Do Electric Blankets Attract Bed Bugs? An In-Depth Exploration

The question “Do electric blankets attract bed bugs?” often arises among those seeking to keep their sleeping environment cozy yet pest-free.

In the quest for a comfortable night’s sleep, electric blankets have become a popular choice for many. They offer warmth and coziness, especially during the colder months. However, a question that often arises is whether these electric blankets might attract unwanted guests—specifically, bed bugs. Understanding the relationship between electric blankets and bed bugs is crucial, especially given the resurgence of bed bug infestations in recent years. This article will delve into the topic, dispelling myths and providing practical advice for maintaining a bed bug-free home.

What Are Electric Blankets and How Do They Work?

What Are Electric Blankets?

Electric blankets are bedding products that incorporate integrated electrical heating wires or elements. These blankets come in various sizes, from single to king-sized, and are often made of soft, comfortable materials like fleece, microfiber, or cotton. Electric blankets can be used on top of the bed or wrapped around the body, providing warmth and comfort.

Common Uses of Electric Blankets

  • Bed Warming: Electric blankets are primarily used to preheat the bed before sleep, ensuring a warm and comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Therapeutic Relief: The consistent heat can help alleviate muscle soreness, joint pain, and other discomforts, making them popular among individuals with arthritis or chronic pain.
  • Energy Efficiency: By using an electric blanket, people can lower their home heating systems at night, reducing energy consumption and utility bills.

How Do Electric Blankets Work?

Electric blankets operate through a series of insulated wires that are embedded within the fabric of the blanket. Here’s a breakdown of their functionality:

  • Heating Elements: The primary component of an electric blanket is the heating element, which consists of thin, insulated wires spread evenly throughout the blanket. These wires are connected to an electrical source via a power cord.
  • Control Unit: Most electric blankets come with a control unit, which allows users to adjust the temperature settings. Some models offer multiple heat settings, timers, and even dual controls for shared beds, allowing each person to set their preferred temperature.
  • Power Supply: The blanket is plugged into a standard electrical outlet. When turned on, electricity flows through the heating elements, generating heat.
  • Safety Features: Modern electric blankets are equipped with various safety features, such as automatic shut-off after a certain period and overheat protection, to prevent fires and ensure user safety.

Do Electric Blankets Attract Bed Bugs?

The straightforward answer is no, electric blankets do not attract bed bugs. Bed bugs are primarily drawn to warmth, carbon dioxide, and the presence of their food source: human blood. While electric blankets do provide warmth, it is not the type of warmth that significantly attracts bed bugs.

Addressing the Main Concern

Heat and Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are indeed attracted to warmth because it signals the presence of a host. However, the warmth generated by an electric blanket is not as significant a factor in attracting bed bugs as body heat and the carbon dioxide exhaled by humans. Bed bugs are more likely to be found near where you sleep, such as in the mattress seams, bed frames, and nearby furniture, rather than being specifically attracted to the electric blanket itself.

Expert Opinions and Research

  • Behavioral Patterns: Research on bed bug behavior indicates that these pests are attracted to the heat emitted by the human body and the carbon dioxide we exhale. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bed bugs are most commonly found in places where people sleep, including mattresses, box springs, and bed frames, due to these factors.
  • Electric Blanket Temperatures: Electric blankets typically operate at temperatures that are comfortable for human use but are not high enough to attract or kill bed bugs. Effective bed bug eradication requires temperatures of at least 120°F (49°C) sustained over a period of time, which is much higher than what an electric blanket provides.
  • Pest Control Insights: Pest control experts agree that while electric blankets can make a sleeping environment more comfortable for humans, they do not significantly impact the presence of bed bugs. Proper prevention and treatment involve maintaining cleanliness, reducing clutter, and, if necessary, professional pest control services.

Practical Advice

  • Regular Inspection: Frequently check your sleeping area for signs of bed bugs, such as small, rust-colored stains or the bugs themselves.
  • Protective Measures: Use mattress encasements to reduce the likelihood of bed bugs infesting your mattress.
  • Cleanliness: Maintain a clean and clutter-free sleeping environment to minimize hiding spots for bed bugs.

How Do Bed Bugs Typically Infest Bedding and Other Household Items?

Bed bugs typically infest bedding and other household items by hitching rides on people, clothing, luggage, and second-hand furniture. Once introduced into a home, they quickly spread to nearby areas, seeking out places to hide and breed.

Background Information on Bed Bug Behavior

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They are nocturnal and primarily come out at night to feed while their hosts are asleep. Bed bugs are adept at hiding during the day in cracks and crevices, making them difficult to detect and eliminate.

