How Much Does Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Cost? How Heat Treatment Works

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | February 13, 2024

Man looking at a heater wonders about the heat treatment for bed bugs: cost (average price), what to expect for heat treatment, and how bed bug heat treatment works to get rid of bed bugs.

While infestations with insects of any kind are an unpleasant experience, bed bugs are particularly unwelcome guests because they will use you as a food source, covering your body in raised, itchy sores that can last up to two weeks; and since the treatment is often specific, individuals often find themselves asking, “How much does heat treatment for bed bugs cost?”

Their tiny size makes them difficult to spot and allows them to make a home in even the tightest of spaces, even as small as a nail indentation on the wall.

Dealing with a bed bug Infestation creates a particular sense of urgency, and there are a variety of options available, with heat treatment being one of the most effective. When reading about heat treatments, you may see this term referring to both ones administered by exterminators and DIY strategies, such as putting items in the dryer at high heat.

Bed bug infestations are notoriously challenging to treat, and in most cases, professional treatment of some kind, is usually necessary.

This guide explains how much you’ll pay for professional heat treatment for bed bugs (cost), which is capable of eradicating the bugs for good, and outlines how heat treatment works to get rid of bed bugs for good. 

How Much Does Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Cost?

Determining the cost of heat treatment for bed bugs depends on a variety of factors, from the geographic region to the size of your home.

Specialists in dense urban locations where bed bug infestations are commonplace will typically charge a higher rate due to higher demand.

More upscale areas may also charge a premium for this service, and when considering pest control options, it’s important to note that heat treatments for bed bugs cost one of the higher amounts, with exterminator prices ranging anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000.

Because heat treatments kill bed bugs at all stages of development, it is typically a one-and-done deal.

The treatment only takes a few hours and since you can return to your home right away,  you will not incur additional expenses that are necessary with treatments that do not allow you to do so.

How Does Heat Treatment Work?

Special heaters are used to raise the temperature in the home anywhere from 120 to 140 degrees, a temperature in which bed bugs cannot survive. Fans are generally placed throughout the treated space to encourage even heat distribution.

The pest control treatment typically takes several hours and you can return to your home right after it is done.

What To Expect During Heat Treatment

It is important you choose a ‘safe place’ to go while the treatment is taking place to minimize the risk of bringing bugs back with you. Unless you are certain a friend or relative’s home does have bed bugs, avoid it.

The same goes for common areas in your residence. Select something to wear on the day of treatment and prepare it by putting it on the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes and store in a Ziploc bag outside the home.

Ideally, you should not take anything else with you, but if you must, it should only be things that can be placed in the dryer when you get home. Generally, the process is the same regardless of the company performing the service, though there could be some variation.

Graphic of things to expect during bed bugs heat treatment and how to kill bed bugs with heat showing that technicians will setup large equipment and make sure to that heat reaches all places during treatment, monitor temperature, open drawers and cabinets when critical temp is met, do a dust and liquid residual migration treatment, and conduct a final walk-through when the treatment is done.

Heat treatment is extensive and the technicians will go over all aspects with you.

  • Equipment will be set up inside the home
  • Large air movers are placed strategically throughout the house to circulate the heat efficiently
  • Because they understand the preparations are extensive and you may miss some things, technicians will often do a final walk-through of the home to be sure all heat-sensitive items have been removed before treated spaces reach critical temperatures. The company you work with may or may not offer this ‘courtesy’ service so be sure to check if that is important to you.
  • Before the property reaches critical temperatures, they will complete a dust and liquid residual migration treatment
  • Temperature will be monitored periodically
  • Once it reaches the critical temperature–usually 122 degrees–it is maintained for at least 3 hours
  • During this period, technicians will enter the home about once an hour for 15 minutes to flip mattresses, open drawers, rearrange furniture, move clothing, etc. to ensure the heat reaches everywhere it needs to reach
  • Once the home reaches the desired temperature, drawers and cabinets will be opened. Items may be moved around inside of them to ensure successful treatment.

