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Coronavirus Questions Answered: Can A Bed Bug Treatment Kill It?

Bed bug treatments involve high heat, but it might not be hot enough to kill COVID-19. [Akos Nagy / Shutterstock]
Bed bug treatments involve high heat, but it might not be hot enough to kill COVID-19. [Akos Nagy / Shutterstock

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Bernadette asks: "Can you use a bed bug steam heat treatment to kill COVID-19?"


Cleveland-based Bed Bug Barbeque co-owner Chris Gonda said they've had many calls on this, but killing COVID-19 is not something they offer. 

“Although we had planned on opening up and doing that, and I even purchased websites because there is data supporting that, we have not done any business in that area,” he said.

Gonda said data supports the idea that high heat kills some viruses, but there isn't enough data on its effect on the new strain of the coronavirus. He also said he doesn't have the personal protective equipment to do a treatment on a known COVID-19 building.

He says heat used during a full-building bed bug treatment reaches 150 degrees. For nursing homes, it's a bit cooler at 140 degrees because of the fire suppression systems. 

Cleveland VA Medical Center's Dr. Curtis Donskey researched the effect of steam heat from a rice cooker to decontaminate cloth face masks. He says the temperature needs to be 212 degrees, so the bed bug treatment might not be hot enough. 

Donskey says bed bug treatments are often expensive, and store-bought disinfectants are effective at killing viruses on surfaces.

“The good news for coronavirus is all the standard disinfectants that we use are pretty effective,” Donskey said. “It’s not that difficult to kill, so just wiping high-touch surfaces with a disinfectant wipe or spraying with a disinfectant spray will be quite effective.”

Gonda says he typically charges $1-$1.50 per square foot, so for a 2,000 square foot home, it would be approximately $2,600.

lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158