Hot water above 130°F (54.45°C) can kill bed bugs on contact because they cannot survive in temperatures above 125°F. How fast they die depends on the water temperature. However, boiling water will kill bed bugs and their eggs instantly.
Boiling water can cause severe burns on bed bugs and this is why it kills them on contact. Those bugs are heat resistant and any hot water used against them must be heated at 125°F or more. After that, bed bugs must be fully covered or drowned in it for at least half an hour.
Using hot or boiling water is only effective for washing and removing bed bugs on clothes. You cannot use this for those hiding in mattresses, furniture, beds, or wardrobes. Water can soak those items and cause more damage than good.
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How to kill bugs with hot water
Washing clothes in a washing machine set at 120°F for at least 30 minutes will kill bed bugs and their eggs. Adding soap or any recommended gentle detergent can reduce the mortality rate to 15 minutes. However, you need to check the clothing tags if it is okay to wash them at high temperatures.
High temperatures can easily damage some fabrics or even discolor them. This is an important factor to consider when cleaning up a bed bug-infested wardrobe. Manufactures have a standard label that is always pinned on every cloth and this should be checked before washing.
The good news is that you can still wash bug-infested clothes that are labeled at 60°F. The trick is to increase the exposure duration. Set the washing machine at 60°F but increase the washing time to 60 minutes.
Here is how it works, if the water is extra hot, reduce the time. When the temperature is lowered, increase the time. Bed bugs can survive in hot temperatures of 120°F but what kills them is the exposure duration.
In order to increase their fatality, ensure they are well covered in hot water for long. Additionally, dawn soap can kill bed bugs. Therefore, mixing it with hot water in equal parts can work against those pests.
1. Hot water + bleach
Hot water and bleach can kill bed bugs and their eggs very fast because heated water makes their exoskeleton weak while bleach dissolves and break down their cells. Combine 8 ounces of hot water with 4 ounces of common household bleach like Clorox and spray it on them.
While spraying, do it is generously so that they are well covered in the solution. This is a safe non-toxic way of dealing with an infestation. In fact, you can make a spray with those two and use them against bugs in a mattress and wardrobes.
Common household bleach combined with water can kill bed bugs because it contains chemicals that are designed to dissolve tough stains. Those include sodium hydroxide, calcium hypochlorite, and hydrogen peroxide which are all toxic to insects on contact.
The quantities of those chemicals are enough to break down the bug’s outer layers. When this is combined with hot water, it blocks an insect’s breathing system. However, bleach and hot water must be mixed in equal proportions. For it to be more effective, increase the bleach quantities.
2. Steam cleaning
A steamer can help in getting rid of bed bugs because it injects hot water into the hidden parts of any material. This is effective when dealing with bugs hiding in clothes. It is not easy to get bed bugs from hugging but it is possible. Those can travel in your clothes and end up in your house or vehicle.
Steam cleaning can also be used to remove bed bugs in carpet and heavy upholstery. However, steaming clothes or carpets is not an effective way to use if you want to get rid of bed bug eggs. Bed bug eggs can survive temperatures of up to 120°F. This means that steam cleaning will not easily kill them.
3. Pine-sol + boiling water
While it is an effective way to repel them, pine sol can kill bed bugs if they are drowned in it. An effective way to do this is to mix it with hot water and spray it on the bugs. Make a concentrated solution if you want it to be effective enough.
Put your hand gloves on then simply blend 1 cup of pine sol with 1/2 cup of boiling water in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture in on the infested areas to get rid of bed bugs and their eggs. The strong smell from this solution is also enough to remove tiny bugs in bedding if added to the final rinse.
Do bed bugs drown in hot water
Yes, bed bugs can drown in hot water because high temperatures break surface tension in water. Once they sink, hot water gets into the tiny holes which they use to breathe. This will instantly chock and drown them to death.
Then water is boiled, it cannot resist anything that lands on it even if it is light. This is because the particles become more mobile and they will let anything on pass through them. Bed bugs are light and they will not easily drown in cold water because the surface tension will keep them floating.
Additionally, bed bugs are not aquatic. Meaning that they do not live in water and this also makes them poor swimmers. They have extra tiny legs that are not strong enough to push water as they try to swim. In order to drown a bed bug, simply throw it into a bowl of hot water and watch it die.
Hot showers can also get rid of any bed bugs that are stuck on your hair. Even though they do not live on the human body, your hair can trap bugs especially if you sleep in an infested bed. Taking a long hot shower with the right shampoos can help in removing those.
Basically, hot or boiling water can kill bugs at all stages of life. However, it is not an efficient way of dealing with an infestation. They hide in dark areas away from humans and you do not want to soak everything.
You may try alternatives like turpentine for bed bugs if the infestation is severe. Additionally, hot water and vinegar can kill bed bugs plus their eggs on contact. Hote water will burn through the layers while vinegar will neutralize the bug’s cells completely.