Heat Treatment vs Steam for Bed Bugs

heat and steam treatments can be used to get rid of bed bugs

In this article, we will answer the question: Heat treatment vs steam for bed bugs?
Bed bugs can turn our homes into unwelcome and uncomfortable places. When faced with a bed bug infestation, it’s essential to explore effective methods for their elimination. In this article, we will compare two popular approaches: heating and steam treatment.

Using simple language, we will delve into the pros and cons of each method, helping you make an informed decision in your battle against these persistent pests. Discover which technique best suits your needs as we explore the heat and steam treatments for banishing these bloodsuckers once and for all.


Heat Treatment vs Steam for Bed Bugs

When it comes to combating bed bugs, both heat treatment and steam are effective methods for eradication. However, there are some differences between the two approaches. Here’s a comparison of heat treatment and steam for bed bug control:


Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs:

Heat treatment involves raising the temperature of the infested area to lethal levels for bed bugs and their eggs. Professional heat treatments typically utilize specialized equipment to raise the temperature of the entire space, such as a room or an entire building, to around 120°F (49°C) or higher. The high temperatures are maintained for several hours to ensure complete eradication. (source)

Pros of Heat Treatment:

  • High efficacy: Heat treatment is known to be highly effective in killing bed bugs, including both adults and eggs, throughout the treated space.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Heat treatment can penetrate deep into furniture, mattresses, walls, and other hiding places where they may be present.
  • Minimal preparation: Compared to some other methods, heat treatment requires less extensive preparation, as it doesn’t rely on the application of chemicals.


Cons of Heat Treatment:

  • Professional expertise: Effective heat treatment usually requires professional expertise and specialized equipment, making it a more costly option.
  • Potential damage: Heat treatment may cause damage to certain materials or items that are sensitive to high temperatures.
  • Limited localized treatment: Heat treatment is best suited for treating entire rooms or structures and may not be as effective for localized infestations or hard-to-reach areas.



Steam Treatment for Bed Bugs:

Steam treatment involves using a steamer or iron steamer to deliver high-temperature steam directly to bed bugs and their hiding spots. The steam’s heat kills the bugs upon contact, including nymphs and eggs. You can perform Steam treatment by yourself. Which makes it a more accessible option.

Pros of Steam Treatment:

  • Targeted application: Steam treatment allows you to directly treat specific areas, such as mattresses, furniture, and cracks, where they are likely to hide.
  • Accessibility: Steamers are widely available for purchase or rental, enabling individuals to perform treatments themselves.
  • Chemical-free: Steam treatment is a chemical-free method, making it suitable for those who prefer non-toxic solutions.


Cons of Steam Treatment:

  • Limited coverage: Steam treatment may have limitations in reaching all hiding spots, especially in areas that are inaccessible or have deep-seated infestations.
  • Time-consuming: Treating large areas or multiple items with steam can be time-consuming, as each area must be thoroughly treated for effective results.
  • Potential for re-infestation: Steam treatment alone may not address potential bed bug sources outside the treated area, leading to the possibility of re-infestation.


To summarize this comparison: Heat Treatment vs Steam for Bed Bugs:  Both heat treatment and steam treatment can be effective in eliminating bed bugs. Heat treatment offers comprehensive coverage but requires professional expertise and specialized equipment. On the other hand, steam treatment allows targeted application and can be more accessible for individual use. It’s important to consider the specific circumstances of your pest infestation and choose the method that best fits your needs and resources.



Does Heat Treatment kill 100% Bed Bugs?

When properly conducted, heat treatment has a high success rate in killing bed bugs. However, it’s important to note that no treatment method, including heat treatment, can guarantee a 100% kill rate for bed bugs in every situation. The efficacy of heat treatment can depend on various factors. Such as the duration and intensity of heat exposure, the size and complexity of the infested area, the presence of heat barriers, and the level of bed bug resistance.

While heat treatment can be highly effective, it is crucial to follow professional guidelines and ensure that the treatment reaches lethal temperatures throughout the entire infested space. Typically, temperatures of around 120°F (49°C) or higher must be maintained for an extended period. Which can be often several hours, to ensure complete eradication of these insects, including their eggs.

It’s worth noting that they can be resilient and may find shelter in hard-to-reach areas or develop resistance to heat treatment over time.


Can Bed Bugs escape Heat Treatment?

While heat treatment is known to be effective in killing bed bugs, it is possible for them to escape heat treatment under certain circumstances. They have the ability to sense and detect changes in temperature. Which allows them to potentially find areas of cooler temperatures to avoid the heat.

