Bed Bug Blog, Using Heat to Kill Bed Bugs, BedBug Central

Using Heat to Kill Bed Bugs

The Achilles heel of bed bugs is heat. Once you expose bed bugs to 120 o F or hotter both the bugs and eggs die very rapidly (less than a minute). This is why the best way to treat clothes that may be infested with bed bugs is to place them in a dryer on high for a full cycle (even a low cycle is usually enough with most dryers). There have been many companies that have taken this concept and created heating equipment that can generate enough heat to bring entire houses up to 120 degree or hotter. This is an excellent method to treat for bed bugs as it is one of the few treatments that can eliminate manageable infestations in one treatment and also reduces the amount of pesticides introduced to a home. The issue is that many homeowners that are looking for ways to treat their bed bug infestation read about heat and think they can open their windows on a hot day and treat their home for bed bugs. It unfortunately is never that easy.

There is actually a lot of protocol and technique to heat treating a house. In addition to needing equipment that will bring the entire house up to 120 degrees all at once, you want to heat the house up slowly and circulate the heat in a very methodical fashion. Bringing the temperature up slowly and proper circulation reduces the amount of cool spots for the bugs to hide in. In addition to this, furniture and clutter needs to be moved, turned and tossed during treatment to further address any cold spots that may exist. That is why a dryer is ideal for heat treating clothes because it is constantly tossing the clothes around which assures equal distribution of the heat. Obviously there isn’t a “tumble cycle” for your home and the only way to properly distribute the heat is to turn items by hand. The issue is that you should be turning those items during heat treatment which exposes the technician to high temperatures which can have adverse health effects if not done properly and carefully. This is why we recommend that heat treatment be performed by trained professionals.

I also receive questions from the occasional homeowner about renting heaters and heat treating their houses themselves. Not only is this a risk from a heat exposure perspective, many heaters need trained professionals to use them properly and reduce exposure to any exhaust that the heaters may create. Many rental heaters use propane as a fuel source which can also pose potential health risks. More reasons why heat treatment should be left to professionals.

When it comes to professionals performing heat treatments, just like any other service in any other service industry, there are good companies and not so good companies. One question you can ask a service provider you are evaluating to treat your home is what is the critical temperature for bed bugs, how do you evaluate when a room is at that temperature and how long do you hold it for? As mentioned before something around 120 degrees is the temperature you want to them to answer with. In addition they should be using temperature monitors during a job and recording temperatures at different location throughout the job. They should be holding critical temperature during a bed bug treatment for a minimum of two hours and ideally for 3-4 hours. You can ask the service provider you choose for heating records at the conclusion of the job. This way you can see if they held the right temperature for the right time in different spots in the home.

  1. Heat is a great way to treat for bed bugs but there is a lot of protocol and technique to doing it right
  2. There are several different aspect to heat treatment that can pose significant health risks if not done properly – this makes heat treatment NOT a suitable DIY method
  3. Always ask a service provider treating your home how they are going to do it and for temperature records upon completion of the service – you want to see them hold 120 degrees or hotter for 2-4 hours

Just How Cold Does It Have to Be to Kill Bed Bugs?

Most people have heard about the freezing treatment to kill bed bugs. Naturally, a question foremost on their mind is: just how cold should it be to kill bed bugs? If you are planning to use such freezing treatment to get rid of bedbugs, then read on for important information.

Latest research on bedbug freeze treatment

Recent studies have shown that bedbugs are no longer susceptible to cold treatment. The freezing method is simply not as effective as it once was in killing these critters. The same research has proven that the blood sucking parasites have become immune and developed a high tolerance to cold. Also the experiment showed that bedbugs eventually succumb to extreme cold, it takes several days to see results. Bedbugs are actually known to have developed high cold-tolerance by lowering their bodily fluid-freezing points. This freeze intolerant strategy helps them survive in extreme cold conditions.

The bed bug or Cimex Lectularius had disappeared for many decades but has made a comeback recently. Bedbugs are now known to infiltrate student hostels, hotels and motels, cinema halls, public transport systems, airlines, buses and even schools, assisted living facilities and hospitals. Many news reports have stated that several famous cinema halls in major cities like New York etc have actually been shut down thanks to bedbugs. Bedbugs feed on human and animal blood. They insert sharp proboscis in the mammal’s skin to suck the blood and this leaves red welts and itchy bumps on the victim’s bodies.

Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

People often use bedbug bombs, foggers, sprays and powders only to have the bugs back within a few days of this treatment. In the past, freezing treatment was known to have worked well but the new study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology has proven otherwise.

This aforementioned study was conducted in the University of Minnesota where researchers froze the bedbugs in varying life stages. They also tested the effect of cold on fed and unfed bedbugs. They exposed the adult, eggs, nymphs and larvae of bedbugs to extreme cold temperatures of -5 deg Celsius for varying lengths of time. They further reduced the temperature to -16 deg Celsius and they found that the adult bugs survived at this temperature as well. The eggs of the bugs survived in short term exposure to even lower temperatures of -25 degrees C. The study ultimately proved that the adult bedbugs could be killed by cold only through exposure to temperatures of -16 deg C or lower for a period of at least 80 hours.

This is the main reason why many museums and food facilities use standard practices of freezing possibly infested items to cold temperatures before displaying them.This safe method can also be used by homeowners dealing with bedbugs provided they have large freezers that can accommodate all infested items.

How to use cold treatment to effectively kill bed bugs? Just how cold should it be to ensure killing all bedbugs?

If you suspect any items of being infested, make sure you place them in a sturdy Ziploc®/freezer bags. This will ensure that the bugs do not die off elsewhere in the freezer. Also, bagging delicate items before freezing them will ensure that they do not get damaged thanks to changes in condensation or moisture. Make sure that you place all infested items in freezers having temperatures of at least -17.8 deg C for a period of 4 days.If the freezer is at a temperature of minus 20 deg C, then you can reduce the period to 48 hours. That is how long it takes to get rid of all bed bugs.

The aforementioned study also studied the effect of such supercooling on the feeding habits of bed bugs. The study then concluded that 100% of the bugs could be killed with minimum exposure of 80 hours at -16deg Celsius.

Bedbugs do not carry any diseases but simply having an infestation is socially unacceptable. So while the cold temperature can be effective in killing them one has to make the following considerations:

  • Items that are not freezable need to be exposed to other means of supercooling. If you live in very cold place, you might consider putting infested furniture outdoors for a few days, where possible.
  • Be sure to check if the air temperature where the bugs are located is indeed the same as the external temperature of at least -16 deg C.
  • If the sun is shining, the little warmth can be enough to raise the temperature of the furniture in question and the freezing treatment may be rendered ineffective.
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Cold or freezing treatment is usually enough for treating bedbug infested fabrics but for other items it is best to use other techniques of killing bed bugs described on this website.

Does Killing Bed Bugs With Cold Air Work?

Do Bed Bugs Survive Cold?

If you’ve got bed bugs in your home, or suspect that you do, you might have heard about killing bed bugs with cold air. But is killing bed bugs with cold air really an effective method? Let’s start with a few facts:

  • Bed bugs can’t live in extreme temperatures—hot or cold.
  • Temperatures over 120 degrees will kill them, but so too will freezing temperatures under 32 degrees. And even below 55 degrees, bed bugs struggle to survive and generally can’t reproduce.

Many studies have revealed that bed bugs might die as little as one hour after being exposed to extreme cold. However, a study at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities shows that bed bugs don’t die as quickly as what was previously believed.

The researchers said that bed bugs could survive cold temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celcius. But they also found that bed bugs (no matter in what life stages they are and their feeding status) can be killed after being exposed in temperatures of -16 degrees cold for 80 hours. You can kill them quicker (within 48 hours) if you expose the bed bugs in temperatures 0f -20 degrees.

The problem is figuring out a practical method for killing bed bugs with cold air. Unfortunately, all of the solutions for killing bed bugs with cold air are problematic for most people.

  • You can put clothing or bedding in your freezer. But unless you have a lot of extra freezer space (which few people do), washing clothing or bedding in hot water is much easier. And it’s recommended that you leave the items in the freezer for a week (depends on the temperature in your freezer) and you also have to put the infested items in a bag to prevent the bed bugs from coming out.
  • You can take your entire bed—mattress, box springs, frame—and put it outside if it’s freezing outside. But that’s a hassle, and where are you going to sleep? Of course, you could just open up windows, but then you’d be freezing too! Remember, freezing takes days to work, so this isn’t just a matter of going out to the movies while the bed bugs die.
  • You could keep your AC regularly set at below 55 degrees. BRRR! And talk about a huge power bill!

Related Article: Where Do Bed Bugs Hide In The Winter?

