How Long Do Bedbugs Live In A Plastic Bag?

Bedbugs are persistent and troublesome pests that can infest homes and cause significant distress. If you’ve recently discovered a bedbug infestation and are looking for effective ways to combat these pests, you may have wondered about their survival ability in various environments. One question that often arises is, how long do bedbugs live in a plastic bag?

In this article, we will explore the lifespan of bedbugs within a sealed plastic bag and provide valuable insights on using this method to control and eliminate these resilient insects.

Read also: Can Plastic Bags Be Recycled? 

How Long Do Bedbugs Live In A Plastic Bag?

Bed bugs are hardy pests and can survive for extended periods without feeding. When sealed inside a plastic bag, their survival time can vary depending on various factors. While some sources suggest that bed bugs can survive for 5-7 months in a sealed plastic bag, it’s important to note that these figures are estimates and can vary based on conditions such as temperature and access to oxygen.

Temperatures above 118°F (48°C) are lethal to bedbugs because they exceed the thermal tolerance of these pests. When exposed to such high temperatures, bedbugs undergo thermal stress, which damages their vital organs and disrupts their physiological functions. The intense heat causes dehydration, denaturation of proteins, and cell membrane damage, ultimately leading to their death.

The 90-minute timeframe is considered sufficient to ensure the complete extermination of bedbugs. During this period, the high temperature penetrates their hiding places, including cracks, crevices, and furniture, eliminating adult bedbugs and their eggs. This prolonged exposure ensures that all stages of the bedbug life cycle are eradicated, preventing re-infestation.

Specific humidity levels that can potentially impact bedbugs are extremely low humidity below 20% or very high humidity above 90%.

So for the bedbugs to die in the plastic bag, you must deny them a constant air supply, which is oxygen, and subject them to high temperatures or humidity. If the plastic bag is put in an area with high temperatures above 118°F (48°C),  the bedbugs will die in 2 hours.

Understanding Bedbugs and Their Survival Skills

Bedbugs are small, wingless insects that are known for their ability to feed on the blood of humans and other animals. They belong to the Cimicidae family, and their scientific name is Cimex lectularius. These pests are typically reddish-brown in color, flat and oval-shaped, and about the size of an apple seed. Bedbugs are nocturnal creatures, which means they are most active at night when they come out to feed on their hosts.

Bedbugs’ remarkable survival instincts and adaptability have helped them persist throughout history. One of their notable skills is their ability to survive without a blood meal for several months. This allows them to withstand periods of scarcity and wait patiently until they can find a new host. Also, bedbugs can hide in tiny cracks and crevices, making locating and eradicating them challenging. They are excellent hitchhikers and can easily latch onto luggage, clothing, or furniture, allowing them to spread quickly from one location to another.

Bedbugs are also adept at adapting to various conditions. They can thrive in a wide range of temperatures, from nearly freezing to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 49 degrees Celsius). They can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations and survive in hot and cold climates. These pests are also known to develop resistance to commonly used insecticides, which poses a challenge to effective control and eradication efforts.

Furthermore, depending on environmental conditions, a female bedbug can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime, which can hatch in about a week or two. This rapid reproductive cycle allows their populations to rebound swiftly even after control measures have been taken.

Lastly, developing resistance to common insecticides has added to the resilience of bedbugs. Over time, bedbugs have developed genetic mutations that make them less susceptible to the effects of certain chemicals. This resistance makes using multiple strategies and specialized treatments necessary to control and eliminate bedbug infestations effectively.

Their hiding abilities, rapid reproduction, and insecticide resistance make bedbugs incredibly resilient pests that require persistent and thorough efforts to combat.

Factors Affecting Bedbugs’ Survival in a Plastic Bag

Several factors can influence the survival of bedbugs in a plastic bag.

Here are some key factors

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature and humidity play a significant role in bedbug survival. Bedbugs are ectothermic organisms, meaning their body temperature is influenced by their environment. They thrive in environments with temperatures between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 27°C) and relative humidity levels of around 70 to 80 percent. Extreme temperatures (below freezing or above 118°F/48°C) can be lethal to bedbugs, while low humidity levels can cause dehydration and reduce their survival rate.

Optimal conditions for bedbug survival in a plastic bag would include temperatures within their preferred range (70°F to 80°F or 21°C to 27°C) and moderate humidity levels (around 70 to 80 percent). These conditions allow them to remain active and reproduce while minimizing the risk of dehydration or extreme temperature stress.

Air Supply

The air supply is important for bedbugs as they require oxygen for respiration. Like other living organisms, bedbugs rely on oxygen to perform essential bodily functions and sustain their metabolism.

Bedbugs in a plastic bag with limited air circulation may experience a lack of oxygen. This can negatively impact their lifespan. Bedbugs may suffer from respiratory distress or suffocation without sufficient oxygen, leading to decreased survival rates within the enclosed space.

