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April 16, 2024

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    Bed bugs are among the toughest pests to deal with for homeowners. Although they don’t spread any diseases to humans or pets, these insects are hard to live with. They disrupt sleep by biting at night and can be embarrassing if you have houseguests.

    What’s worse is that your house doesn’t even need to be filthy to invite a bed bug invasion. A single pregnant female hitchhiking on your pant leg could lead to a full-blown infestation within a few short months. On top of that, these critters can live for a few months without a meal, so leaving your home temporarily hoping they’ll starve to death is not an option.

    Handling a bed bug problem yourself can be difficult — take it from me, I worked for one of the leading pest control companies in the nation. In this article, I’ll go over the best steamers to eradicate your bed bug infestation DIY-style.

    If you’re looking for a professional to help, I recommend these top exterminators:

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    Highlights
    • Heat treatment is a common method that pest control professionals use to eliminate bed bugs.
    • There are not necessarily steamers specifically designed to exterminate bed bugs.
    • To Exterminate Bed Bugs with a steamer start by doing a thorough inspection, cleaning your house, steaming the infested area, and allowing the steamed area to dry.
    • Keep in mind that only the bed bugs that have come into contact with the steam will die. Avoid using a pin point nozzle since this attachment can blow away the bed bugs rather than killing them.

    Featured Video: Learn How to Use a Steamer to Treat Bed Bugs


    What Are the Top 7 Best Bed Bug Steamers?

    Based on my research and years of working as a professional pest control technician, I believe the below bed bug steamers are the best options on the market today.

    1) Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaning System

    If you’re looking for one steamer to buy for life, the Vapamore MR-100 is it. It comes with a lifetime limited warranty for parts and labor on the boiler, heating element, and all internal electronics. The last thing you want to do is spend the money on a nice steamer that the manufacturer doesn’t stand behind. This isn’t the case with Vapamore.

    The MR-100 has a 1.5 liter tank, which means about a 60-minute run time. The hose is six feet long, which means less adjusting the tank around as you’re steaming the room for bed bugs.

    This steamer has an adjustable pressure control that can get up to 51 PSI. This extra high pressure is strong enough to penetrate all fabrics and any depth of cracks you need to eradicate a bed bug infestation. This is one of the most important elements of a steamer as bed bugs will try to hide from the heat. With 51 PSI, the bed bugs can’t hide.

    It comes with 21 different attachments and accessories which makes it extremely versatile for both killing bed bug infestations and steam cleaning anything you may need:

    • Steam gun and hose
    • Detail adaptor
    • Jet nozzle tool 
    • Detail Scraper Tool 
    • Nylon grout brush 
    • Nylon medium duty brush 
    • Large nylon brush 
    • Brass metal brush 
    • Fabric tool cotton cover
    • Microfiber floor pad 
    • Floor cleaning head
    • Triangle floor brush 
    • Carpet slider
    • 2 x Extension Tubes
    • Clothes/Fabric tool 
    • Smooth surface squeegee
    • Measuring cup 
    • Fill funnel
    • Accessory storage bag
    • Replacement O-ring set
    • Water level dipstick
    Best Bed Bug Steamers Vapamore

    2) Vapamore MR-75 Hand Held

    Sticking with Vapamore due to their high quality and the best warranty available. If you’re looking for something for a lower cost with the same high quality, they offer a handheld steamer in the MR-75.

    This unit heats up in about 4 minutes and can shoot steam up to 43.5 PSI, which is still stronger than many larger units from other manufacturers. The tank capacity is smaller, about 200 ml and the power cord is shorter at 10 feet, so you may need an extension cord compared to the MR-100.

    Since one bed bug can restart an infestation you thought was under control, I highly recommend sticking with Vapamore due to their powerful steam streams. I’ll talk about some other options below, though, in case these don’t strike your fancy for whatever reason.

    Best Steamers for Bed Bugs Vapamore

    3) Steamfast SF-370WH

    The Steamfast SF-370WH Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner is one of the more affordable heavy-duty steamers on the market that will help you achieve the same results as a commercial unit when heat-treating bed bugs.

    This unit has an output of more than 200°F which should help you reach the surface temperature range you need to exterminate bed bugs. Furthermore, the steam cleaner comes with a 45-ounce water tank that gives you up to 45 minutes of continuous steam. A steam locking switch allows you to steam continuously without getting tired of holding down the trigger.

    No one wants to stand around waiting for the water to boil before steaming. This unit takes a short 8 minutes to get ready for your bed bug heat-treatment. Additionally, an extra-long 15.4-foot power cord allows you to use the steamer freely around the house.

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    4) PureClean XL Rolling Steam Cleaner

    The PureClean XL Rolling Steam Cleaner is another heavy-duty piece of equipment that comes in a little cheaper than comparable models.

