Hot and Cold Therapy is Just Enough for Troublesome Bedbugs

Perhaps the bed bug highlights the need for integrated pest management (IPM) approach rather than any other systemic pest. IPM does not use a particular process, such as the use of pesticides alone, but incorporates some of the better prevention methods, sometimes implementing less risky and more efficient treatment of pests. Under these situations, specific alternate control steps, such as high heat, cold, and caulking, will be your best option.

To treat bed bugs, there are many methods. Fire, steam, freezing, poisons, and natural substitutes are the most popular therapies. Which one is better and more helpful depends on several variables. Factors such as how serious they are, the state of your life, and the extent of personal tolerance of the therapies.

In treating bedbug infestations, both heat and cold have been used, but studies and evidence are still scarce. Instead of bedbug-specific, all of the above principles and hypotheses are generic but can also be extended to bedbugs.


Steam washing is not guaranteed to kill any bed bugs from the house, including vacuuming, to be a beneficial alternative to pesticide treatments. Steam may help flush and destroy bed bugs buried deep in furniture, such as sofas, where the treatment of insecticides can be inadequate or impractical.

Units that generate “dry” steam are less likely to harm household goods. The minimum temperature to kill bed bugs must be at least 113 degrees Fahrenheit (F), and caution must be taken to minimize pressure so that bed bugs are not only “blown away” until the steam can kill them. Steaming around dangers like electrical sockets can be stopped.


To kill bed bugs, particular infested objects can be microwaved. Drying things like clothes and rugs for 20 minutes or more in a hot dryer can also destroy all bed bugs stages. However, it has not proven successful to wrap infested products in plastic bags and leave them in the sun on hot days.

By heating infested objects to temperatures lethal to bed bugs, compact heating enclosures, such as the PackTiteTM, run. They are useful for destroying bed bugs in luggage, but inside, bulky items such as books do not eliminate all bed bugs.

Professionals in pest management are increasingly looking at heating to control bed bugs. In some situations, to help ensure uniform heating of household contents, whole houses and multi-unit buildings are heated to temperatures far above those lethal to bed bugs. Rooms must be heated for several hours to help ensure heat penetration deep enough to destroy bed bugs hidden inside, after which fat material is turned.

Heat treatment is labor-intensive, and special equipment is required. A generator is usually used to supply heating units with electricity (maybe three or four for an average-sized house), and heat is circulated by fans (about two per room), generally between 140 F and 150 F. Furnishings and electrical devices may be affected by elevated temperatures.

Heat treatments of this sort are useful because they pose no risk to pesticides. They still have little residual activity, however. That is, once it is heat-treated, it can not prevent a system from being re-infested. For this purpose, in combination with heat treatments, residual pesticides are sometimes added. These applications can not avoid re-infestation but help to contain any bed bugs that are not heat-killed. A certain number of heat treatments fail to destroy all the bed bugs present, maybe 10 to 20 percent. This is mostly attributed to tenants failing to properly ready the property for heating.


When trying to destroy bed bugs, sudden temperature changes are preferable because they do not have time to adapt to the new temperature. Because it can take several hours for heat or cold to reach objects, the products’ density and depth to be heated or frozen complicates the process of destroying bed bugs. It can take 15 days to kill bed bug adults at 32 F and 30 days to kill exposed bed bug larvae and even longer destroy concealed objects. Temperatures below freezing can kill easier, but the cold killing of bed bugs is less known than using heat against them.

“Using carbon dioxide (CO2) added as “snow” with a handheld application unit, i.e., CryoniteTM is one way of adding freezing temperatures to bed bugs. The frozen CO2 would destroy them when added directly to bed bugs. This procedure, however, is similar to the use of touch pesticides; no residual activity occurs. It will only destroy as many bed bugs as can be found in the applicator. The value of using this kind of freezing system is that bed bugs can be eliminated quickly and without more toxic chemicals being used. Again, this is not a stand-alone treatment, although it is recommended that leftover pesticides and other forms of prevention be used as a complementary treatment.

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