Steam Removal||$250–$1,000 per room|
|Freeze Treatment||$500 per room|
|Monthly Pest Management||$110–130 per month|
Bed Bug Heat Treatment Cost
This is a chemical-free treatment where heat of over 120 degrees is used to drive air into the space infested with bed bugs. This treatment method is 100% effective and kills bed bugs at every stage of life. It doesn’t harm electronics, and exterminators will often use their own generator to make sure your electric bill isn’t exorbitant that month. Expect to pay$1-$3 per square footto treat the infected areas or around$2,000–$4,000for your whole home.
Bed Bug Fumigation Cost
Fumigation cost is based on your home’s square footage. The average cost of fumigation is$4 to $8 per square foot, or$4,000–$6,000total. Your home will be sealed off and filled with fumigation gas to kill all the bed bugs, but it will mean you’ll have to vacate the home for a few days so as to avoid chemical poisoning and breathing in high VOCs. If done properly, it will kill all the bed bugs in the house. Fumigation costs 3–5 times more in the North than in southern states.
Structural Fumigation Cost
If the foundation of your home is found to hoard bed bugs, you’ll possibly need a structural fumigation as well, which can cost as high as$30 per square foot. It is unlikely that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the cost as it falls under home maintenance/preventative damage costs.
If the infestation is so bad that your house must be fumigated, be sure to put everything you own into a trailer or storage unit and fumigate that as well. Trailer fumigation can cost less than$1,000and ensures you won’t bring the bed bugs back into the house once it’s been treated.
Chemicals & Pesticides Cost
Bed bug-killing chemicals will be laid or sprayed throughout the home. Direct spraying into cracks and crevices is effective. Bed bugs are beginning to develop resistance to pesticides though. While you can buy bed bug spray and spray the mattress, your treatment plan needs to be all encompassing. Expect to pay$200–$400 per roomfor professional chemical treatment.
Bed Bug Steam Removal Cost
Machines produce 200+ degree steaming heat which will kill bed bugs at all stages in the life cycle on contact. They are especially effective at reaching into cracks and crevices. The process takes about 7 hours and does such an effective job that no follow up is required unless more bed bugs are brought into the home. Dry vapor steam is also an option. On average steam bed bug removal costs$250–$1,000 per room
Bed Bug Freeze Treatment Cost
Machines use a dry ice snow powder to freeze all bed bugs at all stages in the life cycle on contact. Cryonite machines use a pressure hose to convert liquid carbon dioxide into a dry ice solid. They are a good alternative to steam vapor because they don’t cause any moisture damage. The process is much easier and faster than heat treatment, saving money. However, bugs can appear dead and then become active again once they are warm. Bed bug freeze treatment costs$500 per roomon average.
Integrated Pest Management Cost (IPM)
IPM combines the use of pesticides and chemicals with monitors, box spring and mattress covers, heat treatment, and Hepa-filter vacuums into a monthly plan. It is much more likely that your exterminator will use a multi-faceted approach to your extermination project. Monitors can come in the form of detection kits, under the bed leg detectors, bed bug lures, and bed bug traps. As soon as one is detected, you can treat again and prevent all future multiplication. A monthly pest management costs$110–130/monthon a bi-annual plan.
Bed Bug Inspection Cost
Many bed bug exterminators will offer a free inspection while some will charge an average of$70–$175. Visual inspections carried out by professionals will include a thorough look at all the areas mentioned below. Sometimes these inspections can last as long as four hours. How does an inspector tell if you have bed bugs?
These will pick up as many live or dead bed bugs, and their feces and eggs, as possible and give you a good idea of how bad the infestation is.
Bed Bug Sniffing Dog Costs
An inspection by bed bug sniffing dogs can detect bed bugs with 95% accuracy, both before and after treatments. Well trained dogs have a higher accuracy level than humans. They are especially useful when locating bed bugs in large buildings and are capable of discovering even low levels of infestation.$300–$600
Signs of Bed Bug Infestation
- By sight- They are usually too small for the naked eye to see, but you’ll see the evidence they leave of brown spots or smears of poop on the sheets.