What To Expect After Treatment

  • The house will remain very warm for some time after treatment is done. There will be a cool-down period to help return your home to a normal temperature.
  • You can expedite the cool-down phase naturally by turning on all fans and opening all windows. Do not turn on your air conditioning or use your washer and dryer until the house is below 80 degrees.
  • Vacuum up any dead insects, casings, or egg groupings before moving items back to their original places
  • If purchased, technicians will place encasements on your mattresses to remain there permanently.1
  • Do not shampoo or steam carpets for at least 30 days after treatment
  • Proper heat treatment requires technicians to move around many items to ensure maximum circulation and heat penetration. Because they can only spend short periods in such high temperatures, technicians will not be able to put things back in their original locations or store things as neatly as they were.
    Your home may be in quite a state of disarray following treatment and will require extensive cleanup.

Benefits of Heat Treatment

Heat treatment kills bed bugs at all stages of life,2 so one treatment, when properly done, should be sufficient to take care of the problem. Bed bugs can become resistant to the variety of chemicals used to treat infestations.

They are great at hiding, but no matter where they hide, they can’t escape the heat of the space being treated. The heat treatment leaves nothing behind so no worries about chemical residues.

Drawbacks of Heat Treatment

Heat treatment may not be as effective in larger spaces, and typically works best in apartments and condominiums. That there are no residual effects can also be a drawback because once the treatment is done and the home is no longer at a high temperature, there is no protection against future infestations.

If the treatment does not get all the bugs in the home, they will resurface as soon as it is safe to do so, continuing to multiply. Not all surfaces absorb heat as effectively, or they absorb heat very well but the temperature doesn’t really change, meaning it may not get hot enough in certain spots to kill the bugs.

Heat treatment requires extensive preparation of the home to prevent damage to vulnerable items and to ensure it works to the maximum benefit.

Preparing the Home for Treatment: 9 Types of Household Items

While heat treatments do not raise the temperature in your home so high you risk any sort of structural damage, certain items in the home may be vulnerable, and you would either need to remove them or protect them in some way during the treatment. There are also things you will need to do within the home, such as clearing out certain areas, to allow the heat to reach all potential areas of infestation.3

Eye-level shot of a pile of what can get damaged during heat treatment which include, mattress, books, pillows, pieces of furniture, appliances, gadgets, etc.

(Image: Mitch Altman7)

If you are using a professional service for your heat treatment, be sure to tell the technician about any items you removed from the home. They may need to inspect them to be sure they are clean before going back into the house.

#1 Beds

  • Move beds at least two feet from the wall
  • Remove all items stored under the beds. Don’t forget to remove all belongings in any of these containers so the heat fully penetrates all your storage items.
  • Unplug and partially deflate any type of airbed
  • Do not remove plastic wrapping from mattresses or box springs
  • If you decide to throw away an infested mattress, be sure you encase it to avoid spreading the infestation to unaffected parts of the home. Label the items as infested and bring them to a local landfill to prevent other people from taking possession of them.
  • Completely drain water beds to ensure full heat penetration to the frame surfaces surrounding the mattress

#2 Clothing

  • If you remove any clothing during the treatment, it must be treated before you put it back in the treated area.
  • Loosely packed clothes can remain in laundry baskets and dresser drawers
  • You don’t need to remove clothing from the drawers but the exterminator will remove the drawers from the dresser to increase air movement
  • You can leave clothes hanging in the closet provided there is enough space between them to allow the heated air to move through the space.
  • Do not put any clothing in plastic bags

#3 Luggage

  • Bring any luggage in the home to an area being treated. The exterminator will open it up once the room has reached the desired temperatures.

#4 Stored Items and Clutter

  • Place all items from closets in the center of the room
  • Excessive clutter interferes with air circulation, makes it difficult to properly position the equipment, and restricts heat penetration. It can even lead the treatment to fail.
  • Recommended ways to deal with stored items and clutter include:
    • Putting items in small stacks throughout the home during the heating process. The technicians will let you know how many items for which you can do this.
    • Simply getting rid of infested non-valuable items. Be sure to mark them as ‘infested’ so other people do not take them into their own homes

#5 Miscellaneous Prep

  • Wheelchairs and scooters are often infested. They need to remain in the home for treatment
  • Close all windows and turn off the air conditioner and fans before treatment begins
  • Take out the garbage and empty the vacuum bag.
  • Unplug all electronics
  • Cover computers and televisions with a clean blanket
  • While not common, thermostats could be damaged by extreme heat so you may want to remove them. Typically you would be responsible for doing so, as well as for reinstalling afterwards.

