A bed bug steamer is one of the more popular methods of killing bedbugs and there are two types to chose from, a dry steamer and a wet steamer.
Dry steamers are the preferred model as they reach upwards of 240 degrees Fahrenheit and leave less moisture after treatment. Wet steamers, still effective on bed bugs, don’t reach such high temperatures and can leave surfaces wet; the higher the temperature, the more effective in tight spots.
You’ll notice PSI on a number of models; dry steamers usually have a higher Pound per Square Inch than the wet models – higher PSI means the unit can reach a higher temperature. You also want to make sure that the model you choose gives you the ability to regulate the amount of steam released from the tip!
These steamers use up a lot of water and capacity is another key consideration. High quality steamers can hold more than 32oz of water where a hand held unit may only be able to hold a cup of water. If you are treating a home for bed bugs, you’ll want the larger capacity or you’ll quickly become frustrated having to wait for the unit to cool down and refill! However, if you’re in a studio apartment, a hand steamer may the right choice for you.
If you’re a landlord or apartment manager and need to steam a large number of units, consider a continuous steamer. Even though the name implies endless steam, you still need to fill up the tank, but you won’t have to wait for cool down like single tank units.
Selecting the right steamer:
It all boils down to this: If you have a large area (more than 1 room, mattress, etc) then use a dry bed bug steamer, high psi, ability to regulate steam, large tank, good warranty!
For small areas (few minutes) a wet bed bug steamer with a large tank if possible should do the trick.
Whichever steamer you choose for bed bugs, make sure that you don’t give up! It takes more than one application and the steamer alone will not get this job done; it’s a weapon in the war against these blood suckers!
Bed Bug Steamers Really Work!
Here is a real life success story on how a visitor got rid of bed bugs using a steamer! Thank you “Never Gonna Get Bit Again” for sharing!
First, I would like to thank Bed Bug Girl and John G. for all of your interesting and informative advice.
I discovered 10 bites on my leg on March 20th. Because of the infestations in the area of town in which I work, I am no stranger to bed bugs and their habits. I work as a bartender at a hotel in the inner city, and we have problems with bed bugs in the rooms upstairs, so I had already done much research on these little pests. I was extremely happy to come across this site! I am very determined to get rid of these bloodsuckers before they infest completely, if, in fact, I have them, as I may have been bitten at work. I am, however, ABSOLUTELY unwilling to take the chance of waiting to see, since they can get out of control so quickly.
Here are the steps I have taken:
- I have bagged up any and all fabric items in my house and begun to launder. This includes all clothing, curtains, linens, stuffed animals, dog beds, etc. I have a lot of stuff, and want to give it all extra time in the dryer, so while this is going on, the clean, bagged stuff is in one room, and the unlaundered, bagged stuff is in another.
- I bought a garment steamer, ripped the dust covers off the backs of my box springs, and steamed EVERY area, both top and bottom, of them. Steamed my mattress, headboard, bed frame, the carpets in my closets, windowsills, and blinds. Bought bed bug covers for the box springs, and my king size mattress. Will leave them on forever. Sprinkled some DE between my mattress and box springs. After steaming, I sprayed all the cracks and crevices of my headboard with isopropynol, just in case.
- Put margarine containers lined with Vaseline under each bed frame and headboard post of my bed.
- Vacuumed all the carpets, used the edge tool and went over the edges REALLY well, then washed all baseboards.
- Bought a 50 lb. bag of DE from a feed store for $34. (Cheap stuff!) Dusted around the perimeter of every bedroom. Have 3 bedrooms, but am only using 1 to sleep in.
- Vacuumed out the dressers and night stands. Pulled the drawers out and vacuumed the insides. They sit empty in the middle of my bedroom now.
- My living room furniture is all leather, but I pulled all of the cushions off, vacuumed the undersides, which are fabric, and dusted with DE. Placed double sided tape around all of the legs.