Here are some factors that can contribute to bed bugs escaping heat treatment:

  • Inadequate heat distribution: Ensuring that the entire infested area reaches the necessary lethal temperature is crucial for successful heat treatment. If heat is not evenly distributed or if there are cool spots or heat barriers within the treated space, they may find refuge in those areas and survive.
  • Inaccessible hiding places: They can hide in various places, such as cracks, crevices, wall voids, or deep inside furniture. If these hiding spots are difficult to reach or heat does not penetrate them adequately, some bugs may survive the treatment.
  • Bed bug resistance: They can develop resistance to heat over time, making them more tolerant to higher temperatures. Resistant bed bug populations may require higher temperatures or longer exposure times to achieve effective eradication.
  • Migration to neighboring areas: If the infested area is not properly sealed or neighboring areas are not treated, they may migrate to untreated spaces, allowing them to escape the heat treatment.


To minimize the chances of bed bugs escaping heat treatment, it is important to:

  • Thoroughly assess the infested area to identify potential hiding spots and address them accordingly.
  • Ensure proper sealing of the treated space to prevent migration of bed bugs to adjacent areas.
  • Utilize professional expertise and equipment to ensure proper heat distribution and maintain the required temperature for the necessary duration.
  • Consider combining heat treatment with other control methods, such as steam treatment, vacuuming, and the use of appropriate insecticides, for comprehensive pest eradication.


How many Steam Treatments does it take to get rid of Bed Bugs?

The number of steam treatments required to get rid of bed bugs can vary depending on the severity of the infestation, the size of the treated area, and the effectiveness of each treatment. Steam treatment alone may not be sufficient to eliminate an entire infestation. Because it primarily targets visible bugs and eggs on surfaces. Hidden or inaccessible areas may require additional treatments or alternative control methods to fully eradicate the infestation.

Here are some factors to consider when determining the number of steam treatments needed:

  • Severity of infestation: If the infestation is minor or localized, a few well-executed steam treatments may be effective in eliminating these insects. However, if the infestation is extensive or has spread to multiple rooms, more treatments may be necessary.
  • Thoroughness of treatment: The success of steam treatments depends on thoroughness. It’s important to steam all potential hiding spots, including mattress seams, cracks, crevices, furniture joints, and other areas where they may reside. Repeat treatments to ensure that you treated all areas adequately.
  • Monitoring and re-treatment: They can be resilient, and some eggs or bugs may survive the initial steam treatments. Regular monitoring of the treated area is essential to identify any remaining bed bugs or signs of re-infestation. If you still see some bed bug activity. Additional steam treatments or alternative control methods may be required.
  • Combination with other methods: Combining steam treatments with other bed bug control methods. Such as thorough cleaning, vacuuming, the use of insecticides, or professional assistance, can enhance the effectiveness of treatment and reduce the number of steam treatments needed.


If you want to find the best steamer in the market. You can have a look at the Steamer for Bed Bugs Buying Guide that we prepared.


Will Steam and make Bed Bugs come out of hiding?

Steam can indeed prompt bed bugs to come out of their hiding spots. The heat and moisture generated by steam can disturb them and cause them to move or become more active. This can be beneficial during treatment as it helps expose the bed bugs. By making them more susceptible to the steam’s high temperatures and resulting in their elimination.

If you direct steam at these insects hiding places such as cracks, crevices, seams, or furniture joints. It can disrupt their shelter and force them to emerge. This makes it easier to directly target and treat the bugs with the steam, effectively killing them on contact.



In this article, we answered the question: Heat treatment vs steam for bed bugs?
In the battle against these unwanted guests, both heat treatment and steam treatment offer effective solutions. Heat treatment, with its ability to raise temperatures to lethal levels, provides comprehensive coverage for entire spaces. On the other hand, steam treatment allows targeted application and can flush out bed bugs from their hiding spots.

When choosing between the two methods, consider the size of the infestation, accessibility of the affected areas, and your budget. Heat treatment may require professional assistance and specialized equipment, while steam treatment can be more accessible for individual use.

By understanding the strengths and limitations of both heat and steam treatments. You can make an informed decision to reclaim your home from bed bugs and enjoy a peaceful, bug-free environment once again.

If you want to know more about DIY methods to treat items for bed bugs. We recommend you to explore the potential of sauna as a natural solution for bed bug control. To know more you can see our article on Saunas and Bed Bugs.