#6 Items That Can Melt or Explode

The following items should be removed from areas being treated, and either stored in the fridge or placed in 3 mil contractor garbage bags:

  • Pressurized cylinders: Spray cans, Fire extinguishers, oxygen bottles, etc.
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Paints
  • Adhesives
  • Cigarette lighters
  • All flammable chemicals
  • Soft vinyl items
  • Vinyl records
  • Audio and videotapes
  • Computer software
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Vinyl window blinds: If they are not removed, pull them all the way up
  • Rubberized prosthetic devices
  • Medical braces
  • Fresh food, fruits, vegetables, etc. (Can be stored in refrigerator)
  • Soaps
  • Wax-based items: Candles, wax figurines, crayons, lipstick
  • Crayons
  • Chocolate
  • Stick deodorants
  • Lipsticks and other cosmetics
  • Creams and lotions
  • Wine or other bottled alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Vitamins and other medications
  • Olefin carpet (direct contact from duct)

#7 Items That Large Air Blowers Can Damage

  • Stacks of paper
  • Light, delicate items
  • Decorative items or picture frames are not securely attached to the wall. Either secure them or remove them and place them on the floor

#8 Electronics

  • Remote controls, flat-screen TVs, and computers are highly vulnerable to infestation and should be left inside for treatment.
  • Unplug electronics and place them out of the way of flowing air.
  • Remove the battery from laptop computers.
  • Electronics that are not currently powered up should be safe at temperatures up to 150 degrees. If you are unsure about any item, check with the manufacturer.

#9 Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Cost: Removal of Sentimental, Valuable, and Personal Items

Before removing any of the following types of items, they should be inspected so as not to reintroduce reinfestation after being brought back into the treated area:

  • Photos
  • Oil and other types of paintings
  • Arts and crafts that contain hot melt glue
  • Antique furniture with fragile glue points or finish
  • Musical instruments (expansion/contraction may detune them), leave the cases however
  • Fridge magnets
  • Any one-of-a-kind or irreplaceable item
  • Refrigerator magnets (may demagnetize)
  • Any item of value or of a personal nature

DIY Heat Treatments for Bed Bugs

Placing infected items on the highest setting in the dryer will kill any bugs living in them.4 You can also place infected items in a black plastic bag in a closed, hot car if there are currently very warm temperatures.

Steam cleaners may help kill bugs in carpets, bed frames, furniture, and baseboards. It needs to reach temperatures of at least 130 degrees and should not have a powerful airflow–this will just cause the bugs to scatter.

A military officer setting up a heat treatment equipment to address the bed bug infestation in their base in Hawaii.

(Image: NAVFAC9)

These treatments may be a good supplement, but will not get at the infestation at its root.

Where Can You Find Bed Bugs?

For a long time, bed bugs were believed to be a problem only in developing nations, but in more recent times, infestations have spread the world over and can be found in many parts of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Europe. Cleanliness is no defense against these formidable creatures, and infestations can occur anywhere regardless of living conditions, including a luxury high-rise or a 5-star resort.

Infestations typically occur in the areas near where people sleep since they feed at night while you do so, hence the term ‘bed bugs.’ They take cover during the day in hiding spaces such as mattress seams, bed frames, box springs, headboards, dresser tables, cracks and crevices, behind wallpaper, amongst any objects or clutter near the bed.

They can move over 100 feet during the night but generally live within 8 feet of sleeping spaces.

What Are Signs of Infestation?