    The 1500 watt cleaner boils water and is ready to release steam in 8 minutes. The 1.5-liter capacity gives you up to 45 minutes of steam, so you don’t have to stop every so often to fill up. The steam heats up to 212°F. This high heat is perfect for exterminating bed bugs.

    This model comes with an extra-long power cord, while the unit itself is compact and lightweight, which is a rare combination for heavy-duty steamers. The model also sports a continuous steam feature.

    You get 18 different accessories with this steamer which makes it a good investment for doing more than just exterminating bed bugs.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    For a steam treatment to be effective, you will need to hit a surface temperature of between 160°F and 180°F on the area you are treating so an infrared thermometer will come in handy.

    5) Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner Heavy Duty

    If you are looking for a powerful steam cleaner to get rid of bed bugs, you can hardly do better than the Heavy-Duty Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner.

    This superheated steamer gives you up to 275°F of steam which is perfect for reaching those high temperatures that you need to kill bed bugs on contact. The unit has a large 1.6-liter tank that provides up to 50 minutes of continuous steaming time so you don’t have to fill up the tank multiple times to get the job done.

    The Dupray Heavy-Duty Neat Steam Cleaner heats up in just 7 minutes to save you time and works on all surfaces where you might have bed bugs. You also get a steam lock feature for continuous steaming, so you don’t strain your hands by constantly pressing the trigger.   

    You can use this unit for ceramic tiles, kitchen appliances, wooden floors, bathrooms, mattresses, furniture, car interiors, and virtually anywhere else you suspect you might have bed bugs.

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    6) McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner

    With a combined 9-foot steam hose and 43 PSI steam pressure, the McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner has enough reach and steam power to get inside those hard-to-reach areas, cracks, and crevices.

    The large 48 oz water tank will give you up to 45 minutes of continuous steam, great for heat-treating large spaces. You get 18 accessories for all kinds of cleaning so the unit will have plenty of use even after the bed bugs are gone for good.

    You can get up to 250°F heat which is more than enough for heat-treating bed bugs in a variety of places including carpets, furniture, and upholstery.  This unit also comes with a steam lock so you don’t have to constantly hold the trigger.

    This is overall a great heavy-duty steam cleaner that will do the job well and give you the upper hand in your fight against bed bugs.

    7) PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner

    If you think our list is dominated by heavy-duty steam cleaners thus far, it is for good reason. These steam cleaners are the most effective at heat-treating bed bugs and are as close as can get to the commercial steamers used by pest control professionals.

    With that said, the PurSteam Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner is a good alternative for budget shoppers dealing with a small bed bug infestation. I might even argue that it works just as well as a heavy-duty steamer. It will just work much, much slower.

    This little steamer heats up quickly in just 3–4 minutes and is lightweight so you can take it with you as a travel companion if you are skittish about sleeping in hotels and Airbnbs. The portable device also runs hotter than most comparable handheld steam cleaners with a steam temperature of up to 289.4°F.

    This steam cleaner may be too small for your carpets or large sweeps of your home, but it’s a great travel companion and offers terrific value for the price.

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    Best Service Selection
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    Heat Treatment for Exterminating Bed Bugs

    Heat treatment is a common method that pest control professionals use to eliminate bed bugs. If applied correctly, steam can kill bed bugs in all stages of development.

    Bed bugs cannot survive at temperatures above 180 °F. You will need to maintain this temperature for at least 20 minutes, preferably for up to 3 hours.  

    The high temperature should exterminate the bed bugs and their eggs on contact, so there is no need to maintain the temperature for a long time once you hit it.

    A good steamer will treat bed bugs up to ¾-inches inside the fabric’s surface and up to 8-inches deep in gaps and crevices. If you’re steaming your clothes to kill bed bugs, then your steam won’t have to travel very far, so the output distance won’t be as important.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Some of the heat will be lost while steaming so your steamer must have a higher heat output than the target temperature needed to kill bed bugs.

    top rated bed bug steamers

    How To Choose a Steamer for Bed Bugs

    Note that there are not necessarily steamers specifically designed to exterminate bed bugs. A home-use steamer that meets the criteria I’ve outlined below should work fine for small to medium-size bed bug infestations, which is excellent because you can continue using the product for other purposes as well.

