How to Kill Bed Bugs With Steam

Bed bugs may be resilient, but one thing they cannot withstand is the high heat of a steamer. Steamers are an excellent, chemical-free way to treat for bed bugs and other pests such as dust mites. Reaching upwards of 250ºF or 121ºC, steamers will kill any bed bug or bed bug eggs on contact, and thoroughly clean the infested area. When treating an area for bed bugs, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure that all bed bugs are eradicated in a safe manner.


1 Use caution when steaming an area that has recently been treated with chemicals (including diatomaceous earth powder). Heat may break down the chemicals already applied, undermining their residual effect. As a general rule, apply chemicals after steaming.


2 Before steaming, vacuum the areas to be treated. This will increase the effectiveness of the steamer. If possible, use a vacuum cleaner with a bag, as this allows for easy disposal of any bed bugs that may have been captured in the vacuum. If you have a bagless vacuum cleaner, dispose of all contents in a bag outside of your house, place the bag straight into the outdoor garbage, then wash the vacuum container and filter in as hot water as the vacuum components can stand. Allow to air dry before refitting to the vacuum cleaner.

Another option is to use a steamer/vacuum combination.


3 Carefully read the instructions provided with your steamer to prepare the steamer for operation. Remember that steamers produce extremely hot steam, so use caution to avoid burning yourself.


4 Purge the steamer into a cloth towel to clear the nozzle of excess water that has been collected. Do this both when the steamer heats up initially and when moving between locations. Once the water is purged, you can attach the appropriate accessory and begin steaming.

Keep a dry towel or moisture-absorbent cloth on hand to help absorb excess water that may accumulate while steaming


5 When steaming, start from the top of the room (drapes, etc.) and work your way down to the floorboards. The steamer can be used on moldings, mattresses, box springs, headboards, sofas, carpeting, floorboards and more. However, never steam into an electrical outlet or appliances!


6 When possible, use a larger head attachment for the nozzle, as smaller heads may create too much centralized pressure, thus scattering the bed bugs rather than killing them. Some steamers have a pressure control valve, allowing you to control the pressure of the steam.


7 Take your time with the steamer. Keep the tip of the nozzle about one to two inches (2.5cm-5cm) from the surface you are treating, and move at a rate of about one inch (2.5cm) per second.


8 After steaming your mattress, allow adequate time for the steam to completely dry before applying a mattress, box spring or pillow encasement. Applying encasements before the steam has dried may result in the growth of mould.


9 After steaming, keep an eye out for any signs of bed bugs in the next few days. If signs of bed bugs appear, re-treat the area with steam. It is always recommended to follow up a steam treatment with an EPA-approved bed bug spray.

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