10 Pros and Cons of Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs

Having a bed bug infestation can be stressful! While bed bug bites are not dangerous, their presence can negatively impact your emotional and mental health. People who have encountered bed bugs commonly report symptoms such as nightmares, paranoia, stress, nervousness, and anxiety.  

Fortunately, there are many methods that promise to get rid of a bed bug infestation successfully, including natural measures, chemical control, and heat treatment. Bed bug heat treatment has risen in popularity in recent years as one of the most effective and fastest ways to get rid of bed bugs.

When done keenly and correctly, heat treatments can be 100% effective, killing every single bed bug and bed bug eggs. Bed bug heat treatment is especially common among professional pest controllers. They use specific equipment to raise the temperatures in your room to a level that dries out the bed bug body and kills them instantly.

This guide delves deep into the pros and cons of heat treatment for bed bugs. Plus, we will teach you how to use heat to kill bed bugs effectively.

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What Is Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs?

Developed by an Environmental Chemist, David Hammond, heat treatment technology is a conventional method of controlling bed bug pests. Hammond explains that an organism disintegrates when exposed to temperatures around 45 degrees Celsius.

Though bed bugs are tiny pests, they are incredibly difficult to control because they are masters of hiding in the tiniest cracks and crevices. They have also become highly resistant to commonly used pesticides, often leading to ineffective pest control. Consequently, pest experts have been seeking novel ways to kill bed bugs.

Heat treatment is a novel method that kills bed bugs immediately. The pest controller strategically places specialized heaters and fans throughout your property. As the temperatures gradually increase, the fans circulate the hot hair to the infested areas, effectively turning them into a conventional oven.

Bed bugs and bed bug eggs will be destroyed effectively within one or two hours of continuous exposure to temperatures between 110 – 120 degrees Fahrenheit. But the bugs will die immediately when temperatures increase beyond this range. Professional pest controllers typically aim for temperatures over 130 degrees Fahrenheit, providing the best bed bug control results.

Heat treatment can kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs in a single session. This makes it highly efficient for severe infestations. But it’s important to note that heat treatment can only be beneficial for bed bug control if applied correctly.

In other words, the effectiveness of heat treatment for bed bugs heavily relies on the operator or the pest control specialist. Should the operator make a small mistake like missing an infested area, the pest problem will not go away and may worsen as the bed bug life cycle continues.

Can Bed Bugs Survive Heat Treatment?

Heat is a very effective and eco-friendly bed bug exterminator. It kills bed bugs in all stages, from eggs to adults, without leaving any residues. In fact, a single heat treatment session is enough to get rid of a severe bed bug infestation within one day. Often, heat treatment does not require further follow-ups from the pest control company.

But bed bugs are well known for being stubborn and resilient. They can run away once they detect increasing temperatures in a room, especially if there’s an easy way out. Bed bugs usually hide in the cracks and crevices in walls and furniture. 

Fortunately, heat reaches all potential bed bug hiding spots, making it impossible for them to survive, no matter where they are hiding. Another advantage of heat treatment for bed bugs is that the high temperatures will kill even the hardiest bugs that are resistant to pesticides.

While heat treatment is a healthy and effective way to get rid of bed bugs, you must be keen to avoid operator errors. There is a chance that the bed bugs can escape the heat and come back when temperatures have cooled down. That’s why heat treatment is best left to the trained experts to ensure every single bed bug and bed bug eggs are killed successfully.

How Long Can a Bed Bug Survive in Heat?

How long a bed bug can live in heat typically depends on the equipment used and the temperature the pest is exposed to. As mentioned above, high temperatures beyond 130 °F will kill bed bugs almost instantly.

On the other hand, it takes about 1-2 hours of continuous exposure to lower temperatures (120 °F) to kill bed bugs.

How Long Should I Heat My Room to Kill Bed Bugs?

In order for bed bugs to die, their thermal point of death (TPD) must be reached. TPD refers to the temperature at which bed bugs are killed by heat. How long it takes to reach the TPD is determined by the temperature used and the exposure time.

For instance, if you’re using a laundry drier or portable heat chamber at 110 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need to heat the infested room for 90 minutes to reach the TPD and kill bed bugs and their eggs.

Note that although bed bugs will die within 20 minutes of exposure to 110 °F, their eggs are hardy and must be exposed to the same temperature for 90 minutes.

