Killing Bed Bugs Without Chemicals or Pesticides
Infestation of bed bugs is a problem that has been in the news a lot lately. But how do you kill or get rid of bed bugs that have infested your home or workplace if you do not want to use poisonous chemicals and pesticides? The answer is with steam. Temperatures of around 125° fahrenheit will prove fatal to almost all insects. The great advantage with using steam is that the results are immediate – eggs and bed bugs are killed on contact.
Use a low moisture (or "dry vapor") steamer, if possible, because when treating mattresses and soft furnishings, drying could be a problem, and you do not want to end up with mold growth. Use a large cleaning head so that the steam is not emitted at high pressure through a small nozzle; this is not the effect you are going for as this could result in the insects being blown away by force. If they do not all die, you could just be spreading the problem.
Tips for Using the Steamer
You must move the steamer head in close contact with all the surfaces you are treating. This is the only way to ensure that the bugs are treated with the highest possible temperature and that they are killed instantly. Another tip I have read online suggests that the temperature emitted from the cleaner head can be raised by wrapping the head in a tea towel. This means that a temperature high enough to be lethal to the bed bugs and their eggs can be achieved from several inches away, which can help to ensure that "difficult to get at" areas will also be treated effectively. Obviously, you may have to replace the tea towel periodically as it becomes moist.
Know Their Hiding Places
Use steam wherever bed bugs may lurk. The most likely areas include the floor under and around the bed, the bed itself, carpet edges, furniture, and soft furnishings. Don't use steam on polished wooden surfaces or on any item that might be damaged by the high temperatures generated. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer or test on a small inconspicuous area and allow to dry to test for colour fastness before continuing.
Take Further Steps After Steaming
Obviously using steam is a great way to sanitize and eliminate bed bugs and it avoids the use of poisonous chemicals and pesticides in your home or workplace. However, unlike the pesticide option, steam leaves no residual protection. In other words, because there is no pesticide residue left in your home, there is no protection against re-infestation, and you may have to repeat the treatment if eggs and/or bed bugs have been missed the first time. To make your steam cleaning treatment as effective as possible, you should launder bed linen, mattress covers, and clothing from rooms affected by bed bugs. It is probably a good idea to purchase bug-proof mattress covers and pillow covers which will ensure that your mattress and pillows do not become re-infested.
- You must wear a respirator. This is not the same as a dust mask. Why do you need one if you are only using steam and not using any chemicals? Because the steam will vaporise any chemicals on the surfaces you are cleaning and may cause serious problems.
- Choose a steamer labeled "dry steam." Dry vapor steam is very important for reducing any potential for mold growth.
- You need a steamer that produces a steam tip temperature of around 200 degrees fahrenheit or more in order to hit the bugs with a temperature in excess of 125 degrees. Only temperatures this high will kill them on contact. You can purchase an infrared thermometer to check the surface temperature immediately after you have passed the steamer over it. The temperature should register around 160-175 degrees fahrenheit.
- Steam is Dangerous. Obviously, it is very hot so take extra care.
- Look for a steamer with a large water reservoir to cut down on refills. Also look for a good warranty on the boiler.
- VERY IMPORTANT. All information contained in this article has been researched by me. I do not personally endorse, or recommend any product or products for the treatment or eradication of bed bugs but am passing on the recommendations from the results of my research.
If you are looking for a natural way to get rid of bed bugs and would rather kill them using a natural solution rather than using harmful chemicals and pesticides, a steam cleaner is a great solution.
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