    • Heat Output: One of the most important considerations for a steamer for treating bed bugs is its ability to produce hot steam. Steam can kill bed bugs, but you need a steamer with an output of at least 200° F to hit the minimum surface temperature required to eliminate bed bugs.
    • Steam Pressure: You want to be able to treat bed bugs inside fabrics and in crevices so high steam pressure will guarantee that the heat reaches the pests where they are hiding. Bed bugs rarely stay on the surface, so you will need all the pressure you can get. The steam pressure also affects how hot and dry the steam gets. Go for at least 40 PSI, preferably 60 PSI.
    • Capacity: Heat-treating bed bugs is hard work and you don’t want to have to refill your steamer any more than you need to. A steamer with a large water capacity will give you more continuous steam time and reduce the number of breaks you have to take to refill your unit. 
    • Steam Adjustment: A knob to adjust the steam pressure on your steamer will come in handy when you find bed bugs on open surfaces. The high steam pressure you use to reach inside crevices will likely blow the bed bug away rather than killing it on contact. Adjusting the steam pressure will also allow you to get deeper into fabrics and crevices.
    • Heating Time: Once again, heat-treating bed bugs is not an easy or desirable job. The sooner you can get it over with, the better. The typical steamer requires up to 15 minutes to boil water before it can produce steam. Shortening this time frame means you can get through your task more quickly. Steamers with higher wattages, direct injection and/or multiple heating elements tend to work faster.
    • Attachments: You want a versatile steamer that you can use on different floor types and fabrics. More attachments typically mean you can treat more areas effectively.    
    how to use steamers for beg bugs

    Step-by-Step: How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs with a Steamer

    Heat-treating bed bugs with steam is a great chemical-free option to get rid of the nasty pests, but is best used with complementary extermination methods or as a preparation for when the pest control professional arrives.

    1. Do a Thorough Bed Bug Inspection 

    It helps a great deal if you know exactly what you will be treating beforehand. Do a full inspection of the house, paying attention to where bed bugs like to hide including inside mattress stitching, in the box spring, and on pillows, cushions, and sheets.

    Also, inspect all your furniture and carpeting since bed bugs tend to spread quickly, especially in the case of a large infestation.

    2. Clean the House Thoroughly

    Clean the house thoroughly to minimize bed bug hiding places. Clear out the clutter and vacuum your mattresses, furniture, baseboards, and carpets to remove dirt and debris. You may also get lucky and suck up a good number of these pests.

    You may also want to consider treating your car for bed bugs while you’re at it.

    3. Attach the Steamer Nozzle

    The best nozzle to use for steaming bed bugs is the triangular nozzle that comes with the steamer. This nozzle gets close to the surface and heats it sufficiently while also covering a wide surface area to get the job done faster.

    Use a microfiber cloth with your triangular attachment if you have one. The microfiber cloth helps to direct the steam to the precise area you are steaming.

    4. Start Steaming

    Once the steamer has heated up and is ready to go, point the nozzle into a container and start the steamer to get rid of any water. Now you can start steaming.

    Alternatively, maintain a slow pace of roughly 12 inches per 30 seconds to make sure you get the bed bugs. The steam cleaner should be on low or medium pressure to avoid blowing the pests away.

    Follow the steamer’s instructions on how to relieve pressure and cool the steamer once you are finished.

    5. Dry the Treated Areas

    Allow the treated furniture and fabrics to dry out or use a fan to speed up the process. Consider wrapping your treated box spring and furniture in thick plastic for at least two weeks to make sure that any surviving pests are killed.

    At the very least, consider installing a bed bug mattress encasement to protect the treated mattress from infestation until the bed bug problem has been solved permanently.

    Repeat the process after one week if you can still see bed bugs.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Work slowly to make sure that the surface has enough time to heat up and that the steam penetrates into the fabric or crevice. Use your infrared thermometer to ensure that you reach the optimum temperature before moving on to the next section.

    Common Mistakes to Avoid When Steam Cleaning for Bed Bugs

    DIY steam treatment can be an effective method for defeating bed bugs, especially when using one of the best steam cleaners. However, there are some common mistakes that may undermine your efforts.

    Here are some typical errors people make when using steam cleaners for bed bugs and how to avoid them:

    • Insufficient Heat: One of the most common mistakes is not reaching the necessary temperature to kill bed bugs effectively. Bed bugs are highly heat-sensitive and require exposure to temperatures of at least 180°F (82°C) to be eradicated. Make sure your steam cleaner can generate steam at this temperature. Check the steam output and watch the steam control gauge to confirm the right heat level during treatment.
    • Incomplete Treatment: Rushing through the process or skipping areas is another common mistake. Bed bugs can hide in the tiniest cracks and crevices, so it’s essential to steam-treat all potential hiding spots thoroughly. Steam all seams, folds, and any hard-to-reach areas in furniture, mattresses, and walls.
    • Inadequate Preparation: Neglecting proper preparation can reduce the effectiveness of steam cleaning. Cluttered or messy areas hinder access to potential bed bug hiding spots. Failure to perform deep cleaning, including disinfecting, and to remove unnecessary items can result in missed bugs and reduced treatment efficiency.
    • Using the Wrong Attachments: Using the wrong nozzle or attachment on your steam cleaner can scatter bed bugs instead of killing them. Avoid pinpoint nozzles that focus the steam into a small area. Instead, opt for a nozzle that diffuses steam over a broader surface. Choose a steam cleaner attachment that provides a wider coverage area to ensure better contact with bed bugs.
    • Neglecting Safety: Steam cleaning involves high-temperature steam, which can cause severe burns. Neglecting safety precautions, such as wearing protective clothing and goggles, can lead to accidents. Additionally, keeping the steam cleaner unattended around children or pets poses risks. Always wear protective clothing, including gloves, long sleeves, and safety goggles.
    • Skipping Follow-Up: Bed bugs can reproduce quickly, and their eggs may survive steam treatment. Failing to perform follow-up treatments can allow new bugs to reinfest your space. Implement a schedule for repeat treatments to target newly hatched bed bugs and boost the effectiveness of your efforts.

