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How Long Do Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag?

One common way to help control the spread of bed bugs, in addition to other treatments, is to place contaminated items in a plastic bag until the bed bugs have died and no longer pose a threat. In theory, this sounds like an easy solution, but in practice, you could be without your things for quite a long time because bed bugs have been known to live for over a year in ideal lab conditions. The actual length of time that bed bugs can live in a plastic bag is dependent on a few factors, some of which include: temperature, air supply, and stage of life.


Perhaps the best method to quicklykill bed bugs is heat. Put the bed bug-contaminated items in a thick plastic bag, seal it up tight, and place it in the sun. Bed bugs and their eggs cannot survive in temperatures over about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you can get the contents of the bag hot enough, you may not have to leave them in the bag long at all. Putting a thermometer in the middle of the bag is a great way to know if it has reached that important kill temperature. Once the temperature has been reached, leave the bag for a few hours to ensure complete elimination. Cold temperatures can also be used to kill bed bugs. Placing a plastic bag of items in a freezer will also work to exterminate the bed bugs. By leaving a bag in the freezer at 0 degrees for 2-3 days, you can feel confident that the bed bug adults, eggs, and nymphs have died. When using heat or cold with plastic bags, be mindful that the entire bag and its contents has to reach thebed bug killing temperature. Items in the middle may take much longer to reach that appropriate temperature.

Air Supply

Bed bugs need air to live, but they are so small that they can get by with very little oxygen. Heavy duty plastic bags that can be tightly sealed tend to work best. Bags that remove most of the air like zip bags, vacuum storage bags, or space bags, also tend to be more successful. Label the bag and remove as much air as possible for optimal results. Even after removing the air, you may still need to leave your items in the bag for several months to ensure they are bed bug free. Checkout Our Ultimate Bed Bug Guide

Stage of Life

Another factor that may determine how long bed bugs can live in a plastic bag is their stage of life. Bed bug babies, called nymphs, require food more frequently than adult bed bugs. They will die first. Any eggs that were laid on your items will hatch after 6-10 days, so you will have to account for the eggs and hatching nymphs as well. As mentioned earlier, bed bug adults can live a year without food in ideal situations, so to ensure that all life stages have died may take many months. That is why other options like heat, cold, and removing air supply are helpful. Using a combination of these methods will greatly speed up the process. If you are dealing with a bed bug problem, PF Harris has a solution that is right for you. Check out our full line ofhome pest control products and experience the Harris difference. Ready to Use Professional Products, Our Bed Bug Control Kits are available in Stores.