Infestation Process

  • Hitchhiking: Bed bugs are great travelers. They can latch onto luggage, clothing, and personal items, making it easy for them to spread. Hotels, public transportation, and other high-traffic areas are common places where bed bugs can be picked up.
  • Introduction to the Home: Once bed bugs are brought into a home, they seek out hiding spots near their food source—humans. Common hiding spots include mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, and nearby furniture. Bed bugs are also known to hide behind wallpaper, in electrical outlets, and in cracks in walls and floors.
  • Reproduction: Bed bugs reproduce quickly. A single female bed bug can lay hundreds of eggs over her lifetime. These eggs are tiny, about the size of a pinhead, and are often laid in clusters in hidden areas. Bed bug eggs hatch in about a week, and the nymphs (young bed bugs) begin feeding immediately.

Common Infestation Sites

  • Bedding: Mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards are prime locations for bed bugs because they offer easy access to sleeping humans.
  • Furniture: Couches, chairs, and other upholstered furniture can also harbor bed bugs, especially if located near sleeping areas.
  • Luggage and Personal Items: Bed bugs can hide in luggage, clothing, and personal items, making travel a common way for infestations to spread.
  • Cracks and Crevices: Any small space in walls, floors, or furniture can serve as a hiding place for bed bugs.

Preventing Infestations

  • Inspection: Regularly inspect bedding, furniture, and personal items for signs of bed bugs. Look for small, rust-colored stains, shed skins, and live bugs.
  • Second-Hand Items: Be cautious when bringing second-hand furniture or clothing into your home. Inspect and, if possible, treat these items before introducing them to your living space.
  • Travel Precautions: When traveling, inspect hotel rooms for signs of bed bugs. Keep luggage off the floor and bed, and inspect it thoroughly before returning home.

Can the Heat from an Electric Blanket Kill Bed Bugs?

No, the heat from an electric blanket cannot kill bed bugs.

Temperature Requirements for Killing Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are highly resilient pests that require specific conditions to be effectively eradicated. To kill bed bugs, a sustained temperature of at least 120°F (49°C) is necessary for a period of several minutes. This level of heat is needed to penetrate their hiding spots and ensure that both adult bed bugs and their eggs are eliminated.

Electric Blanket Temperatures

Electric blankets are designed to provide a comfortable level of warmth for human use, typically ranging from 77°F (25°C) to 113°F (45°C), depending on the model and settings. These temperatures are far below the threshold required to kill bed bugs.


  • Insufficient Heat: Even at their highest settings, electric blankets do not reach the temperatures necessary to kill bed bugs. The warmth provided is intended for comfort, not pest control.
  • Limited Coverage: Bed bugs often hide in places that are not directly exposed to the heat of an electric blanket, such as deep within mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and cracks in walls and furniture. Therefore, even if the blanket did reach higher temperatures, it wouldn’t affect bed bugs in these hidden areas.
  • Effective Heat Treatments: Professional pest control services use specialized equipment to heat entire rooms to temperatures above 120°F (49°C) for several hours. This method ensures that the heat penetrates all areas where bed bugs might be hiding, effectively killing them and their eggs.

Alternative Methods

To effectively deal with a bed bug infestation, consider using a combination of approaches such as:

  • Professional Heat Treatments: Hiring pest control professionals who use high-temperature treatments.
  • Insecticides: Applying insecticides specifically designed for bed bugs.
  • Vacuuming: Regularly vacuuming mattresses, bed frames, and surrounding areas to remove bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Encasements: Using bed bug-proof encasements on mattresses and box springs to trap and starve bed bugs.

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Bed Bugs and Electric Blankets

Myth 1: Electric Blankets Attract Bed Bugs


Electric blankets do not attract bed bugs. Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide and body heat emitted by humans, not the warmth of an electric blanket. While electric blankets provide heat, it is not significant enough to draw bed bugs away from their preferred source—human bodies.


Bed bugs are more likely to be found in places where humans sleep, such as mattresses, bed frames, and nearby furniture, rather

than being attracted to an electric blanket itself.

Myth 2: Electric Blankets Can Kill Bed Bugs


Electric blankets are not designed to reach temperatures high enough to kill bed bugs. Bed bugs require sustained heat of over 120°F (49°C) for effective extermination, which is far beyond the heating capacity of typical electric blankets.


To effectively kill bed bugs, professional heat treatments or specially designed bed bug heaters are necessary. Electric blankets provide comfort and warmth but are not a solution for pest control.