    Professional Pest Control

    The choice between DIY bed bug treatment with a steam cleaner and professional pest control services depends on the severity of the infestation and your level of expertise. Smaller infestations may be manageable with a steam cleaner, but extensive or recurring problems may require professional intervention.

    An effective alternative to DIY bed bug treatments is hiring an exterminator to treat your home. Use our tool below to find local pest control professionals in your area who can help:

    Our Pick
    Terminix_logo

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    Over 90 years of experience

    Nationwide service area

    Free retreatments if pests return

    GET ESTIMATE
    Limited Time:
    Get $50 OFF Pest Control Plan
    Best Service Selection
    orkin logo

    4.7

    Treats 20 types of pests

    Offers instant online quotes

    30-day money-back guarantee

    GET ESTIMATE
    Limited Time:
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    Final Thoughts

    Steam treatment for bed bugs is a targeted process. Only the bed bugs that directly contact the hot steam will be eliminated. To maximize effectiveness, avoid using a pinpoint nozzle attachment, as it might scatter bed bugs rather than kill them.

    Safety is paramount when using a canister steam cleaner. Protect yourself by wearing appropriate clothing and eye protection, as steam cleaners generate high temperatures that can cause severe burns on exposed skin.

    Additionally, exercise extreme caution if small children or pets are present, especially during the treatment process, to prevent potential accidents. Always prioritize safety when using steam for bed bug control or sanitization.

    More Guides Bed Bugs:


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can any steam cleaner be used for bed bug control?

    Not all steam cleaners are suitable for bed bug control. It’s essential to choose a steam cleaner specifically designed for pest control, with the right temperature and pressure settings.


    Is a commercial-grade steam cleaner necessary for bed bug treatment?

    While commercial-grade steam cleaners are highly effective, some residential steam cleaners with the appropriate specifications can also be used for bed bug treatment. Assess your needs based on the severity of the infestation.


    Are steam cleaners safe to use around bedding and furniture?

    Yes, steam cleaners are safe for use around bedding and furniture. They don’t leave chemical residues, making them an excellent option for treating mattresses, upholstery, and other bed bug hiding spots.


    How long does it take to eliminate bed bugs using a steam cleaner?

    The time required to eliminate bed bugs with a steam cleaner depends on the size of the infestation and the areas being treated. Typically, it may take several hours to thoroughly treat a room or an entire home.


    Can a steam cleaner prevent future bed bug infestations?

    While steam cleaning can eliminate existing bed bugs, it’s primarily a treatment method rather than a preventive measure. To prevent future infestations, focus on good hygiene, regular inspection, and sealing potential entry points.


    Should I hire a professional pest control company for bed bug treatment, or can I use a steam cleaner myself?

    The choice between DIY bed bug treatment with a steam cleaner and professional pest control services depends on the severity of the infestation and your expertise. Smaller infestations may be manageable with a steam cleaner, but extensive or recurring problems may require professional intervention.


    Article Update Log
    9/6/2023
    Reviewed for accuracy, cost data, industry best practices, and expert advice by Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas.
    Editorial Contributors
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    Sam Wasson

    Staff Writer

    Sam Wasson graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Film and Media Arts with an Emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering. Sam brings over four years of content writing and media production experience to the Today’s Homeowner content team. He specializes in the pest control, landscaping, and moving categories. Sam aims to answer homeowners’ difficult questions by providing well-researched, accurate, transparent, and entertaining content to Today’s Homeowner readers.

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    Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas

    Expert Writer & Reviewer

    Jordan Tyler Quinn Farkas is a globetrotting content writer hailing from the USA. With a passion for pest control, he brings a unique perspective to his writing from his early years working for one of the largest pest control companies in America. Throughout his early 20s, Jordan gained valuable experience and knowledge in the field, tackling pest infestations head-on and ensuring the well-being of countless homes.

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