Bed bugs are a nightmare and you definitely want to take action before they spread because they’re super hard to get rid of. Here are some of the fastest ways to kill bed bugs.
Heat Kills Bed Bugs!
Bed bugs have become immune to pesticides and other chemicals over the years and they have become more and more resistant. This means that no matter how much you spray they just won’t die or at least not all of them. Luckily there is one thing that they just CANNOT become immune to and that is HEAT!
Heat is one of the fastest ways to kill bed bugs and it’s a technique often used by professionals since it’s safer than using chemicals and even kills bed bugs and eggs hiding in small crevices. So how does it work? Let’s find out.
How Do We Kill Bed Bugs With Heat?
There are two ways. Use steam to steam items like mattresses, sofas, drawers, etc to kill both bed bugs and eggs on contact or use heat treatment (using a heat box or heat the entire room) to treat both small to big items including the whole room.
Research has determined that bed bugs die when constantly exposed to temperatures of 120 degrees F (about 50 degrees C) usually in about 20 minutes. However, bed bug eggs need to receive constant exposure for 90 mins or more.
Steam is made when water passes the boiling point at 212 degrees F (100 C) which is way beyond the thermal death point of bed bugs so it kills on contact. This is a very safe and effective solution but with one downside. It kills on contact so if you don’t actually know where the bed bugs are hiding and you don’t steam that area, those bed bugs will survive.
Generally I would steam the entire mattress and box spring, taking extra time on the seams. If you are nervous and think they may have spread to your dresser or drawers, steam those areas and baseboards as well. Make sure you DO NOT steam electrical outlets as that is very dangerous. Steam/water and electricity DO NOT MIX!
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for a steamer and can just get a simple hand held one for a reasonable price. Keep in mind steamers are versatile and you can use them for other things like steaming clothes, removing stains and grime, and sanitizing surfaces.
What is a hot box? A hot box is a box/bag that is usually powered by electricity but can also be powered by gas or propane that heats whatever you put in it past the thermal death point of bed bugs. Leaving items such as shoes, blankets, luggage, and books in the hot box for some time ensures that bed bugs and their eggs are killed. This is great for items where it’s hard to inspect every little crevice because the heat will get them. The box is contained so the bed bugs won’t be able to escape.
One thing to keep in mind is how the box is heated is very important. If it’s incorrectly done or the wrong heat source is used it can cause fires so make sure you get a safe hot box. If the heat source uses gas or propane then make sure you have proper ventilation if you’re using it indoors.
Whatever you do, DO NOT put your items in the oven! You might have the bright idea of “Hey, since heat kills bed bugs, why don’t I just put my stuff in the oven?”. NO! DO NOT DO THAT! Putting things in the oven other than food is VERY dangerous and will most likely result in fires.
Hot boxes can range in size from a small suit case to as big as a small room! If you just want to sanitize small objects like books, documents, shoes, etc then the small one will suffice. If you have larger items like an entire couch or mattress then the room-sized hot box would be a better idea. The benefit of the big one is that you can treat several things at once instead of waiting hours to treat items and having to wait more hours for the next batch. I have some great recommendations for hot boxes that are easy to use, safe, and easy to setup.
A simple and cost effective way to kill bed bugs is to put your clothes in the dryer. If you have a dryer, great! If you don’t, you can go to your local laundromat and use if for around $2.
Make sure you don’t over-stuff the dryer because you need enough airflow so the heat can spread over all surfaces of the clothes. If they’re all jumbled up then the heat will have a hard time penetrating through. This means that you’ll be wasting your time because some bed bugs could have survived. We want to kill every last one of them! If you have too much clothes, separate them into two loads. Remember, even if there’s one that survives it can potentially reinfest which means you’ll have to deal with this nightmare again. Do things properly and take the time and money to get it done right the first time so you don’t have to do it again.
Set the dryer on it’s highest setting and run it for at least 30-45 minutes. Keep in mind that not all dryers heat up to the same temperature so the time may vary. It also takes time for the dryer to heat up and get to the optimal temperature to kill bed bugs so it’s a good idea to run it a big longer.
Bed bugs are a nightmare to deal with and I know how hard it is to get rid of them. There are a variety of ways to kill bed bugs but the most effective is to use heat. Bed bugs cannot become resistant to heat and it’s proven that they will die when exposed to constant high heat.
Using multiple methods of getting rid of bed bugs is often a good idea. Don’t just stick with one as each method has their pros and cons. Using a combination greatly increases the effectiveness and your chances of getting rid of bed bugs for good.
Do you have any bed bug stories? Did heat work for you? Let me know in the comments below.
Also feel free to share this with others who might be dealing with a bed bug problem to help them end their nightmare. You won’t know just how horrible it is until you experience it first hand and let me tell you it’s THE WORST!