- Pulled everything out of all the lower cupboards in my bathrooms, wiped them out thoroughly, wiped everything off, and put it back in. Took the opportunity to throw out all the bath salts, bubble baths, etc. that I never use.
- Sprinkled DE in the bottoms of all of my empty linen and coat closets. Wiped them out thoroughly; all the shelves, etc.
During this entire process, I kept my eyes peeled for bugs, and didn’t see 1, nor did I find any eggs anywhere. Some of my friends believe that I am overreacting, but I believe there is no such thing when it comes to bed bugs. The sooner they are dealt with, the easier it is to get rid of them. I have spent $450, and about 35 or 40 hours in the last week on this bed bug infestation, and feel as though it is money and time well spent.
Today I plan on vacuuming the living room and family room (the only 2 carpeted rooms left in my house) and dusting the perimeters with DE. In a week, I will vacuum up all of the DE in my house, and dust again. I leave the dogs in the kitchen of my house while I am not home (it has bi-fold doors), and have placed a kennel in my bedroom, on a little table, with legs coated in Vaseline, where they will have to sleep for the next couple months, until I am sure I have no problem.
It has been 8 days, and I have not been bitten again, nor have I seen signs of any bugs. Perhaps I have gone slightly overboard, but, as I said, I would rather nip it in the bud now than have to deal with a huge infestation at some point. Even if I find nothing over the next couple months, I think I will leave the Vaseline in place. Like John G. said, if you can eliminate their food source, you can break the life cycle.
For those who say they can’t afford to buy a steamer, buy mattress covers, etc., I ask: How can you afford not to? If you have to beg, borrow, or steal (just kidding about the stealing), DO IT!!! I was freaked right out when I saw the bug bites, but after everything I have done, I have begun to feel much safer going to sleep at night. There are so many success stories, and the unsuccessful stories all seem to have one thing in common……not being diligent enough, or cutting corners.
Good luck to everyone in their battles with these little suckers!
Update (Never Gonna Get Bit Again):
I just have an update on the progress of my bed bug war:
It has been 5 weeks and 2 days since I got bit by bed bugs!!!!! I am feeling very confident that I did a good job the first time of isolating my bed. Since my first post, I have vacuumed and reapplied DE all over my house twice, the second time being this morning. The other times when I vacuumed, I just left about 6 inches untouched around the perimeter of the rooms to leave the DE there. I have not seen a single bug.
My dogs slept on my bed (usually a no-no) for 2 weeks after the first application of DE, but then went back to sleeping on the floor. I have been paying attention to every single itch they have, and have even gone over them with a comb on a few occasions to check for bites when I thought they were scratching excessively, and have found nothing. We spent the weekend out at my mom’s acreage and 1 of my dogs has been itchy since then, which I hope I am correctly guessing is because of playing in the fields, dirt, etc. He usually gets itchy after a couple days out there. I gave him a bath and it seems to have stopped his scratching (fingers crossed).
I think I may get brave this week sometime and move my clothes back into my bedroom closet and dresser. I have been living out twist-tied garbage bags since day 1 of the battle. One of my customers at work the other day asked me why my shirt was all wrinkly. Haha.
I would say that my hours of labor in dealing with this issue total about 70 or 80 in the past 5 weeks. I generally pride myself on having a super clean house, but even I can say that my house has never been so clean. And I have gotten rid of absolutely everything that I don’t use, which is great. Spring cleaning is done, with the exception of wiping all the surfaces that have DE, once I am feeling completely confident that I have no bed bugs. I’m not sure how long I will leave the vaseline interceptors under my bed legs, but since they are almost unnoticeable it will probably be a while.
I still look at myself in the mirror every morning when I get out of bed to check for bites, but still see nothing. I also look at my skin every time I get an itch or feel like I have something crawling on me. I am beginning to laugh at myself when this happens.
I will keep updating periodically, and hope that this gives people hope. If I can get rid of bed bugs in a 1600 sq ft house, then so can you! Good luck!