Using a steam cleaner presents an effective and cost-efficient method for killing bed bugs. While using a steam cleaner for your space may require some elbow grease, getting the critters out of your bed will be worth it. This guide will review what you should look for in a good steam cleaner, our top 3 recommendations, and how to use a steam cleaner for bed bugs. 

Does Steam Cleaner Kill Bed Bugs? 

Because bed bugs present such a difficult challenge, you may be sceptical about a steam cleaner’s power to kill them. However, the heat let off by a steam cleaner successfully kills bed bugs at all stages of their life cycle. Some other methods, such as certain insecticides, can only kill adult bed bugs, leaving all the eggs to hatch and reproduce. 

Bed bugs can’t withstand temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher (around 50 degrees Celsius). Ideally, you should expose all infested areas to this heat for about 20 minutes to ensure you kill all the bed bugs and eggs. Additionally, killing bed bugs with a steam cleaner leaves their bodies in place, meaning you should follow up with a vacuum to dispose of the dead insects. 

Not all steam cleaners are effective against bed bugs, so we’ll discuss later what features a steam cleaner needs to possess to kill bed bugs. 

Pros and Cons of Steam Cleaner

Like all other bed bug removal methods, steaming cleaning has advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right plan for your situation or the correct combination of methods.

Pros

  • Effective at killing bed bugs of all life cycle stages
  • The DIY method is much cheaper than professional treatments.
  • Doesn’t require the use of potentially harmful insecticides
  • A steam cleaner can be reused for typical cleaning purposes 

Cons

  • It can be challenging to reach all the areas bed bugs hide in 
  • Time-consuming 
  • It should always be used before any chemical treatments as the steam can vaporize the chemical, which can be dangerous to inhale.

Features of the Best Steam Cleaner for Bed Bugs

  • Water Tank Capacity

Ideally, you won’t want to have to refill your water tank when steam cleaning every 5 minutes. Also, if you opt for a handheld steam cleaner, you will want to make sure the tank is small enough that it’s comfortable to hold in the air. Steam cleaners with larger water tanks typically take longer to heat up, but the time and effort you’ll save from less frequent refills will make this difference worth it. 

  • Heat Output

You’ll need to ensure the steam cleaner you buy puts off a high enough heat to kill bed bugs. Most high-quality steam cleaners on the market put off the heat of 120 degrees or greater, and all the steam cleaners for bed bugs on this list can kill tiny insects. 

  • Pressure

The higher the pressure of the steam emitted from the cleaner, the deeper into the fabric the steam will be able to reach. This helps to kill harder-to-reach bed bugs, giving you a better chance of killing all the bed bugs in your home. 

  • Attachments

You’ll want to ensure that the steam cleaner you buy comes with multiple attachments or that you can purchase attachments that will fit the cleaner. You’ll require a more significant extension to cover large areas, such as the top of a mattress or carpet, but a smaller head to reach the corners and crevices that bed bugs hide in. 

  • Portability

Again, the type of steam cleaner for bed bugs you should purchase depends on how you want to use the product. If you travel with your steam cleaner, consider a handheld option. On the other hand, if you only use and store the steam cleaner in your home, a canister steam cleaner could be for you. Whatever option you choose, make sure that the power cord is long enough to allow you to reach the critical areas. 

Top 3 Best Steam Cleaners for Bed Bugs:

Pros

  • Comes with 18 different accessories  
  • The quick heating time of 8 minutes
  • 48-oz water tank only requires a
    refill every 45 minutes 
  • Helpful customer service (if needed)
  • Long hose and power cord (15.7 ft)

Cons

  • The included attachments don’t durable
  • Not intended for use on large areas of carpet

Our Rating: 4.9/5

Comments: This heavy-duty canister steam cleaner comes with 18 accessories and a 48-ounce water tank. This cleaner takes 8 minutes to heat
up and will only need a water refill every 45 minutes. It also has a steam-ready light to indicate when the steam is hot enough for use.

Pros

  • 48-oz water tank only requires a refill every 45 minutes  
  • Heats the water in under 10 minutes
  • Comes with 9 different accessories (including floor attachments)
  • Less expensive than the McCulloch model

Cons

  • The included attachments don’t durable
  • Not intended for use on large areas of carpet

Our Rating: 4.7/5

Comments: WagneWagner’sSteam Cleaner presents another great option as a steam cleaner for bed bugs. This canister steam cleaner comes with 9
different attachments, including accessories that are extremely helpful for cleaning
floor surfaces. Also, this steam cleaner has the same water tank capacity and steam temperature as the McCulloch model, putting these two cleaners in direct competition.
While the Wagner cleaner is slightly less expensive, it also comes with a
much shorter power cord (6 ft as opposed to the McCulloch 15.7 ft). This
means that the steam cleaner will require more frequent repositioning and maneuvering.

Pros

  • Portable handheld options with a 9 ft long power cord 
  • Allows you to clean hard-to-reach areas
  • Emits steam hotter than 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Comes with 9 attachments
  • Has pressurized, concentrated steam

Cons

  • The small water tank (175 mL) needs frequent refills.
  • Requires constant pressure on the “on” “wi” ch
  • Not practical for use in large areas

Our Rating: 4.1/5

Comments: This handheld steamer comes with 9 different accessories and
allows you to reach the nooks and crannies that bed bugs live in.
This option is for you if you’re searching for something extremely portable.
Dr PurifPurifier’sheld Steamer will be tough to use for long periods of time
in large areas. However, the affordable price of this unit may allow you to purchase it as an addition to another steam cleaner.

How to Use a Steam Cleaner for Bed Bugs?

Now that you have the best steam cleaner for you, you’ll know how to use a steam cleaner for bed bugs effectively. 

  • Identify Key Problem Areas

Although you should treat almost your entire house to be safe (depending on the severity of your bed bug issue), finding the areas where the bugs hide the most is still essential. You’ll treat these areas you identify extremely thoroughly when you get to the cleaning stage. 

  • Eliminate Bed Bug Hiding Places

Next, eliminating the places where bed bugs hide will make your cleaning process much more straightforward and help you avoid getting bed bugs again. Generally, keeping your space tidy and clutter-free will give bed bugs fewer spaces to hide. Before you steam clean, you can wash your sheets and clothing on high heat to kill the bugs in those materials. 

  • Steam Clean

Following the directions provided by your steam cleaner, steam cleans your space. Also, avoid electrical outlets and keep the heated steam away from any skin to prevent burns. You may want to use your steam cleaner for bed bugs more thoroughly than for regular cleaning to ensure the bed bugs are exposed to the heat for as long as possible. 

  • Allow all Treated Areas to Thoroughly Dry

Allowing all treated areas to dry before use or another treatment thoroughly will help to prevent mould. 

  • Follow Up with Other Treatments

Finally, you can follow up steam cleaning with other treatments for maximum effectiveness. First, you may want to vacuum up the bed bug bodies left after your steam cleaning treatment. Then you can check our articles on bed bugs (such as how to use tea tree oil for bed bugs) to find other methods you can use to kill any remaining bugs.

Conclusion

Steam cleaning at a high enough heat is 100% effective at killing bed bugs. Also, this method can save you the time, money, and hassle of hiring professionals to clean your home. However, you risk being re-infested if you don’t like all the bed bugs in your home. We rated the McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner as our favorite option because we believe it will be the most useful for most people. This steam cleaner lets you clean large areas more quickly than handheld options and comes with an extra-long power cord and 18 different attachments. Although this cleaner will certainly kill bed bugs, we always recommend calling a professional if the few bugs in your bed turn into an infestation.