Does Heat Kill Bed Bugs?

There are very limited safe and efficient methods that kill bed bugs and heat is touted as one. Does turning up the heat kill bed bugs or drive them away?

It’s a valid question because bed bug bites aren’t pleasant and removing the little pests is tough. Bed bugs are usually well hidden in cracks and crevices on the bed and furniture. 

So, it helps to find out if turning up the heat really kill bed bugs, and if so, what’s the minimum temperature that sends these blood-feasting creature to their demise. 

What Does Science Say About Killing Bed Bugs With Heat?

Bed bugs are very sensitive to heat. While they are quite comfortable at room temperature of 25°C (77°F), increasing the temperature dislodge the creatures from their comfort zone.

In a study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the bed bugs’ survival rate starts dropping when the temperature exceeds 32°C (89.6°F). While the bed bugs do not die instantly, constant exposure to the temperature starts killing them after 10 days.

The death rate of bed bugs increases drastically as the temperature is increased. At 38°C (100.4°F), all the adult bugs died after about 2 weeks of exposure. Nymphs, eggs production, and hatching are also decimated at 38°C after the 2 weeks period.

Another study conducted by Purdue University found that 100% of bed bugs died when exposed to 45°C (113°F) for 22 minutes.

From both studies, it is evident that duration and temperature have an inverse relation to bed bugs’ mortality. So, what’s the threshold that achieves a 100% kill rate with 0 exposure time.

The University of Minnesota has a conclusive answer in this study. Researchers found that bed bugs are killed instantly at 48.3°C (118.94°F). Bed bug eggs are tougher and they are destroyed at  54.8 °C (130.64°F).

What Temperature Kill Bed Bugs Instantly?

Bed bugs perish instantly when exposed to a temperature of 48.3°C (118.94°F).

What About Bed Bug Eggs? 

The eggs are more heat resistant and it takes at least 54.8 °C (130.64°F) before they are no longer capable of hatching. 

Will A 100° Fahrenheit Temperature Destroy Bed Bugs? 

At 100°F, bed bugs start experiencing heat stress, which affects its survival rate. Some of the bed bugs may die but after almost 1-2 days of exposure. As the temperature is sustained, all of the mites will eventually perish after a couple of weeks.

Will Heat Treatment For Bed Bugs Damage Your Home? 

Pest control companies often offer heat treatment for bed bugs. It involves using a large electric heater to increase the temperature of your home. The temperature from such heaters usually ranges between 120°F – 140°F, which is more than sufficient to kill bed bugs.

The idea of heat treatment is to have the heated air circulate evenly in your home. Regardless of where the bed bugs are hiding, the surrounding temperature will be brought to the pint where they are killed instantly. 

Any escape route for the pest must be blocked, which means the gaps on windows, doors and other openings must be sealed. It is an effective solution, except that it may damage heat-sensitive items. 

Rubber-items, seals, plastic-sheets, and gaskets are some of the many items that could be damaged from the heat. Replacing them is a chore and it cost money.

Also, you’ll need to fork out for the heat treatment service, which costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the house size. 

How To Kill Bed Bugs With Heat On Your Own?

If heating up the entire home sound like a last-resort method, you may want to try destroying the bed bugs with other localized heating solution.

Steam Cleaner

The steam cleaner is proven to be an efficient tool to kill bed bugs. The hot vapor emitted from the steam cleaner goes is at least 245°F or higher. That’s more than enough to kill any bed bugs that are exposed to it. 

Handheld steam cleaners offer mobility when you’re targeting bed bugs hiding in the bed or closet. It may not destroy the entire colony of bed bugs in your home but is strong enough to take down most of the pest. 

Besides, you don’t have to worry about accidentally damaging heat-sensitive items.

Laundry Dryer

Bed bugs can sometimes hide in bedding or clothes. If you have a temperature-controlled washing machine or a dryer, increasing the heat to above 130°F will kill both bed bugs and their eggs.

Final Thoughts

Heat is an effective way to kill bed bugs. It produces no toxic residue, is clean, and destroys the pest and eggs alike. When the temperature is raised to 130°F, there is no escape for the annoying pest.

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