Does Steam Kill Bed Bugs? (A Quick Guide)

Let’s face it, bed bugs are stubborn insects and they are pretty good at hiding.

Whether you like it or not, vacuuming is oftentimes not enough to totally get rid of bed bugs.

This is simply why a lot of homeowners resort to steam cleaning.

We know that temperature is the main weakness of these nasty bugs. They die under extremely cold and extremely hot temperatures. But is steam cleaning effective in totally eradicating a bed bug infestation?

Continue reading to see if steam treatment is an effective pest control strategy.

Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

Table of Contents

    How Does Steam Affect Bed Bugs?

    As mentioned in our other articles, bed bugs require three things to survive: carbon dioxide, blood, and warmth. These bugs prefer a habitat with a temperature within 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

    It is within such temperature range that bed bugs are able to fully develop into reproducing adults much faster. However, as temperature increases, the survivability of bed bugs decreases significantly.

    Continued exposure to a temperature around 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit will kill bed bugs in a matter of 15-20 minutes. Steam cleaners, on the other hand, can shoot steam with temperatures reaching up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In this condition, bed bugs, nymphs, and their eggs can die almost instantly.

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    Does Steam Repel Bed Bugs?

    Apart from vacuum cleaners, steam cleaners have become increasingly popular among a lot of homeowners in the United States. This special cleaning equipment is basically used to clean and sanitize various surfaces inside your house.

    With the use of a steam cleaner, it is a whole lot easier to eliminate stains as well as spot clean your carpets and curtains. This method is also much better because surfaces dry faster compared to the typical washing with a detergent and water.

    Steam cleaning is effective in killing bed bugs including their eggs. However, the effects are temporary and bed bugs can still repopulate inside your property especially if you are not so keen on reaching the insect’s hiding spots.

    You can go for essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and lemongrass, and eucalyptus if you are looking for a reliable bed bug repellent.

    Read More: Click here to learn more about lemongrass.

    The following video will give you tips on how to do steam cleaning properly to get rid of bed bugs.

    Steam cleaning is effective in killing bed bugs including their eggs.

    However, the effects are temporary and bed bugs can still repopulate inside your property especially if you are not so keen on reaching the insect’s hiding spots.

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    Does Steam Actually Kill Bed Bugs?

    As discussed earlier, steam cleaners are effective in cleaning bed bugs. Depending on your preferred temperature setting, bed bugs and their eggs are killed in a matter of minutes.

    Steam cleaners are most effective in eliminating bed bugs on the surface. On thick fabrics such as carpets and bedding, the steam of the cleaner can still be as effective up to 3/4 of an inch from the surface.

    Read More: 5 Best Bed Bug Vacuums & Steamers.

    There are a number of options available to you for home use, such as a Vapamore Mr-100 Primo that will blast an infested area with a surface temperature high enough to take care of your bed bug problem.

    But if you don’t want to make an investment in a quality steamer, professional exterminators can help you with your pest management by using a heavy-duty bed bug steamer.

    If you do decide to handle it on your own, make sure to steam clean near baseboards, on upholstery, and around your box springs, headboards, and bed frames, as these areas are some of their favorite hiding places. Don’t ignore drapes either, and make sure to clean a mattress cover using high heat.

    What Else Should You Consider Besides Steam For Bed Bugs?

    Vacuum cleaning

    Steam cleaning can be applied to supplement vacuum cleaning as a means of eliminating bed bugs. There are certain types of vacuum cleaners that are specially designed for bed bug control.

    When using your vacuum cleaner for bed bug control, set the equipment at the highest suction power. Use a crevice tool to effectively go through hard to reach corners and holes.

    If you are using a bagless vacuum cleaner, empty the dirt cup into a sealed bag and dispose of it immediately. Vacuum cleaning doesn’t have to be done very often. But in cases of serious bed bug infestation, it helps to suck up those nasty critters at least once a day until you they are totally eradicated.

    Diatomaceous earth

    Made of crumbled fossil deposits of aquatic organisms known as diatoms, DA or diatomaceous earth is a popular non-chemical alternative in controlling bed bug infestation.

    What’s good about using diatomaceous earth is that it doesn’t pose any level of risk to the health of humans and common home pets. It can dehydrate bed bugs by absorbing the moisture from the said insect’s skin. Furthermore, the grains of DA are abrasive that can scratch and inflict wounds as bed bugs pass through it.

    Read More: Click here to learn more about diatomaceous earth.

    Stiff brush, hair dryer, and a tape

    This solution is applicable for those who are too tired to initiate a comprehensive bed bug control measure. This technique will require just a few minutes of your time.

    Turn your hair dryer on and run through areas where you see some bed bugs clustering together. At the highest setting, a hair dryer can blast heated air of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you’ll have to hold it or hover the nozzle on top of the target area at least for a few minutes in order to deliver a sure kill.

    Using a stiff brush, dislodge bed bugs (adults, nymphs, and eggs) from your mattress. Don’t forget to run through the seams.

    Lastly, wrap your bed posts with double-sided tape to prevent bed bugs taking refuge from nearby furniture to climb up to you while you’re sleeping.

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