The most obvious sign of bed bug infestation is bite marks,5 but in some people, they may take up to two weeks to develop. Some other signs include:

  • Seeing exoskeletons after molting
  • Seeing bugs in the folds of mattresses or sheets
  • Rust-colored blood spots courtesy of excreting blood-filled fecal matter on surfaces
  • Sweet, musty odor

Preventing Infestation

Once you successfully treat your bed bug problem, you want to be diligent about preventing another infestation. This is especially important for heat treatments as they do not have any residual effect that will continue to fight infestation once it is complete.

Here are a few tips for preventing future bed bugs:

  • Check any secondhand furniture for infestation before bringing it to your home
  • Use a protective cover for the mattress and box springs to eliminate one of their favorite hiding spots. They are light colored which makes the bugs easier to see as well.
  • Remove clutter in the home
  • Vacuum your home frequently
  • If using shared laundry facilities, bring items in a plastic bag. Take items out of the dryer put them directly into a bag and fold the clothes at home.
  • If you live in an apartment or multi-family home, seal all cracks and crevices around light sockets, baseboards, and the like to prevent entry through wall voids
  • Install door sweeps on the bottom of the door to keep them from entering from the hallway
  • Alcohol sprays kill bed bugs on contact through dehydration and can be a good treatment if you don’t have a big infestation yet
  • When traveling, use a sealed luggage liner, check the luggage rack for bugs, and keep your suitcase closed when you aren’t taking or putting away items
  • Some natural treatments may help kill bed bugs such as DE and essential oils such as lavender and peppermint

How Do Infestations Start?

Bed bugs are master hiders. Their bodies are very slim and they can fit into the most minuscule of spaces, where they can live for months without a single meal.

They get transported from place to place as people travel, lodging themselves in the folds and seams of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothing, furniture, bedding, and pretty much anywhere they can remain unseen.

Bed bugs can strike anywhere, but the people most at risk for infestations include people who travel frequently and people who live in apartments and other areas where they are in close proximity to other people and the bugs can travel easily from one spot to the next.

How Do I Know I Have Been Bitten by a Bed Bug?

Bed bug bites are similar to many other insect bites in that the area of the bite will be slightly swollen and red. They may be in a random pattern but often appear in a straight line.6

Closeup of a bed bug on a person's hand.

(Image: British Pest Control Association8)

Because bed bugs inject an anesthetic while biting you, you won’t catch them in the act during the middle of the night; however, individuals dealing with these stealthy pests often inquire about the associated heat treatment for bed bugs cost.

Frequently Asked Questions About Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Cost

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that live solely on the blood of people and animals, and feed while their ‘prey’ is sleeping.6 These wingless, reddish-brown bugs are typically 1mm to 7mm in length.

Do Bed Bugs Carry Disease?

Fortunately, bed bugs do not carry disease. They are more of a nuisance because their bites can cause discomfort and their presence can disrupt sleep.

Do Bed Bugs Pose Any Health Risks?

Most people do not experience any serious effects from bed bug bites, though in rare cases, allergic reactions are possible. Their bites may cause excessive itching, leading to a secondary infection from broken skin, so be mindful of that.


1The Great State of Alaska & Division of Environmental Health Pesticide Control Program. (2023). MATTRESS ENCASEMENTS FOR BED BUGS. ALASKA. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <>

2Miller, D. M. (2023). How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation. VDACS. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <>

3Waldvogel, M., & Alder, P. (2018, June 01). Preparing Your House for Bedbug Treatments. NCSU. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <>

4United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, May 31). Do-it-yourself Bed Bug Control. EPA. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <>

5Miller, D. M. (2023). Using Heat to Kill Bed Bugs. VDACS. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <>

6United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, October 05). Introduction to Bed Bugs. EPA. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from <>

7After Bug Heat Treatment Photo by Mitch Altman. CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Resized, Adjusted Color Balance, and Adjusted Brightness and Contrast. Flickr. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <>

8Bed Bug Biting Human Photo by British Pest Control Association. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Resized, Adjusted Color Balance, and Adjusted Brightness and Contrast. Flickr. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <>

9How To Kill Bed Bugs With Heat Treatment Photo by Denise Emsley, NAVFAC Hawaii Public Affairs CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Resized, Adjusted Color Balance, and Adjusted Brightness and Contrast. Flickr. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <>