What Kills Bed Bugs?

There are several species of bed bugs (also known as bed fleas or bed mites), but all of them feed on the blood of birds, animals and humans. They are so small that they can stow away on migrating birds or in travelers' luggage. Although they do not transmit any diseases, their bites can be painful, leaving red marks.

What Kills Bed Bugs?

Lack of Oxygen

The National Pest Management Association recommends that all travelers stick their luggage in plastic bags to prevent any hitchhiking beg bugs from surviving the journey home (see Resources).

Steam Heat

The heat (over 97 degrees F) generated from a tumble dryer, steam-cleaning vacuum cleaners or even regular dry vacuum cleaners can kill bed bugs. Consider vacuuming your luggage after a trip.

Extreme Cold

Bed bugs cannot survive sub-zero freezing temperatures. The only problem is that most animals and people also cannot survive such temperatures.


The Mayo Clinic recommends this pesticide, available in many over-the-counter bug sprays. You must do all the rooms in the home on the same day to be sure of killing the fast-moving parasites (see Resources).

Insecticide Dust

For items that you can't stick in the dryer, like a mattress, apply insecticide dust, which is a powdered form of the insecticides deltamethrin or pymethrin.