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Do Bed Bug Heat Treatments Work?

Posted by: Cooper Pest

How do pest control professionals get rid of bed bugs with heat?

Heat treatments are one of the strategies that pest control companies can use to get rid of bed bugs. Heat services involve the use of a unit that physically heats a room or entire house to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit which is optimal for eliminating bed bugs. A heat trailer is stationed outside to provide power for the heating units, and fans are placed in the treated areas to circulate throughout the space to evenly heat all of the items in the room.

Bed Bug Heat Treatment

Heat is filtered indoors

With all of the methods out there such as heat, freezing, and pesticides, what makes heat unique?


  • Bed Bugs Hate Heat- To effectively use heat as a means to kill bed bugs, the affected room needs to be heated up to 117-122 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs will die if exposed to such temperatures for an extended period.
  • Quick Results- If heat is properly used in conjunction with chemical applications, it can be one of the quickest ways to get rid of bed bugs. Services take an average of 6 hours to complete, and you can return to your home after it’s complete. This means you don’t have to stay overnight at a motel or a family member’s house while technicians use intensive practices to get rid of bed bugs.

Bed Bug Heat Trailer

A heat trailer provides power for the indoor units


  • Heat Alone Is Not Enough- Without the integration of pesticide treatments and encasements, heat treatments alone will not completely solve the problem.
  • The Size of the Space Matters- Although a lot of pest control companies will offer heat treatments for your entire home, this is not best practice. This tactic works best in apartments and condos where the space is small enough to contain the heat. If the space is too large, heat my not evenly reach all bed bugs. Fans are necessary to aid this effort.

Get Rid of Bed Bugs With Heat

Fans distribute the heat throughout the space

  • Not All Surfaces Are Equal- Different materials such as concrete create “heat sinks.” This means that concrete surfaces absorb more heat and other areas produce cold spots. Infested furniture needs to be rotated throughout the length of the treatment to ensure cold spots aren’t created where it touches the ground.
  • Bed Bug Bounce Back- Heat pushes bed bug activity down to a lower level. Without proper treatments and professional monitoring, the undetected bed bugs will resurface and multiply. Heat treatments do not provide any residual effect. Bed bugs can be reintroduced within hours and not die.


Cooper’s No-Prep Philosophy

What is No Prep?

No-Prep uses a combination of mechanical methods such as vacuuming, steaming, encasements, and monitors with targeted pesticide applications. We feel that there is no need for you to prepare your home for a bed bug treatment. Preparing your room disrupts the existing bed bugs and can spread them throughout your home, making it much more difficult to exterminate.

  • Use of Encasements- Developed by entomologist Dr. Richard Cooper, bed bug encasements are specialized covers that zip around your mattress and box spring. The material is bite-proof, making it impossible for new bed bugs to enter and forcing the trapped bed bugs to die.

Bed Bug Mattress Encasement

Encasements are installed to preserve the client’s existing mattress and box spring

Monitors- Bed bug monitors are placed under the legs of the bed and separately under the bed to catch bed bugs that crawl inside and cannot get back out. With this detection method, our technicians are able to monitor the infestation and reduce bounce back.

Bed Bug Monitor

Monitors are placed to track possible future bed bug infestations


No-Prep Philosophy

Our Cooper technicians will utilize the following treatment methods to eliminate bed bug infestations in your NJ or PA home.

  • Encasement of all mattresses and box springs.
  • Following visual inspection, we’ll determine where fecal matter from bed bugs is found, and we will steam two feet around the affected area to ensure that they are eliminated.
  • Application of environmentally conscious pesticides. Our technicians will use pesticide dust to eliminate pests behind beds, switch plates, carpet tack strips, etc. Liquid pesticides are also applied to baseboards to exterminate any bed bugs that may be hiding there.                               

To learn more about No-Prep, please click here.


Is No-Prep more effective than heat treatments?

No-Prep uses a combination of chemical and non-chemical tools to get rid of the bed bugs in your home. Our technicians will use environmentally conscious pesticide dust to eliminate pests behind beds, switch plates, carpet tack strips, etc. Liquid pesticides are also applied to baseboards to exterminate any bed bugs that may be hiding there. In addition, we will steam two feet around the affected area to ensure that they are eliminated.

One of the biggest issues with heat treatments is the cooperation of the client. For example, if you try to use dusts and sprays on your own, bed bugs can be pushed into other rooms throughout your house or wall voids. Heat does not penetrate walls with 100% accuracy, so it’s possible they could survive the treatment. Keep in mind, heat treatments do not provide any residual effects, so if new bed bugs are introduced to the treated room, they will not die unless additional treatments are provided.