Feeding Requirements

Bedbugs are hematophagous parasites that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They typically feed at night when their hosts are asleep and are attracted to the carbon dioxide and body heat emitted by their hosts. Bedbugs can survive for several months without feeding but require regular blood meals to reproduce and maintain their population.

Bedbugs will eventually exhaust their energy reserves from previous feedings in a plastic bag without a source of blood. The lack of a food source negatively impacts their survival. Over time, without access to blood, bedbugs will become weakened and may die due to starvation or decreased reproductive capacity.

Tips for Containing and Eliminating Bedbugs in Plastic Bags

When dealing with bedbugs, containment is crucial to prevent their spread and eliminate them effectively.

Here are some tips for containing and eliminating bedbugs using plastic bags;

Bag all infested items

Carefully gather all infested items such as clothing, bedding, curtains, and stuffed animals. Place them into large, heavy-duty plastic bags. Handling one bag at a time is best to minimize the risk of spreading bedbugs to unaffected areas.

Seal the bags tightly.

Before sealing the bags, ensure there are no openings or gaps. Bedbugs are incredibly small and can escape through even the tiniest openings. Use strong zip ties or tape to seal the bags tightly. Consider folding the top of the bag over a few times before sealing to create an extra layer of protection.


For added security, consider using a second bag. Place the sealed bag containing infested items into a new plastic bag and seal it tightly. This provides an additional barrier and reduces the chance of bedbugs escaping.

Secure the bags

Use a zip tie or tape to fasten the double-bagged items securely. Check the bags for potential openings or loose areas and reinforce them if necessary. Ensure the bags are airtight to prevent bedbugs from escaping or re-infesting other areas.

Label the bags

Clearly mark each bag as “infested with bedbugs” to avoid accidental spreading or confusion with other bags. This ensures that anyone handling the bags knows their contents and takes appropriate precautions.

Isolate the bags

Move the sealed and labeled bags to an isolated area. Ideally, this should be outside the infested room, such as a garage or storage area. Keeping the bags separate from unaffected areas minimizes the risk of spreading bedbugs.

Temperature treatment

If feasible, consider subjecting the bags to extreme temperatures to kill the bedbugs. Place the bags in a freezer set to 0°F (-18°C) or lower for several days for cold treatment. The sustained cold temperatures will eradicate the bedbugs. For heat treatment, expose the bags to direct sunlight on a hot day or use a clothes dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes. The heat will effectively kill the bedbugs and their eggs.

Monitor for escapees

Regularly inspect the sealed bags for any signs of bedbugs trying to escape. Look for live bedbugs, shed skins, or dark spots (fecal matter) on the bags. If you notice any signs of bedbugs, repeat the bagging process, ensuring proper sealing, and consider contacting professional pest control for assistance.

Dispose of bags cautiously.

When you are confident that the bags are free of bedbugs, you can dispose of them properly. Consult local regulations for the appropriate method of disposal. Some areas may require you to seal the bags in additional layers of plastic or place them in specific trash containers to prevent the potential spread of bedbugs.

Consult professional help if needed.

If the infestation persists or becomes overwhelming, seeking professional pest control services is highly recommended. They have the expertise and tools to effectively eliminate bedbugs and provide guidance on preventing future infestations.

Remember, the process of containing and eliminating bedbugs can be challenging. It requires thoroughness, attention to detail, and persistence. Following these detailed tips can improve your chances of successfully controlling and eliminating bedbugs in plastic bags.

Can Bed Bugs Survive in Vacuum Sealed Bags?

Bed bugs are resilient pests that can survive in various conditions. While vacuuming effectively reduces the bed bug population, vacuum-sealed bags may not necessarily eliminate them entirely. Bed bugs can survive without feeding for extended periods and can withstand extreme temperatures and pressures.

Vacuum-sealed bags can temporarily contain bed bugs by trapping them and preventing their movement. However, these small pests can find tiny gaps or create new entry points over time. Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding, so if they are sealed inside a vacuum bag, they may simply enter a dormant state until they find an opportunity to escape and resume their feeding habits.

Can You Kill Bed Bugs with a Vacuum Cleaner?

Yes, using a vacuum cleaner can be an effective method for eliminating bed bugs. Here’s a detailed explanation of how it can be done:

Select the right vacuum cleaner

Choose a vacuum cleaner with strong suction power and a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. A HEPA filter ensures that the captured bed bugs and their eggs are trapped inside the vacuum, preventing them from escaping into your living space.

Prepare the area

Before vacuuming, prepare the infested area by removing any clutter or items from the floor, such as bedding, clothing, or stuffed animals. This will allow you to clean the affected areas thoroughly.

Use attachments

Attach the appropriate accessories to your vacuum cleaner, such as a crevice tool or a brush attachment. These attachments will help you reach into cracks, crevices, seams, and other hard-to-reach areas where bed bugs might be hiding.

