Trash Bags Left In The Sun Not An Effective Treatment For Bed Bugs

by Matt on October 4, 2010

We have received a lot of questions recently about whether leaving items in sealed black trash bags out in the sun will kill bed bugs.  This is believed to work because of bed bugs sensitivity to temperatures above 120 degrees, which quickly dries out bed bugs causing death within a one hour period.

We had the opportunity to test this myth last month to see if this idea actually worked.  We used 4 black garbage bags and placed 4 towels inside each bag to mimic everyday contents one might like to treat.  Along with the towels, we also placed an internal temperature probe inside to monitor the temperature. The bags were placed in direct sunlight with an outside temperature of 90 degrees fahrenheit. We were hoping to achieve at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes in each of the bags to prove this treatment practice was effective. However, after monitoring for 4 hours during the hottest time of the day, we were not able to get the internal temperature above 110 degrees in any of the 4 bags. Temperatures mostly hovered between 102 and 106 degrees, which was far below our goal of 120. Even if we were able to hit the targeted 120 degrees Fahrenheit, its doubtful that we would be able to maintain that temperature for the 60 minutes needed to ensure a proper kill period

Other issues with this method also include:

  • Outside temperature
  • Wind
  • Clouds
  • Shadows

Has anyone else tried this experiment with better luck? Although this sounds like a great treatment strategy, it doen’t quite do the job.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly October 6, 2010 at 12:11 am

Awesome share! Thank you very much

Mercer October 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Nice site, I just dugg this keep up the good work!.

E October 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Try putting the stuff in your car in the heat. You can turn the heat on in your car. My dad did an experiment with furniture inside a van, it got up to 150 degrees, and stayed above 140 for about 4 hours. This was using temperature probes, and not using the heat provided by the car. The key is to not have the stuff packed too closely together. Hope that helps.

Kim October 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Put the bags in your car and run the heater for 30 minutes or longer. Kills anything living in your car as well. Re-treat your car weekly. They like to travel on people you are kind enough to give a ride to and try to make your car their new home.

sosbedbug October 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Hi Kim,

Please be sure to treat items in the car for at least 60 minutes after the internal temperature of the items inside exceed 120 degrees. 30 minutes will likely not be long enough unless the inside of the vehicle is over 160+

nick May 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Where do I find a temperature probe?

Matt July 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

They are sold at Walmart – They are sold as Indoor – Outdoor thermometers

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