What Is Bed Bug Heat Treatment and Does the Equipment Work?

As we become more aware of the effects of pesticides on our public health, insects such as bed bugs have started to develop a resistance to the many chemical-based methods we use.

Bed bug heat treatments offer a toxin-free solution to treating pests and work by raising the temperature of the affected room to an unbearable heat for bed bugs.

What Is Bed Bug Heat Treatment?

Heat treatment is a new, eco-friendly method of removing bed bugs from your home. It is harmless to both people, pets, and possessions, yet extremely effective against pests that are in their early stages or infancy and often not noticeable to the naked eye.

Heat is a great method of attack as bed bugs are renowned for being incredibly tough and resilient. Proven to kill bed bugs in all phases of their life cycle, these special heaters are programmed to reach temperatures of up to 56°C/132 F – making it easy to eliminate eggs, larvae, and adult bed bugs from your property in one simple treatment.

how does bed bug heat treatment work
Image credit: Bed Bug Docs

While chemicals can be an effective way to eradicate bed bugs, they often require multiple applications and constant monitoring before you even begin to see results.

Therefore, if you want a bed bug treatment that will kill instantly, then you should consider heat treatment as your bed bug infestation will be remedied in a matter of hours without the wait for chemicals to dissipate.

A bed bug heat treatment permeates the entire structure of the room and everything inside. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about throwing away mattresses, linen, or clothing after treatment, which can ultimately lead to yet more expense.

How Does Bed Bug Heat Treatment Work?

If you have ever been in a sauna, then you’ll know just how intense heat can get. Most insects are not able to endure such extreme temperatures, which is why steamers and vacuums have previously proved so efficient. That said, these two methods of bed bug control only work when carried out repeatedly and require a lot of time and effort on the user’s behalf.

Heat treatment, however, works by raising the temperature within the affected areas to 56°C/132 F. This has the effect of drying out the bed bugs and killing them in a matter of minutes, although treatment will often last for 6-8 hours to completely ensure that all have been evicted. The procedure is highly effective and is used to deal with even the most severe bed bug infestations.

bed bug heater kills bed bugs

The reason that heat treatment works is that bed bugs cannot live in extreme temperatures. Upon experiencing such severe heat, they will either seek to flee your home or, if unable to find an escape room, they will die.

Another great thing about using a bed bug heat treatment is that it targets all areas of the room in which it is placed. Therefore, it doesn’t matter where the bed bug hides, there is nowhere for it to escape. The mattress, sheets, linens, headboards, and furniture all get hot, so you don’t need to worry about hunting them down. Whilst sprays and powders make specific areas toxic for them, heat makes the entire home a place of danger.

Watch this video on bed bugs reacting to heat treatment:

How Much Is Bed Bug Heat Treatment?

When you consider the option of bed bug heat treatment you need to think about two things – (1) how much will it cost (2) how time-consuming is it?

1. Cost

The cost of bed bug heat treatment varies depending on whether you want to do it yourself or employ a professional.
If you want to buy the heating unit yourself, you would be looking to pay anything from around $200 – $3,000+. If you are a landlord, then you may want to invest in your own heating unit.

For those who are looking to do this job just once, the best option is simply to hire someone who already has the equipment and expertise. It is tricky to estimate how much you will pay for the services of a pest control expert, as the amount will vary depending on the size of your property. However, most companies will provide you with a flat rate estimate that covers the cost of their equipment, services, and expertise and is often the most cost-effective solution to tackling bed bugs.

2. Time

If you are happy to do it yourself, then there are some great portable bed bug heaters available on the market – many of which I highly recommend. However, please make sure that you spend time reading and researching how the machine works. If you simply want peace of mind that the heat treatment is working effectively, then it may be worth spending the extra to get it professionally done.

Whether you decide to use an exterminator or your own device, you need to ensure that you allow plenty of time to prepare for bed bug heat treatment. This involves making sure that your home is airtight so that the heat does not escape. Therefore, you will need to seal all of the cracks and holes around your property and check that your windows and doors fully close. Once the heat treatment begins, you need to allow plenty of time for the room to reach the desired temperature and maintain optimum heat for the specified number of hours.

How to Prepare for Bed Bug Treatment

There is no point employing heat treatment for it to be carried away via cracks and gaps so make sure you fill in any potential openings.

Pick a time when the place is empty as the temperature will become extreme, making it not only unbearable for the bed bugs but for people and pets too. Plus, there is always the chance of them clinging to you in the process as a form of escape.

Watch this useful video from Plunkett's Pest Control on preparing your home for heat treatment:

What Should I Remove for Bed Bug Heat Treatment?

As mentioned above it is important that you should not, under any circumstances, be in the home while the heating process is going on. You should make sure that you remove anything flammable or potentially explosive from the home before the heating treatment begins. This includes items such as gasoline and propane canisters as you do not want to risk an explosion or house fire.

You and your pets should also wait a safe amount of time before re-entering the home after the treatment is over to allow for the temperature within the home to drop and cool down.

Bed Bug Heat Treatment Equipment

If you are thinking of purchasing your own heat treatment equipment, then you will be looking to buy a portable electric or propane heater, designed for the efficient killing of bed bugs. These devices offer you the ability to eradicate bed bugs without the need for toxic chemical residues.

I would always recommend buying a bed bug heater that is EPA approved and laboratory tested. Most types of equipment come as part of a package and will depend on whether you live in a house, condo, apartment or require it for large-scale property maintenance.


While pesticide treatment may initially appear less expensive than heat treatment, one used you have to be prepared to continue to live with bed bugs for several weeks before the chemicals kick in. This is why heat treatment, although costly, in my personal opinion is the more favorable solution. It is also better for the environment and your own personal health.

If you don’t have the time to spare and can afford to hire a professional, then I would strongly advise you to do so, however, there are plenty of great off-the-shelf heating units that are now available to buy. Bed bug heat treatment is a quick way to eradicate these pesky pests for good and although an expensive outlay, negates the need to purchase new beds, furniture, and linen in the long run.

Please make sure that once you have used a bed bug heat treatment, that you continue to be vigilant and take precautionary steps to prevent a re-infestation.

You may also be interested in: Using bed bug steamers and vacuums

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