Can You Vacuum Bed Bugs? Is Vacuuming Best to Control Bed Bug Infestation?

Bed bugs are most often associated with unhygienic living conditions. This means people believe that they only exist in homes that are not well maintained and have old moldy furniture, carpets, couches, or beds. This is not entirely true.

The truth is that bed bugs can infest the cleanest of homes through a pest jump. It can enter your home if you or your pet come into contact with them and accidentally bring them into your house. So, if bed bugs get into your home, can you vacuum bed bugs and eliminate a bed bug infestation just by vacuuming?

Can You Vacuum Bed Bugs and Get Rid of Them?

According to studies, vacuum cleaners can indeed be used to reduce the number of bed bugs especially if they can be found in clusters. But can you vacuum bed bugs completely with it?

No its not possible. Using vacuum cleaners is not a surefire way to get rid of this problem, but it will reduce it. Therefore, you still need to employ other methods for bed bug control.

Is Vacuuming Effective in Getting Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Furniture or Carpet?

Regular vacuuming offers a lot of benefits around the house especially when it comes to controlling a bed bug infestation, it can:

  • Get rid of bed bug clusters.
  • Eliminate bed bugs that cannot be killed by insecticides.
  • Control the pests on places and materials where you cannot safely use insecticides.
  • Reduce the need for repeated insecticide treatment.
  • Get rid of dead bugs and other debris to enhance the effectiveness of treatments and insecticides.

Regular vacuuming is an effective method of control when it comes to your bed bug situation, but it will not get rid of the problem entirely. You need to follow other steps to get rid of this pest.

How to Vacuum Bed Bugs the Right Way?

Not all vacuum cleaners are going to help with a bed bug infestation. You need to choose the right one.

A good choice is one that is specifically designed for pest control, preferably one equipped with a HEPA filter system. This type of machine will effectively prevent allergens from getting blown into the air as you clean.

Man Inspecting for Bed Bug Infestation
Man Inspecting for Bed Bug Infestation

It doesn’t matter whether you use a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner if it can provide the strongest suction. Choose one that comes with attachments such as a crevice tool, a roller, and a stiff brush.

The crevice tool will help you get into the seams and corners of places like couches and beds. It will help you get bed bugs in those hard-to-reach spots.

Hold the tool at an angle of 45 degrees and push it forward when you vacuum. Doing so will crush the bed bug eggs and suction them. A stiff brush attachment, on the other hand, will help you get more friction and dislodge stubborn eggs and bugs.

If available, use a carpet beater or roller on carpets and rugs to easily dislodge any pests and cover more area.

Vacuum strategically. Just because you don’t see the bugs doesn’t mean they’re not there. Make sure to cover key sites like around your bed or under sofas.

Focus on these key places:

  • Around and under upholstered furniture.
  • The part where the baseboard and the floor meet.
  • Any crevice in the upholstered furniture or bed frame, as well as walls of infestation areas.

Before vacuuming, seal the room to prevent any pests from escaping. Plug the gaps between the floor and the door or windows. Expose any possible hiding spaces too.

Can Bed Bugs Escape from a Vacuum Cleaner?

Vacuum cleaners are great tools for helping eliminate bed bug infestations. Unfortunately, they can also be the tool to transfer bed bugs to another room.

To avoid doing so, you need to clean your vacuum cleaners and get out any bed bugs hiding in them before moving them to or using them in another part of the house. Here’s what you can do:

Spray the Vacuum Cleaner with Pesticide

You can spray insecticide onto the exterior of the vacuum cleaner. This will make the machine an unpleasant place for the bed bug to stay in, thus it will not likely jump onto it, nor would it want to get into its crevices.

Bed Bugs Hiding in Crevices
Can You Vacuum Bed Bugs Hiding in Crevices?

Plus, since the poison lingers on the surface when the bed bug comes into contact with it, it will die. To kill any bugs that survived inside the vacuum, you can vacuum boric acid, diatomaceous earth, or any inorganic pesticide. Seal the nozzle with tape to prevent the pests from escaping.

If touching poison is not something you wish to do, you can also give it heat treatment. Professional carpet cleaners claim that these pests die at 120 degrees. Heating the vacuum cleaner to that level will get rid of any unwanted hitchhikers.

You can also use hot water on the attachments if they can be washed.

Emptying Content to Get Rid of Bed Bugs 

If possible, use a dedicated vacuum cleaner to address your bed bug infestation. If not, make sure to kill any trapped bed bugs inside the vacuum to avoid cross-contamination. Seal the used vacuum bag using tape, then dispose of that properly.

If you are using a bagless vacuum cleaner, empty its canister into a plastic bag then seal the opening. Wash and dry the canister thoroughly.

Store Your Vacuum Cleaner in the Garage

Do not store your vacuum cleaner inside your house especially after using it to deal with bed bugs. If possible, the garage is the best option to keep your vacuum cleaner.

Bag Your Vacuum Cleaner 

Bed bugs cannot gnaw their way out of a plastic bag. To prevent any hiding bed bugs from coming out and starting another infestation in a different room, store your vacuum cleaner in a large plastic bag.

When you want to use the tool again, take it out of the plastic bag and check the container for any bugs. You can vacuum those right up.

Don’t Forget to Clean the Attachments

Thoroughly clean the attachments and the vacuum itself, including the vacuum hose, after cleaning so you don’t transfer any trapped bugs to another location the next time you vacuum.

Vacuum Cleaner Crevice Tool
Use a Crevice Tool for Hard to Reach Areas

Why Vacuuming is Ineffective Against Bed Bugs in the Long Run?

As mentioned, vacuuming is just one part of solving your pest problems. It cannot address the infestation fully because of these reasons. It is, however, an advisable solution in conjunction with insecticide treatments.

Vacuuming Hidden Bed Bugs is Difficult

Even if you crush and kill the bed bugs that you can see, there are still so many places where these pests can hide. They can bury deep into upholstery and crevices in furniture.

You would be surprised at how many bed bugs reside around buttons, folds, and tufts of your box spring or mattress. Not to mention underneath furniture and carpets.

The tiny, oval-shaped bodies of bed bugs are built for getting into small spaces. They can squeeze into the smallest cracks and holes. They can be found inside electrical outlets and even around the plumbing.

Plus, they can hide in the weirdest places that you might not think of. For example, they can live inside items like clocks, underneath picture frames, and even screw holes.

Unlike Adult Bed Bugs, Their Eggs Are Hard to Vacuum

Even if you catch and get rid of the adults, bed bugs lay thousands of eggs that will eventually hatch and lay more eggs. Plus, bed bug eggs stick to surfaces and can be hard to vacuum even at the highest suction setting.

What Works for Eliminating Bed Bugs Besides Vacuuming?

Besides vacuuming key areas and using insecticides, there are other things that you can do to get rid of bed bugs.

Here are a few other options:

  • Wash your personal items, bedding, and carpets with hot water. Use a steamer on mattresses and upholstered furniture.
  • Get rid of hiding places such as old magazines, books, rags, and others.
  • Use a non-chemical or chemical product like a fogger, bug bomb, or desiccant.

The goal is to contain any live adult bed bugs and keep them away from their food source.   

So, Is Vacuuming More Effective Than Insecticide Treatments?

The short answer is no. Vacuuming cannot do what insecticide treatments can: kill bed bugs and other pests. It is only one of the measures you can take to keep the infestation under control, but it will never be a perfect solution on its own.

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