Bed Bug Chemical Treatment vs Heat Treatment: A Homeowner’s Guide

Everyone dreads bed bugs. It doesn’t matter where you live, what kind of furniture you have, or how many people live in your home. The threat of bed bugs seems to be constantly lurking around the corner.

When you discover bed bugs in your home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the problem. Luckily, many professionals are dedicated to exterminating these pests and returning your home to normal.

If you’re looking for the best way to get rid of bed bugs, you have two main options. You can opt for a bed bug chemical treatment or a heat treatment. Both of these treatments have their pros and cons.

To learn more about heat and chemical extermination, keep reading below. We’ll review the details of each treatment to help you find the best solution to your bed bug problem.

Identifying Bed Bugs

Do you suspect that bed bugs have bitten you? If you feel itchy when you wake up in the morning, look for small red bumps on your skin. These are a telltale sign of bed bugs.

If you don’t have any noticeable bumps, but you feel itchy, you could still have bed bugs. The red bumps themselves are allergic reactions to the bedbugs bite. Their size and color vary from person to person.

Bed bugs don’t bite every night, either. They emerge to feed, and when they are full, they return to their hiding spot for a few days. For this reason, you might notice that you have more bites one day than you do the next.

Bed bugs are tiny; adult bugs are only about a quarter of an inch long. They tend to be brown or red in color. Some people mistake them for ticks.

Although they can be hard to spot, it’s worth your time to do a quick scan of your furniture.

Here are some of the places you should check for bed bugs:

  • Your mattress
  • Any furniture or items near your bed
  • Sofas
  • Chairs
  • Carpet edges and corners
  • Curtains

If you can’t spot any actual bugs, look for small stains on furniture and fabric. Bed bugs leave brown, yellow, and red stains. These stains come from their excrement and from the blood that they feed on.

Keep an eye out for bed bug eggs, too. They are white and tiny. They’re usually only a fraction of an inch long, smaller than a grain of rice.

In special situations, bed bugs can show up in unexpected places like restaurant chairs, textured wallpaper, or wicker lawn furniture. They might also hitch a ride from one area to another on a wheelchair or a cane. Picking up unwanted hitchhikers from public places is how many people unintentionally introduce bed bugs into their homes.

The Effects of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are a huge nuisance. They can disrupt your sleep, leave you with itchy bites, and make you feel helpless in your own home. If you have bedbugs in your house, you might experience some of the following symptoms.

Physical Effects

The most obvious physical symptoms of bed bugs are the small, itchy bites that they leave. They most commonly bite the neck, arm, and hands. Bites on the face and feet are less common.

You probably won’t feel a bed bug bite you. When they bite, they excrete a small amount of anesthetic. It takes most people at least a few hours to notice any bites.

Your individual reaction to bed bug bites depends on how allergic you are. Some people suffer from extreme itchiness, blisters, or even hives.

Repetitive itching of bed bug bites can also lead to bleeding and infection.

Psychological Effects

Although they’re not as visible as the physical effects of bed bugs, the psychological effects of these bugs can also take a toll on you.

Many people have trouble sleeping during a bed bug infestation. They might have trouble falling asleep because they are itchy and uncomfortable. They might also feel uneasy in their own bed because they know that bed bugs could emerge while they sleep.

Because bed bugs are small and difficult to treat, they sometimes make people feel defeated or paranoid. Many people who experience bed bug infestations feel upset and sad. It’s hard not to worry about the problem constantly.

People might also feel compelled to clean constantly, or they might want to avoid their house altogether. Some studies have even reported that the thought of bed bugs causes some people emotional distress.

Some professionals consider the psychological effects of bed bugs to be even worse than the physical effects.

The Best Way to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

If you’ve determined that you have bed bugs, it’s time to search for the most effective way to exterminate them. There are some home remedies that you can try, but your best chance at eliminating these unwelcome bugs comes from professional exterminators.

When you hire an exterminator to get rid of bed bugs, you have a few options. Some exterminators use heat treatment to kill bed bugs. Others use chemical treatment.

Bed Bug Heat Treatment

Heat treatments use high temperatures to kill bed bugs. If you opt for this treatment, your exterminator will use special heaters to raise your home’s temperature to a scorching 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

At that temperature, bed bugs die instantly. It doesn’t matter what stage of life they are in. The heat will kill eggs, nymphs, and full-grown adult bugs.

To raise your house’s temperature safely, exterminators will use industrial fans and temperature sensors. They power the operation with a single portable generator. Although the process sounds involved, it’s relatively discrete.

Pros of Heat Treatment

Heat treatment is a great option if you are environmentally conscious. It’s a “one and done” treatment with no residual chemicals left behind. It’s convenient, too: most heat treatments require just one visit from the exterminator.

Because heat radiates deep into walls and furniture, this treatment can service hard-to-reach areas of your home. It will even kill bed bugs that are hiding out of sight.