- By smell- Sometimes you can smell something like slightly rotting raspberries, which is the odor they can give off.
- By location- You’ll most often find them in your bedroom because they enjoy living in bed frames and mattresses so they can be near their food source at night . you. They are also often found in luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, picture frames, pets’ bedding, loose wallpaper, boxes, and any cracks and crevices they find. Your bed bugs love the dark, and they’ll hide out near beds or sofas in large extended families which grow by the minute. They’ll stay hidden, and they love clutter.
- Movement- They don’t fly, but they move quickly.
Preparing For Bed Bug Treatment
In order to prepare effectively for the bed bug treatment and prevent a re-infestation, the homeowner will have to remove every possible infected item from the infested rooms and place them outside. They can’t be brought back in until they and the room have been treated and follow-up has been done.
- All fabric– Put all clothing and other soft fabrics—bed linens, bedding, soft toys, drawer contents, drapes—into zipped or tightly sealed disposable bags and put them outside. Run all of the above through a dryer cycle on high for 30 minutes. Drop off all dry-cleaning items at a dry cleaner’s in sealed bags and inform them of the possible infestation. Throw away all disposal bags containing infected fabric. Only bring dried clothes back in innewbags after first AND follow-up treatments are done.
- All furniture– Pull all furniture at least 6” from the walls. Remove all furniture that cannot be heat treated and treat it outside the house with an alternative method. Throw away any furniture that cannot be treated. Don’t leave it on the curb to infect other homes.
- Fixed elements– Remove electrical plates and tape outlets. Disconnect or cover smoke detectors.
- Carpet/flooring– Vacuum and throw used vacuum cleaner bags in the outside trash.
- Clutter– Empty all nightstands and shelving units. Leave nonfabric items bagged in the room. Throw out any magazines, paper, clutter you can. Wash all baby toys in hot soapy water and seal in a trash bag.
- Pets and food– remove all pets, plants, food, pet food, etc. close food utensils in cabinets.
Bed Bug Prevention
Bed bugs ride into the house on anything they can from the outside world—clothing, bags, used furniture can all give them access to your home. Once in, your bed bugs are happy to inhabit your world. And so begins the drama.
How to Avoid a Bed Bug Infestation
- Enclose your mattress and box spring in a bed bug mattress cover. Covers cost$18–$50, with the SafeRest brand getting the top reviews.
- Remove clutter.
- Check mattresses and drawers for signs of an infestation before sleeping in hotel rooms.
- Check the Bed Bug Registry before booking your hotel room to see if anyone has reported bed bugs in hotels you’re considering.
- Seal clothing and belongings in plastic bags when traveling.
- Wash all clothes immediately on returning home.
- Fill any cracks and holes in the walls and trim. Glue down loose wallpaper.
- Don’t bring used furniture into the house until it’s been checked for bed bugs.
- Monitor all the rooms in your house with bed bug interception devices for returning bed bugs.
A good bed bug extermination service will also teach you what to look for and how to prevent any future infestations. They also usually leave you bed bug monitors so you can call them if you see any bed bugs.
Health Risks Of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are not inherently dangerous themselves according to the CDC. A bed bug’s only food is blood, and it’s partial to yours. While they’re not great at spreading disease, bed bugs can give you skin rashes, itching, and blisters. Some people may also suffer from an allergic reaction to bed bug bites which will require immediate medical attention.
In addition, all pesticide products used in bed bug extermination must be registered by the EPA and your state’s department of agriculture. Keep in mind these products can be an irritant to the skin and eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do bed bugs come from? How do you get bad bugs?
Bed bugs ride into the house on anything they can from the outside world—clothing, bags, used furniture can all give them access to your home.
What do bed bugs look like? What are bed bugs signs and symptoms?
They are usually too small to see until they mature, but sometimes you’ll see the evidence of their presence—they leave spots or smears of poop on the sheets. Bed bugs can give you skin rashes and blisters, and you might find yourself with an allergic reaction to bed bug bites. The usual way to treat bed bug bites is with antiseptic or antibiotic creams or lotions to prevent infection.
