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I have a bedbug problem in my apartment and I want to fix it myself with heat. (I do not want chemicals sprayed around.)

Apparently, getting a room to 140 degrees for two hours is sufficient to kill the bugs, or 130 degrees for a few more hours.

My first thought was to get a space heater for my room (I think the infestation, which is minor and new, is confined to my room, and that's where I'll start at least).

However, I live in Cambodia, where "cold" means 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so I don't think heaters are exactly flying off the shelves here.

My next thought was to put black trashbags over the windows (maybe 3 square meters) to absorb heat (my room gets direct sunlight during the day). Given that my room already gets to at least 100 degrees with the window open (it's the top floor apartment, which gets hot), do you think that trashbags + closed windows + closed door would be sufficient to heat it to at least 130?

If not, what cheap electronics could I buy here that would emit enough heat to tip the scales? I know my desktop computer with the graphics card running used to pump out a bunch of heat, but obviously I want to get something more economical... Perhaps some powerful halogen lights? Candles under overturned clay pots? Would a hairdryer work, or would it turn off? Rice cooker filled with water?

The good news is that the bugs have nowhere to run to, as the room is really well sealed. Also, it's heating up to 97 this week.

Any other thoughts on how to heat the already-hot room?

Edit

There is almost nothing in the room. Just the heavy, wooden bedframe, mattress, and a small bedside table. No carpets- all tile. Oh, and an armoire made from thin, cheap wood.

Also, turns out that bedbugs die at 113 degrees for 90 minutes (source: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/bb-heat1.pdf). Which is why professionals heat it to 140, to ensure the heat gets everywhere. So I'm just looking for about 20 extra degrees.

Another question- will my room get hotter with black trashbags over the closed windows, or without?

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    I think your room would get hotter without the black trashbags over the windows than with them. They would block the UV (and visible and infrared) radiation from getting past the window, preventing the room from getting much direct solar heating. The trashbags themselves would likely get rather hot, but I don't think that heat would transfer well to the rest of the room. – reirab Feb 24 '15 at 21:14
  • @reirab The interior of the room is white polished tile, so I think that black would at least trap the light and radiate heat before the light can bounce back out. Having light enter the room doesn't seem to make it too hot- the ground where it hits is barely warmer than the room. I'll report back when I try it. – will_durant Feb 25 '15 at 16:49
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    @will_durant Only a small portion of the light that is reflecting off the tile would end up eventually bouncing back out the window. Most of it would either be absorbed by the tile itself or by the next surface(s) it hit after the tile. I would guess that the percentage of light that ends up bouncing back out the window with the bag in place would actually be much higher than the percentage without it. I'd also guess that a lot of the heat radiated by the bag would also go out the window. I'd be interested to hear the results of your test (and the temp of the bag,) though. – reirab Feb 25 '15 at 21:10
  • Your room will get much, much hotter, within minutes, if you cover the INSIDE of the window with opaque black plastic. I have done this before to block light, and the temperature became unbearable very quickly. – mkeith Sep 15 '16 at 7:07
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The bigger issue is that if there are bedbugs in your apartment, the whole building is probably infested.

Your best bet is probably to isolate yourself from the bedbugs and set a CO2 bedbug trap. Look into finding a new apartment.

  • Unlikely. New and well sealed. Penthouse apt. Problem just started. Ideas? – will_durant Feb 24 '15 at 18:05
  • You saw repeatedly that it's well sealed. Where did they come from then? How did they get in and why are you sure they can't get out the same way? – user20127 Feb 24 '15 at 18:21
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    You cannot "seal" a place against bedbugs. Heat, water and air systems will all offer entry places. Look under the sink and see where the pipes go. Do you see those gaps around the pipes? Those are more than big enough for a bed bug. Also, bed bugs will just waltz in under the door. How do you think they got in the first place? Teleportation? – Tyler Durden Feb 24 '15 at 18:52
  • I appreciate the advice. I know what a pain bedbugs can be having lived in NYC for a few years- they just keep coming back. In this case, the problem just started, and was probably caused by a guest I had over. Feel free to chime in :) – will_durant Feb 25 '15 at 6:08
  • @will_durant You think a person transported a pregnant female bedbug into your apartment in their luggage? That is highly unlikely. – Tyler Durden Feb 25 '15 at 12:57
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I dont think you will be able to effectively heat the room to 140 deg. The main problem is Insulation.

Escaped heat: Your room is probably not insulated for the cold (as much as some other climates). so internally heating your room may require a large amount of source heat since much will escape.

Insulation from Room Components: items such as beds, wall cracks, under carpets, under cupboards. will naturally insulate. so you would not need to get the room to 140, you would need to get to a temperature much higher to ensure that the minimum heat is 140. That means that you would probably melt or set fire to some things in your room.

I would rather try to use localised steam to heat up specific things, one at a time thats the only way you could "cook" the critters. Do you have access to a steamer?

I tried to answer the direct question about getting a room to that temperature safely, and cannot think of any ideas..

  • A steamer is an interesting idea, I'll look into it. Just updated my question- turns out bedbugs die at 113 degrees for 90 minutes, so it's looking more attainable now. – will_durant Feb 24 '15 at 12:49
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    It's easier to move than to kill all the bedbugs. – Bob Jarvis Feb 24 '15 at 18:06
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The black garbage bags are a good idea, but wrong usage. Put everything you can't clean in the garbage bags and put them in the sun outside. The bedbugs will die or scurry away looking for shade.

There's more to getting rid of bedbugs than just this. It's really very simple, get a toothpick and go around the apartment. Anywhere the toothpick fits, check, clean, and seal.

protected by Community May 16 '16 at 18:04

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