Dealing with bed bugs can be stressful, but with some patience and a good plan, you can be rid of these bloodsucking insects. A steam cleaner is one useful tool to add to your bed bug banishing arsenal—the right one can kill bugs and eggs almost instantaneously. Steamers use high-heat steam to get rid of these resilient pests.
Not any old steamer will do the trick. Read on to learn about the features to look for in the best steamers for bed bugs and to find a suitable steamer to tackle any home infestation.
- BEST OVERALL: McCulloch MC1375 Canister Steam Cleaner
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Steamfast Canister Steam Cleaner
- UPGRADE PICK: Vapamore MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaner
- BEST MULTIUSE: Wagner Spraytech 0282014 915e On-Demand Steam Cleaner
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner
- BEST COMMERCIAL-GRADE: Dupray Tosca Steam Cleaner
- BEST HANDHELD: BISSELL SteamShot Deluxe Cleaner
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Steamers for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are smart and resilient, which makes them one of the toughest pests to exterminate. But these hardy insects wreak havoc on physical and mental health, so a bed bug infestation needs immediate attention. To stop these parasites in their tracks, invest in a steam cleaner for bed bugs. In all stages of development, bed bugs die at around 122 degrees Fahrenheit, so steam makes for a deadly weapon. To make sure you get the best for the job, consider features like heat and steam output, capacity, heating time, nozzle and cord size, and extra attachments.
When used properly, steamers become lethal weapons against bed bugs. These pests die at around 122 degrees Fahrenheit, but to safeguard against heat loss and human error, a steamer for bed bugs should reach hotter temperatures.
To ensure the steam does the job, the steam-treated surface should reach 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. To account for heat loss, look for a steamer with a heat output over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Carpet cleaners or clothing steamers don’t always make the best choices, since they may not consistently reach a high enough temperature to kill bed bugs. Dedicated steam cleaners, on the other hand, tend to offer more stable heat output.
When shopping for a steamer for bed bugs, look for a model capable of delivering the right amount of steam.
Too little pressure won’t allow the steam to penetrate deep into fabrics and crevices. But too much pressure can also be a problem: a jet of steam can blow bed bugs and eggs to other locations in the room where they can spread. If the product specifications include pressure range, look for an option in the 40 to 60 psi range.
For more flexibility, consider a steamer with adjustable steam pressure. If adjustable steamers cost too much, look for a product with multiple attachments. They create different steam patterns, so you can adjust the output for the job at hand.
Steamers have a tank that turns water into steam while you work. The tank capacity determines how long you can steam before refilling. Most manufacturers include continuous steaming time, which translates tank capacity into usage time, in the product specs. Many steamers can run from 40 to 90 minutes on a single tank.
A larger capacity means you can work for longer, but it also means a larger steamer. A large water tank can add a lot of weight when full. Consider ease of use and your available storage space to choose the right capacity for your needs.
Adjustable steam settings can add flexibility to a good steamer. When treating for bed bugs, different areas require different amounts of steam. For example, clothes need little steam pressure to penetrate thin garments, while cracks in a baseboard may require more pressure to ensure the steam penetrates into the gap. Adjustable steam settings make it easy to tailor the pressure to your needs.
A continuous steam feature is particularly useful for banishing bed bugs. Usually called a steam lock, this locking switch lets out a continuous stream of steam so you don’t need to hold down the trigger for the entire treatment.
Some steamers allow you to adjust the wetness of the steam. If the steamer doesn’t have adjustment features, a drier steamer is a better pick for dealing with bed bugs.
A steamer’s heating time measures how long it takes to convert water to steam when you switch the steamer on. Heating time can range from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. A faster heating time means you can get to work nearly immediately.
Heating time may also correlate with steamer size. Small-capacity steamers generally heat up faster than large ones. When shopping for the best steamers, consider tank capacity in relation to heating time. A small steamer may have an impressive heating time, but it may need more frequent refills, which adds time to the job.
Steamers are a popular treatment option for larger surfaces, like mattresses, furniture, and carpets. A broad rectangular or triangular nozzle attachment makes it easier to treat larger areas like these.
A necessity for most treatment areas, a wide nozzle makes for less tedious work. It would take hours to treat a mattress or couch with a single, narrow jet of steam. What’s more, a narrow stream could also be too powerful and blow bugs and eggs away instead of killing them.
Smaller nozzles, on the other hand, make great tools for cracks, crevices, and other tight spaces. Ideally, look for a steamer with a range of attachments to tackle different areas.
Length of Cord and Hose
When treating a room for bed bugs, you’ll want to treat all possible hiding places. You’ll need to move slowly and methodically to make sure each surface gets enough steam time. A thorough treatment means lots of moving around, so a long cord and hose will come in handy.
A long hose allows you to steam large areas without lugging the heavy water tank along with each step. Hoses range from 5 to 10 feet, and a longer hose means fewer interruptions. A long power cord minimizes interruptions, too.
Steamers are multiuse tools, and the best options will include a range of attachments. After treating for bed bugs, you can use a steamer for all sorts of cleaning and disinfecting tasks, from cleaning grout lines to disinfecting floors. A versatile steamer with a range of attachments can be a worthwhile buy for exterminating bed bugs, then used for other tasks.