How much does it cost to exterminate a 1-bedroom apartment?
At a rate of $250 per room or $0.75/sqft, a 1-bed apartment can cost $500–$600 to exterminate, and more if the infestation requires additional treatment measures.
How to kill bed bugs in leather, cotton, or foam furniture?
Vacuum with a Hepa-filter vacuum, steam, or treat with a disinfectant spray like STERI-FAB Bed Bug Spray (contact spray).
Are there safe, non-chemical ways to get rid of bed bugs?
Yes. A trusted part of natural DIY treatment includes desiccants like food-grade diatomaceous earth powder. It’s a natural killer of bed bugs, dehydrating them until they die. It will kill indefinitely and is safe for pets and children to be around, but powder must be applied with a mask due to inhalation risks. Boric acid tablets can also be placed in dark corners inaccessible to pets and children. Neem oil can be applied to all cracks and crevices as a preventative measure.
How much does a bed bug mattress cover cost?
The top-rated bed bug mattress cover designed specifically to prevent bed bugs from taking over is made by SafeRest. Covers cost $18–$50.
Can bed bug professionals get rid of other pests?
Yes, most pest control services are licensed to get rid of any unwelcome bugs or pest in the home.
How do I get rid of bed bugs myself?
Depending on the type of treatment you choose, you can try and exterminate bedbugs yourself for 25%–50% less than when paying a professional to do it, but keep in mind that you must also do follow-up treatments, use ongoing preventative measures, and absorb the cost of replacing all bedding, linens, and clothing. For treatment alone, expect it to cost about $50–$150 for treatments and kits you can buy yourself.
Hiring An Exterminator
To find your bed bug extermination company, look for him or her to fulfill as many of the following requirements as possible. Then ask for a detailed proposal from your top three and pick the one that appears best.
- Licensed contractors – Licenses may be verified by calling the various state departments of agriculture.
- Offer a warranty on labor
- Are bonded and insured
- Have an A or A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
- Have excellent ratings on social media sites
- Include setup and complete cleanup costs in the quote
- Provide excellent communication from your first phone call or e-mail
Make sure you pest exterminator includes a warranty in the contract, because it’s normal for him/her to have to treat your home 2 or 3 times to achieve full eradication. Most contractors will offer a 30-day warranty on labor.
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How much does a bed bug heat treatment cost?
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Bed bug heat treatment cost in Toronto?
Since the concept of killing bed bugs with heat was introduced into the Toronto and Southern Ontario area just a couple of years ago the cost associated with this type of treatment has declined significantly.
The different types of heat treatment systems each have their own price associated with them but their efficacy differs greatly and thus the amount that you pay will differ significantly from one to another! (click here for a detailed comparison)
Now, in the Toronto area and especially Hamilton to Guelph to Kitchener, the price to heat treat your home as an extermination method for bed bugs has settled down to a reasonable level and considering that you receive a one day treatment of your entire home that provides full eradication of the bedbugs in your home it has become the primary method of bed bugs extermination in these areas.
Heat treating for bed bugs takes a crew of two (more for multi-unit apartment buildings) as opposed to simply one individual who will exterminate with pesticides. Yet, when you consider that with heat you only need to ‘prep’ one time only – and a very limited ‘prep’ is all that is required. In addition, you are guaranteed to be rid of your bed bug problem in just a few short hours that day. If you know someone that has gone through the nightmare of the traditional pesticide spray routine and having to pay extra for each follow-up bed bug treatment you will see that the price of a heat treatment is very close to the traditional spray methods and proves to be cost effective in the end.
When all is considered our treatment system being by far the best, safest and most effective is offered on a per square foot basis. When quoting certain factors will be taken into consideration such as if the basement is ‘finished’, the severity of the bed bug infestation and so forth. Each individual situation is different and, as such, each quote is unique based on your particular home. Considering what you will likely pay an exterminator that does not use heat who will spend, at best, 1 hour in your home using chemicals, our treatment offers extreme value for your hard earned dollar. In other words, the price of a bed bug heat treatment is well worth it.
