How Long Can Bed Bugs Live In Water?

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of. While many bugs drown in the face of water, bed bugs have the ability to stand strong for at least a short amount of time. However, rest assured — it isn’t all bad news.

A bed bug’s ability to survive in water is dependent on a few factors. In fact, once you have the right mix of elements, water can be a relatively successful way to eradicate these pests. Read on to find out more.


how long can bed bugs live in water

CC Image courtesy of British Pest Control Association

Can Bed Bugs Swim?

Bed bugs may have strong crawling capabilities, but they cannot swim very well. They do have the ability to float though.

As bed bugs are such small creatures, they do not weigh very much at all. If a bed bug has not recently fed, it is usually light enough to remain on top of the water. It is there the bugs have the ability to survive for a number of days, as long as they do not slip beneath the surface.

However, if the surface tension breaks and a bug sinks under the water, their chances of survival fall. This is likely to happen to a heavier bed bug, one that has just fed and is full of blood. A sunken bed bug will not have the ability to resurface once it sinks below the water’s surface.

In general, bed bugs will try to avoid water. This aversion makes water a useful, physical barrier that you can use against them. You can place each leg of a piece of furniture, say your bed, into a bowl of water. The water will prevent the bed bugs from climbing up the legs of the furniture from the ground.

However, this method should be used alongside other preventative methods too. Bed bugs can climb walls and jump; so they may still be able to descend onto your bed or couch this way.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in Water For?

As mentioned above, their ability to float provides them with a survival mechanism, as delicate as it may be. The clock starts ticking the moment they sink. A bed bug’s eggs are able to survive, even after being submerged in water for 24 hours.

Some more resilient bed bug eggs can survive for a while in water, as long as the temperature is cool. Therefore, washing garments on a cool machine wash when they contain bed bugs, is not an effective way to kill them.

Survival is dependent on, and directly affected by, the temperature of the water the bed bugs are in. Bugs, either on or below the surface, will not be able to survive in water at higher temperatures. As soon as their body temperature reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit, bed bugs will die. This is the case with both fully grown bed bugs and their unhatched eggs.

If you are looking for a way to kill bed bugs on clothes or bed sheets, the washing machine is a great solution. Place the garments on the hottest wash setting, with detergent, and the bed bugs will not survive. Running the garments through a hot setting in a dryer for 30 minutes will also help to kill them.

However, if your home is being treated for bugs, make sure to keep the newly cleaned items in sealed bags. This will prevent any other bed bugs, or eggs, from finding their way into the clean garments.

Even if you manage to kill a few bed bugs in water, this won’t eliminate those elsewhere in your home. You should consider using other methods too, in order to get the most effective results.

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs With DIY Treatment

Hiring pest control professionals can be costly, and while it’s usually the best option, there are some preliminary steps you can take to get rid of bed bugs yourself.

If your problem is isolated to just one bedroom like most small household infestations, try following the steps below:

1. Carefully bag and wash all of your bedding. Let them dry for at least 30 minutes in a clean environment.

2. Clear any clutter around the room. Bed bugs love to hide in piles of clothes, so remove these and wash them before you start cleaning. Don't give bed bugs a safe haven to hide in.

3. Use a high-powered vacuum to clean around the bed to take care of stray bugs and eggs. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is vital to ensure bed bugs cannot escape once captured. The Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum easily ticks all of the boxes while remaining lightweight and easily maneuverable.

4. Use a specialist non-toxic bed bug spray to clean your bed-frame, headboard, and surrounding furniture. Carefully read the label on any product beforehand to ensure it’s safe for indoor use.

The best bed bug spray I've yet to personally use is the completely natural Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer. It has a reported 100% kill rate against live bed bugs in controlled tests, and most importantly, it's chemical-free and child/pet friendly.

5. Pull your bed away from the walls and place bed bug interceptor cups under each leg. These will isolate your bed and help to prevent the spread of bed bugs. Additionally, interceptors can serve as tools to help you track progress. Ideally, the interceptors should contain fewer bed bugs every time you empty them. My personal favorites are these Bed Bug Blocker Interceptor Traps.

6. Using a bed bug mattress protector to encase your mattress will help to save it if it's yet to be infested, or otherwise keep bed bugs trapped in and around it until they eventually die of starvation. My favorite is the SureGuard Mattress Encasement which is thick, strong, and will help to stop bed bugs of all sizes from getting to, or from, your mattress. A SureGuard Box Spring Encasement is also available.

7. If you wish to be extremely thorough, specialist bed bug heaters can be purchased to raise household items to a temperature that is sure to kill all bed bugs and eggs. My favorite is the ZappBug, which is designed to automatically reach the all-important killing temperature to eradicate all stages of the bed bugs life cycle. Smaller and extra-large sizes are also available.

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