Heat vs chemical treatment for bed bugs

Bed Bugs: Thermal vs Pesticide Treatment (Which to Choose?)

Avatar of author Ismael Girard
Ismael Girard
min read

Regarding battling bed bugs, we're often faced with a choice: heat or chemical treatment. Both methods have their pros and cons, but in our expert opinion, heat treatment is the clear winner. Here's a table that gives you a good overview of why heat treatment is better, before jumping in the detailed blog:

Aspect Heat Treatment Chemical Treatment
Description Uses heaters to raise temperature to 120°F - 135°F, lethal to bed bugs. Involves applying pesticides directly to infested areas.
Pros - Kills all life stages in one application.
- Non-toxic and eco-friendly.
- Penetrates cracks and furniture.
- More affordable.
- Widely available.
- Long residual effect.
Cons - More expensive upfront.
- Potential damage to sensitive materials.
- Requires manual treatment.
- Bugs may develop resistance.
- Potentially toxic.
- Requires multiple applications.
Effectiveness Very high; eliminates all life stages with one application, including in hidden areas. Lower; may not reach all bugs, especially with resistance, and requires multiple applications.
Cost Analysis Higher due to professional equipment and labor. Lower and more accessible, but may increase with repeated treatments.
Time and Convenience Time-consuming on the day of treatment but a one-time effort. Requires less time initially but needs several applications over weeks or months.
Safety and Environment Safe for humans and pets; no harmful chemicals. Safety depends on the chemical used; potential risk of exposure to toxins and environmental impact.
Verdict Preferred for its effectiveness, safety, and one-time application despite the higher cost. Considered for its low cost but compromised by potential resistance, toxicity, and need for reapplication.

Now, in this text, we'll explore the following questions:

✔️ What Is the Bed Bug Heat Treatment?

✔️ What Is the Bed Bug Chemical Treatment?

✔️ Bedbug Heat Treatment Vs Chemical Treatments : Which Is Better?

✔️ Verdict: The Winner

Let's get it!

What Is the Bed Bug Heat Treatment?

Heat treatment, also known as thermal remediation, is a non-invasive pest management method that we use to deal with bed bug infestations. This process involves the use of heaters to raise the temperature of the infested areas to a degree that is lethal for bed bugs.

Heat Treatment Process

The execution of a heat treatment starts by strategically placing specialized heaters around the room.

Accompanied by fans, these heaters raise the air temperature to between 120°F and 135°F. This range of degrees of heat intensity is meticulously maintained for several hours. It's a meticulous process that kills bed bugs in every stage of their life cycle.

Advantages of Heat Treatment

Heat treatment has several positive aspects worth considering:

  • Effectiveness: Heat kills all life stages of bed bugs, including the eggs. It can help eliminate an infestation in one application, not requiring the weeks of applications that chemical treatments do.
  • Non-toxic: Heat treatment does not use any chemicals, making it eco-friendly and safer for people and pets.
  • Penetration: Heat can penetrate into small cracks and crevices, as well as inside furniture and between mattresses and box springs, where chemical applications might not reach.

Drawbacks of Heat Treatment

Despite its advantages, the heat treatment method also comes with a few drawbacks:

  • Cost considerations: This option can be more expensive upfront than chemical treatments. The costs are associated with the professional service requirement, careful monitoring of temperature, and how long it takes to conduct the treatment.
  • Resistant Materials: Some materials may be susceptible to damage at the high heat intensities used in the treatment. Additionally, there's concern regarding the effects of bed bug heat treatment on electronics. Electronic devices can be sensitive to extreme temperatures, and special care must be taken to protect them during the process.
  • Manual labor involved: Heavy infested items such as mattresses, furniture, electrical outlets, and base boards often need to be manually treated to ensure maximal effectiveness.

What Is the Bed Bug Chemical Treatment?

Moving into a different approach on working with insects, we explore the world of chemical treatments. This type of method primarily involves the use of specially formulated pesticides to eliminate bed bug infestations.

DIY Chemical Treatment Process

The DIY chemical treatment process for bed bugs typically encompasses several steps. First, we thoroughly inspect the infested area, which often includes furniture, baseboards, mattresses, and electrical outlets, to find signs of bed bug activity.

Then, we apply the treatment directly onto the insects and their hiding spots. It's important to remember chemical treatments require direct contact with the bugs to be effective.

As for the application procedures, they often involve the following:

  • Liquid bedbug sprays: Used on baseboards, inside furniture, and around the bed, including mattresses and box springs.
  • Dust formulations: Applied inside electrical outlets and behind wall hangings, these have a longer residual effect.

Most chemical treatments require two or more applications spaced several days apart to ensure complete coverage of all stages of the pests' life cycle. Re-treatment is often necessary because bed bugs, especially eggs, may be resistant to the first application.

Advantages of Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatments for bed bugs come with their set of advantages:

  • Affordability: Compared to heat treatment, it doesn't burn a hole in our pocket. This makes it a viable option for most households, allowing you to keep your home safe without spending too much.
  • Availability: We can find a wide range of over-the-counter bed bug pesticides at most local stores or online.
  • Residual effect: Certain chemical treatments have a long residual effect that continues to kill pests long after the initial application.

