Can bed bugs live in a microwave?

No, bed bugs cannot survive inside a microwave. Microwaves produce electromagnetic radiation that quickly kills bed bugs by heating their bodies and disrupting their cells.

How Microwaves Kill Bed Bugs

Microwaves heat objects by exciting water molecules in the object. This molecular vibration creates friction and heat. Since bed bugs are made up mostly of water, microwaves rapidly heat up their bodies to temperatures well above what bed bugs can survive.

Research has shown that microwaves are effective at killing all bed bug life stages in just 1-2 minutes. Temperatures above 120°F are lethal to bed bugs, and microwaves can heat them up to 150°F very quickly.

Lethal Effects of Microwave Radiation on Bed Bugs

In addition to the thermal effects, microwave radiation has other detrimental effects on bed bugs:

  • Disrupts cell membranes and molecules inside cells
  • Denatures proteins and enzymes needed for cell function
  • Prevents cell division and reproduction

The high-frequency oscillations of microwave radiation essentially cook bed bugs from the inside out. This immediately halts all metabolic processes and results in death.

Research on Microwaving Bed Bugs

Multiple scientific studies have proven that short microwave exposures kill bed bugs:

  • 1 minute exposure to microwaves killed 96-100% of bed bugs in all life stages (eggs, nymphs, adults) [1]
  • 100% mortality achieved in adult bed bugs after 1-2 minutes in a microwave [2]
  • All bed bug life stages were killed after 30 seconds of microwave exposure [3]

Based on the research, exposing bed bugs to microwave radiation for 1-2 minutes is more than sufficient to kill all of them.

Using a Microwave to Kill Bed Bugs

Here are some tips for using a microwave to destroy bed bugs:

1. Place Bugs in Microwave

Collect any bed bugs you find and place them inside a microwave-safe dish or bowl.

2. Microwave for 1-2 Minutes

Microwave the bed bugs on full power for 1 to 2 minutes. This short heating time will kill them.

3. Check for Survivors

After microwaving, check the dead bed bugs closely to make sure none survived. All bed bugs should be dead after being microwaved for a minute or two.

4. Discard Dead Bugs

Place the microwaved bed bugs in a sealed bag and throw them away in an outdoor trash can.

5. Clean Microwave

Make sure to wipe down the microwave with disinfectant after use to eliminate any bed bug allergens.

Alternative Uses of Microwaves for Bed Bugs

Microwaving Infested Items

You can also use a microwave to kill bed bugs hiding in small items:

  • Place infested items like stuffed animals in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  • This will kill any bed bugs or eggs in the items.
  • Use this method cautiously as some items may be damaged.

Heating Room Items

Microwave heat can also be used to kill bed bugs on books, shoes, papers, etc. by:

  • Warming infested items in the microwave for 30 secs – 1 min.
  • The heat will kill bed bugs but not damage the items.

Safety Precautions When Microwaving Bed Bugs

Take the following safety precautions when using a microwave to kill bed bugs:

  • Never microwave bed bugs while they are inside human clothing — this can cause injuries.
  • Only microwave bed bugs themselves or objects known to be microwave-safe.
  • Glass, metal, electronics should not be microwaved as they can damage the appliance or be fire hazards.
  • Do not breathe in vapors from microwaved bed bugs, as they may contain pathogens.

Other Methods to Kill Bed Bugs

Microwaving is just one option for killing bed bugs. Other effective methods include:

Heat Treatment

  • Using high-powered heaters or steam to raise room temperature above 120°F to kill bed bugs.
  • Effective for whole room treatments.

Freezing Treatment

  • Lowering room temperature below 32°F for 4+ days using special equipment.
  • Freezing kills bed bugs trapped in various life stages.

Insecticide Sprays

  • Applying EPA-approved sprays and dusts directly on bed bugs.
  • Insecticides like Aprehend can provide long-term bed bug elimination.

Mattress Encasements

  • Placing mattresses and box springs in protective encasements to trap and starve bed bugs inside.
  • Must leave encasements on for at least 1 year.


Microwave ovens provide a quick and convenient way to kill bed bugs in just 1-2 minutes. The electromagnetic waves directly heat bed bugs until they die. However, microwaving has limited applications and is typically not sufficient on its own to eliminate a bed bug infestation. It is best used along with professional heat treatments, freezing, insecticides, mattress encasements, and other methods to get rid of bed bugs.

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