Can I use a steam cleaner for bedbugs?
We know that heat is an effective way of killing bedbugs. After all, many professional exterminators will use heat treatments for bedbugs, and of course, it’s always recommended to put all of your clothes and fabrics through the dryer on high heat when you have a bedbug infestation. So people often wonder, can I use a steam cleaner to get rid of bed bugs?
The answer is sort of. Yes, a steam cleaner will kill bed bugs. But it will not get rid of your bed bug infestation. Here’s why:
If you point a steam cleaner directly at a bed bug, the bug will die. The steam coming out of a steam cleaner can be up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than sufficient to kill bed bugs in all the stages of development (adults bed bugs, nymphs, and bed bug eggs) almost instantly on contact. But it will have no effect on bugs deeper down where the steam does not reach.
Steam is effective at killing bedbugs that are as deep as 3/4″ into fabric surfaces or 3/8” into a gap, cracks, crevices. Think about that for a moment. That means that it will not be enough to kill bedbugs that have burrowed deep within a mattress or couch, or that are hiding behind molding or under floorboards. You would need to use enough steam to leave your furniture and all of your possessions soaking wet!
The unfortunate reality with bed bugs is that if you don’t get them all, they will keep coming back. So while a steam cleaner can be an important part of your bed bug strategy, it’s not going to be enough all on its own.
What is the best steam cleaner for bed bugs?
If you do decide to use a steam cleaner to kill bed bugs, you will want to select one that kills them extremely quickly. This is because if you do not kill them promptly, the hot steam will simply cause the bedbugs to retreat further into hiding, exacerbating your infestation and making it harder to deal with over the long term. So what kind of steam cleaner kills bed bugs the fastest? They must target temperatures of at least 160-180°F to be effective against bedbugs in all life stages. The steam cleaner must have a consistent heat concentration maintained over every square inch of surface, at a pace of approximately 1 foot per 30 seconds, so a large steamer head is preferred (you should not use a pin-point steam nozzle, which will simply blow the bedbugs away before they die). Professional steam cleaners for bedbugs range in price from $300 up to $1,200. But, there are some consumer-grade models that can work on bedbugs. Here are our recommendations:
Best Steam Cleaners For Bed Bugs
|Image||Brand||Product||Heat Up Time||Steam Duration||Tank Size||Steam Hose Length||Power Cord Length||Item Weight||Variable Pressure||Warranty||Price||Our rating||Learn more|
|McCulloch||MC1270||5 minutes||30 minutes||25 ounces||4 feet||15 feet||4.6 pounds||Yes||2 year||$$||4.5/5||Check price|
|McCulloch||MC1275||8 minutes||45 minutes||48 ounces||10 feet||15 feet||10 pounds||No||2 year||$$$||4.0/5||Check price|
|McCulloch||MC1375||10 minutes||90 minutes||48 ounces||10 feet||18 feet||13 pounds||Yes||2 year||$$$$||4.0/5||Check price|
|McCulloch||MC1385||12 minutes||120 minutes||64 ounces||10 feet||18 feet||13 pounds||Yes||2 year||$$$$$||4.0/5||Check price|
|Bissell||39N7A||30 seconds||5 minutes||6.6 ounces||1.5 feet||20 feet||4.6 pounds||Yes||1 year||$||2.0/5||Check price|
|Wagner||Spraytech||9 minutes||40 minutes||40 ounces||8 feet||6 feet||13.8 pounds||Yes||1 year||$$||4.5/5||Check price|
|Dupray||Neat Steam||7 minutes||50 minutes||54 ounces||6.5 feet||16 feet||9 pounds||Yes||2 year||$$$||4.5/5||Check price|
As discussed, steam cleaning can be a part of your bedbug treatment process. But, it will not be sufficient to get rid of a bedbug infestation if you do nothing else. You can read our complete guide on getting rid of bedbugs yourself here.
Frequently asked questions about steam cleaners for bedbugs
Where can I buy a steamer to kill bed bugs?
Professional steam cleaners for bedbugs are usually only available through specialized suppliers. But, you can find consumer-grade models with a large steamer head (avoid a pin-point steam nozzle, which can blow the bedbugs away without killing them) on Amazon. Just be certain that they can reach a temperature high enough to kill both the bedbugs, bedbug eggs, and nymphs. See our comparison table above for the best options.
How long does it take for steam to kill bedbugs?
How long a steam cleaner will take to kill bedbugs depends entirely on the temperature of steam that the particular model is capable of releasing. See the table below for a comparison.
What temperature kills bed bugs?
- Bed bugs will die if exposed to 120°F temperatures for 15 minutes or more
- Bed bugs will die if exposed to 118°F temperatures for 20 minutes or more
- Bed bugs will die if exposed to 113°F temperatures for 90 minutes or more
Will a steam cleaner kill bed bug eggs?
Steam cleaners must produce steam of at least 160-180°F in order to be effective against bedbug eggs.
Will a wallpaper steamer kill bed bugs?
Steam cleaning is effective in killing bed bugs and bed bug eggs if the steam is over 160°F. (Keep in mind that the effects are temporary and bed bugs can still repopulate within the home – you will have to compare this with other methods. Check out our DIY guide to killing bedbugs. Wallpaper steam cleaners generally have long hoses with extension wands, and a wide nozzle. You have to allow the steamer to heat up for about 10 minutes ahead of time.
Can I steam clean my mattress?
Yes – some manufacturers recommend steam cleaning your mattress every few months to get rid of sweat, dirt, and stains anyway. If you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, there should be no reason why you cannot use a steam cleaner to kill bedbugs in your mattress. However, they may leave your mattress feeling damp – especially if you are applying enough steam to kill the bedbugs that are deep within the mattress. This could cause bacteria and mold to form if not properly dried. After you have steam cleaned the mattress, set it on its edge near a radiator, heater, or powerful fan.
Additional precautions regarding using steam cleaners for bed bugs.
When using a steam cleaner to treat for bedbugs, always remember to follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully and completely. The steam coming out of a steam cleaner can be 160-300°F, depending on the model – this is more than enough to cause severe burns. They will sometimes spout out water right after starting up, so be cautious. Never point it towards a person, and never let kids near the steamer. Test the steam cleaner on an unseen area of the fabric, to ensure that you will not cause any damage or discoloration to the textile.
Were you able to use a steamer to kill bed bugs? Let us know how it went.
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