Other Bed Bug Removal Strategies


Bed bugs that are exposed to freezing temperatures can die. The colder the room, the quicker the treatment will work. Bed bugs begin to die once the temperature of a room passes below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s not as simple as opening your windows in the middle of January.

Chemical Alone

Insecticides such as dusts are applied to the areas where bed bug activity is highest. This includes baseboards, electrical outlets, behind hanging picture frames, crevices and voids, and exposed cracks in the walls of the treated room. The use of chemicals alone is not fast-acting, although it’s the most thorough strategy. You will need several technician visits to officially get the infestation under control, but it provides long-term residual effects that can last several months.


Some cleaning companies offer bed bug cleaning services which can be misconstrued as pest control. Unfortunately, you cannot simply clean out bed bugs. These services are more useful for preparing your home for a bed bug treatment if you are required to prep on your own. To learn more about bed bug cleaning companies and preparing your home for a bed bug service, click here.

DIY/Natural & Organic Products

Use of products such as cedar wood oil, tea tree oil, chemical-free sprays, ultrasonic electronic units, aerosol repellents, and glue traps do not solve bed bug infestations. Essential oils and ultrasonic electronic units are not proven to work at all. Companies deceptively market them as “safe” alternatives to pesticides without backing up their claims.

In a study done by Rutgers University, “Changlu Wang, Ph.D., and Chen Zha, entomologists at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Andrew Li, Ph.D., entomologist at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, tested 18 essential oils, three silicone oils, and paraffin oil and found that only silicone and paraffin oils showed any effectiveness against bed bugs.” Unfortunately, essential oils and other natural products aren’t your best bet.

Over the counter bed bug sprays also can be used, but keep in mind while these sprays are generally effective at killing bed bugs, they are only good for killing the bed bugs on contact. So if you don’t see where the bed bugs are hiding, you cannot kill them with the OTC sprays. However, if you see them crawling on your bed or luggage, these sprays can kill the bed bugs on contact

It doesn’t stop there. Ultrasonic units have been proven through entomological research to be ineffective. Entomologists Kasey Yturralde and Richard W. Hofstetter conducted thorough research and concluded that “There have been tests of these devices with other insects, and they haven't shown any effect," Yturralde says. Now people can know that they won't be effective on bedbugs either, she says, "and move onto other means of extermination."


Things To Consider

Price- If something sounds like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. It’s understandable that you want to find something that works with your budget, but the problem is that when you see companies charging $99 for a heat treatment, it’s not a good sign. Trust your gut when it comes to quality.  

Heating to Kill Bed Bugs

Units are placed around the room to push out heat

Guarantee- Most companies will offer you a 30 day guarantee after their “one and done” heat treatment. Unfortunately, bed bugs can multiply if even one they don’t get all the bed bugs during the treatment. Heat monitors, mattress and box spring encasements, and pesticide applications should be used in addition to heat treatments for everything to work. If all of these things aren’t used, bed bug populations will go below a detectable level when the service is complete. After 30 days, the undetected bed bugs will multiply, and the pest control companies will blame you for reintroducing the pests. Look for companies that offer longer guarantees if you want to ensure your bed bugs are removed.

Bed Bug Heat In My House

A typical living room will look like this once the heating stations are in place for treatment

Expertise- Is the company you’re considering a local township operation or is it a regional or a national company? These things matter when it comes to solving the bed bug problem at your home. It’s easy for one or two people to buy a heating unit and call themselves experts but it’s difficult to build a reputation and develop bed bug solutions with entomological research. The more knowledgeable the company is, the better trained and better equipped their technicians are.


What should I do if I find bed bugs in my house?

If you find bed bugs in your house, don’t panic and do not throw out your mattress or furniture. Leave them as is and don’t move things around. By throwing things out or moving things around, you are disrupting the bed bugs and forcing them to relocate to other parts of your home. By keeping the bed bug where they were originally found, it makes it easier for a technician to get rid of the problem as quickly as possible. Do not spray your house with chemicals or use any store-bought products.

Call Cooper Pest Solutions. We can provide you with a FREE* no-obligation estimate. Once properly identified, treatment by our dedicated bed bug technicians can begin as soon as the next day.

If you live in an apartment that currently has a bed bug problem, you’ll need to contact your landlord or property manager first. Your landlord might already have a contracted pest control company, and if they do not have a contracted pest control company, they will need to contact us directly. For more info on bed bugs in apartments, please click here.


*Conditions apply based on bed bug activity and we reserve the right to charge $125 for inspections where bed bugs are not clearly present. May not be applicable for apartments depending on apartment type and ownership.

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