When you call us, our highly trained and knowledgeable staff will take some basic information from you regarding your home and give you a price range that you can expect. We will dispatch an experienced technician to your home at a time that’s convenient for you for a free, no obligation on-site assessment during which time you will be given a solid quote based on your particular situation.
Yes! We will come early in the morning before work or in the evening when you get home.
What is the cost of exterminating bed bugs?
Question:Hello. Do you provide bed bug extermination service? If so, how much does it cost?
ANSWER:Getting rid of bed bugs can be very difficult. There is no magic wand which can control these blood-sucking pests. Control of bed bugs can take time and multiple follow-up treatments.
The first part of any bed bug control program is a thorough inspection. This includes not only areas that are infested, but also adjoining areas. The inspection can be time consuming, based upon amount of furnishings and size of infested area as well as the adjoining areas.
When treatment is needed, pricing will depend on the size of the area to be treated as well as the type of treatment. If standard control, using products specifically applied for bed bugs, you can expect to remove carpet edges where necessary, perhaps outlet plates and some personal belongings. If heat treatment is used in areas offering that service, certain materials must be removed such as candles, makeup, etc.
Since there are so many possibilities, it is impossible to make a blanket statement about the cost to get rid of bed bugs in every case.
The conditions of each property are different, and therefore the problems are different for each house. Thus, quotes and estimates for the cost of bed bug control are best done locally and perhaps after an inspection by a qualified Pest Specialist.
The first step in this process is to call your local Orkin Pest Control Branch location and request a bed bug inspection. A highly trained and bed bug-qualified Orkin Pest Specialist will conduct a very thorough inspection of your premises. Upon completion of the inspection and an assessment of the situation, the Pest Specialist will recommend a customized solution for your bed bug problem, which will include pricing and guarantees.
The Orkin Man used the answer above to answer the related questions below (submitted by other Orkin.com users):
Question:I would like a quote on how much it would cost me to have my apartment treated for bed bugs. My apartment is approximately 600 sq. ft. My neighbor down the hall has them.
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How much does bed bug extermination cost?
Nationally, the average cost for bed bug extermination ranges between $320 and $400. Pricing will vary based on your geographic location, the severity of the bed bug infestation, the number of rooms affected, and what type of treatment is required to eliminate the little pests. Pest control pros may charge for bed bug treatment by the square footage of the property to be treated, at a flat fee per room, or by the hour of labor.
If you have bed bugs, it doesn’t mean you have a dirty home or office, or have done something wrong. It just means that these resilient parasitic insects have hopped a ride into your life — usually via luggage, backpacks, secondhand furniture and clothing or a visitor — and made themselves at home. Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to transmit infectious disease, but they do cause itching and scratching, bite marks, and allergic reactions — and can spread easily.
Bed bugs multiply quickly, don’t disappear on their own and bed bug infestations get worse, never better, if left untreated. The minute you notice signs of a bed bug infestation, call a professional bed bug exterminator. If you deal with the problem early on, you will prevent the infestation from spreading to other parts of your home or office, and from passing the bed bugs on to visitors who will then carry them to other locations.
What’s in this cost guide?
- What affects bed bug extermination costs
- Room size and number
- Cleanliness and clutter
- Home type
What affects the cost of a bed bug extermination?
Several factors can affect the average cost of a professional bed bug extermination. This includes the number of rooms affected, severity of infestation, amount of furniture, cleanliness of the area and the construction of the home or office. Most pest control professionals do a walk-through before providing a quote so they can assess the space, recommend a the right treatment and price accordingly.
Number and size of rooms affected
The more, and larger, the rooms that need treatment, the more you’ll spend on bed bug extermination. Pest control professionals may charge a set rate per room, plus the cost of materials. They may charge a higher rate for the same size room if any other factors — like infestation severity and clutter — come into play.
