The use of steam cleaners such as the Vapamore MR-100 serves multiple purposes in the fight against bed bugs and is especially useful for battling pesticide resistant bed bug populations. Entomologist Louis Sorkin has said, “Temperature is the Achilles Heal of bed bugs,” illustrating their inability to tolerate extreme temperatures. It is only necessary to reach 118 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Sorkin to kill all stages of bed bug life on contact. Using extreme cold is usually not as easy for the average person as temperatures below 0 degrees are required and even then for extended time periods to ensure the elimination of bed bugs.
Steam has the advantage of being useful both for eliminating bed bugs and their eggs with heat, and also for cleaning up the mess they often leave in their wake. A good steamer for bed bug treatment and clean up will be dry vapor so as not to foster the development of mold and mildew, although ventilation is necessary after use of any steamer to dry out the elements that have been treated. The steamer should be too hot to touch, and should not be so forceful as to ‘blow bed bugs and their eggs around’. Sometimes a cloth is placed over the head of a steamer to reduce the blowing action for this purpose. Even if insecticides are used, a study by (Meek 2003) has demonstrated that using steam prior to insecticides provides much better long-term outcomes than using insecticides alone.
The steam treatment should start with the mattress and be applied to the seams, under labels and handles, and both inside and out of an ensemble base. Cushions of chairs and sofas should be treated next, paying particular attention to seams and buttons. Carpet edges can also be treated with steam. After the completion of the steam treatment, any dead bugs should be removed via vacuuming. The main drawbacks to using steam are that it requires a user to be extremely thorough and is time consuming. Also, being that steam is water, it is important to take precautions when using directly on an electrical outlet. You would certainly need to turn the power off to the target outlet before directing a steamer at it if you suspect bed bugs to be present. This means go to the fuse box, not the light switch! Let it dry before turning the power back on.
Like any tool, steamers are only as effective as the operator. To achieve control, a sound knowledge of the bed bug and its ecology are essential, inspections should be diligent and the treatment process must be meticulous.
The Vapamore MR-100 is an excellent steamer for bed bug applications. It comes with a manufacturers life-time limited warranty, costs less than most and yet is highly flexible, dependable, and high quality.