Can Steam Cleaners Help Eradicate Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs, these tiny, blood-hungry parasites, are invading homes and businesses across north America in larger numbers than we’ve ever seen since the World War 2.
Remember the saying, “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite!”? Well, it has taken on a new meaning in recent months, as cities across north America battle a resurgence of bed bugs.
These blood-hungry parasites have infiltrated apartment buildings, houses, hotels, retail stores, movie theaters, schools, offices, hospitals, and even military posts, looking to take up permanent residence in numbers unseen since World War II.
There are Bed Bug Treatment products that can be used to eliminate these annoying pests, but health experts warn that using pesticides indoors can pose serious health risks to humans and pets.
Bed Bug Steamers and Reliable steam cleaners, are going to reach far beyond that temperature threshold.
Dry vapor steam cleaners provide one thing that will eliminate bed bugs in all stages of their development, and that is extreme heat. Temperatures of 120 degrees F and higher are lethal to most insects and will kill bed bugs on contact.
Vapor steam cleaners, a product group that is becoming ever more popular as many households “go green,” use only water and heat to create a dry vapor steam that sanitizes surfaces and removes dirt, grime and germs. This natural dry steam can reach temperatures in excess of 250 degrees F, which is hot enough to kill disease-causing bacteria and viruses and powerful enough to kill bed bugs instantly and without leaving a trail of toxic chemicals.
Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recognize heat treatment as an important component of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach for eliminating bed bugs. Other components include using monitoring devices to detect bed bug activity, removing clutter in places where bed bugs can hide, laundering bedding and linens, vacuuming, sealing cracks and crevices that may become bed bug hiding spots, and using chemical pesticides approved for indoor use.
“People suffering from MCS, or multiple chemical sensitivities, however, often cannot physically use pesticides in their homes because the chemicals will trigger an allergic reaction or worse,” Hong said. “In addition, some people simply refuse to use chemical treatments on and around the bed they sleep on. Applying a heat treatment through steam cleaning can be a safer alternative that, in some cases, is just as effective.”
When using a steam cleaner for bed bug treatment, Hong offers these tips for the most effective results:
Choose a Continuous-Fill Steam Cleaner – Continuous-fill steam cleaners, such as the Ladybug steam cleaner models, require no downtime to reheat water in between steam treatments. This allows you to steam for longer periods of time–long enough to treat common bed bug hiding spots in one phase without stopping to refill the system.
Apply Steam Directly to the Surface – When steam cleaning, apply the steam cleaner head directly to the surface you want to treat. Holding it above the surface may scatter the bed bugs to new hiding spots and make them harder to kill.
Steam Slowly – Move the steam cleaner slowly over every square inch of the surface being treated to ensure that you’re providing complete steam exposure.
Take Advantage of Steam Cleaner Attachments – Use larger steam cleaning heads, such as the Vapamore MR-100 floor cleaning head, when steaming large surface areas like mattresses, couches, chairs, carpets, headboards, and nearby flooring where bed bugs are often found. Use crevice tools to clean inside the seams of mattresses, between mattresses and box springs, in baseboard cracks, and inside bed frames and dressing tables. Use upholstery tools to steam and sanitize curtains and drapes. In addition to Ladybug and Vapamore steam cleaners, the Reliable Enviromate E3 and Reliable Enviromate E5 steam cleaners offer a variety of accessory attachments designed for any surface.
Steam Travel Bags – Bed bugs can be transported from location to location as people travel. To prevent a repeat infestation and reduce the chance of passing bed bugs on to a new place, steam clean luggage, overnight bags, folded clothing bags, purses, and any other travel accessories that may have been exposed to bed bugs.
Vacuum After Steam Cleaning – After performing a steam treatment, vacuum all treated areas to remove dead bed bugs, eggs and other residue. Discard vacuum bags immediately or empty vacuum dust containers and wash them before replacing.
While thorough steam cleaning can, in many cases, eliminate entire bed bug infestations, Hong cautions that consumers should first consult a licensed pest control professional if they suspect a bed bug problem and before attempting any home remedies for bed bugs.
“A pest control professional will assess your pest problem and help you develop a tailored treatment plan, using the IPM approach, for your environment,” he said. “This might include chemical pesticides if the size of the infestation warrants it. But steam cleaners and heat treatment will likely continue to be an important part of eradication and prevention.”