Bed bugs are sneaky and are always finding new ways to latch onto new, unsuspecting passersby. First it was hotel rooms, then they moved to department stores and thrift stores — what’s next? Judging by what we currently know about bed bug behavioral characteristics, I am forced to believe that with the winter quickly approaching, bed bugs are going to find a new vehicle in coat checks. Yes — coat checks at bars, restaurants, reception halls, etc.
Warm, fuzzy jackets are a perfect place for a bed bug to hide in an infested home. And with so many jackets from many different owners going in and out of coat checks, the likelihood of coat check becoming infested by bed bugs is rather high, in my opinion.
Now — what can you do about this? The best thing to do is to avoid checking your jacket when possible. Wear it, hold it under your arm, put it over the back of your chair, whatever. If you have no choice but to check your coat (coat checks are mandatory at some places), you should thoroughly shake your jacket and dust off the inside and outside upon getting it back, potentially dislodging any bed bugs that may have crawled on. Go the extra step by tossing your jacket into your dryer on high heat for 15-20 minutes when you get home, or throw it into a PackTite.
To some people, this could be considered being over-cautious. However, if everyone made a few basic adjustments to their daily routine to avoid bed bugs, infestations could be kept at a minimum.
Bed bugs may be resilient, but one thing they cannot withstand is the high heat of a steamer. Steamers are an excellent, chemical-free way to treat for bed bugs and other pests such as dust mites. Reaching upwards of 250º F, steamers will kill any bed bug or bed bug eggs instantly on contact, while also thoroughly cleaning the treated area. When treating an area for bed bugs, there are a few guidelines one should follow to ensure any and all bed bugs are completely eradicated in a safe manner. Want to know how to kill bed bugs with a steamer? Here are 9 important bed bug steaming tips to help…
- Use caution when steaming an area that has recently been treated with chemicals (such as diatomaceous earth powder). Heat may break down the chemicals already applied, undermining their residual effect. As a general rule, apply chemicals after you steam.
- Prior to steaming, it is recommended that you vacuum the areas to be treated to increase effectiveness. It is recommended to use a vacuum cleaner with a bag, allowing for easy disposal of any bed bugs that may have been captured in the vacuum. Another option is to use a steamer/vacuum combo (such as the EnviroMate Tandem EV1) for ultimate effectiveness.
- Carefully read the instructions provided with your steamer to prepare the steamer for operation. Remember that steamers produce extremely hot steam, so please use caution to avoid burning yourself.
- Before steaming, you should purge the steamer into a cloth towel to clear the nozzle of excess water that has been collected as the steamer heats up initially and when moving between locations. Once the water is purged, you can attach the appropriate accessory and begin steaming. In general, you should always have a dry towel on hand to help absorb excess water that may accumulate while steaming.
- When steaming, start from the top of the room (drapes, etc.) and work your way down to the floor boards. The steamer can be used on moldings, mattresses, box springs, headboards, sofas, carpeting, floorboards and more. However, you should never steam into an electrical outlet or appliances!
- When possible, use a larger head attachment for the nozzle, as smaller heads may create too much centralized pressure, thus scattering the bed bugs rather than killing them. Some steamers have a pressure control valve, allowing you to control the pressure of the steam.
- Take your time with the steamer – keep the tip of the nozzle about one to two inches from the surface you are treating, and move at a rate of about one inch per second.
- After steaming your mattress, allow proper time for the steam to completely dry before applying a mattress, box spring or pillow encasement. Applying encasements before the steam has dried may result in mold.
- After steaming, keep an eye out for any signs of bed bugs in the next few days. If signs of bed bugs appear, re-treat the area with steam. It is always recommended to follow up a steam treatment with EPA-approved bed bug spray such as Steri-Fab.
Vapamore MR-100 Bed Bug Steamer