The single most effective bed bug treatment strategy is killing bed bugs with heat. Heat treatment is environmentally safe, chemical free, and kills bed bugs in places you can’t see them.
Bed bugs are resilient, but they have one big weakness: They die in temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposing them to temperatures that exceed 120 degrees for a few hours kills them quickly.
Heat treatment is the most effective way of killing bed bugs, but it’s not something the average homeowner can do or afford to do in call cases.
Heat treatment can be done by the “do it yourselfer”, is done most effectively by a well trained professional exterminators with heavy duty heat treating equipment. But for many, this can be cost prohibitive, and can also be done by yourself using some available products, including enclosures and heaters designed for bed bug treatment and bed bug steamers.
We cover both. Below we discuss having it done by a professional, and later in this article, we provide 7 steps you can take on your own to heat treat for bed bugs.
The con of whole house treatment by a professional is that it’s often cost prohibitive for many people that are facing bed bug infestations. Costs are coming down, but heat treatment costs are still fairly expensive.
Whole house treatment by professionals is done by bringing large furnaces and generators on site, generally contained within a large truck, van or trailer. Hot air from the furnaces is directed into the house via large hoses and fans and into a window. The whole house is closed down, and air exceeding 120 degrees is pumped into the home turning your home into one large bed bug oven. Additional fans are used inside the home spread the heat.
This process continues for a few hours to ensure the hot air reaches all of the areas within your home, to kill all the bed bugs.
Again, bed bug heat treatment cost can be very expensive, but seldom requires additional treatments if done correctly.
While a little more tedious, do it yourself bed bug heat treatment is still an excellent option for these that cannot afford a professional. Critically important though is that the proper steps and safe bed bug heat treatment equipment are used. Far too may people have tried to use their own equipment or processes and unfortunately ended up burning their homes down or damming their home or belongings.
We have a 7 step process that we highly recommend you follow that combines heat treatment with a few other traditional and proven bed bug treatment methods.
You’ll want to use either your Clothes Dryer or a ZappBug.
The advantage of using the ZappBug is that only one treatment is required AND you can immediately place your clothing items into the ZappBug in the same room. This reduces the risk of spreading the bed bugs into other areas of your home.
If you elect to use your Dryer, remove the clothing, bed sheets and curtains, and immediately place them into heavy duty trash bags. This will keep you from spreading any bed bugs into other areas of your home. Carefully carry the bag to your dryer, place the bag into your dryer and dump it out while the bag is in the dryer. Pay attention to be sure no bed bugs fall out. If they do, douse them in rubbing alcohol.
Run the clothes through at least two dryer cycles using the highest temperature setting available. If you are unsure of your dryer’s max temperature, we recommend using a ZappBug instead.
While your clothes are being heat treated, encase your Mattress and Boxspring with bed bug encasements. These are available from various local merchants and online. Just be sure and purchase encasements specifically designed for bed bugs. Regular mattress and box spring encasements will not work as they don’t have zipper protection, and the bed bugs will escape through the zipper. Encasements (or covers) will not only seal in any bugs in your bed (and kill them eventually), but will also keep any new bugs from getting in your bed.
We recommend these two from SafeRest:SafeRest Mattress Covers – Top rated on Amazon.com.
SafeRest Box Spring Encasement. Also top rated on Amazon.com.
Next, you’ll want to treat the rest of your bed (headboard, footboard, and rails) and at the same time, treat any furniture that is in your room. There are two ways to do this with heat:
Using either a ZappBug Room Heater or ZappBug heater, heat treat all of your belongings. By this we mean anything that is in the infested room. Books, pictures, knick knacks, magazines, etc. Anything that is in the room should be treated. Bed bugs can hide in all kinds of crazy places, so be thorough.
First, cover your flooring with Diatomaceous Earth. Let it stand for a few hours, then vacuum it up. Repeat this process.
Once the floor is thoroughly vacuumed, we recommend you steam clean it as well. We realize this all seems excessive, but the whole purpose of doing all of this is to be thorough. If you miss just two bed bugs, you’ll have another infestation within weeks. Following these steps is critical to killing all of the bed bugs in your home or infested area.
Using the steamer, do the following:
First off, congratulations! You just completed your first bed bug treatment! Seriously, that’s a huge win. Now, while we hate to burst your bubble of celebration, you may have to repeat this treatment a few times before your bed bugs are completely gone. We hope not, but just wanted to set your expectations just incase. Bed bugs are resilient, and really good at hiding, unfortunately.
So now that you’ve gotten rid of them, it’s time to protect yourself against them. This is in case you missed a few, or in case they might be in other areas of your home. We’ve already put together a dedicated page for protecting yourself against bed bugs. The good news is that by putting protective cases on your mattress and box spring, you’ve already taken the first steps.
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