Does Steam Kill Bed Bugs? Here’s What You Should Know About Bed Bug Steamers
Fewer things are more unpleasant than discovering you have bed bugs in your home. These pests multiply quickly and are notoriously difficult to eradicate.
Many of the products that can help you control the pests can be harmful to you and the environment. So are there any natural solutions?
One option you can consider if you’re looking to get rid of bed bugs without using harmful chemicals is a steamer. It uses high heat to kill them. Is it an effective method? Can your normal steamer get the job done? Find out everything you need to know about using a steamer for bed bugs in this informative guide.
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How Do You Kill Bed Bugs With Steam?
Vulnerability to high temperature is one of the bed bug’s true weaknesses. Studies have found that bedbugs die when exposed to temperatures of 120-140ºF (around 50-60ºC). Steam forms when water passes its boiling point of 212ºF (100ºC), which is considerably higher than the kill temperature.
The intense heat of a steamer kills these tiny pests as well as their eggs on contact. It can penetrate fabric surfaces up to about ¾” and cracks and crevices up to 2-4″.
A steamer has the added advantage of being eco-friendly. It kills bed bugs with just vaporized water, so no dangerous chemicals are required.
Items You Can Steam
A steamer doesn’t leave a toxic residue on your items. You can safely use them after the steam treatment.
The steamer can be used successfully on most surfaces, such as:
- box springs,
You shouldn’t steam electrical outlets and appliances, for example, televisions, stereos, and lamps. Electricity and water make a deadly mix.
You may find it challenging to treat electronics due to their sensitivity to water and heat. One handy option that can help you treat electronics is bed bug strips. Learn more about them here.
How to Use
Your standard steamer may not be suited to eradicating bed bugs. There are special steamers that are custom engineered to do this job.
Regardless of how powerful the steamer you purchase may be, it won’t work if you don’t use it correctly.
Here are some guidelines to help you use the tool safely and more efficiently:
- Before you start steaming, thoroughly vacuum the areas you intend to treat. This will make the steamer more effective. Seal your vacuum bag and dispose of the contents outside your house.
- Read the steamer’s included instructions carefully and ensure you’re comfortable using it. This will help you avoid ruining your items, damaging the machine or burning yourself.
- Steam all the locations you know or suspect the bed bugs are. Work your way from the top of a room to the bottom. For example, you can start with the drapes and finish with the floorboards.
- When possible, steam with a larger head attachment. That’s because smaller heads can create a lot of centralized pressure that scatters the bugs instead of killing them. Even better, you could get a steamer that has a pressure control valve that allows you to adjust the steam pressure.
- Try not to move the steamer faster than 1 inch per second. Keep the nozzle tip about 1-2 inches from the area you’re treating.
- Allow the surfaces you’ve steamed to dry completely. Applying encasements too soon can cause mold growth.
- Repeat the process if you notice any signs of the bugs.
To kill bed bugs effectively, surface temperatures should reach 160-180ºF. You could purchase an infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of surfaces after you’ve passed the steam wand over them.
As we mentioned earlier, vacuuming can increase the effectiveness of your steamer. So what’s the best vacuum for bed bugs? Get the answer in this article.
What Is the Best?
When using steam to eliminate bed bugs, it’s important to pay attention to the quality of the steamer. Not all of the steamers that are on the market can effectively kill bugs. So how do you identify a high-quality bed bug steamer?
Here are the things you should consider when choosing a steamer:
- Capacity. Capacity and convenience go hand in hand. It’s inconveniencing to steam a room while having to refill your steamer with water every few minutes. What’s worse, using a steamer that requires constant refilling could allow bed bugs to move into a cooler area while you’re refilling. A steamer with a large water tank will give you plenty of time to continuously steam an area.
- Temperature. The best steamer to use is one that produces steam of around 200ºF or more at its tip consistently. This allows it to hit the bugs with a temperature of more than 120ºF. A steamer that produces a lower temperature may kill some of these pests, but a significant number will survive.
- Attachments. You should pay attention to the type and number of attachments that the unit comes with. That’s because some attachments are more appropriate for use on certain surfaces.For example, a steam lance will be effective in tight spaces such as cracks, door jams, baseboards, windowsills, and bed frames. A triangle tool will work best on fabric objects such as sofas and mattresses. A rectangle tool is ideal for larger surfaces like walls, ceilings, rugs, carpets, and floors.
- Control. Some steamers come with functions that give you better control. For example, a pressure knob makes a steamer more efficient by letting you change the pressure of the steam to suit the surface you’re treating. For example, mattresses, pillows, and couches would need more steam pressure than carpet, box springs, and wood furniture.
- Time. If you need to steam large areas or require a quick treatment, you should consider the unit’s boiling time. Some steamers will take just seconds to heat water whereas others will take 10 minutes or more.
Don’t use a chemical-based bed bug product before steaming. The steam can make the chemicals in the product break down into their constituent parts. Some of the constituents can be very dangerous to your health.
If you choose to use a chemical-based product to eradicate bed bugs, one product you can consider is Raid Max Bed Bug and Flea Killer. Read this to get more information about it.
Home Depot offers a variety of steamers. These include products from top brands like McCulloch, Vapamore, and Steamfast.
Besides the characteristics of the best steamers that we’ve already discussed, you could also consider several other factors when shopping for a steamer at Home Depot’s online store. For example, you could look at the review ratings and price.
When it comes to price, you should bear in mind that high-quality steamers will not only cost more but also produce superior results. A cheap steamer will save you money initially, but the cost of having to eliminate a recurring infestation after the product fails to deal with the issue adequately can be extremely high.
Are there cheap steamers you can buy?
If you have a very tight budget, you may have no option other than looking for a cheap steamer. Luckily, Home Depot has got you covered. There are several steamers available that are well under $100.
Here are some affordable steamers you can consider buying:
- Steamfast Everyday Handheld Steamer
This lightweight and compact steamer heats up within 3 minutes. It comes with multiple attachments to extend its reach and can sanitize both soft and hard surfaces in your home.
- McCulloch Handheld Steamer
This multipurpose steamer comes with 11 attachments. It has a lockable trigger to control steam flow. The long 15-foot power cord provides plenty of maneuverability.
It may not be cost-effective for one person to purchase a high-quality steamer. It goes without saying that buying a cheap steamer may mean having to compromise on quality. Fortunately, it’s possible to rent steamers.
Steamers are rentable from local hardware stores. You can also rent a steamer from membership organizations like social assistance groups and housing cooperatives.
Rental steamers at Home Depot
Home Depot is one of the best places to rent steamers. The stores have high heat steamers for both residential and industrial applications. They offer monthly, weekly, daily, and 4-hour rentals.
For you to rent a steamer, you’ll need to have a valid credit card and government-issued photo ID. You can check for a tool’s availability by visiting the rentals section of the Home Depot website or calling your local store.
Top 5 Steamers for Bed Bugs
A bed bug infestation can cause you to rush out and look for a quick solution. Unfortunately, impulse buying can make you end up with a steamer that won’t do a good job.
To help you make an informed decision, we’ve gathered some of the best steamers on the market:
- Vapamore MR-100 Primo Cleaning System
The Vapamore brand is one of the most trusted in the steam cleaning industry. This steamer produces an adjustable steam output of 210-220ºF. It kills pests such as bed bugs and dust mites while cleaning and sanitizing surfaces. The unit is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Where to buy: available on Amazon and Home Depot.
- McCulloch MC1275
The tank of this heavy-duty steamer is large enough to let you steam continuously for 45 minutes. Its steam temperature is around 200ºF. You can use the scrub pad to get rid of the stains and debris that bugs, mites, and other pests leave behind. This product has been rated highly by thousands of customers.
Where to buy: www.mccullochsteam.com.
- Sargent Steam Cleaner
This multi-purpose steamer kills bed bugs as well as germs and bacteria, including the serious disease-causing staphylococcus germs. It can last for more than 20 years. Its multiple attachments help you steam hard-to-reach places. Users have described it as being reliable and easy to use.
Where to buy: www.sargentsteam.com.
- Steamfast SF-275 Steam Cleaner
This is an excellent product if you’re looking for quality but are on a tighter budget. It heats up in a couple of minutes and gives you 45 minutes of continuous use. Its front casters and large back wheels provide smooth mobility. The steamer gets rid of pests as well as dirt, grime, and stains.
Where to buy: www.steamfast.com.
- Wagner 915 Power Steamer
This is also a good low-cost option. It sanitizes your home’s surfaces and kills bed bugs and dust mites. It comes with an 8-foot hose and two extension tubes for extended reach. The large tank allows you to operate the steamer continuously for up to 45 minutes. You can adjust the nozzle to control the steam flow.
Where to buy: www.wagnerspraytech.com.
Using a steamer is a laborious process. You’ll need to have the willingness to put in physical effort and time to steam different areas of your home. If used correctly, a steamer can be an invaluable weapon in your bed bug killing arsenal. What’s more, it won’t put your pets, small children and anybody else who is chemically sensitive at any risk.
You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.