There’s very little preparation required for heat treatment. You should remove any heat-sensitive items (like crayons or candles) and make sure all people and pets have left your house. Beyond that, you don’t have to do much.

Things are equally straightforward after the exterminators leave. Because heat treatment doesn’t involve any chemicals and kills every bed bug in your home, you don’t have to worry about throwing out furniture or personal belongings.

You might want to use a vacuum to clean your furniture, though! Vacuums can’t kill bed bugs, but they are a great way to dispose of dead bugs that remain in your home.

If a whole-house heat treatment isn’t right for you, you can try taking matters into your own hands. Getting rid of bed bugs on small items and clothes is as easy as tossing them into the dryer. Make sure to set the dryer to high heat.

This method is a band-aid on a larger problem, but it can help you get the infestation under control until you’re able to have a whole-house treatment.

Cons of Heat Treatment

While heat treatment kills all the bed bugs in your home, it doesn’t prevent new ones from coming in. This is the double-edged sword of heat treatment. It leaves no residuals, which is great for your health and the environment but is also good for bed bugs looking to take up residence in your home.

To prevent a second-bed bug infestation, you should identify how bed bugs got into your home in the first place. Try to block their entry point so that you don’t have to call the exterminators again in a few weeks.

You should declutter your home and wash your sheets as often as possible. This will keep your house clean and will give bed bugs fewer places to hide.

Heat treatments take between 8 and 12 hours, which is longer than most chemical treatments. Of course, the exact time depends on the size of your house. You should be able to re-enter your home as soon as it cools off.

Heat treatments also tend to be a little more expensive than chemical treatments. You should expect to spend more than a few hundred dollars to get heat treatment done. Although a little more expensive it is a very reliable treatment for bed bugs and typically only takes one time to completely get rid of all bed bugs in a residence.

Bed Bug Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatment is the most common form of bed bug treatment. In fact, the EPA has approved more than 300 chemicals for use in bed bug extermination.

This approach usually involves three different stages. First, an insecticide is applied. Then a residual chemical is added, and finally dust.

All of these chemicals are applied directly to the site where bed bugs live. The bugs die when they come into direct contact with the chemicals.

The insecticide kills bed bugs on contact. The residual chemical stays active on the site where it was applied and continues to fight the infestation. The dust settles into hard-to-reach areas and provides long-lasting protection.

Pros of Chemical Treatment

Insecticide treatments are a long-lasting solution to bed bug problems. They kill the bugs that are causing your immediate problems, but they also last long enough to kill any bugs that emerge after your exterminator has left.

The price of chemical extermination is another big reason for its popularity. Insecticides are inexpensive, and you can even find some brands of bed bug-killing insecticides in your grocery store. These come in the form of sprays and liquids.

While heat treatment is somewhat discreet, chemical treatment is even less obvious. If you don’t want your next-door neighbors seeing a heat treatment generator in your backyard, you can opt for chemical treatment.

Chemical treatments don’t take very long. It’s usually safe to re-enter your home just four hours after the treatment is complete.

Cons of Chemical Treatment

This method leaves behind residual chemicals. That’s what makes it work well, but it also makes it less appealing to environmentally conscious people.

Most chemical treatments need more than one application, too. Because bed bugs are good at hiding, it’s unlikely that your exterminator will kill all of them in one trip. Multiple visits are required to ensure that every corner of your house stays bed bug-free.

Multiple visits are also necessary because insecticides don’t kill bed bug eggs. That means that even after all your adult bed bugs are killed, their eggs are ready to hatch and wreak havoc on your home. Follow-up chemical treatments kill bugs that hatch after the first treatments.

Insecticides aren’t harmful to most people, but they could irritate you if you are especially chemically sensitive. They can also pose problems for some pets.

Before you choose a chemical treatment, talk to your vet. Make sure the specific chemicals that your exterminator uses are safe for your furry friend. Because there are so many approved bed bug chemicals, you should definitely be able to find one that is pet-friendly.

You should also consider the health risks of chemical treatments if you live with very young children or elderly relatives.

Perhaps the largest con of chemical treatment is that it requires you to discard any infested furniture. You shouldn’t sleep on a mattress that is covered in insecticide, and you shouldn’t spend a lot of time on treated furniture, either.

When you add up the cost of ruined sofas, mattresses, and other belongings, chemical extermination might not be the most cost-effective option for you.

Commercial vs. Residential Treatments

There are some differences between residential exterminations and commercial bed bug treatments. In commercial settings like hotels, offices, and assisted living homes, bed bug infestations come with the added concern of the client’s professional image.

Bed bug exterminating companies usually have close relationships with these clients to perform exterminations while upholding their client’s professional image.

