If you have ever suffered the misfortune of sharing a mattress with bed bugs you will know that eradicating them quickly becomes an all encompassing
priority. These pesky invaders spread quickly and usually come out when you are sleeping so can go unspotted until you find the irritated post-bite skin the following day.
The immediate instinct is to call a professional exterminator and blast them to kingdom come but this is not always the most productive solution; and certainly not the healthiest. The highly toxic chemicals used can easily end up in your lungs and can be potentially very dangerous for your pets, so unless you are able to pack up shop and stay elsewhere for a few days a non-toxic option should be considered.
Do Steam Cleaners Really Kill Bed Bugs?
Steam cleaners are a safe alternative and have shown to be more effective at targeting bed bug eggs than traditional extermination. Luckily, Bed Bugs have an exploitable weakness: heat. Temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or 48 degrees celsius are too hot to handle for these unsolicited bedfellows and steam can wipe the
m out in no time. Steam is a natural sanitizer, and if used properly can get your bug woes under control.
You need to use a heavy-duty steam cleaner that can reach these temperatures to
achieve the best results, ideally over 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat and above will kill bugs instantly on contact and sanitize the area at the same time, whereas a lower temperature might leave a few who get away. There is, however, more than heat to consider when shopping for a steam cleaner to combat bed bugs:
The higher the boiler capacity the better. Most household steam cleaners will not have bo
ilers large enough to hold enough for the task at hand so you might find yourself having to refill several times. If you can find one around 50oz or above you will be able to focus less on water levels and more on exterminating.
Steam is water at the end of the day, and dampness can lead to mold and other issues best avoided. A steam cleaner that can produce dryer vapor is preferable to limit the concern. Dry vapor evaporates quicker and most leave your surfaces and mattress as wet as normal water vapor. Top-grape steam cleaners use dry vapor, so look for a professional brand name.
The thinner the nozzle, the more time you will have to spend going over the same area. This is a tedious process at the best of times, so any helping hand to get things moving a little quicker I’m sure is more than welcome. Having a broad nozzle lets you spray the steam to a wider area in less time. It will also help catch the few stray bugs that make try to escape. You should choose a model with a nozzle of at least half an inch.
Price vs Service
It goes without saying that the better the steam cleaner’s qualities, the more it’s going to set you back. Try to find a price point you are comfortable with that doesn’t mean compromising on efficiency. Spending less to buy a sub-par steam cleaner is a waste of time, money, and energy and will end up not doing a good enough job. Investing in a good quality machine will come in handy over the years for a multitude of purposes.
Step By Step Guide Of How to Kill Bed Bugs With a Steam Cleaner
Map out the areas you intend to blast. You can do this with string or tape or really anything that will show you the area.
Vacuum all the spaces you have cordoned off to create the best possible conditions to start from.
Before vacuuming, completely seal the canister or bag so no bugs can escape, and dispose of it immediately after you are done.
Prepare your steamer by getting the water ready and clearing any excess moisture from inside the nozzle.
Steam methodically from top to bottom. Try to keep motion steady and meticulous to ensure every area gets covered. Hold the nozzle roughly one or two inches above the surface you are spraying and move at a rate of an inch per second. Slow and steady wins the race!
Give extra attention to any cracks or crevices as bugs like to hide in them and could be trying to avoid direct contact with the steam. It is possible for bugs to survive if they are well enough sheltered, so extra attention on these areas is vital.
Leave everything to dry completely. Give as much air as possible to minimize the chances of mold spores settling.
If you intend to also apply chemicals, do this at a separate time. Hot vapor can dislodge toxic chemicals and help disperse into the atmosphere: something you want to avoid at all costs.
Pros And Cons Of Steam Cleaners for Killing Bed Bugs
A non-toxic and natural form of pest control
Kills eggs as well as live bugs
Steam can be sprayed directly into hidden spaces for maximum effect
Cheaper than paying for professional extermination
Having a steam cleaner at home means you can use it several times if you choose to. A steam cleaner also has other multi-functional purposes and is generally handy to have around the house.
Only kills bugs upon contact, can’t poison them and kill them later.
The process might need to be applied more than once to fully eradicate and infestation
Not useful on every surface type
The initial expense of buying a high quality steam cleaner if you don’t already have one can be off putting
In summary, steam cleaners are a safe and effective form of pest control if used correctly. It is not a quick fix task you can rush through: you have to put in the time, care and effort if you want the desired result.
Toxic extermination is effective, yes, but it comes with other problems. For environmentally friendly extermination, steam cleaners are an excellent solution.