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:

  1. 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 dirty, bagged stuff is in another.
  2. 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.
  3. Put margarine containers lined with Vaseline under each bed frame and headboard post of my bed.
  4. Vacuumed all the carpets, used the edge tool and went over the edges REALLY well, then washed all baseboards.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

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5 replies
  1. survivor says:

    I had purchased a used bed with a huge semi-circular headboard and mirrors etc. Also had cupboards and drawers. I woke up one night to catch a glimpse of something running across my sheets near my face. I had previously been having these bites on my right side. Shoulder, upper arms, hand etc. Didn’t know what the bites were. Anyway slammed that bug with the TV remote. Then caught it in a piece of paper towel and to my surprise when I squished it, bright red liquid came out of it. It still didn’t register.

    Anyway cut a long story short, more and more appeared as I woke up in the middle of the night. I proceeded to purchase a steamer and two large cannisters of diameticious earth. I also purchased an expensive mattress cover. OK, started steaming 3/daily and hundreds of bed bugs came out of that headboard. There were lots of cracks and hiding places in the headboard. That all started April 2011. So, like I said 3/daily I steamed, put down the DE all around the bedroom and into the living room. I purchased an inflatable mattress and started sleeping in the living room only to find them finding me on the inflatable mattress.

    It has been a long haul and has worn me out. I am so paranoid now. I never did go back into that bedroom. I am in another bedroom now. I also started steaming the furniture in the living room. I stopped steaming at Christmas. Thought about starting the process again as I just read where they can live for approximately one year without drawing blood. I honestly killed hundreds of them, they hated the steam. I also put down sticky pads outside every door as a precaution.

    I will post an update as I start the process again. By the way, I haven’t seen any lately. Of course I haven’t seen my friends either. I am not permitted in their homes nor do they come to mine. Very sad situation………

  2. Scaredofbedbugs says:

    I have a friend that has bed bugs REALLY badly but he doesn’t get bit. Of course I do and was covered head to toe after leaving his house. I took off my clothes in the bathroom and checked to make sure I wasn’t bringing any home with me… to then learn that they were in his car as well. *sigh….* Unfortunately I have brought them home with me and took precautions to get rid of them quickly because I’m constantly bit and COVERED in bites.

    For those of you that are/have gotten an exterminator, they don’t work. Seriously… they don’t work. My friend had gotten an exterminator the day before I came to his apartment I was still able to find them in multiple rooms in his apartment. Get a bottle of DE and a steamer.

    My cat sleeps in my room so I was really concerned about his safety. I thought it might have been fleas but he doesn’t scratch and knowing that my friend has bedbugs seems more likely. I’ve only seen one in my room crawling on my arm before. And nymphs crawling on my computer chair.. ehhh. That day I used my blow dryer on my chair but I don’t recommend it because I burnt it in two places…

    When I got my steamer I steamed my chair thoroughly. I haven’t seen ANY on my mattress but I’m going to put some DE on it anyways… hopefully my bedbug nightmare will be over. I’ve even checked during the middle of the morning I’m usually up pretty late but I can’t seem to find any. Any suggestions?

  3. Peter Healey says:

    I live in a twelve story apartment complex for low income people. It was announced that there was a bedbug infestation in the building. Exterminators were called in, but when they reached my floor I was unable to get my two cats in their cages to get them out of the apartment while they were bombing it. So since I didn’t have any help with my animals they skipped my apartment altogether. That was a few months back.

    I am being constantly bitten at night and it has disturbed my sleep considerably. I cannot afford a commercial steamer right now. I live on Social Security only and just have enough to just barely get by. So in my situation what is the approach I should take? I get my SS check on the 3rd of every month. I will buy a large box of diatomaceous earth (food grade) to start with. Also a mattress and boxspring encasements along with pillow protectors. Also I have heard that rubbing alcohol in a spray bottom kills bedbugs and their eggs instantly, but it has to be by direct contact.

    To make a long story short I’ve got my work cut out for me. Anyone know where I can buy an affordable commercial dry steamer? Most of the ones I see online are about $400. With this infestation it would take me at least a couple of months to save up for one. Any suggestions at this point would be gratefully appreciated.

    Thanks, Peter

  4. Never Gonna Get Bit Again says:


    I have seen first hand what some people have gone through once an actual bad infestation occurs in their home. I was absolutely unwilling to take the chance. If your doctor says that they are bed bug bites, chances are that they are, and you need to ACT FAST!!!

    Keep in mind that an adult female can lay up to 5 eggs per day. This makes for extremely quick infestation. Read EVERYTHING you possibly can on this website, as it is very informative. A few weeks or even a couple months of hard work is worth not having this get out of control. I have not seen a bug nor been bitten in 2 weeks, and am starting to be able to have good sleeps at night.

    My tip for you is to isolate your bed. Buy a steamer, steam your mattress, box spring, headboard and frame. Buy bed bug or dust mite mattress encasements, and put them on. LEAVE THEM ON OVER A YEAR!!!!!! Adults can live without feeding for MONTHS AND MONTHS!!! I am using margarine containers lined with Vaseline as interceptors under all of my bed posts. Launder your bedding in hot water, and give extra time in the dryer to kill all bugs and eggs. If they can’t get at you to eat, they eventually will die, but it takes a long time, so using DE will help speed up this process.

    You can buy it at a farm feed store for super cheap! Good luck!

  5. Angela Mutter says:

    Well where to begin? I am not even sure if we have Bed Bugs or not but I know that I had the nasty experience of bites all over my arms. It all started a week and a half ago when me and my husband stayed in a hotel mistake number 1 checked the bed but only 1 side of the bed and brought in our own pillows. Never got no bites nothing a week goes by we are at home only stayed 1 night in hotel and I wake up in the morning with about 8 or 9 welts on my arm very very itchy.

    I was wondering maybe an allergic reaction to something wasn’t thinking of bed bugs. Went to bed the next nite woke up with 3 or 4 more bites? Very confused though because how can I not get bite in hotel and all of a sudden a week later get bite at home? Went to see doctor he figures they we bed bug bites. So started the whole process steam cleaning mattress floors washing blankets and cloths.

    Bought DE actually said Ant killer (chem free) and 80 percent DE around base boards legs of bed. But I am still really confused is it even possible to have brought bed bugs home and not get bite at hotel and go a whole week before even getting a bite?? Oh by the way my husband didn’t even have one bite? When I cleaned our bed and bedroom didn’t see nothing either?? I am following through before it gets to bad if we do have it. But if we don’t what else could it be? I thought it might be fleas do have animals but none of then are scratching??? Any ideas? Is it bed bugs?


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