Is a vacuum cleaner an effective tool for bed bugs? And will vacuuming kill both bed bugs and their eggs? Keep reading to find out.
Bed bugs are a parasite that are often carried into the home on suitcases, pets, and other personal items. They feed on blood while you’re sleeping, which can cause itchiness and affect your sleep quality.
Vacuum cleaners aren’t a complete solution to a bed bug infestation, but they can certainly help. Here’s our guide to whether vacuuming kill bed bugs, along with tips for choosing the right vac for this job.
Please Note: This article is for informational purposes only. We are vacuum cleaner experts, not pest control experts, so you should contact a professional if you suspect a bed bug infestation.
Does Vacuuming Kill Bed Bugs?
A vacuum cleaner doesn’t kill bed bugs, so most bugs will remain alive after a trip through the tubes. These parasites can also live for months inside the vacuum cleaner without access to food or water.
Vacuuming is still a quick way to reduce the number of bugs in a home though. It’s particularly useful for quickly getting rid of clumps of bugs or treating surfaces where an insecticide isn’t safe.
We don’t recommend using your regular vacuum, however, as this could spread eggs or bugs around the home. It’s important to contact a pest control company if you have bed bugs in your home, as this can be a difficult infestation to solve.
Why Vacuums Are Still Important for Bed Bug Control
While vacuuming isn’t a full solution to a bed bug infestation, it still has a number of benefits. These include:
- Removing bed bugs from surfaces where it would be unsafe to use an insecticide.
- Removing bed bugs that have a resistance to insecticides.
- Removing clusters of bed bugs.
- Removing single bed bugs that may have escaped other treatments.
A vacuum cleaner is also useful for getting rid of bed bugs in rooms with lots of clutter, although it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all bugs and eggs using this method. The only exception is if the infestation is in the early stages.
What About Bed Bug Eggs?
The eggs of bed bugs are coated in a sticky substance. Vacuuming usually isn’t strong enough to remove these from surfaces, which is another reason why a vacuum isn’t a complete solution for a bed bug infestation.
What Type of Vacuum Should You Use for Bed Bugs?
This section is aimed at professionals, as we don’t recommend that non-professionals attempt to solve a bed bug problem on their own.
We recommend using a dedicated vacuum cleaner for bed bug infestations. Bed bugs or eggs aren’t killed by a vacuum, so live bugs can get caught inside the tubes, on brushes, or in the canister. You don’t want to risk re-infesting the home or even a future client’s house!
Aside from using a dedicated machine, here are some other tips for choosing the right vacuum cleaner:
- Choose a vacuum that’s designed specifically for pest control. A pest vacuum should strong suction, a large capacity, and has been built for vacuuming pests. These are much more effective for this type of job than standard domestic vacuums.
- Choose a HEPA vacuum for pest control. HEPA vacuums are more effective at preventing allergens that might be on bed bugs from escaping into the room.
- Use a crevice tool to get into crevices and other tight locations. Crevice tools are effective for these locations as they are less likely to flick bugs around the room.
- Use a floorhead with a powered brushroll for large areas of carpets or rugs. A powered brush bar will agitate fibres to remove more bugs and eggs.
- Use a corded vacuum cleaner. You need maximum suction power for long periods when vacuuming bed bugs, so cordless vacuum cleaners aren’t a great choice.
How to Vacuum Bed Bugs
We are not pest control experts, but here are a few tips for vacuuming bed bugs.
A pest control company should have detailed processes for:
- How to vacuum bed bugs
- How to clean the vacuum and prevent re-infestation
- How to safely dispose of the vacuum’s contents
Without these processes, it’s likely that the company’s vehicles, clothes, and potentially even client’s homes could be infested with bed bugs from the vacuum.
Remember, bed bugs can survive being sucked up by a vacuum, so you should assume that they are still alive inside the bag or canister.
To minimise the risk, we think that all pest control companies should have a dedicated bed bug vacuum. This should only be used in homes with bed bugs, while all other jobs should use a separate vacuum cleaner.
When vacuuming, place the crevice tool at a shallow angle and press down to crush bugs before they are vacuumed up (although not too hard as this can flick the bugs.) Make sure your vacuum cleaner is on its maximum power setting.
Once you’ve finished vacuuming, check the brush for any bugs that may have become stuck. Tape up the nozzle to keep the bed bugs contained until you can properly empty the vacuum.
When emptying the vacuum, use tape to seal the bag to prevent any bugs from escaping. Place the bag in a sealed plastic container before disposing of it. Bagless vacuums should be emptied into a sealed bag and the canister should be washed after every use.
Always empty the vacuum cleaner outdoors to lower the chance of bed bugs escaping.
Tip: You’ll also need to either clean or replace the filters, as bugs or eggs may have made it this far inside the vacuum.
Bed bugs are not killed in a vacuum cleaner. Both the eggs and bugs can survive a trip into the canister or bag.
Vacuuming can still be useful for reducing the quantity of bed bugs in a home though. A vacuum can quickly suck up both clusters and single bed bugs, although it’s important to dispose of the vacuum’s contents correctly.
We don’t recommend trying to solve a bed bug problem on your own. It’s best to contact a pest control expert, who will have access to a pest vacuum and other methods of resolving an infestation.
Do you have any questions about whether vacuuming kills bed bugs? Please let us know in the comments section below.