Steam can be an effective, non-chemical option for homeowners to get rid of bed bugs early on — before an infestation gets out of hand.
What Temperature Kills Bed Bugs?
An adult bed bug needs only about 118°F (48°C) for complete lethality within 90 minutes. Both adult bed bugs and bed bug eggs will die within minutes at 122°F (50°C).
Steam forms from water at 212°F (100°C), so it’s already way over the killing point required to exterminate bed bugs immediately. Steam will kill pretty much any insect at that temperature.
Tips for Killing Bed Bugs with Steam
To kill bed bugs effectively, directly apply the steam slowly and evenly. You should also consider what might insulate the insect from having the steam directly applied to it.
If you have clothing that you can use a steamer wand on, slowly drag it across like you normally would.
If you have certain pieces of furniture that can handle the moisture and temperature, slowly go over the flat planes and focus on crevices and areas where there are bolts and screws, because that’s where bed bugs would hide.
In terms of time, only a couple of seconds are needed to directly apply the steam when killing bed bugs.
Where it gets trickier is if you have things like a La-Z-Boy recliner or upholstered couch—it might be difficult to get deep enough into the cushions. If the cushions come off, you can separate those areas and get the steam in, or you can get a helper to hold the steam wand for you.
Killing bed bugs with steam gets tricky whenever there are deep crevices that the steam can’t penetrate into. That’s when you might want to fall back on other methods, such as using bed bug traps that mimic the human body. Those will help draw bed bugs out from those areas.
In most cases, steam directly applied slowly and evenly to pretty much any surface (that can safely have steam applied to it) will be effective at helping you kill bed bugs.