If you’re dealing with bed bugs, the last thing you want to do is “sleep tight.” Bed bugs (Cimex lectularis) are one of the worst pests you can have in your home. While some pests feed on wood, plants, or food, bed bugs feed on you.
These blood-suckers hide in cracks and crevices in your home and sneak out at night to bite you. One bug can start an infestation on its own and they are very difficult to get rid of.
There are a number of steps you can take to get rid of bed bugs. One of the most inexpensive and fastest ways to quickly reduce the number of bed bugs in your home is with a vacuum.
We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about how vacuuming can help get rid of bed bugs.
Just looking for the best vacuum for bed bugs? Here’s our pick:
How to Vacuum for Bed Bugs
Vacuuming is not usually enough to get rid of bed bugs entirely. However, it’s still an important first step in any bed bug extermination strategy. Vacuuming can help grab bed bugs that are crawling around your home and also help keep things sanitary by picking up any dead bugs that pesticides may have killed.
Unfortunately, vacuuming is not as effective at getting rid of bed bug eggs because they are covered in natural cement that adheres to surfaces.
Vacuuming also does not instantly kill bed bugs. It’s simply a way to remove them from your home and trap them inside the vacuum cleaner. That’s why all of the best vacuum cleaners for bed bugs have bags inside them – to keep the bed bugs trapped.
While this is a little more work to replace them after vacuuming, it’s really easy for a bed bug to escape a canister vacuum as you’re trying to empty it.
The best time to vacuum for bed bugs is to sneak up on them during the day. Bed bugs often gather in clumps while they are resting, and these clumps are easy to attack with a vacuum. Once you disturb the clumps, it gets a lot more difficult to chase the individuals down.
Important places to vacuum for bed bugs include
- Your mattress
- Your bed frame
- Around all the floorboards and edges of your rooms
- Any other furniture in your bedroom
Since you’re going to be aiming for a lot of cracks and crevices, the best vacuums for bed bugs will come with different attachment tools that will work on much more than just the floor.
What to Look For in the Best Bed Bug Vacuums
There are so many vacuums out there, that it’s important to know what to look for when doing pest control. Vacuums with the below attributes will be excellent for bed bugs, cockroaches, ants, and any other household pests you could pick up.
High Suction Power
It’s pretty obvious that the higher the suction, the more effective your vacuum will be against bed bugs. Bed bugs often hide deep within carpets. Their eggs are also very sticky, which makes them hard to suck up. Just because a vacuum sucks up dirt on the surface does not mean it’s getting all of the bed bugs beneath.
High suction power means more bed bugs are removed, which means you get to end your infestation faster.
Must Use a Bag
A bag is an essential part of a bed bug vacuum. While it’s possible to use a canister-only vacuum for bed bugs, it’s a lot harder to make sure you’ve gotten rid of the bugs after vacuuming.
Once you’re done vacuuming, take the entire vacuum outside of the house at least 25 feet away before opening it up to remove the bag.
Pro-tip: after removing the bag from your vacuum, spray a little pesticide in it and seal it shut with tape. This should ensure the bed bugs die.
You could also try to spray the pesticide directly into the intake of the vacuum while it’s running before removing the bag. It’s possible this will spread the pesticide around the bag better.
Either way, once you have the bag sealed you may want to place it in another sealed plastic bag (if possible), and place it directly into an outdoor trashcan away from the home.
Look for a Vacuum that Has a HEPA Filter
The term HEPA filter is short for high-efficiency particulate air filter. These specialized filters can filter out very small particles from the air that passes through it. You want one of these filters in a bed bug vacuum because bed bugs can release a lot of allergens. If you’ve been putting down diatomaceous earth or CimeXa Dust to kill bed bugs, a HEPA filter will also ensure these particles don’t go airborne and become an irritant.
A HEPA filter also helps make sure that any bugs and eggs that make it inside of the vacuum don’t get exhausted out of a cheap filter.
Great Attachments for Tight Areas
Even the best of vacuums can’t get into every little nook and cranny of your home with the wrong attachment. A crevice attachment is the best tool for corners and large clumps of bugs. Its small size maximizes suction power. It can also be held at an angle to crush bed bugs and eggs before sucking them up.
Top 5 Best Vacuums for Bed Bugs
Best Value Bed Bug Vacuum
This is a great compromise vacuum that combines some of the best features of all the vacuums on this list, and it’s affordable at under $200. It has similar suction power to some of the bigger, industrial vacuums (120 volts, and a cubic feet per minute rating of 106 CFM). It also is a great multi-purpose tool because it converts to a blower as well. It’s a backpack model, so it is easy to wear and bring into a variety of spaces. The bags have an 8-quart capacity.
Another place this vacuum shines is in the included attachments. It has more than any other on this list. It includes standard crevice and brush attachments for any vacuum, but also has several thin attachments that are meant as blower nozzles. These may be useful for bed bugs as well since part of vacuuming bed bugs is maximizing suction by using narrow attachments.
Since it’s got everything you need at a very attractive price, we’re naming this the best vacuum for bed bugs for most do-it-yourselfers. We do have some other suggestions to give you that you may find fit your needs better.
Best Professional Grade Bed Bug Vacuum
This vacuum is certainly the priciest on our list at over $300, but you get a lot of utility and power for your money. This is a backpack vacuum weighs just over 9 pounds. This gives you a lot more flexibility than a standard “housework” vacuum that can be difficult to lug around and hard to navigate into smaller spaces where bed bugs hide.