Common attachments include wide cleaning nozzles, jet nozzles, grout brushes, wallpaper removers, squeegees, and various-sized detail brushes. These attachments can help tackle bed bugs and clean throughout your home.
Tips on How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs With a Steamer
A steamer for bed bugs is one of many tools you can use to stop an infestation. Before using a steamer for bed bugs, run over infested areas with a vacuum to suck up as many bugs as possible.
Use the steam cleaner on appropriate surfaces where bed bugs may be hiding, such as mattresses, couches, carpets, and other furnishings. But be careful to keep steam away from outlets and appliances.
Run the steamer slowly along surfaces and make sure it heats up to a hot enough temperature to kill bed bugs and their eggs. The surface temperature of the treated area should reach 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. An infrared thermometer can help make sure the treated areas are hot enough.
Also, keep in mind that steam treatments only kill bed bugs directly exposed to the steam. Ensure the steam can properly penetrate treatment areas, like in mattress seams and between couch cushions. Steamers don’t leave any residual treatment behind, so more than one treatment may be necessary.
Keep these tips in mind as you attack bed bugs in your home:
- Ensure the surface can tolerate steam.
- Do not take steam near outlets or appliances.
- Run the steamer slowly along the treatment surface.
- Ensure the treatment surface reaches a minimum temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Allow areas to dry completely.
- Re-treat as needed.
Our Top Picks
With the best steamer for bed bugs, you can kill bed bugs and their eggs. Here are our top picks for the job.
Bed bugs can’t beat the McCulloch MC1375 Canister Steam Cleaner, which is jam-packed with bed bug–eliminating features. The steamer reaches over 200 degrees Fahrenheit to effectively kill bed bugs. It also comes with 20 included accessories, including a mop head, large brush head, and triangle brush head. These accessories offer a wide nozzle to sweep large areas like mattresses, couches, and carpets.
A steam control dial allows you to control the steam to adjust the flow for different jobs. For better reach, this steamer features an 18-foot power cord and a 10-foot steam hose. Paired with the 48-ounce water tank, impressive 90-minute steam time, and steam lock feature, you can tackle an entire room without interruption.
- Maximum temperature: over 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heating time: 10 minutes
- Steam time: 90 minutes
- Variable steam control
- 90-minute steam time
- 20 included accessories
- Long reach
- Lacks a water level indicator
Getting rid of bed bugs can be an expensive endeavor. The Steamfast SF-370 Canister Cleaner provides bed bug–killing steam at a lower price. Designed for portability and ease of use, the small steamer features a wheeled tank, carrying handle, and 15-foot power cord. A 6.5-foot hose provides that extra reach to get into cracks and crevices where bed bugs may be lurking.
A relatively affordable steamer, it delivers on features and accessories. It includes 15 accessories, including mop pads, detail brushes, and other scrub tools to help banish bed bugs and clean your home. An ample 48-ounce water tank heats up in just 8 minutes and provides 45 minutes of steam time. Plus, a steam lock feature allows for continuous operation, which is useful for a range of tasks from eliminating bed bugs to mopping floors.
- Maximum temperature: Over 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heating time: 8 minutes
- Steam time: 45 minutes
- Relatively affordable
- Includes 15 accessories
- Optional steam lock
- Lacks on-board accessory storage
Looking to invest in a quality steamer for bed bug eradication and household cleaning? Vapamore’s MR-100 Primo Steam Cleaner is a premium pick. This steamer features a type of valve usually found in commercial units, which helps to keep the interior lines as dry as possible and produces a drier, hotter steam for more efficient cleaning and a shorter drying time.
A large 1.6-liter tank provides a 60-minute steam time. In an 11-minute heat time, the steamer releases vapor at a consistently toasty 220 degrees Fahrenheit—more than hot enough to stop bed bugs in their tracks.
Large wheels and a padded carrying handle make this steamer easier to move around the room. Most of the 20 extensions and attachments fit in the small on-board storage compartment.
- Maximum temperature: 220 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heating time: 11 minutes
- Steam time: 60 minutes
- Dry steamer
- Long 60-minute steam time
- On-board accessory storage
- Pricier than many residential models
Eradicate bed bugs one day and remove wallpaper the next with this multipurpose steamer from Wagner Spraytech. It features an impressive range of attachments, including 18 accessories. Beyond the typical detail-cleaning nozzle and brushes, this device includes a large cleaning head (with optional mop pad), wallpaper steam plate, and fabric steamer. Each attachment features a broad nozzle to help with a range of tasks, including bed bug elimination.
A 40-ounce water tank, 8-foot hose, and portable design provide up to 40 minutes of flexible steaming time. The steamer takes just 9 minutes to produce a steam jet of 212 degrees Fahrenheit that roasts bed bugs on contact. After the bed bugs are gone, use this steamer for a range of other household tasks, from cleaning and disinfecting surfaces to removing old wallpaper. Smaller accessories fit in the on-board storage compartment for even more convenience.
