Does Cold Kill Bed Bugs? It May Surprise You

You heard somebody somewhere say that bed bugs can’t survive in freezing temperatures. So, if you get a home infestation in winter, all you have to do is turn off your heat for a few hours and the cold will kill the bed bugs, right? 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Bed bugs can freeze to death but only if the temperature is low enough for long enough. As nice as it would be to just let Mother Nature be your exterminator, winter temps alone aren’t enough.

How Cold and for How Long?

Does cold kill bed bugs? Yes, it does, but the temperature needs to reach zero degrees Fahrenheit and stay there for at least four days for bed bugs to die. Even though Ohio winters do see sub-zero temperatures, those temps fluctuate throughout the day. If temperatures reach even a degree or two above zero, bed bugs enter an energy-saving hibernation state, allowing them to survive until the mercury rises.

You may have heard anecdotes about someone dragging an infested mattress or couch outside in winter for the cold to kill bed bugs. It’s possible that it got cold enough for the bed bugs to hibernate, making it appear as if they’d died. But once an item returns to the warm house, the bugs reanimate. 

Chances are slim that winter temperatures reach and stay at zero degrees for four straight days. Columbus, for example, only sees an average of two sub-zero days in an entire winter season.

Also, you probably already know that exposing your whole home or pieces of furniture to extreme temperatures for long periods of time can potentially damage both, and you don’t want to trade one problem for another.

Does Cold Kill Bed Bugs in the Freezer?

Theoretically, placing infested items in your freezer can kill bed bugs, but we don’t recommend it. First, even if you dial your freezer to zero degrees, it may not actually get that cold at the freezer’s center. Next, the item you want to freeze needs to fit inside, and you’ll want to enclose it in some type of plastic bag. Finally, you’ll need to use a remote thermometer to ensure the temp reaches zero at the center of the item itself. Only after a zero-degree reading should you start the four-day timer. 

More trouble than you thought, right?

What We Recommend Instead

Even though cold does kill bed bugs, we prefer to tackle the problem with heat. All bed bugs die at 122 degrees Fahrenheit, so running clothing or linens through your washer and dryer on the hottest setting works. So does steam cleaning furniture and other non-washables. The dry heat in your oven can kill bed bugs on delicate items, such as books.

DIY treatments can debug individual items, but they can be risky. Plus, bed bugs spread fast meaning you won’t be able to kill them all off by treating one thing at a time. The safest and most thorough way to stop a housewide infestation is to call the pros at ScherZinger Pest Control. Our one-day Heatigation treatment employs controlled heat to rid your entire home of bed bugs at all stages of life wherever they might be hiding. 

Does cold kill bed bugs? Yes, but the bed bug is a pest for all seasons—even winter—and professional extermination is the best route for safe, effective removal.

We’ve Got You Covered

ScherZinger Pest Control is a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton and Columbus. We’ve been pioneers who have engineered new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website or Facebook.