Using Heat to Treat For Bed Bugs
August 18, 2014
Bed bugs can be extremely frustrating and difficult to eliminate. Once one item gets infested, your entire house is at risk. Killing the adult bed bugs isn't enough to guarantee that your house is bed bug free. You will also need to destroy any eggs laid by the bed bugs. The problem can become so severe that you will need a professional exterminator. If you notice the first bed bugs soon enough, though, you may be able to eliminate the infestation by yourself.
First, make sure that the insects you are dealing with are actually bed bugs. Other insects, such as fleas and ticks, look similar to bed bugs, but they present different risks and may need different cleaning methods.
Once you are certain that you have a bed bug infestation, try to determine how much it has spread. If the bed bugs are confined to a few items, it may be relatively easy to get rid of them by yourself. If the bed bugs have spread to many items, including carpets and clothing, it will be much more difficult to eliminate them all.
Using heat is one method that can be effective for getting rid of bed bugs. You can use a clothes dryer for any items that can be put in the dryer, such as clothing and bedding. Run the items through the dryer on high heat for 10 to 20 minutes. You will need temperatures of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the bugs and eggs.
If the bugs have spread to an item of clothing that is dry-cleaning only, you shouldn't send the item to a dry cleaner. Sending the live bugs and eggs to another location gives them a chance to spread, potentially infesting the dry cleaner's and other customers' homes. Most dry-clean only garments can safely be dried in a standard clothes drier on medium heat. Just make sure the item is fully dry before you put it in the dryer.
For larger items that cannot be washed and put in a clothes dryer, you can use sunlight for the heat treatment. This method works well on furniture and rugs. Wrap the item in some kind of plastic and put it in direct sunlight. You want as much sunlight to reach it as possible. Black plastic trash bags are the best for this, since the black color absorbs the most light and reaches the highest temperature possible.
Once you have wrapped the item in plastic, it will need to sit for a full day at least. After a long time in direct sunlight, temperatures inside the plastic should be higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is necessary to the kill bed bugs and their eggs.
There are portable heating devices that are meant specifically for treating for bed bugs. These devices can be expensive and hard to find, but they are very effective. The heaters are useful for things that cannot be put in clothes dryer, such as luggage, backpacks and shoes. They also work well for clothing. Heaters come in various models, but most are easy to use. If you are using this method, simply follow the instructions that come with the model you select.
For large-scale infestations, involving an entire room or a full house or apartment, you may need to call a professional exterminator. Exterminators have several methods and types of equipment that they can use. They may use a specialized heater to heat the whole room. These heaters raise air temperatures to 120 Fahrenheit or higher. Exterminators may also use steamers. The high-temperature steam they generate is effective for eliminating bed bugs.
If you have hired an exterminator who will be using heat treatment, you may need to do some things to prepare your house. You may need to remove all bedding from beds. It might also be necessary to seal windows and doors with caulk or foam to prevent the heat from escaping. You will certainly need to stay out of your home while the temperatures are high, and any pets will need to be removed. Also remove any materials that may be damaged by high heat. Check with the exterminator you hire to see if they have any specific instructions.
Heat treatment is very effective for destroying bed bugs. The insects cannot survive at the high temperatures involved in these treatments. Heat also permeates throughout an entire item or a whole room with larger heaters. The bugs can't escape from the heat like they may be able to escape an insecticide, which can be used on a small area.
You will need to make sure that the temperatures from any of these treatment methods are really high enough to kill the bugs. The heat treatments will not effectively destroy the bed bugs unless the temperature around the bugs reaches at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures must stay that high for several hours with any of these methods. It is impossible to make your house hot enough using only a home furnace. If you have a large-scale infestation, you will most likely need to hire an exterminator.
Bed bugs are persistent insects, and whatever heat method you choose to get rid of them, it is important that you destroy all of them, both the adult insects and their eggs. If you miss some of them with your first efforts, they will quickly spread and the infestation may become worse than it was before. Make sure that you get every infested item in your first effort to eliminate the bugs. It may be time-consuming to heat everything effectively, but it is worth it to avoid the hassle of repeated infestations.
Contact Alliance Pest Services for all your bed bug questions and problems as well as our heat treatments and canine bed bug scent detection dogs.