- Maximum temperature: 212 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heating time: 9 minutes
- Steam time: 40 minutes
- Includes 18 versatile accessories
- Compact design
- On-board small accessory storage
Dupray’s Neat Steam Cleaner weighs in at 9 pounds when empty, which makes it one of the most convenient models to cart around the house. A compact cube tank with a portable design features a retractable carrying handle and hidden, smooth-rolling wheels that help give this steamer a sleek look.
Despite the compact build, this steam cleaner holds 54 ounces of water for up to 50 minutes of cleaning time. After 7 minutes of heating time, low-moisture steam comes out at 275 degrees Fahrenheit to disinfect surfaces and kill bed bugs. With 17 included accessories, a 6.5-foot hose, and a steam lock feature, this slim steamer packs a powerful punch.
- Maximum temperature: 275 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heating time: 7 minutes
- Steam time: 50 minutes
- Lightweight build
- Retractable carrying handle and smooth wheels
- Sleek design
- Awkward-to-access cord wrap underneath the unit
Professional bed bug exterminators use commercial-grade steamers, which often include several premium features. For those looking to splurge on a professional steamer, consider this model from Dupray.
This heavy-duty steamer heats steam up to an impressive 316 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bed bugs, viruses, and bacteria. With a 4-liter tank and an 8-minute heat time, it offers up to 90 minutes of cleaning time.
A digital display shows active temperature, pressure level, and maintenance reminders. An adjustable steam control allows users to fine-tune the low-moisture steam emission. With a 10-foot hose and 25 heavy-duty accessories, this cleaner can rise to most any household steaming task.
- Maximum temperature: 316 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heating time: 8 minutes
- Steam time: 90 minutes
- High 316 degrees Fahrenheit steam temperature
- Long 90-minute runtime
- Digital display
- Adjustable steam control
Full-size steamers make the best opponents against bed bugs. But, for those who don’t have the space or the budget for a large steamer, a handheld model provides a suitable alternative. BISSELL’s SteamShot Deluxe helps wipe out bed bugs with a smaller price tag and footprint.
This compact handheld steamer makes a convenient option for attacking bed bugs in cracks and crevices in furniture or along baseboards. It’s too small to cover an entire carpet or couch, but it’s an excellent solution to spot treat problem areas.
A 20-foot power cord provides plenty of room to move. The small 6.6-ounce tank heats up in only 30 seconds. Ten included accessory tools makes this handheld cleaner a versatile choice for small bed bug exterminations and limited cleaning tasks.
- Maximum temperature: Over 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heating time: 30 seconds
- Steam time: Unknown
- 30-second heating time
- Compact design
- Easily portable
McCulloch’s Canister Steam Cleaner is the best steamer for bed bugs due to its versatile accessories, adjustable steam settings, and lengthy 90-minute runtime. For those on a budget, the Steamfast Canister Cleaner offers fewer accessories and a 45-minute runtime for a fraction of the cost.
How We Chose the Best Steamers for Bed Bugs
A bed bug infestation should not be taken lightly. These small pests can cause great physical and emotional anguish. To create this guide, we researched over 20 steamers and narrowed them down to the most convenient and effective choices. We chose only bed bug steamers that are up to this tough job.
Each steamer on this list meets or exceeds the minimum requirements to kill bed bugs. They produce a consistent stream of steam at a minimum temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit or more. We chose products from reputable brands and paid attention to consumer feedback to ensure a good, stable jet of steam that doesn’t sputter or spray.
Steaming for bed bugs is slow work, so a comfortable and user-friendly design topped our priority list. We chose steamers with long hoses, wide nozzle options, and a long steam time to make the job less tedious.
Lastly, steam cleaners are useful for much more than exterminating bed bugs. They can clean and disinfect throughout the home, so we chose versatile options with plenty of accessories to give you more bang for your buck.
Getting rid of a bed bug infestation can be distressing. The best steam cleaner for bed bugs can help. Killing bed bugs with a steamer isn’t a glamorous task, but it’s an effective way to deal with these creepy crawlers. Read on for some frequently asked questions on bed bugs and how to use a steamer for bed bug eradication.
Q. What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. While they don’t spread diseases, their presence and their bites can cause physical symptoms and mental distress.
Q. What is the main cause of bed bugs?
Traveling is the most common cause of bed bug infestations. You’ll want to keep an eye out for bed bugs when traveling to avoid accidentally bringing them home. Even immaculately clean spaces can fall victim to an infestation. When it comes to bed bugs, prevention is the best strategy.
Q. Do steam cleaners kill bed bugs and eggs?
Yes, at a high enough temperature and with proper use, steam cleaners can kill both bed bugs and their eggs.
Q. How long does it take to get rid of bed bugs with a steamer?
Steamers can only kill bed bugs if they come in direct contact with heat from the steam. For this reason, it can take several treatments to get rid of bed bugs with a steamer. It’s best to use a steamer in addition to other bed bug treatments.
Q. Can I use a steam cleaner on a mattress?
Yes, a steam cleaner is safe to use on most mattresses, both to get rid of bed bugs and clean and disinfect your mattress.