From your mattress and box spring to your carpet and baseboards, bed bugs can nest almost anywhere in your home.
In fact, many bed bug infestations occur within a few feet of their food source (humans), like near a bed or other close furniture. And because of their small size, they can hide in crevices as tiny as nail indentations in your wall. As a result, these pests can be very difficult to get rid of.
Successfully getting rid of bed bugs relies on early detection, proper preparedness and correct treatment methods. One such method is heat treatment, which may be appropriate in cases where a home, apartment, or hotel room is heavily infested. Heat treatment — much less whole-house heat treatment — is typically only used as a last resort when other more appropriate methods may be more suitable.
While a professional will determine the best course of treatment once a bed bug problem has been diagnosed, it can be helpful to better understand what heat treatment may entail, if it is an option that your bed bug professional recommends.
How much does bed bug heat treatment cost?
Prices for bed bug heat treatments can vary, depending on factors such as the type of heat treatment used, the size of your home, and the severity of the bed bug infestation. A bed bug control professional will be able to visit your property to provide a customized estimate based on the situation.
How does heat treatment kill bed bugs?
Bed bugs die when exposed to high temperatures for an extended period. If performed properly, heat treatment for bed bugs can be a highly effective procedure.
When bed bug control professionals do a full-room heat treatment, the temperature in your home rises to as much as 145 °F. Rather than heating the entire house, Terminix professionals use targeted heat in the form of steam in infested areas, alongside other techniques to kill bed bugs.
During a bed bug heat treatment, industrial-sized electric heaters are used to maintain high levels of heat to help ensure all bed bugs are eliminated. The entire process can be completed in about 6–9 hours. there are, in some instances, cool spots where some bed bugs may look to in order to escape the heat and survive.
Will heat treatment for bed bugs damage my home?
While whole room heat treatments can take hours, the temperature isn't high enough to cause permanent damage to the structure of your house.
Although heat treatment can be quite effective when done by a professional and under the right circumstances, it's important that all people, pets, plants, and heat-sensitive items be removed from the treated area for several hours. Your bed bug control professional will advise you when it is safe to return to your home, as well as advise you on safely returning objects that were removed prior to heat treatment.
The majority of items in your home can probably handle the temperature of a bed bug heat treatment. However, some things must be removed, including:
- Houseplants and pets
- Alcohol, fresh food and food that can melt (e.g., chocolate)
- All medications
- Anything made out of wax or plastics that might melt
- Anything pressurized (e.g., soda bottles, aerosol cans, propane bottles)
- Flammable items and firearm ammunition
- Wooden musical instruments
- Oil paintings
- Phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices
Before heat treatment begins, talk to your bed bug control professional to figure out what items can stay put throughout the process. Vulnerable items can be placed in storage bins and left outside your house for the duration of the treatment. Let your bed bug control professional know about these items, as they may need to inspect and treat them separately to ensure you don't reintroduce bed bugs into your home.
Other steps you can take to help protect items from bed bug heat treatment are:
- Turning off and unplugging all electronics.
- Covering computer and TV screens with clean blankets.
- Turning off all fans and air conditioners.
Can a hot box kill bed bugs?
Another treatment method used to control a bed bug problem is the use of a hot box. A hot box uses sustained heat to get rid of bed bugs on items like shoes, clothing, linen and even luggage.
While you can perform spot-treatments to kill bed bugs on infested items such as clothing and bedding by running them through a 30-minute cycle at the highest heat setting in a clothes dryer, this will only kill bed bugs on infested items. Although this is an important part of a system of bed bug control solutions, it will not control a bed bug issue by itself.
Generally, a dryer is used for clothing and linens while a heat chamber is used for the things that you can't put into a dryer. Lethal temperatures for bed bugs range from 118–122°F. To help kill bed bugs in all their life cycle stages, hot boxes reach a higher temperature than this lethal range.
When using a hot box, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter, making sure to pay attention to everything from heat sources to proper ventilation. Not doing so could result in fires or damage to your belongings. The same goes for using your dryer to kill bed bugs: Make sure items are dryer safe before attempting this method.
Will steam kill bed bugs?
Technically, yes. Steam is another form of heat that can help kill adult bed bugs along with their larvae and eggs. However, the types of steamers that most people have access to (carpet cleaners or clothes steamers) don't reach high enough temperatures to effectively kill bed bugs, which is why it is important to look to a bed bug control expert, as they have access to professional-grade equipment that is more effective.
What should I do if I think I have bed bugs?
Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of. If you think you have bed bugs in your home, don't wait to contact a bed bug control professional. An experienced Terminix® technician can evaluate your home and help determine the best course of treatment to help kill bed bugs.
Contact Terminix today for your free bed bug inspection.