Can Steam Kill Bed Bugs? 

With ever-increasing reports of bed bug infestations throughout the country, it's hard to imagine that this creature had been all but eradicated from the US as of the 1950s. bedbugs are making big news nationwide

As global travel increased, bed bugs were increasingly re-introduced to the states, and these blood-thirsty bugs have again become a problem for hotel owners and homeowners alike.

Cimex lecularius are parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They are commonly called “bed bugs” because they are typically found in bedding and upholstered furniture and are most active at night. Bed bugs have been in the news lately because of high-profile infestations in metropolitan areas where close quarters and increased mobility allow the insects to spread quickly. However, bed bugs aren't just a city-dweller's problem - they're everywhere. The NPMA's "Bed Bugs in America” survey found that 17 percent of those surveyed reported having bed bugs in the Northeast; 20 percent in the Midwest; 20 percent in the South; and 19 percent in the West.

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not necessarily caused by poor hygiene.  Bugs and their eggs are often introduced inadvertently by pets or infested items such as used furniture or clothing. Densely populated areas such as public transportation or movie theaters provide ample human transmitters for bed bugs to attach themselves to. They are devious travelers and can find their way through duct work or wiring shafts.

Another common misconception is that Bed Bugs are a problem in hotels, but not other kinds of dwellings. According to a 2011 study conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA)  and the University of Kentucky, 89 percent of pest professionals report treating bed bug infestations in single-family homes, and 88 percent report treating bed bug infestations in apartments/condos. So, if you are a homeowner researching ways to treat bed bugs in your home, don't worry - you are not alone!

Professional exterminators often use toxic, foul-smelling pesticides to battle bed bugs, with varying degrees of success. Since bed bugs feed on blood, they are unlikely to ingest chemical deterrents. Similarly, spraying pesticides only works if the bugs are directly touched by the poison and bed bugs are so small they are likely to be missed. Surprisingly, bed bugs can be eliminated quite effectively with the help of all natural, non-toxic steam.

Bed bugs are known to be extremely sensitive to high temperatures, with a thermal death point of between 118-122° F. (Steamfast uses water heated to 212° F) Temperatures of about 120°F are lethal to most insects, as long as they cannot escape to a cooler location. The advantage of steam is that heating is intense and immediate, killing both bugs and eggs on contact.

When using steam to eradicate bed bugs, start first with your mattress. Make sure to concentrate on the seams and underneath handles or labels. You must also treat the bedframe and headboard thoroughly. Upholstered furniture, draperies and carpeting may also be treated with steam. Bedding and pillows should be washed in hot water and dried at the hottest possible temperature. Since steam is produced by heating water, there may be moisture remaining after treatment. Make sure everything is allowed to dry completely before replacing bedding to prevent mold growth.

To avoid contracting bed bugs, thoroughly steam treat any used clothing or furniture you bring into your home. Use an elevated bedframe, an allergen-free mattress cover and avoid extraneous bedding such as decorative pillows or bedskirts. When traveling, examine your bedding and headboard for signs of bed bugs before settling in to a hotel room. Keep your luggage elevated from carpeted surfaces.

Be vigilant! Bed bugs can live for up to a year without feeding, so resurgences may occur. Retreat with steam often. Unlike pesticides and chemicals, steam is a 100% natural solution that you can use as often as you like to create and maintain a bed-bug-free environment.

Sources:
Pestworld.org - Six Facts You Didn't Know About Bed Bugs- Missy Henriksen | 2012
PCT News -  Killing Them Softly: Battling Bed Bugs in Sensitive Accounts | 2007
National Pest Management Association - Bugs Without Borders - Michael F. Potter, Ph.D., Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., and Missy Henriksen | 2013