For example, Alamo Pest Management in Fort Worth, Texas, charges an average of $250 per 10-foot by 15-foot bedroom with standard furniture (bed, night table and dresser) for a light to moderate infestation.
Severity of infestation
Another reason to call an exterminator early: the more severe the bed bug infestation is, the higher the cost. To determine how bad the infestation is, the pest control professional will inspect the entire area, looking for telltale signs of bed bug infestation such as exoskeletons and fecal matter. They’ll look to see if it impacts the entire room, or just part of it, and to what extent.
Heavier infestations cost more to treat because exterminators need more product, time and sometime additional employees to take care of it. For example, Alamo Pest Management charges an average of:
- Heavy bed bug infestation: $300-$400 per bedroom
- Light to moderate infestation: $250 per bedroom
- Preventative treatment for rooms with no infestation: $200 per room
Because bed bug populations multiply so quickly, it’s important to get on top of treating your infestation quickly, so your light infestation doesn’t turn into a heavy infestation.
The more furniture you have in an infested room, the higher the cost you can expect to pay to treat that room. For example, most pest control companies charge an average of $50 for every piece of additional furniture, like a chair or cabinet, in a bedroom beyond the standard bed, two nightstands and dresser.
This is because exterminators have to inspect and treat all the furniture in each infested room. Each additional piece of furniture adds 30-60 minutes to the time it takes to treat a room, and requires more product. For example, if you have three extra pieces of furniture in your bedroom, that’s an extra 90-180 minutes of the pest control professional’s time — which means higher labor cost.
Level of cleanliness and clutter
Dirt doesn’t really affect whether bed bugs hang around your house, but clutter does. They love nooks and crannies to hide and lay eggs in. If you need help clearing the clutter and organizing your home, consider finding a home organizer in addition to your exterminator.
It also affects the level of work and cost of getting rid of them. If a home is messy or has a lot of clutter, the rate per room will be higher. According to Alamo Pest Management, clutter creates more work in two ways:
- Employees must sort through and clear the clutter to prepare the area for treatment.
- Employees must spray more product to treat all of the excess clutter.
Alamo Pest Management charges $450 per bedroom with a standard bedroom set, heavy infestation, and large amount of clutter or obstacles — which is $50 – $150 more than a clutter-free bedroom.
The construction of home
How your home is built can also impact the overall cost of services. If your entire home is infested, you may need to spray under the house. Homes with pier-and-beam construction can harbor bed bugs underneath the house, and pros can dry-dust the area to terminate colonies there. Both of these services cost more. Alamo Pest Management, for example, charges an average of $50 minimum to dry-dust under a pier-and-beam home.
Slab homes (homes without any space between the home and the foundation) usually don’t need this treatment.
Whether or not you need fumigation
Depending on your situation, the pest control pro may also recommend fumigation. This is a more extreme solution as it involves completely sealing your home (often with a massive tarp) and pumping in a pesticidal gas. You and your family must leave for one to several days, and costs may range on average anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot — which can add up quickly if you have a large home. The good news is fumigation will eradicate all signs of bed bugs.
Do bed bug exterminators charge hourly rates?
Yes. Bed bug extermination companies may charge an hourly fee rather than a per-room rate. The hourly rate may reflect the type of pest control services the pro will employ, and the cost of travel to your location, materials and employee time. The hourly rate will also take into account business overhead costs such as insurance, licensing and equipment.
For example, Pest Solutions in Wappingers Falls, New York, charges an average base rate of $75 for 45 minutes of bed bug control services. A pest control management company that offers an hourly rate will typically do an onsite assessment. They will then provide a quote that lists the work they will need to do, as well as an estimate of the total hours and cost.
Getting a free quote
Free quotes are fairly standard practice for larger extermination projects. Because the factors involved in determining treatment are so complex, most bed bug extermination companies provide free, on-site quotes to give an accurate cost estimate and treatment plan.
Once you schedule a quote, the professional will come to your home or office, ask you to point out your areas of concern, and also perform a complete visual inspection to assess treatment need. Reputable pest management companies will recommend an integrated pest management approach.
