Bedbugs are a serious problem for some, and getting rid of them can seem like a daunting task. This is especially the case when the bedbugs infest not just bed sheets and mattresses, but furniture, toys, dog beds, carpets and virtually any other soft surface that comes into contact with your skin.

This even includes clothes and luggage, too! What compounds this problem is that bedbugs are especially hardy organisms that are inherently resistant to most pesticides that are safe for use inside the home. However, there is one thing that can eliminate bedbugs almost entirely, and it’s not a chemical or a special treatment requiring hundreds of dollars. That special thing is heat!

Recommended Bed Bug Dryer Time

You see, bedbugs and their eggs simply cannot survive above a certain temperature.What is the bed bugs dryer time? What is the heat recommended for drying bed bugs? For virtually all species of bedbugs, that upper limit is roughly 120 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure that you apply this level of heat proportionately to all of your soft surfaces, the household drier is the best option. Most all commercially-manufactured electric driers are capable of achieving the 120 degree temperature needed to eradicate bedbugs, but older models make take up to 15 minutes to accomplish this. To be safe, it’s a good idea to keep all suspect clothing, sheets and fabrics at the 120 degree threshold for at least 10 minutes. So, how can you make sure you’re doing this? Well, one easy way is to put a small thermometer inside a buttoned or zipped pocket and then place it inside the drier. A small thermometer like this one works perfectly, and can be reused multiple times. After a few minutes of drying on a high temperature setting, take out the thermometer and take a reading. Is it at 120 degrees or warmer? Great! Keep it there for at least 10 minutes to ensure your items are bedbug free.

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For more difficult items like furniture, dog beds and tapestries, it’s a good idea to still apply heat, but using a different, hand-held method. The hair dryer! Yes, it’s true…because a standard hair dryer produces heat far in excess of 120 degrees, you can be confident that you’re ridding your fabrics of bedbugs as long as you’re exposing them to hot air from the hair dryer for at least 10 minutes for each section. Caution: not all fabrics can withstand this kind of high-heat treatment! So, if you have delicate items that may have been compromised by bedbugs, be sure to quarantine the items by placing them in a sealed, plastic bag (preferably two), and then set them aside for treatment with a specific product suitable for that fabric.

The Power of Steam Heat vs the Dryer for Bed Bugs

Another method of applying heat to fabrics is using steam. This can be more labor-intensive, however, and there can be costs associated with renting a steamer or purchasing one outright. However, the results are proven and the method works great for spot-cleaning and disinfecting areas that you may have missed during the drier/hair drier phase. To ensure that you’re doing a complete job of ridding your fabrics of bedbugs using steam, be sure to go over the same area at least three times, slowly moving the steam wand across the affected area to eliminate as many bedbugs and bedbug larvae as possible. Remember that while bedbugs can be difficult to kill, they simply cannot survive at sustained temperatures above 120 degrees.

Another benefit to using steam is that your fabrics get a wrinkle treatment in the process. So, this is ideal for tablecloths, shower curtains or drapes. And, because most of these articles are composed of cotton, polyester, wool or some combination thereof, you don’t have to worry about damaging them in the process. Be sure to check the tag on your articles to be sure that steam treatment won’t damage them.

The Bed Bug ‘Hot Box’ Dryer Method

We’ve discussed various ways of applying heat to surfaces to remove bedbugs and their eggs. But, is it possible to disinfect an entire room – or even an entire house by applying heat? Technically, yes, and this method is known as the ‘hot box’ method. The idea is to create a kind of convection oven out of your living area. This is a fairly complicated process, as it involves preparing the area, removing certain belongings and then adding heat to an entire room or house until a 120 degree environment is achieved. But this isn’t sufficient alone, because this temperature needs to be maintained for at least 3 hours before you can be confident that the bedbugs have been eliminated. This is so that floors, closets and walls can eventually get penetrated with enough heat to assure that all bedbugs have been killed.

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Without knowing for sure whether or not you actually have bedbugs, some of these techniques will be pointless. If you suspect that you might be dealing with bedbugs but you’re not actually able to spot them, you might be dealing with something else entirely. In fact, the most common mistake people make when it comes to diagnosing a bedbug problem is misidentifying bedbugs when in fact there is an allergy or skin reaction that has nothing to do with parasitic insects. Even though they are small, bedbugs can be seen with the naked eye when they’re not hiding out nocturnally. They also have a distinct smell when they are present in large enough numbers, and their caracasses and egg larvae can be visible in large quantities, too.

Can a hair dryer kill bed bugs?

Yes, a hair dryer can work to kill bed bugs and is a great tool for heating around the corners of your bed and other hard to reach places. However, for clothes using a hair dryer to kill bed bugs is often not the  best idea. For this we recommend a full size dryer instead of the hair dryer.

Inadequate treatment of bedbugs can result in an unending problem that persists even through bedsheet washing, clothes washing and normal, everyday cleaning. Most people are not educated in the nuances of bedbug treatment, leaving them frustrated and confused about why there are surprise rashes springing up that don’t go away on their own. These headaches can be avoided with a common-sense approach to dealing with bedbugs. Follow the directions in this article to ensure that you’re doing all you can to eliminate your bedbug infestation once and for all.

Mandy Lesco

About Mandy Lesco

DIY Addict. Entomology Major @ UIC 2016. Known to kill bed bugs with as little as a glance.