Myth 3: Using an Electric Blanket Prevents Bed Bug Infestations


Using an electric blanket does not prevent bed bug infestations. Bed bugs can still infest a bed and surrounding areas regardless of the use of an electric blanket.


Preventing bed bug infestations involves maintaining cleanliness, inspecting bedding and furniture regularly, and taking precautions when traveling or bringing second-hand items into the home. An electric blanket does not serve as a deterrent for bed bugs.

Myth 4: Bed Bugs Are Only Found in Dirty Homes


Bed bugs can infest any home, regardless of cleanliness. They are opportunistic pests that are primarily spread through travel and the movement of infested items.


Bed bugs are commonly found in hotels, public transportation, and second-hand furniture. Regular inspection and preventive measures are key to avoiding infestations, no matter how clean your home is.

Myth 5: Electric Blankets Are Dangerous and Can Cause Fires


Modern electric blankets are designed with safety features such as automatic shut-off and overheat protection, making them safe for use when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


While it’s true that older electric blankets posed some risks, advancements in technology have made modern electric blankets much safer. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, regularly inspect the blanket for damage, and replace it if necessary to ensure safe use.

How Can One Prevent Bed Bugs in Bedding and Electric Blankets?

Preventing bed bug infestations in bedding and electric blankets involves a combination of regular inspections, cleanliness, and protective measures. Here are practical tips and preventive measures to keep your bedding bed bug-free.

Practical Tips and Preventive Measures

1. Regular Inspection

Frequent Checks: Regularly inspect your bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, mattresses, and electric blankets, for signs of bed bugs. Look for small, rust-colored stains, tiny white eggs, and the bugs themselves.

Seams and Folds: Pay special attention to mattress seams, folds in bedding, and any crevices in bed frames and headboards.

2. Maintain Cleanliness

Wash Bedding Regularly: Wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot water (at least 120°F or 49°C) and dry them on high heat. This can help kill any bed bugs or eggs present.

Vacuum Frequently: Regularly vacuum your mattress, box spring, bed frame, and surrounding areas to remove any bed bugs and their eggs.

3. Protective Measures

Mattress Encasements: Use bed bug-proof encasements on mattresses and box springs. These encasements are designed to trap bed bugs and prevent them from getting into or out of the mattress.

Clutter Reduction: Reduce clutter around your sleeping area to minimize hiding places for bed bugs.

4. Careful with Second-Hand Items

Inspect Thoroughly: Be cautious when bringing second-hand furniture, bedding, or clothing into your home. Inspect these items thoroughly for signs of bed bugs.

Treat Before Use: If possible, treat second-hand items with heat or insecticides before using them in your home.

5. Travel Precautions

Hotel Inspections: When staying in hotels, inspect the room for signs of bed bugs. Check the mattress, headboard, and furniture before unpacking.

Luggage Management: Keep your luggage off the floor and bed. Use luggage racks and keep your suitcase closed when not in use. Inspect your luggage before bringing it back into your home.

6. Electric Blanket Maintenance

Regular Cleaning: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your electric blanket. Some models are machine washable, while others require spot cleaning.

Storage: Store your electric blanket in a sealed plastic bag or container when not in use to prevent bed bugs from accessing it.

7. Professional Help

Pest Control Services: If you suspect a bed bug infestation, contact a professional pest control service. They can provide thorough inspections and effective treatments to eliminate bed bugs from your home.

What Steps Should to take If You Suspect Bed Bugs in Your Electric Blanket?

If you suspect bed bugs in your electric blanket or bedding, it’s essential to act quickly and methodically to confirm the infestation and prevent it from spreading. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you address the issue:

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Immediate Inspection

  • Visual Check: Carefully inspect your electric blanket, bedding, mattress, and surrounding areas for signs of bed bugs. Look for small, rust-colored stains, shed skins, tiny white eggs, and live bugs.
  • Seams and Folds: Pay close attention to mattress seams, pillow folds, and crevices in the bed frame and headboard.

2. Isolate the Suspected Items

  • Remove and Seal: If you find evidence of bed bugs, immediately remove the electric blanket and bedding. Place them in sealed plastic bags to prevent bed bugs from spreading to other areas.
  • Quarantine: Keep the affected items isolated until you can treat them properly.

3. Wash and Dry

  • High Heat: Wash the electric blanket (if the manufacturer’s instructions allow) and bedding in hot water (at least 120°F or 49°C). Use the highest heat setting on your dryer to ensure any bed bugs and eggs are killed.
  • Alternative Treatments: For items that cannot be washed in hot water, consider using a steam cleaner or placing them in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes.