Comparably, bed bugs will die within a few seconds of exposure to 160 or 180 °F.

How to Apply Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs at Home? 

If you are a handy homeowner looking to apply heat treatment for bed bugs by yourself, you’re in the right place. 

There are various types of heat treatments available for homeowners, including hot dryers and portable heat chambers used to kill bed bugs in infested household items, larger heat chambers used to treat infested furniture, and professional heating systems used to kill bed bugs in the entire room. 

Here are easy ways to apply heat treatment for bed bugs at home: 

Clothes Dryer

It is nearly impossible to apply insecticides on infested toys, bedding, handbags, books, clothes, shoes, and other household items. Luckily, your household dryer can be an excellent bed bug killer. 

Loosely fill the dryer with the infested items and set it at the highest temperature. This method kills bed bugs in all their stages within 30 minutes. However, you may want to increase the treatment time to ensure the TPD is reached. 

Portable Heating Devices

You can use the portable heating device to kill bed bugs in household items like sleeping bags, pillows, clothing, shoes, backpacks, etc. 

All you need to do is place the infested items on the support rack and the interior heater will gradually increase the temperatures to a point (120 °F) bed bugs and their eggs won’t survive. The device has an external heat monitor that lets you see the temperatures inside. It also has a timer that automatically turns the heat off when the treatment is done.

Portable heating devices can take much longer than a hot dryer to kill bed bugs. But unlike hot dryers, these devices they are ideal for treating larger items such as packed suitcases and electric appliances. Before putting any electric appliances in the heating device, check the manufacturer’s manual and confirm they are heat tolerant. 

You can buy a portable heating device from your local pest control store. However, you must ensure that the heating device is specifically designed to kill bed bugs. 

Steam Treatment 

Steam treatments are especially common with pest control companies. They are mainly used to kill bed bugs on upholstered furniture, carpets, mattresses, box springs, baseboards, and other areas where chemical treatment is not recommended. 

The steamer must be moved slowly over every inch of the infested surface, allowing the heat to reach the target temperature (160 °F) to kill bed bugs and their eggs.

Will Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Damage My Property?       

Heat treatment is the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs and prevent chances of future infestations. However, great care must be taken as heat can potentially damage your home and belongings if the treatment is not done the right way. 

That is why professional pest control is highly recommended to provide safe, effective, and long-lasting results. 

6 Pros of Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs 

Heat treatment offers multiple advantages when it comes to killing bed bugs, including: 

  • A single treatment is enough to kill bed bugs and destroy their eggs without the need for follow-ups from a pest control company. Comparably, chemical treatments usually require several follow-up visits.

  • It successfully kills bed bugs in all their stages, from eggs to adults: Bed bugs are excellent at hiding, making it hard for chemical treatments to reach them. The good thing about heat treatment is that the heat reaches bed bugs in all their hiding spots, killing even species resistant to chemical treatments.

  • Provides fast and highly effective results, often between 8-24 hours. No matter where bed bugs are hiding, the high temperatures will reach and kill them within the shortest time.

  • You do not need to pre-treat your room or items with pesticides. You don’t need to combine heat treatment with other control methods to get effective results.

  • It is a healthier control method as no chemicals are used. Let’s face it; chemical treatments are a risky bed bug control method that exposes people and pets to respiratory health risks. Fortunately, heat treatment kills bed bugs without leaving the residual effects of toxic chemicals. All that’s left behind after treatment is dead bed bugs.

  • It effectively controls small, medium, and severe infestations: Another benefit of heat treatment for bed bugs is that it is a discreet and effective way of killing all levels of bed bug infestations. The heat gets to every corner of your home, killing every single bed bug and bed bug eggs.

4 Cons of Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs 

  • It can damage household items if not applied correctly. Although very effective, heat treatment can damage your home if not done the right way.

  • Often requires a professional for the best results: Heat treatment may sound like an easy way to kill bed bugs, but that’s far from reality. You can’t just turn on your steamer or portable heater and expect it to magically exterminate the bed bug infestation in your home. For heat treatment to provide highly effective and long-lasting effects, professional help is often necessary.

  • Requires specialized heaters and fans. Unfortunately, the professional equipment required for heat treatment to kill bed bugs at home are not readily available in the market.

  • Heat treatment can end up being more expensive than chemical treatment and other treatment options.

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