How do I know if I have bed bugs?
The easiest indicator that your home or office has been infested is when you actually see bed bugs, or the red exoskeletons their larvae shed as they mature. You may also find itchy bites, which often appear in lines or clusters, on your skin. Since not everyone reacts the same way to bed bug bites, it’s best not to go off skin reactions alone, since they could be a sign of another bug problem, like fleas. Instead, check your area for other signs as well.
Another indicator is their fecal droppings — rusty in color, thanks to blood — found on bedding and furniture. If you have amazing vision, or you’ve come across a large cluster, you may be able to spot their eggs, which are clear or yellowish and about the size of a pinhead. Smell can be another symptom. Bed bug infestations tend to create a sweet, musty odor, so pay attention if you smell something out of the ordinary.
If you spot any of these symptoms and aren’t too squeamish, you can also do a preliminary search to discover their hiding places — but be very careful, as disturbing them may lead to wider dissemination throughout your house.
How to spot a bed bug
Bed bugs are tiny, smaller than a lentil, and are no thicker than a credit card — unless engorged with blood. This makes them hard to spot. Bed bugs don’t have wings and cannot fly, but you may see the adults run across a bed, molding or piece of furniture.
If you think you have spotted a bed bug, check to see if the bug has six legs a short antennae that points forward, and that it is rust or mahogany in color. If you see a bug of the same shape and color but with eight legs, it may be a mite or a tick.
Then, there’s the eggs. Adult females lay white or clear eggs that are no bigger than a pinhead — approximately 1 millimeter in size. The eggs hatch within 4-12 days, producing white-yellow or clear nymphs that begin to grow. As nymphs grow from approximately 1.5 millimeters to approximately 4.5 millimeters, and progress to the next developmental stage, they shed their current exoskeleton. So flaky bed bugs skins are a strong indicator of a pest problem.
Common symptoms of bed bugs
Bed bugs are primarily nocturnal; most nymphs and adults feed on sleeping or resting humans in the darkness, although they will come out in the daylight if they’re hungry enough. This is why bed bug activity is often discovered on or around mattresses and bed frames — they like to stay close to their meals.
They take advantage of exposed skin, so your neck, arms or legs are often easy targets while you sleep. Bed bugs mainly feed on human blood, but some strains also have adapted to other mammals, such as your pets.
Where bed bugs are found
As their name implies, they are often found in mattress seams, bedding, and dark crevices of bed frames. Beyond the bed, bed bugs can fit almost anywhere and seek out dark, tight hiding places. Scan curtains and furniture seams; behind picture frames and mirrors, inside cracks in the wall or around window and door frames; in tightly cluttered spaces like closets; in luggage, briefcases and backpacks; and even inside electronics.
Bed bugs will often crowd together into cozy cracks and crevices together, but are also prone to going off alone, especially the females. If you find one grouping of them, that does not mean you have discovered them all, and treating just that area may not control the whole infestation.
What types of treatments can be used?
There are a variety of techniques available to treat bed bugs. According to Indiana University, heat, steam, freezing and pesticides are all viable ways to eliminate bed bugs when done by a professional exterminator.
Heat treatments are a great non-chemical option. During heat treatments, hot air is pumped into infested areas until ambient room temperatures have reached between 130 and 150 degrees. Bed bugs begin to die at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Exterminators use thermometers to verify that all areas of an infested room have reached the proper temperatures. Insecticide is used as a follow-up treatment to the heat method to eliminate any possible survivors.
During steam treatment, your exterminator will use a professional low vapor or dry steam machine with variable output rates. Steam is applied directly to infested areas and kills bed bug adults, larvae and eggs. The one drawback to steam, according to Indiana University, is that steam is only effective as far as it can reach — meaning you must hit each infested area directly with steam to ensure complete extermination.
Freezing is also effective. You will get the best results with a professional treatment such as the Cryonite freezing technology, according to Indiana University. The technique uses carbon dioxide snow to kill bed bugs, leaving no pesticide residue. If you try freezing infested items such as clothing in your own freezer, the bed bugs may actually survive and thaw, returning to haunt you again once they’ve come out of the freezer.
