What Is Thermal Pest Control and Is It the Best Option for You?

When dealing with a pest infestation, especially bed bugs, there are a number of different options you can choose from to address and eliminate the problem. One of those options is thermal pest control.

Thermal pest control is an eco-friendly approach that uses high temperatures to effectively exterminate pests.

Because it uses heat instead of pesticides, this method may be preferred among people with young children, pets, or health conditions that make them more sensitive to chemicals.

What Is Thermal Pest Control / Heat Treatment?

Thermal pest control, or “heat treatments” as we call them, is one of the methods used in an effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program—the goal of which is to provide long-term pest solutions without the use of chemicals and insecticides except as a last resort.

There are several forms of heat treatment that can be used to exterminate bed bugs and other pests, depending on the size and scope of the infestation. Examples range from using household washers and dryers to portable heating devices, steamers, and heat chambers.

Whole room heat treatment is used by pest control professionals as a solution for severe pest infestations. The process involves gradually heating a structure or space to temperatures high enough to kill all bed bugs or other insects that have invaded that area.

During heat treatment, heat will reach every crack and crevice of your home and kill pests at any stage of life. While many pests are able to hide from sprays and powders, they can’t escape the heat. 

How Heat Treatment Works

Heat treatment will not work by simply turning the heat in your house or apartment on high. For this process, you will need to contact a pest control specialist that has the equipment required to heat a specific area to a certain degree.

During thermal heat treatment, temperatures inside your space will rise between 135 °F and 145 °F. This temperature increase must happen gradually so as to not damage structural components of the building. Depending on the size of the infestation, it will take 6 to 12 hours to heat up an area. 

Heat treatment is most commonly used against bed bugs. Bed bugs die when heated to temperatures of 120 °F for 20 minutes. Their eggs are a bit more resilient, requiring up to 90 minutes at 120 °F.

Other insects can also be treated using ambient heat with various temperature requirements, including fleas (95 °F), mites (130 °F), carpet beetles (120 °F), and moths (varies by species).

Equipment for Thermal Pest Control

  • Heaters – Depending on the size and layout of the location, we typically use industrial-grade electric heaters or a special heat rig with a built-in generator.
  • Fans – Fans are used to distribute the heat evenly to ensure that the entire area is covered and the heat reaches all possible spaces where pests may be hiding. 
  • Thermometers – Our pest control experts use remote thermometers and heat gun thermometers to ensure that all areas, including common hiding places, reach the required temperatures. 

With this equipment, we can safely and evenly raise the temperature of every area of your home or apartment to 140 °F. This level of ambient heat will exterminate pests without damaging structures or furniture. 

How Does Thermal Compare to Traditional Pest Control Methods?

1. Efficiency

Thermal treatment has one major advantage over other treatment methods, such as cryo and pesticides: it usually only takes one visit.

Pesticide treatment for bed bugs usually requires a second treatment 14 days later to kill any bugs which have hatched since the first treatment.

Thermal treatment, however, is fatal to bugs at all life stages, including eggs, so there is no need for a second round of treatment.

2. Preparation

The preparation work required for thermal pest control is often significantly less than that required for traditional pest extermination.

Prior to heat treatment, you should take steps such as unplugging electronics, cleaning up clutter and removing heat sensitive items after inspecting them. Keep items like mattresses and other furniture items in their place. 

Since heat is able to move around large furniture items, you won’t be required to move them away from walls and corners like you would for pesticide application. When professionals are applying pesticides throughout your infested space, they will need easy access to areas furniture may be blocking.  

3. Safety and Eco-Friendliness

Heat treatment is a chemical-free method of pest control.

For people concerned about the materials introduced to their homes or people with health concerns regarding pesticides, thermal pest control can be a preferable alternative because there is no lasting residue. 

Preparing Your Home for Thermal Pest Control

If you decide that heat treatment is right for you, there are some things you can do to prepare your home and prevent damage to certain belongings.

  • Clean up clutter by disposing items that can be disposed of and move smaller belongings off the floor.
  • Remove items that will be sensitive to temperatures above 130 °F like plastics, candles, houseplants, and fresh foods.
  • Unplug all electronic devices from power sources.
  • Don’t move or put items into bags unless you plan on washing them or have thoroughly inspected them.


Thermal pest control can effectively eliminate pest problems after just one visit, doesn’t require the use of pesticides, and takes less time than other forms of pest control.

As is the case with all forms of Integrated Pest Management, heat treatment is most effective when combined with other methods. As part of our thermal pest control program, MMPC also performs exclusion and proofing, which limits the potential for new pests from entering and existing pests from escaping to neighboring homes/apartments during the treatment.

If you’d like to learn more about the heat treatment process, contact MMPC and our experienced pest control experts will be happy to answer your questions.