Limitations of Steam Cleaning for Bed Bugs

Steam cleaning is a popular method for bed bug treatment, as some believe the high temperature can kill bugs and their eggs in their homes, apartments, and vehicles. However, while steaming can be somewhat beneficial, it does have significant limitations. Here are seven reasons from our pest control experts on why steam cleaning is not the best solution to eliminate bed bugs.

Limitations of Steam Cleaning for Bed Bug Treatment at Home

Limitations with Steam Cleaning Your Home for Bed Bugs

1. Difficult to Reach All Areas: Bed bugs hide in tiny areas that are difficult to reach with a steam cleaner. Although steam will billow, filling cracks and crevices, you must know how to do so at the right distance and at the right speed. Killing with steam involves slow, steady application in order to provide proper heat and coverage.

2. Risk of Spreading Bed Bugs: The pressure from a steam cleaner can blow the bed bugs around instead of killing them, potentially spreading the infestation to other areas. To prevent that, you usually either need less pressure or some form of cover to help reduce the risks. Both techniques require proper training and a longer process to get the heat where it needs to go.

3. Inconsistent Temperature: For heat to be effective, the temperature needs to be high enough to kill bed bugs (at least 130°F). Although most professional steamers can achieve the required temperature, incorrect distancing of the steam can cause rapid temperature loss. The further the wand, the less effective the heat, thereby rendering the steam treatment ineffective.

4. Requires Repeat Treatments: Steam cleaning to remove bed bugs often requires multiple treatments, each lasting for several hours in the hopes that all bugs and their eggs are eradicated. Bed bugs reproduce quickly, and any survivors can lead to a reinfestation. The heat will only kill what it contacts (barring any errors in application, which means that several applications of steam within a relatively short time frame will need to be done. Furthermore, any new infestations from an outside source (house, workplace, automobile, etc.) would add a generation of new adults and new eggs into the mix which would mean – you guessed it – yet even more steaming.

Limitations of Steam Cleaning for Bed Bug Treatment on Your Vehicle

Limitations with Steam Cleaning Your Automobile for Bed Bugs

5. Potential Damage to Vehicle Interior: Nobody wants unwelcome passengers coming along for the ride. Some try steam cleaning as a method to kill bed bugs in their automobile. Steam cleaning uses moisture, which can potentially damage the vehicle’s interior, including electronics, leather seats, or upholstery.

6. Limited Access to Hidden Areas in your Automobile: Bed bugs can take cover in inaccessible places where steam can’t penetrate, such as vents and electrical circuitry. These elusive insects can easily find refuge within the radio, behind the glove box, or within the steering column, further compromising the effectiveness of steam treatment and leading to frustrating re-infestations.

7. Time and Labor Intensive: Properly steam cleaning a vehicle’s interior for bed bugs can be a time-consuming process, requiring an extremely thorough treatment of all potential hiding spots. Since there is no heat or product residual to steam, every adult, egg and juvenile must be exterminated as soon as possible. You must spend countless hours emptying the car, cleaning all belongings that you remove from the vehicle, steaming every crack and crevice, and repeating every few days..

Given these challenges, other pest control methods are more effective than steam cleaning for comprehensive bed bug treatments. Consulting with a professional pest control service can provide the most effective strategy for your situation. Maine Bed Bugs and Pest Control offers product and heat treatments for your home or place of business, as well as mobile heat treatments in our HOW unit for eliminating bed bugs from your belongings and vehicle. Contact us today to discuss options and say goodbye to your bed bug problem.


Photo credits
Using high heat steam to kill germs to clean car seats
Picture of steam cleanier over green couch