Pesticides are another effective treatment for fighting bed bugs, but shouldn’t be done on your own. Hire a pest control professional to apply pesticides, since doing it wrong can be harmful to your health and that of your kids and pets. Misuse can also cause bed bug infestations to spread to other areas of your home or office, and even contribute to bed bug resistance to pesticides.
According to Indiana University, the categories of pesticides used to exterminate bed bugs include:
- Liquids: used to exterminate bed bugs residing in cracks and crevices, and along moldings or carpet edges
- Aerosols: work well for furniture, cracks and crevices, and the treatment of bed frames and box springs.
- Fumigants (also called gases) used to handle large-scale bed bug infestations. The pest control management company will completely seal your home or office and then fill it with an insecticidal gas that should kill all bed bugs inside. Indiana University explains that standard foggers (also known as bug bombs) are not effective for extermination.
Although the EPA recommends the least possible damage to the environment, they are not opposed to the properly applied pesticides. In fact, the EPA states, "although bed bugs may sometimes be controlled by non-chemical means alone, this approach is often very difficult, potentially less effective, and usually more resource intensive." Working with a professional will help you navigate all your options.
What is integrated pest management?
Integrated pest management isn’t a fancy marketing term exterminators made up to sell you products.
The EPA explains integrated pest management programs "use information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with people and the environment. This information, combined with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment." An integrated pest management solution will not only treat those bed bugs that are currently alive, but also exterminate any unhatched bed bug eggs.
When researching which pest company to hire, look for those companies that champion an integrated approach. This will net you the best results in the long run.
How can I prevent bed bugs?
Whether you want to prevent bed bugs from ever coming into your house, or from returning, follow these tips from the EPA for preventing a bed bug infestation in your home:
- Carefully inspect secondhand furniture, beds or couches for any signs of bed bug infestation before bringing them home.
- Check clothing purchased from vintage or thrift shops for any signs of bed bugs.
- Use a protective cover (called a mattress encasement) over mattresses and box springs. Select an encasement in a light color to make bed bug spotting easier. Also choose one made of a strong material that won’t tear, and check often for holes.
- Eliminate as much clutter as possible in your home.
- Vacuum your home regularly and dispose of sealed vacuum bags carefully.
- Shared laundry facilities can lead to bed bug exposure. Transport laundry in plastic bags (if you have an active infestation, use a new bag for the journey home). Remove clothing from the dryer directly into the bag and fold your items at home. Use high heat to kill any potential bed bugs.
- If you live in a multi-family home, or apartment building, you can isolate your unit by installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors to discourage movement into hallways and sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets, etc., to discourage movement through wall voids.
In the past two decades, bed bug infestations have been on the rise due in part to increased travel, lack of public knowledge about bed bug prevention, bed bugs’ increasing resistance to existing pesticides, and ineffective pest control practices.
Although bed bugs frequently are transported via travel and hotel rooms, they are also in schools, daycare centers, public transportation such as subways, trains, and buses, college dorms, and more. Any place is susceptible to bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t discriminate, but they aren’t a sign of a dirty home or dirty life.
Prevention tips while traveling
When you’re staying in a hotel, hostel, Airbnb, or someone’s home, there are some simple precautions you can take to prevent bed bugs from coming home with you.
- Set down your luggage on an elevated location such as a luggage rack or shelf, since bed bugs can’t fly.
- Don’t place luggage or belongings near cracks, picture frames or electronics that could house bed bugs.
- Always check your mattress, especially the seams, for signs of bed bugs, like exoskeletons, fecal droppings, or bed bugs themselves.
- Also lift up the mattress and look underneath, then run your hands down and around the mattress frame.
If you have clothing or items you think have been exposed, store them in a sealed plastic bag until you have access to a dryer; place the items directly into the dryer and heat them on high for at least 30 minutes.
What are the benefits of a bed bug exterminator?
