Cleaning Intentionally

Bed Bugs Gone

Posted on Feb 22, 2011 in Bed Bugs, Bugs | 0 comments

Killing Them Softly: Battling Bed Bugs in Sensitive Accounts

By: Michael F. Potter. Alvaro Romero. Kenneth F. Haynes and Erich Hardebeck

STEAM VAPOR SYSTEMS. If bed bugs have a weakness, it’s elevated temperature. Temperatures of about 120°F are lethal to most insects provided 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.

The types of steamers used for bed bug treatment are like those used for sanitizing floor drains. When targeting bed bugs though, the less moisture emitted the better, especially when treating mattresses and other slow-drying materials where mold growth is a possibility. Low-moisture steamers are available from such compames as Advanced Vapor Technologies. LLC ( It is important to have a commercial-grade steamer with a water tank large enough to accommodate extended use between fill-ups. Most machines come with variable steam outputs and multiple attachments. Larger brush heads usually workbest. Small diameter tips arc less efficient and frequently emit toomuch pressure, causing bugs and eggs to be blown offthe substrate. While some of thedislodged bed bugs may die. others could survive and be scattered here and there.

When using steam, it is important that the bed bugsbe exposed to lethal temperatures. Ideally the steamer head should be moved directly overthe surface being treated. Holding the steamhead farther away might onlygive the bugsa warm moist bath. A good way to confirm that lethal temperatures are being achieved is to use a digital infrared thermometer.

Instantaneous temperature readings can be had by pointing the device at the areajust treated. Alternatively, one can hold their hand several inches from the steam head and slowly and carefully move it closer. Vapor too hot to touch is what’s needed to kill bed bugs and eggs on contact.An effective way to further elevate the temperature of emitted vapor is to wrap the brush head of the steamer in a towel. A small tea towelworks well and can be secured to the steam head using the spring-mounted clips. This technique produces vapor so hot that the steam head can now be moved quickly and efficaciously over infested and suspect areas. Usingthe towel method, lethal temperatures can be achieved several inches from the steam head, which can be useful when treating hard-to-reach areas (e.g.. between cushions ofupholstery or the framework of sofas and box springs). Towels that become overly moist can be replaced.

Steam can be used to treat almost any area where bed bugs are found or suspected. Logical places include beds, couches and rcclincrs. baseboards and carpet edges, beneath and within nightstands and dressers and floor areas (especially under and around beds). Avoid treating finished wood surfaces or delicate items that might be damaged by high heat. Vacuums and especially steamers are useful when battling bed bugs. Neither, though, affords residual protection against bugs or eggs which may have been missed.

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