Don’t be fooled by its tiny size, though. It has a strong airflow 899.7 gallons/minute, and a dust capacity of ~6.4 quarts. This means it can take in a ton of dirt and bed bugs very quickly and will keep doing so for a long time.
The vacuum also comes with attachments including a crevice attachment, a turbo floor tool, a dusting brush, and an upholstery tool.
This vacuum is a great choice for someone that does a lot of professional cleaning jobs, whether in pest control or otherwise. If you’re a homeowner looking for one vacuum to “own for life” this could be a great choice as well.
Best Cheap Vacuum for Bed Bugs
This vacuum is the most affordable option on this list at just over $100. It is a wheeled vacuum, not backpack-style, so it must be rolled around. It only weighs about 11 pounds and is small (18” x 12” x 8.5”), so it should still be relatively easy to maneuver around a home. The smaller size does come with a smaller bag size as well at 6 quarts.
It packs 120 volts (1400 watts) of power and has adjustments for different levels of suction. Obviously you want to use the highest level of suction for bed bugs, but the other settings could come in handy for other uses around the home. It’s marketed as a general use vacuum, so it comes with a standard arsenal of attachments including an extension handle, brushes, and a crevice attachment.
Best Handheld Option:
Handheld vacuums come with some pros and cons. One of the benefits is that it’s easy to carry around so you can get into hard-to-reach places more easily than something bulkier. However, you lose a bit of suction power in such a small unit. This vacuum might be better suited for getting bed bugs out of your car than your whole carpeted house.
It comes with 20’ cord, a 5’ hose, and an extension wand to make it even more portable. It also comes with the usual home-use attachments including a large floor tool, an upholstery tool, and a crevice tool.
Best Professional Pest Control Vacuum
Atrix as a brand produces industrial vacuums for a variety of purposes. Atrix specifically designed the Omega Green as an integrated pest management (IPM) solution. You wear it with a strap over the shoulder. It also includes a stretchable hose and numerous attachments including crevice attachments for different small spaces and a stiff ground brush.
The vacuum has 120 volts of power. This is the same strength as the Hoover backpack. The major difference is that the form factor and attachments for this Atrix vacuum are more suited for pest control applications.
This vacuum has a special disposable cartridge design instead of a typical vacuum bag. The cartridge is already sealed as soon as you power the unit down, so there’s no need to tape any holes or anything of the sort. This is the most sure-fire way to make sure you’re capturing all the bugs you’re vacuuming up and this style of vacuum is a staple of pest control professionals.
For the homeowners just looking to do a job at their house, this is likely overkill, but it’s still one to consider if you foresee more jobs in your future.
Other Tips for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Except for the rare few cases where you catch a small infestation fast enough, vacuuming should not be your only bed bug control strategy.
Vacuuming is best for reducing the overall number of bed bugs to increase the chances of other strategies working (and working faster). You should vacuum frequently to keep things clean as bed bugs die and snatch up any bugs out for a stroll.
One way to kill bed bugs is heat treatment. For severe infestations, this can be a whole-home ordeal. For smaller infestations, you can heat treat different areas of your bedroom where bed bugs are likely to be hiding with a steamer.
Steam treatment involves spraying high-heat, high-pressure steam on surfaces in your home. The steam penetrates these surfaces and kills bed bugs hiding within them.
Vacuuming pairs well with steam treatment. Vacuum before steam treating to get rid of whatever you can and reduce the overall numbers, then vacuum again afterward to clean up the bed bug carnage.
You may also need to use a bed bug spray and pesticide dust around your home to help treat for bed bugs.
Bed bug traps around your bed can also offer instant relief from getting bit at night if your bed bugs aren’t living on your mattress or bed frame.
Bed Bug Vacuum FAQ’s
Can I use these vacuums on other pests?
Totally! Vacuuming is a great strategy for pest control and prevention for many types of insects. Regular vacuuming eliminates food particles that attract ants, cockroaches, and flies. There are also other pests that live in carpet besides bed bugs. Carpet beetles, fleas, and even some moth larvae can be found hiding in carpet. However, like for bed bugs, if you have a major infestation, you’ll probably have to use several different methods to get rid of them entirely.
How long after bed bug spray treatment should I vacuum?
You can vacuum for bed bugs before a spray treatment and after, but you should at the very least wait for the spray to fully dry before vacuuming. Most sprays take at least 24-48 hours to work, so if you’re going to be vacuuming shortly after spraying don’t expect to see a bunch of dead bugs. You may be able to catch live bugs out and about, though.
Can I vacuum after heat treatment?
With heat treatment, all of the insect-killing action happens during the treatment, and there are no residual effects to wait for. You can vacuum right away once you get back into your home to try to clean out dead bugs and eggs.
How do I empty my vacuum safely?
Take your vacuum cleaner outside away from the home before opening it. Remove the bag and tape the entire vacuum bag shut, then put that inside of a sealable plastic bag. Double layers will prevent any chance of escape. Then just throw away the bag but take the trash out right away so it’s no longer in your home. Even if the bed bugs aren’t dead at this point, if they are trapped in a vacuum bag inside of another bag inside of a trash can, they stand no chance of finding their way back into your house.
Do I really need to use a bag and HEPA filter?
You can try without them, but I would not suggest it. A bag and HEPA filter are the best and safest way to vacuum up bed bugs. People can have strong allergic reactions to the debris left behind by bed bugs, and bed bugs are tiny enough to hide inside of vacuum canisters and be left behind if there is no bag. A single female bed bug can produce hundreds of new ones pretty quickly. So it’s really better safe than sorry.