Killing bed bugs with a hairdryer, and other bad slow-news-day tips

by nobugsonme on July 1, 2014 · 16 comments

in Bed Bug Control Techniques, bed bug treatment, bed bugs

It’s that time of year, folks, bed bug season!

Sure, bed bugs happen year round, but they do tend to multiply and spread a bit more quickly in the warmer months, due to various factors. This means the pest management professionals are busy, and the consumers are too-often itchy (and hot, which makes itching worse).

Add in the fact that summer can be a slow time for news, which means the media is doing everything it can to report bed bug stories. If the local news haven’t got any hot bed bug stories, they will sometimes try and come up with something anyway.

Today we have this example, from the Salem News (in Salem, Missouri): the title, “Bed bugs are a year-round problem” suggests that we’re probably not going anywhere new and unchartered.

And the first three paragraphs do not disappoint. They note that bed bugs are nothing new, are found locally, and are a year-round problem.


But wait, here it comes, paragraph four:

“The best and easiest way to rid your home of bedbugs is to use a hair dryer to kill the bedbugs in your furniture, [Carol Shipley of Shipley’s Pest Control] said. You can also buy spray to kill them, but this isn’t always effective the first time. If it’s a severe infestation, you may have to get rid of your bed and burn it to be rid of the bedbugs.”

Conair Pro Style 1200 BlowConair Pro Style 1200 Blow Dryer

(Image credit: Conair Pro Style 1200 Blow Dryer by Twitchery on, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.)


Wow. There’s just so much going on there!

First, while a hair dryer does emit high heat which can kill bed bugs, the logistics of killing bed bugs with a hair dryer might be a bit impractical, and, depending how you use it, might even be hazardous. I don’t think we’ve heard any experts recommend a hair dryer for treating bed bugs.

A steamer would be a better choice than a hair dryer for killing bed bugs using heat. The back of your hand or a newspaper can be quite effective too.

And, yes, pesticides may require re-application, but that’s not a reason to eschew them. It is the reason pros will usually need to come back in 10-14 days and retreat. It stands to reason that do-it-yourselfers aren’t likely to kill bed bugs in one shot with spray pesticides either.

While we always recommend an experienced and knowledgeable professional be hired to treat for bed bugs if at all possible, if you need to do the bed bug treatment yourself, please do your research and be sure and get professional advice on using pesticides.

Finally, while experts tell us you usually do not need to discard belongings, keep in mind that if you do, “burning your bed” is probably not the best or safest way to do that, and I don’t know any experts who would recommend that.

I want to note that I don’t assume the advice in the article linked above was what was intended by the professionals cited in this story, since we all know that the news media often gets things a bit wrong.

However, it’s important to set the record straight on what works and to this end, I welcome further input in the comments below from readers (including experts) on the advice given in the Salem News story today.

1 David Cain July 2, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Hmm good luck getting Conair to agree that this one is a good idea. I once asked them the same question and got a rapid, firm and polite “please immediately stop using our product that way”.

Sadly if there is a lack of sexy bedbug news and real horror shows to share with people the news can fall back into the stupid information, the stuff that causes more damage than good and only exists because there is cavernous void where the public education and advisories should be.

Public policy and bedbugs is still the most slow motion train wreck I get to see and its heart breaking to see how people are suffering.

David Cain
Bed Bugs Limited

2 Lou Sorkin July 2, 2014 at 8:53 pm

I commented on their site, but it hasn’t posted yet. Out for review….

3 BedBugSupply July 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

We hear it all the time from callers. They ask if a hairdryer will kill bed bugs. Yes, a hairdryer will kill bed bugs. But so will alcohol. Or your shoe.

The question isn’t whether or not it CAN kill bed bugs. It’s whether or not it’s a viable and effective treatment option. Since I doubt you’re going to run a hairdryer along all of your furniture, all of your baseboards and floorboards, and any other crack and crevice in the room, I don’t think that you’re going to get the results you want.

4 nobugsonme July 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Hi Bed Bug Supply!
I agree– if nothing else, it’s impractical.

5 nobugsonme July 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Thanks, Lou, for doing so much to educate the media and the world at large, one article at a time…

6 nobugsonme July 3, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Thanks for your comments, David!
It is amazing what passes for bed bug news, while the real news is underreported.

7 WINSTON July 4, 2014 at 9:10 am

I believe that there are some limited contained uses for blow dryers in the course of bed bug warfare. delicate items, belts, shoes, knickknacks, toys etc. However it should be done in a tub (WITH NO WATER IN IT) or over a white sheet.

