Do Steam Cleaners Kill Bed Bugs?
Bedbugs are small wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. Your first instinct upon spotting these pests might well be to call an exterminator. The chemicals they use are toxic and can be ineffective at targeting the eggs, though.
Do steam cleaners kill bed bugs? Well, in short, Yes!
You’ll need a solid, versatile steam cleaner such as this one to kill these pests. These loathsome parasites do have a weakness in tolerating heat. Exposure to temperatures of at least 120°F (48°C) is all that is needed to kill off every one of them.
This natural eradication and sanitizing method typically costs less than other approaches and is also useful in a range of household tasks. Bed bugs spread quickly and can be challenging to eliminate. With a steamer, you can get things under control and within a budget that makes more sense. Killing bed bugs with steam is effective however can only kill the bugs and eggs in contacts, usually on the surface or just under the surface.
Be sure to focus on cracks and crevices as this is where bed bugs like to hide. Most importantly, take your time! Don’t do a quick “blanket” steam of a mattress or couch. Slow and methodical will yield the best results.
Our Top Pick
- CLEAN. DISINFECT. SANITIZE. DEGREASE. DEODORIZE. ANY SURFACE. CHEMICAL-FREE.
- POWERFUL SUPERHEATED STEAM: up to 275°F/135°C.
- LARGE CAPACITY: Up to 50 minutes of cleaning time per fill up.
- PERFECT FOR FLOOR CLEANING: use any regular towel or cloth, no need for expensive special pads!
- WARRANTY: 2 years / Lifetime on steam cleaner boiler.
Last update on 2020-02-16 at 20:26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Want a commercial-grade option? See our review of the Sargent Steam BRZ2!
Choosing the Right Steam Cleaner
Steam vapor from 180 degrees Fahrenheit and up will effectively eliminate all bed bugs upon contact, even as the steam disinfects the affected areas. There is no technique that is ideal on its own, though.
It is generally best to use a model that is specially designed to handle such jobs or a multipurpose cleaner than can handle many different tasks. One other issue is that steaming only works well on certain types of surfaces, such as:
- Crown and various molding
- Mattress and box spring set
- Couches and upholstered seating
- Carpet and rug
- Headboard and floorboard
- Cracked or seamed furniture
The method can work on either hard or yielding surfaces. Then again, since not every site can be worked on successfully, other eradication techniques may also be employed.
The application of hazardous chemicals should be performed apart from the steaming, as the hot vapors can loosen toxic compounds, making them easier to inhale. These are safer applied if you can stay away as they take effect and dissipate in the affected areas.
Not sure if you have bedbugs? Check out this video:
Features of Effective Steamers
So, what are the features of good-quality steamers?
- Really hot steam. A dedicated steamer generates vapor temperatures that can reach 180°F at a minimum. Most household steam cleaners can go well above this. The high heat ensures that comparatively quick passes will rapidly eliminate every pest and egg in the path. Lesser temperatures will still destroy most, but the possibility of some surviving will increase.
- Broad enough nozzles. Narrower spouts have to be passed more times over the same general area. This tiring process can result in missed applications that end up sparing some bugs and eggs. Nozzles that are at least a half-foot in width are recommended, the wider streams they output are good for trapping bugs before they can scuttle off.
- Drier vapor. Professional-grade steamers generate ‘dry vapors’ that tend to evaporate faster. This is normally preferable to wetter output that can wind up soaking stuff and promote moldy growth as well.
- Boiling capacity. Models with larger boilers can store greater amounts of water at the ready, so you can spend more time hunting down pests instead of walking off for refills. Regular household steamers rarely have the capacity to deal with sizeable infestations.
- Price and service. Professional-quality models are more efficient and serviceable in the long run, but these also cost much more. However, if over the years you will be encountering more than a few big invasions, these will better equip you to handle things economically.
It is best to do the steaming first, followed by any chemical method that may be needed to fully eliminate the infestations. If done last, the heated vapors may cause the breakdown and airborne dispersal of toxic compounds.
- First, mark every place that is suspect and can use some cleaning.
- String about passive intercept devices to monitor pest movements and trap them in place.
- Fully vacuum every area that you have marked for treatment. Ensure that the vacuum bag is completely sealed for immediate disposal, else the bugs still inside might just scamper out and re-infest some room.
- Get the unit prepared by purging excess moisture from all nozzles to be used.
- Start by steaming areas from the top going downwards, employing the biggest spout that can freely move through the locations under treatment.
- Steam in strips at about one inch per second, holding the nozzle just an inch or two above the surfaces of the furniture or other areas that you are working.
- Let moisture dry thoroughly prior to enclosing treated box spring or mattress sets, you might promote moldy growths otherwise.
Bring The Heat
Steamers can be just the thing for defeating bed bug invasions if used right. A properly-designed model that is built for these types of jobs will be more effective at eliminating bed bugs at any place you find them. We recommend a multi-purpose steam cleaner such as this one.
You will have to decide for yourself if you can proceed in a meticulous manner that the work demands. You can always try renting one first, to see if the technique works well enough for your needs.