4. Clean and Vacuum

  • Thorough Cleaning: Vacuum the mattress, box spring, bed frame, and surrounding areas thoroughly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to capture bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Dispose of Vacuum Contents: After vacuuming, immediately dispose of the vacuum bag or contents in a sealed plastic bag and remove it from your home.

5. Inspect and Treat Surrounding Areas

  • Adjacent Furniture: Check nearby furniture, curtains, and rugs for signs of bed bugs. Treat these areas with appropriate insecticides or heat treatments if necessary.
  • Professional Inspection: Consider hiring a professional pest control service to conduct a thorough inspection and treatment of your home.

6. Protect Your Mattress and Bedding

  • Encasements: Use bed bug-proof encasements on your mattress and box spring to trap any remaining bed bugs and prevent new infestations.
  • Regular Monitoring: Continue to inspect your bedding and sleeping area regularly to ensure bed bugs have been completely eradicated.

7. Follow-Up Treatments

  • Reapplication: If you used insecticides, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for reapplication to ensure all bed bugs and eggs are eliminated.
  • Professional Follow-Up: Schedule follow-up visits with a pest control professional to monitor the situation and apply additional treatments if necessary.

Are There Any Alternatives to Electric Blankets That Are Less Likely to Attract Bed Bugs?

While electric blankets do not inherently attract bed bugs, some people might prefer alternatives for various reasons, including reducing any perceived risk. Here are some warming bedding options that are less likely to attract bed bugs and provide similar comfort:

Alternatives to Electric Blankets

1. Heated Mattress Pads

Description: Heated mattress pads are placed directly on the mattress under the fitted sheet. They provide uniform warmth from below, which some users find more comfortable than an electric blanket.

Benefits: Since they are under the fitted sheet and mattress protector, they are less exposed to bed bugs.

Safety: Look for models with auto shut-off and overheat protection features.

2. Fleece or Flannel Sheets

Description: Fleece and flannel sheets are made from thicker, warmer materials that retain body heat better than standard cotton sheets.

Benefits: These materials provide natural warmth without the need for electricity, reducing any risk of attracting bed bugs with external heat sources.

3. Down or Down-Alternative Comforters

Description: Down comforters are filled with duck or goose feathers, while down-alternative comforters use synthetic fibers to mimic the insulating properties of down.

Benefits: These comforters trap and retain body heat effectively, providing substantial warmth without the need for electric components.

4. Thermal Blankets

Description: Thermal blankets are made from materials designed to retain heat, such as wool or synthetic fibers.

Benefits: They provide warmth without the need for electricity and can be layered with other bedding for added comfort.

5. Hot Water Bottles and Heating Pads

Description: Hot water bottles and heating pads can be used to warm specific areas of the bed before sleep.

Benefits: They provide localized warmth and can be easily removed before going to bed, reducing any potential risk of attracting bed bugs.

6. Electric Throws and Lap Blankets

Description: These are smaller, portable electric blankets designed for use while sitting or lying down, but not typically left on the bed overnight.

Benefits: They offer the convenience of electric warmth but are less likely to be a permanent fixture in the bedding, reducing potential exposure to bed bugs.

Additional Preventive Measures

Regardless of the warming option you choose, maintaining good hygiene and

preventive measures is crucial to keep bed bugs at bay:

  • Regular Washing: Wash all bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and comforters, in hot water regularly.
  • Vacuuming: Vacuum your mattress and surrounding areas frequently to remove any potential bed bugs or eggs.
  • Protective Covers: Use bed bug-proof encasements on your mattress and box spring to create a barrier against bed bugs.
  • Inspection: Regularly inspect your bedding and sleeping area for any signs of bed bugs, such as rust-colored stains, shed skins, or live bugs.


While electric blankets provide much-needed warmth and comfort, they are not a significant attractant for bed bugs. Bed bugs are more drawn to the warmth and carbon dioxide produced by the human body. Effective prevention and control of bed bugs require a multifaceted approach, focusing on cleanliness, vigilance, and professional pest control when necessary. By understanding the habits of these pests and taking proactive measures, you can enjoy the benefits of your electric blanket without the worry of attracting bed bugs.

Whether you are experiencing a current infestation or aiming to prevent one, staying informed and prepared is your best defense. For further exploration, consider researching additional pest control methods and staying updated on the latest in bed bug prevention techniques.

Remember, maintaining a pest-free home not only ensures your comfort but also your peace of mind.