Will Heat Kill Bed Bugs?

Yard, washing machine, and door

You’ve found the dreaded bites on your skin and further inspection of your bedding has confirmed that you have an infestation of unwelcome housemates – bed bugs. There’s a chance they’ve made a home in your clothing, baggage and other furniture like sofas. Everybody has a trick or technique on how to get rid of an infestation, but how much of it is based on truth? We’ll talk you through effective pest control measures and shed some truth on common misconceptions about how bed bugs react to heat treatment.

Does Heat Kill Bed Bugs?

Let’s start at the beginning – what is bed bug heat treatment? It takes several forms and can be performed in a variety of ways, but essentially heat treatment is exposing the pests to lethally hot temperatures in the hope that it will kill the population you’ve found in your home. So yes, heat does kill bed bugs around 120°F. There are a number of ways to do this, some of which are better suited to certain applications than others.

One of the most common methods is hot box treatment. If your shoes, clothing or bags need treatment, then this is normally an effective method. Once your items are placed inside the hot box, the walls are heated past the lethal high temperature, and the bed bugs are killed in stages. Take care to make sure your possessions aren’t at risk of damage because of the heat, and that you have appropriate ventilation in place. 

Steaming can also be an effective treatment for some lighter furniture. While this isn’t meant to provide a deep treatment and kill hidden bed bugs, it will do a good job of exposing the bugs which are on pillows, bed frames and blankets to lethally high temperatures.

If you’re looking to expose these pests to extreme heat using household equipment you already have, then why not try your washer and dryer? If you’ll damage the item by soaking it in soapy water, then your dryer can also provide a less harmful solution which will create the required high temperature. Run it on a high heat cycle for at least 20 minutes and you should kill the majority of the infestation.

Why DIY Removal Won’t Be 100% Effective

The methods we’ve discussed can be highly effective in removing bed bug infestations from individual items. Those items need to be suitable for hot box and washer/dryer treatment. If they’re not, then steaming certain items like bedding and blankets can remove any bugs found on a high level. No matter how thorough you are, steaming isn’t going to be able to provide enough heat to kill deep, hidden infestations.

You’ll also have to consider how far the infestation has spread throughout your home. If you’ve found the bed bugs, it’s highly likely that they’ve been there for weeks. The pests move quickly and will have found their way into your clothing, baggage and other possessions. For this reason, the infestation is probably more widespread than you think, and your treatment will never completely remove it.

Why You Should Seek the Help of Experts

This being the case, you’re strongly advised to seek the help of pest control experts. While they may make use of heat treatment on some items, they’re far more likely to use insecticides and a mechanical approach because they’re more effective. Experts will know where to look for the bed bugs and by using proven methods, they’ll remove the infestation from your possessions and your home completely.