Steam Cleaning

Unlike vacuuming, steam cleaning is generally very effective at killing any bed bugs or eggs that come into contact with it. Extreme heat will kill them quickly (anything over 120 degrees Fahrenheit or so), and most steamers will exceed this temperature. You will probably need to get a commercial steamer, because you will need to run it for awhile and cover most areas in your bedroom. You will want to make sure you cover all the areas they could be hiding, even inaccessible ones. If you hire a pest control company, sometimes they will use steam cleaners in addition to applying pesticides. You should also strongly consider going with what is called "dry steam" - low moisture steamers, which have a lot less risk of mold (a big potential problem given that you will be using it around your bed).

   

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There are some major downsides, though: First of all, it is of questionable value when applied to the mattress itself, which can absorb the moisture from the steam very quickly and keep it from actually coming into contact with the bugs. Second, the temperature is often not high enough to kill them outside of a small area right where the steam comes out. If you can't wedge the head in close enough in small cracks or crevices, it may not kill them all. Third, some items may be damaged by applying steam to them (especially wooden furniture). Fourth, and most important, it is very hard for you to get ALL the bedbugs this way. If you even miss a few, or miss a couple of eggs, you still have an infestation. They'll still be biting you, and get right back to breeding again when you're done. As such, this could be a good supplement for professional pest control, and a very good way to make sure you can keep a lot of your property that can be steam cleaned instead of thrown out, but not a great way as the sole response to a bug problem.

Here's one big caveat though: I would absolutely not do this without talking to a pest control person first. With bed bugs, your pest control person will often want a multi-pronged pest management approach. Doing something without talking to them could interfere with whatever they ultimately plan to do.

Sources and Useful Links:

http://pctonline.com/articles/printer.asp?ID=2822&IssueID=226&Source=back

http://www.getipm.com/thebestcontrol/bugstop/control_bed_bugs.htm

http://www.entomology.cornell.edu/Extension/DiagnosticLab/IDLFS/BedBugs/BedBugs.html

 

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