While you might be tempted to take a do-it-yourself approach to getting rid of these pests, a professional exterminator is always a better choice. Professional exterminators can perform inspections to confirm whether or not you have a bed bug problem (even if you think you’re certain, there’s always a chance it’s something else).
In addition to one-time removal or termination, many also provide recurring bed bug control services. Finally, a good exterminator will provide recommendations on how to prevent them from returning. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when hiring an exterminator:
- Some pest control professionals offer a 100 percent guarantee, which may be good to look for if you have a bad infestation. For example, Steam Kill Bed Bugs in Little Falls, New Jersey, promises that their treatment will rid you of bed bugs, or they’ll return to do additional treatment for free.
- Ask for a signed contract that outlines the treatment plan, cost, and any follow-up or warranty that will be provided.
- Always research your pest control pro and make sure they have the appropriate licensing, insurance and certifications as required by your region — as well as good customer reviews. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.
How much does bed bug heat treatment cost?
Professional exterminators and pest remediation services can rid a residence of a bed bug infestation using one method or a combination of heat, steam, or natural or chemical insecticide spray. The heat method involves heating the rooms where the bugs are to above 120 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or more, using fans to circulate the hot air throughout the space and monitoring the temperature. This method, though effective and nontoxic, is typically only recommended for empty commercial spaces or for spot treatment of empty rooms because the extreme heat can damage furniture, window blinds, televisions and other heat-sensitive items. Heat treatments also cost at least three times as much as conventional methods—as much as a few thousand dollars in some cases. Luis Hernandez, owner of Hernandez Pest Control in Brooklyn, New York, and Dennis Duckworth, owner of LeadTech Pest Services based in the Indianapolis metro area, both recommend a chemical spray treatment in most cases and both guarantee their work. Both companies also offer nontoxic spray options. Heat treatments are often combined with applications of insecticide for best results. Bed bugs are parasites and require human hosts to live and reproduce, but they have been known to survive three months to a year without a blood meal.
Like chemical bed bug extermination, services that kill bed bugs with heat typically charge by the room or by the square foot. The more rooms that need to be treated, the higher the cost because in each room, the service must clear an area to place equipment (heaters, fans and temperature-monitoring equipment). In fact, some furniture and other items must be removed to prevent heat damage. In addition, homeowners must typically sign a waiver so the service is not liable for any resulting damage. Hernandez of Hernandez Pest Control recommends combining the spray application and steam to guarantee eradication. He charges $200 for the first room and $75 per room after that. He said the total cost is usually $425 to service a two-bedroom apartment.
For an additional $50 a day, Hernandez Pest Control offers a heat chamber option, which is a way to heat treat clothing, shoes, bedding and other items that may have bed bugs after the chemicals have been applied throughout the residence. The chamber heats up to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which kills the bugs quickly. He also uses steam to clean household items such as mattresses and carpets to kill any remaining live bugs and eggs.
The specialized equipment used to treat bed bugs by heating an entire room above 120 degrees Fahrenheit costs thousands of dollars, which is one reason this method is expensive for customers, too—starting at $1,500 and going as high as $4,000 or more depending on the number of rooms and total square footage. Another disadvantage to heat treatments is that unlike with the liquid applications, they don’t offer any residual bed bug remediation.
People usually call a bed bug exterminator because they have seen bugs on themselves or on the premises or they have been bitten. In some cases, however, residents notice bites but can’t see the bugs because they are only active at night. The critters hide in cracks, behind picture frames, in electrical outlets, in heater vents and other out-of-the-way spots. Hernandez says they leave behind small dark spots, or blood secretions, which are visible and that he has never been unable to detect their presence. His company charges $125 for an inspection, which is deducted from the extermination fee if the home tests positive and they hire him to do the remediation. The average cost for an inspection is $50–$200, which is often deducted from the extermination fee.
Some services say they can detect the presence of bed bugs with dogs trained to sniff them out. This service typically costs $400–$600, and there is no guarantee they’ll find anything, so Hernandez of Hernandez Pest Control advises against it.