Alison draws on many years' experience researching natural remedies and products to use for health, home care and cleaning in her articles.
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.
- 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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on August 03, 2016:
Thank you, Joseph, I hope it will be helpful to you. I think it is good not to use chemicals or pesticides in our homes if at all possible and using steam to get rid of bed bugs is quick, clean and safe.
Joseph Yang on August 02, 2016:
Appreciate the info
Alison Graham (author) from UK on April 05, 2013:
J'espère que cela fonctionne pour vous et vos enfants, Alison
fatiha il ya 1an et demi on April 05, 2013:
acause des punaise j ai detester ma maison . j ai des enfans et les produies sa nemarche pas . sava merci
Alison Graham (author) from UK on October 28, 2010:
supercibor, thanks so much for your kind comment, I am glad to hear you enjoyed reading my hub.
Hector Herrera from Dominican Republic on October 28, 2010:
This is an amazing and revealing hub. It was fun and educational to read.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on October 08, 2010:
Thanks Buyers Guide, I appreciate your comment.
Maryanne Maguire from Santa Monica, CA on October 07, 2010:
This must be a big issue today. Our newspaper carries stories on the front page about bed bugs in Sunday editions seems weekly now, wow!
Alison Graham (author) from UK on October 06, 2010:
Iyjo, thanks - the story of bed bugs in U.S. has been big news in UK.
lyjo on October 05, 2010:
Excellent,great information when bed bugs seem to be on the rise! Thanks
Alison Graham (author) from UK on October 04, 2010:
Thanks roadrunner0924 - I guess there will be quite a lot of people who don't want to use chemical pesticides in their homes.
roadrunner0924 from Denver, Colorado on October 04, 2010:
This is an interesting article especially with all of the news coverage on this growing issue.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on October 01, 2010:
Thanks for your comments MercuryNewsOnline, I don't like the idea of using chemical pesticides in my home.
MercuryNewsOnline from Toronto, Canada on October 01, 2010:
Informative and timely considering the public hysteria about bed bug infestation in North America. It is also environmentally friendly. Thanks.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on September 29, 2010:
Thank you TheListLady for your insightful comments. I am all for avoiding any form of pesticide wherever possible and eating organic where I can.
TheListLady from New York City on September 28, 2010:
Isn't it awful to know that big companies have decided to save money by eliminating the cleaning staff. There was a time that steam cleaning was pretty standard here. There is hardly ever a swipe at filth anymore. No wonder so many germs are rampant. Simple steam cleaning would eliminate the bed bugs - and so many other health problems.
By now you've probably heard that New York City is the bed bug capital. Sigh! And speaking of pesticides - one person on tv said an additional reason for the outbreak is that we have in fact used too many chemicals - chemicals that killed bugs that would normally eat bed bugs - there is nothing controlling them.
Surely, pesticides have destroyed the balance of nature and we keep adding more.
Thanks for this very logical and safe way to handle a problem without poisoning ourselves, our children, the water, our neighbors, pets, the air etc. etc.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on September 27, 2010:
Sorry to hear about your bad experience Highvoltagewriter - just thinking about them makes me feel unwell!
William Benner from Savannah GA. on September 27, 2010:
I wish I knew about using steam to kill bed bugs back when the house was living in was infested with them. For I tried every thing and yet did not get rid od these awful critters! Thank you for the info!
Alison Graham (author) from UK on September 26, 2010:
Thanks for your comment Dolores, I think I would rathe steam my house than have pesticides used though! Thank goodness these are not a big problem in the UK!
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on September 25, 2010:
Boy, this sounds like quite a job. You'd have to steam everything. The whole bed bug thing is just awful. Too bad you can't just steam the whole house at once!
Alison Graham (author) from UK on September 24, 2010:
Hi GamerAinion, thanks for reading and for your comment.
GamerAinion from Miami, FL on September 24, 2010:
Very well written and educative article. Good job, especially on the timing considering the current bedbug "epidemic" of sorts that's occurring in America.