Drawbacks of Chemical Treatment

Though helpful, there are a few downsides to using chemical treatments for bed bug infestations:

  • Resistance: One significant issue is the increasing resistance of bedbugs to common anti-pest products, making them less effective in the long run. Some bugs simply die off, but others may survive and require additional treatments.
  • Toxicity: Chemical treatments can pose health risks if not used properly. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Treatment time: Complete eradication of bedbugs can take weeks with several re-treatments required.

Bedbug Heat Treatment Vs Chemical Treatments : Which Is Better?

exterminator using heat treatment

Effectiveness of Treatments

👍 Heat Treatment Effectiveness

When we talk of effectiveness, heat treatments stand out for handling bed bug infestations. Cranking up heaters and raising the room temperature to lethal levels ensures no bed bug, within any hidden corner or crevice, survives. This comprehensive approach away from chemicals provides a safe and efficient solution.

👎 Chemical Treatment Effectiveness

On the other hand, chemical treatments need meticulous attention. The use of chemicals, particularly those available to the public, require multiple applications over weeks. The process may eliminate adult pests initially, but eggs that hatch later may require additional treatments. Some bugs also develop resistance, making your chemical armory less effective.

Cost Analysis

👎 Cost of Heat Treatment

The Cost of Heat Treatment tends to be higher than chemical alternatives. The main reason is that it's often executed by exterminators, not as a DIY project. It involves high-end heaters, thermometers, and fans to ensure even heat distribution. This bumps up the cost, yet people find value in its effectiveness and the assurance of a bug-free life.

👍 Cost of Chemical Treatment

Chemical treatments for bedbugs are relatively cheaper and readily available. Majority of homeowners try this method first due to its affordability. However, it's worth mentioning that you might have to retreat multiple times to ensure complete elimination of an infestation, which could factor into the overall cost.

Convenience and Time Considerations

👍 Time Investment for Heat Treatment

For heat treatments, expect it to be time-consuming, at least on the day of treatment. The process involves heating the room up to the required temperature and maintaining that temperature for a significant period. However, keep in mind that it's usually a one-shot deal.

👎 Time Investment for Chemical Treatment

Using anti-pest sprays for bed bug control might look like a quick solution. Yet considering the need for multiple applications spread over weeks even months, the time quickly adds up.

Safety and Environmental Considerations

👍 Safety of Heat Treatment

Heat treatments are safe when implemented correctly. Apart from potential fire risks if not supervised properly, there's little to no harm to us or our furniture. Most importantly, there are no residual chemicals or harmful substances left post treatment.

👎 Safety of Chemical Treatment

The safety of chemical treatments depends largely on the insecticide used, its application, and disposal. While we wear protective clothing during application, there's always a risk of pesticide residue. Moreover, these substances have an ecological footprint impacting the environment around us. So, expert guidance is advised for those considering this method.

Verdict: Choose Heat Treatment for the Best Results

Heat treatment is by far a better choice than chemical treatments. The only factor that makes DIY sprays worth considering is their low cost.

Other than that, thermal treatment's efficiently kills all life stages of bed bugs with a single application by using high temperatures.

It's also a lot safer than chemical treatments since it avoids exposure to potentially harmful insecticides.

And it's a quicker solution as it typically requires only a day to complete, unlike chemical treatments that may need multiple applications over time.

And finally, bed bugs cannot develop resistance to heat, ensuring the treatment's effectiveness.

The Importance of Professional Pest Control

Before you commit to a treatment strategy, we believe an exterminator's assessment is crucial. Trained pest control experts can hunt down the bugs, identify hidden colonies, and manage appropriate heat or chemical treatments.

Additionally, they also ensure that safety guidelines are strictly followed, preventing undue harm to your home or health.

Experienced professionals can also estimate the schedule and costs involved, helping homeowners make an informed choice.


We've made it clear that heat treatment stands out as the top choice for tackling bed bug problems. It's not only effective across all bug life stages but also offers a convenient, one-trick solution. Professional pest control services tend to favor this method due to its comprehensive reach and minimal disruption to homeowners.

However, it's crucial to remember a professional assessment is always the best first step. This ensures a thorough elimination strategy tailored to your situation, considering factors like infestation severity, location, your preferences, and safety guidelines.

So, for a swift, safe, and cost-effective solution to bed bugs, heat treatment often takes the crown. But, it's always best to consult with the pros before making your decision.

Table of contents
Heading 2

Frequently asked questions

How do bed bugs develop resistance to chemical treatments?

Bed bugs can mutate and develop resistance to certain insecticides, making some chemical treatments less effective with repeated use.

What materials can be damaged by heat during thermal remediation?

Sensitive materials and electronics may be damaged by the high temperatures used in heat treatment, necessitating careful removal or protection during the process.

What safety precautions should be taken during chemical treatments?

When applying chemical treatments, wear protective clothing and follow manufacturer's instructions closely to minimize health risks and environmental impact.