8 nobugsonme July 5, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Winston!!!! We miss you in the forums and the regulars are always asking me about you.

Thanks for your suggestion: the “with no water in it” being the most important part of the directions… 😎

9 Lou Sorkin July 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I’d use a pastel colored sheet so the unfed nymphs show up better. Grey, blue, green, pink, etc.
Hi Winston. Thanks for the e-card.

10 outsmartbb July 7, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Let’s cut to the bed legs the chase – put mini electric fence around each bed leg or entire bed (not touching bed, but a foot away) with enough volts to kill bed bugs, but not humans. The same voltage used in those mosquito zapping tennis racquets would work, as seen on YouTube via entomologist dropping bed bugs on to that active electric racquet. Now, let’s do this and eradicate bed bugs for good, fast and easy.

11 Lou Sorkin July 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Dropping bed bugs on an electrified fence is different from them crawling onto it in order to commit suicide. You don’t know if it will repel them first.

12 outsmartbb July 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm

Lou Sorkin – that’s very true. While I’m not an electrician, I imagine that there is a voltage high enough that the bed bug just touching the electrical fence once would kill it. How about we all work together and compile information and get this done right? Let the bed bugs come to a fast demise by frying them like fried chicken while they forage for you and me. I did speak with an electrical engineer today, and he noted that it’s wise to find a biomedical expert or entomologist who understands bed bug behavior… to make sure something like a live bed bug just crawling over a dead bed bug on the electrical fence doesn’t happen. He also cautioned of fire hazards of dead bed bug on fire from frying flying on to something flammable. My solution – put a *glass* container around the electrical fence that’s close enough over the wires to prevent spark = fire, but far enough away to allow a hungry bed bug to find his ass fried like fried chicken while he’s out foraging for you and me. A credit card-sized gap apparently is enough. Who wants to help with this project? Prototype idea: battery-operated with on/off switch mini-electric fence to wrap around bed leg, insulation sheet to put over bed frame, insulation sheet to put under bed frame, glass container as fire prevention. Any biomedical and/or electrical experts out there to get this up and running and save the world from bed bugs, like DDT used to?

13 outsmartbb July 8, 2014 at 6:18 pm

^ follow-up to my idea – in case the bed bug gets smart and tries to just climb up the glass container around the mini-electric fence wrapped around the bed leg, put vaseline on the outside of the glass, or very sticky tape with sticky sap meant to trap bugs that people put on trees to keep the trees from infestation. Surely we are smart enough to find a quick and easy kill method to get our lives back on track. All the suffering everyone is going through between failed exterminators, lots of trips to the laundromat, welts and itching, putting our minds together to come up with something easier is worth a few minutes, as opposed to wasting time scouring the internet for a thus far non-existent quick solution. It’s evident we need to create one, as the one we had (DDT) is no longer an option.

14 outsmartbb July 8, 2014 at 6:27 pm
And here’s the video, in all its glory, of bed bugs falling on to the bug zapper racquet, finding a quick death on the ride the lightning trip.
Hmmm…. I’m sending this to MythBusters and perhaps they will find it worthwhile to work on. True or False: a mini-electric fence wrapped around bed legs with glass container for safety will knock them off. Just stay in bed for two weekends in a row watching movies. Oh, the electrical engineer I spoke with today also cautioned of perhaps bed bug-killing dust insulating bed bugs so that the electric fence would not work. So perhaps we can come up with a solution for these pests which requires NO insecticides at all… just relax in bed for a couple of weekends while bed bugs die on the electric fence. Oh, and do keep the bed sheets from touching the floor, and put plastic tape up on the ceiling around the bed, so their only option of finding food in your home is to touch the electric fence (can also make this compatible with chairs and sofas, so they cannot get you while you lounge around in the day time outside of bed).

15 nobugsonme July 9, 2014 at 3:30 am

The electrical fence idea discussion continues here, on the forums.

16 Bernie October 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

My method was to cover myself from head to toe and set the alarm for 4:30AM. This was quite confusing to the bed bugs because they detected the presence of a warm-blooded host yet could not find any exposed skin to feed on. They would park themselves under the sheets, under the pillow or inside the pillow case waiting for an opportunity to feed. I had a roll of painters tape by the bed so I could quickly capture them when I turned on the light after the 4:30AM alarm.

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