In commercial settings, bed bug exterminators often need to be extra discrete. This prevents widespread panic among guests and locals about the presence of bed bugs. Of course, all commercial facilities should be transparent with guests and customers about infestations.

In commercial settings, employees are often trained to be on the lookout for bed bugs. For example, hotel cleaning staff sometimes check for bedbugs each time they clean a room.

This is a great lesson that individuals can apply to their personal residences. Keeping an eye out for bed bugs and regularly cleaning and checking things like mattresses and sofas will help you nip an infestation in the bud.

Preparing For Bed Bug Treatments

Preparing your home for bed bug treatment will help your professional exterminators finish their job quickly and thoroughly. Eliminate all the bed bugs that you can get rid of yourself. Your professional extermination will be the cherry on top!

You should first complete a bed bug inspection. Search your home for any areas that bed bugs might be hiding. You need to know exactly where in your house the exterminator should spray chemicals.

To get rid of bed bugs yourself, wash everything that you can. You should wash sheets, clothing, pillows, and plush toys in hot water. Dry them in the highest possible setting.

Anything that can’t go in the washer and dryer should be dry cleaned.

You should store everything that has been cleaned in sealed plastic bags. This will protect them from becoming infected again. If you’ve opted for chemical treatment, you should also place any kids’ toys or kitchen items in plastic bags.

Remove any clutter and clean your home. This will eliminate bed bug hiding spaces and will make your house easier for exterminators to navigate. This is a great time to throw out unwanted items that could attract pests.

After decluttering, you should vacuum your house. This isn’t a permanent solution to bed bugs, but it can help remove some of them. Vacuum your furniture and your mattress, too.

Make sure to throw out your used vacuum bags in an outdoor bin. You should do this immediately after vacuuming so that the vacuumed bugs don’t escape back into new areas of your home.

What to Expect

When you hire a bed bug exterminator, they’ll start by completing an inspection of your home. Share all your areas of concern with them and let them know where you have noticed bugs. You’re the expert on your situation!

This initial inspection will help the professionals determine the best treatment plan for your house. Based on this information and your preference, they will complete chemical or heat treatment.

In some cases, exterminators even use specially trained dogs to sniff out bed bug infestations. While this might sound like an old-fashioned technique, it is actually highly effective. A University of Florida study found that dogs trained can find bed bugs with a 98% success rate!

You will need to leave your house while exterminators apply the bed bug treatment. Your exterminator will tell you how long you should wait before you return. They’ll also let you know if you need to take any items out of your home to protect them from chemicals or heat.

Most bed bug treatments require four hours on average. Heat treatments take longer because of the time required to heat up and cool down an entire house.

Many exterminators schedule a follow-up appointment for a week or two after their initial visit. This is a good opportunity to make sure that the initial treatment was successful. It allows you to share any ongoing bed bug problems and find a solution for them.

Initial exterminations could fail if some bed bugs were left untreated or were treated improperly. Bed bugs might survive if too few chemicals are applied or heat treatments do not reach the proper temperature.

After the Treatment

After your home is treated, you get to return to your house and your normal routine. Bed bug treatments eliminate pests and provide huge psychic and physical relief.

If you’ve had a chemical treatment performed in your house, you should air your home out. Open doors and windows for at least an hour. Re-wash any washable items that were left out during chemical application.

If you’ve identified any window cracks or exposed areas of your home that might be a source of bed bugs, be sure to have them repaired. Otherwise, your bugs might come back, and the extermination will all be for nothing!

To prevent future infestations, you should take steps to make your house less hospitable to bugs. Swap out wooden or upholstered furniture and decor for metal or plastic alternatives wherever possible. Bed bugs are particularly fond of wood bed frames; getting a metal frame can help keep them out of your bedroom.

You can try covering your furniture with plastic coverings or installing insect interceptors around the legs of sofas and chairs. Interceptors are plastic dishes placed under furniture legs. They contain a “moat” that traps bed bugs and prevents them from climbing onto your furniture.

You can also prevent these pests from returning to your house by taking preventative measures. Replace your mattress and box spring every 3-4 years. Vacuum often and reduce clutter.

If you travel often, do a quick sweep of your hotel room and a hotel bed. Make sure that you’re not exposing yourself to bugs that you could bring back to your home.

Call Us Today

A bed bug chemical treatment is an effective way to get bed bugs out of your house. Heat treatments are effective, too.

Exterminators can help you quickly achieve a completely pest-free home. Calling in professionals is much more efficient than trying DIY solutions. It’s the best way to get rid of bed bugs!

We’re proud to be bed bug experts. We’ve helped countless households throughout Utah, Washington, and Oregon get rid of pesky pests. We want to help you feel comfortable in your home again, too.

So if you’re struggling with bed bugs, don’t panic. Just call us! Whether you’re looking for bed bug heat treatment or chemical treatment, we can help.

Contact us to get rid of your bed bugs today!

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