Can You Freeze Away Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs can make your blissful sleep into a horrible nightmare. These insects can bite and leave droppings, both of which can cause negative reactions like itchiness and redness of the skin. Therefore, it’s understandable why you’re wondering if freezing can kill or keep away bed bugs. We looked into this matter by asking insect experts to give you the solution you need.

You can freeze away bed bugs. Exposing these insects to 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 degrees Celsius) for three to four days can kill them. Reducing the temperature further can shorten the time it takes for the bed bugs to die. Freezing bed bugs at 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (-51.11 to -62.22 degrees Celsius) below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.78 degrees Celsius) can kill them instantly.

Putting objects infested with bed bugs inside the freezer can help eliminate these pests. Continue reading to learn more about the correct procedure needed in freezing bed bugs. Plus, read the rest of this article to find out other relevant information on freezing and killing bed bugs.


A woman holding a magnifying glass and searching for bed bugs, Can You Freeze Away Bed Bugs?

How to Freeze Bed Bugs

Place items infested with bed bugs inside the freezer to kill the insects. The freezer’s temperature should be at least 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 degrees Celsius) or lower to shorten the insects’ life.

You can freeze bed bug-infested dry items like books, shoes, toys, and clothes. Place these items in a resealable plastic bag for easy cleanup.

Don’t place items that can’t survive moist or frozen environments in the freezer. These products include any electronics with LCD panels or historical artifacts of considerable value. Instead, remove the bed bugs from these items first with a vacuum cleaner before freezing the pests.

Use a remote thermometer or monitor if your freezer doesn’t have a built-in display. This device helps you keep track of the conditions inside the freezer. Therefore, you can immediately adjust the settings if needed. Also, don’t put items with bed bugs outside, even if it’s winter season. Exterior temperatures are erratic, which means it’s next to impossible to control bed bug-killing conditions.

A woman holding a magnifying glass looking for bed bugs

How Long Does It Take to Kill Bed Bugs by Freezing?

It takes three to four days from the bugs’ date of exposure to freezing temperatures to kill them. Remove the items from the freezer after that period and throw the plastic bags in the trash after use. Don’t forget to vacuum the items to eliminate any remnants.

Does Freezing Kill Bed Bug Eggs?

Freezing can kill bed bug eggs. However, the eggs’ casings make it tougher than normal for cold temperatures to penetrate. The insects' young in the eggs can still survive temperatures higher than 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, setting the freezer’s temperature below that point is ideal—to make sure bed bug eggs, along with insect’s adult and young forms, pass away.

Does Freezing Your Clothes Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, freezing clothes can kill bed bugs. But it’s impractical to put clothes riddled with pests with food inside freezers. Some of the fallen insects can get into food items, which can cause contaminations. Additionally, the closed space can become excellent conditions for harmful bacteria to circulate when the critters’ carcasses decompose. Instead, place the clothes in a dedicated chest freezer to avoid contaminating food items.

How Does Cold Affect Bed Bugs?

The ideal living temperature for bed bugs to thrive is 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18.33 to 29.44 degrees Celsius). Under these temperatures, these pests can retire in different rooms, including the bedroom. Reducing the room’s temperature can slow down these bugs’ development cycle.

However, bed bugs have a strong tolerance against cold temperatures. These critters enter a freeze-intolerant state when exposed to cold temperatures, as per a 2013 press release. While in this condition, the bugs will excrete fluids that adapt and protect their systems against the cold. Returning to room temperature will reanimate the insects, allowing them to return to their normal routines.

What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly?

Freezing isn’t the only technique to kill bed bugs instantly. Additionally, it’s not the most accessible means for many homeowners. Thankfully, different methods exist to help you eliminate these pests quickly.


Bed bugs can also die from intense heat. Using steam at 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) or higher can kill these insects in all of their forms, including the eggs. Apply the steam slowly to capture a broad area. But don’t stick to one area for extended periods as the high temperature can burn certain materials like cotton on clothing.

Hot Water Wash

Dipping objects infested with bed bugs in hot water can also eliminate them quickly. This technique can help remove the pests from items like blankets, comforters, mattress covers, and pillowcases. You can also place these items in the washing machine and set the device to use hot water. Then, put the clothes and upholsteries in the dryer at the hottest setting to eliminate stragglers.


According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), using pesticides with specific ingredients can kill and control bed bugs. These ingredients include pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and desiccants. Thankfully, these chemicals are quite common in commercially bought insecticides. But some bed bug types grew highly resistant or immune to some of these chemical killers.

Rubbing Alcohol

Spraying bed bugs with rubbing alcohol can also kill them instantly. This product acts as a solvent and a drying compound. First, it dissolves the bugs' outer shells before drying out their insides. Alcohol can also be effective at killing bed bug eggs.

Take note that rubbing alcohol application only becomes effective at killing bed bugs with direct contact. The insects hiding in dark and tight spaces can still survive if you miss these areas, especially after knowing that bed bug infestations spread rapidly.

Professional Help

Homeowners can also seek professional assistance if the bed bug situation is out of control. Look for an experienced pest control provider that understands scenarios similar to yours. The costs for these services are different for each company. Although these expert aides are more expensive than DIY insect-killing solutions, the value that reliable pest control firms bring can be worth every penny.

What do Bed Bugs Hate?

A woman removing the mattress and checking for bed bugs

Missing a bed bug egg case or two in treatments can lead to another infestation. A 2017 study suggests that applying essential oils to objects can deter bed bugs. Some essential oils can even eliminate these pests in 24 hours. The following scents can help exterminate bed bug problems:

  • Tea tree
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Blood orange
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Neem

Keep in mind that the amount of time for these essential oils to become effective against bed bugs differs with each product. Some oils, such as those with thyme and lemongrass, can affect these insects in a day.

Also, it's possible to kill bed bugs using essential oils. But, like rubbing alcohol, these oils need direct applications for them to work.

Final Words

Freezing bed bugs below 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit can kill them. Take note that it takes three to four days for the insects to die using this method. You can also use other techniques to kill the pests, such as using steam-emitting devices or hot water washes. Don’t forget to deter bed bugs using certain scents so they won’t develop and spread in your home.

Justin Jason
Justin Jason
Articles: 15

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