Bed Bugs Require Professional Treatment

More important than the hassle of killing bed bugs with cold air is that—unless you turn your entire residence into an icicle—you’re only treating the symptoms of the problem.

Think You Have Bed Bugs? Call us for a FREE Phone Consultation!

Treating your bed, bedding, and clothes won’t get rid of bed bugs that have nested deep in cracks and crevices in your home. Bed bugs are a pest that in almost all cases can only be completely eradicated by experienced pest control specialists, who have the expertise to find hidden bed bugs and kill them in their nests, along with all their eggs.

Bed Bug Survival In Freezing Temperatures Examined By Scientists

If you’re freezing bed bug-infested items to kill the little critters, make sure you keep those items frozen for at least two days, and up to four days, depending on your freezer’s temperature.

That’s the takeaway of a new study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, which examined the ability of bed bugs to survive cold and freezing temperatures.

Bed bugs are able to survive the cold by lowering the freezing point of their own fluids. Knowing this, researchers examined the supercooling point and lower lethal temperature for bed bugs, as well as ability to feed again after being exposed to freezing temperatures. They found that in order to guarantee that the bed bugs die, bed bugs at all stages of life must be exposed to -16 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for 80 hours. Bed bugs will die after spending 3.5 days at -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), and they will die in just two days if they are kept at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).

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In addition, researchers found that bed bug eggs are quite hardy, surviving even when they are kept at -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees Fahrenheit) for short periods of time.

While bed bugs don’t spread disease, they do bite, which can cause an allergic reaction for some people. Their bites are also extremely itchy, which can lead to scratching that then leads to an infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bed bug infestations have also been shown to induce anxiety, according to research presented at a 2011 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, as reported by ABC News.

Does dry cleaning kill bed bugs?

Bed bugs are tough bugs and they can adopt various environmental conditions. But their main enemy is heat and dry cleaning provides a lot of heat for you. So, does dry cleaning kill bed bugs and is it enough to get rid of them?

Bed bugs at home

Bed bugs are blood-fed insects and they need to be close to their food sources. This need forces them to live close to people and houses are great options for them.

A house which has people living inside provides them good environmental conditions and endless food.

When you have bed bugs at home, then you have bed bugs on your bed, in your furniture or inside your clothes.

In what temperature do bed bugs die?

Bed bugs don’t like over heat or over cold. But their resistance limit between over heat and over cold is large and they can easily keep living between 45°F and 100°F.

Bed bugs will die after 113°F and this is usually not a temperature you can get naturally. What you must do is to create a temperature over 113°F by unnatural ways.

What temperature is dry cleaning?

Dry cleaning is an effective way to clean your clothes which uses steam and some chemicals for this. Because water is not used in dry cleaning, clothes and other textile products will last longer.

A dry cleaner will have a temperature of 86°F in average. Because higher temperatures can damage your clothes in it.

As you will see, average temperature of a dry cleaner is lower than 113°F which is the temperature that bed bugs will start dying.

Will dry cleaning kill bed bugs?

Chemicals are used in dry cleaning instead of water and those chemicals will help killing bed bugs. but the problem is, chemicals aren’t always used in dry cleaning and when they aren’t used, dry cleaning won’t help you.

Because 86°F temperature is clearly not enough to kill bed bugs and although this temperature pressure bed bugs, they will still survive this.

How to use dry clean to kill bed bugs?

If you are going to give your clothes to a dry-cleaning shop, make sure that they use some chemicals for dry cleaning.

Without chemicals, dry clean will be useless to get rid of bed bugs.


Does dry cleaning kill bed bugs? Yes in some cases and no in some other. The answer depends on what used for dry cleaning.

If no chemical is used in dry cleaning, then my answer is “no” and dry cleaning won’t kill bed bugs. You’ll need at least 113°F for killing them and dry cleaning won’t provide you so high temperature.

If chemicals are used in dry cleaning, then the answer is ”maybe”, because however chemicals kill bed bugs usually, bed bugs can withstand some kind of chemicals and survive after the dry cleaning.

As a result, in my opinion, dry cleaning is not an option for killing bed bugs and it will be a waste of time because of two reasons.

First, it won’t always kill bed bugs and second, there are a lot of clothes and other textile products you need to clean and dry cleaning for all will cost too much.

You must think of other cheaper and more effective ways to get rid of bed bugs instead of dry cleaning:

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