Start vacuuming

Begin vacuuming the infested area, focusing on areas where bed bugs are commonly found, such as mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, baseboards, carpets, and upholstery. Pay extra attention to seams, tufts, and folds in mattresses and furniture, as bed bugs tend to hide in these areas.

Thoroughly vacuum all surfaces.

Run the vacuum cleaner over each surface multiple times, using slow and deliberate movements. Bed bugs and their eggs can cling tightly to surfaces, so a thorough and meticulous approach is essential. Make sure to vacuum both sides of mattresses, including the seams and edges.

Empty the vacuum

After vacuuming, immediately remove and seal the vacuum bag or empty the contents into a sealed plastic bag. This prevents any captured bed bugs from escaping and re-infesting your home. If you have a bagless vacuum cleaner with a removable canister, empty the contents directly into a bag and seal it.

Dispose of the sealed bag.

Place the sealed bag in an outdoor trash bin to prevent bed bugs from re-entering your living space. Disposing the bag outside your home is crucial to prevent any potential re-infestation.

Repeat the process

Bed bug infestations often require multiple vacuuming sessions to ensure complete removal. Repeat the vacuuming process regularly, ideally every few days or at least once a week, for several weeks to target newly hatched bed bugs and any survivors.

Complement with other treatments.

While vacuuming is an effective method to remove bed bugs physically, it may not completely eliminate the entire infestation. Complementing vacuuming with other bed bug control methods, such as washing and drying infested bedding on high heat, using mattress encasements, applying residual insecticides, or seeking professional pest control services if the infestation persists.

Alternative Way to Kill Bed Bugs

In addition to using a vacuum cleaner and sealing bed bugs in plastic bags, there are several other methods you can employ to kill bed bugs:

Heat treatment

Bed bugs are sensitive to high temperatures. You can use heat treatment to kill them and their eggs. Wash infested bedding, clothing, and other washable items in hot water and dry them in the highest heat setting.

You can also use a steam cleaner to treat infested areas such as mattresses, furniture, and carpets, ensuring the steam temperature is above 118°F (48°C) to kill bed bugs effectively.

Cold treatment

Bed bugs are also vulnerable to extremely cold temperatures. If you have items that cannot be washed or heat-treated, you can seal them in plastic bags and place them in a freezer for several days.

The temperature should be below 0°F (-18°C) to kill the bed bugs and their eggs.

Encase mattresses and furniture

Using bed bug-proof encasements for mattresses, box springs, and pillows can prevent bed bugs from infesting these items or trap any existing bed bugs inside, making it difficult for them to feed and reproduce.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that can be effective against bed bugs. It is a fine powder that consists of the fossilized remains of diatoms.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in areas with bed bugs, such as cracks, crevices, and behind furniture.

The powder damages the outer shell of bed bugs, causing them to dehydrate and eventually die.


There are insecticides specifically formulated to kill bed bugs. These can be applied to infested areas such as cracks, crevices, and baseboards.

It’s important to follow the instructions carefully and ensure the insecticide is labeled for use against bed bugs.

Insecticide use may require multiple treatments and should be done in conjunction with other control methods.

Professional pest control

If you have a severe or persistent bed bug infestation, it is advisable to seek professional help.

Pest control professionals can access more potent insecticides and specialized equipment to eliminate bed bugs effectively.

Remember, bed bug control requires a comprehensive approach. It’s crucial to combine multiple methods and be persistent in your efforts. Regular monitoring and follow-up treatments may be necessary to eradicate bed bugs from your home completely.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do Bedbugs Suffocate in Plastic? 

Bedbugs are resilient pests and can survive for long periods without oxygen. While it is true that sealing bedbugs in an airtight plastic bag may prevent them from obtaining a fresh supply of air, it is not a reliable method for eradicating an infestation.

Bedbugs can enter a state of dormancy known as diapause, where they can survive for months without feeding or requiring much oxygen. This adaptation enables them to withstand adverse conditions and increases their chances of survival.

How Long Can Bedbugs Survive Without Food?

Bedbugs can indeed survive for an extended period without feeding. While their survival duration can vary depending on various factors, studies suggest that bedbugs can typically survive without a blood meal for around 20 to 400 days. The specific duration can be influenced by factors such as temperature, humidity, the age of the bedbug, and the individual’s overall health.

Under optimal conditions, where the environment provides suitable temperature, humidity, and hiding places, bedbugs can often survive for several months without feeding. They have evolved to withstand periods of food scarcity and can enter a dormancy known as diapause, allowing them to conserve energy and survive longer without feeding.

What Chemical Kills Bedbugs and Their Eggs?

Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are a group of chemicals commonly used to control bedbugs and their eggs. They are synthetic insecticides that are designed to mimic the insecticidal properties of naturally occurring chemicals called pyrethrins, which are derived from chrysanthemum flowers.

These chemicals attack the nervous system of bedbugs, leading to paralysis and death. They are effective against both adult bedbugs and their eggs. However, pyrethroids generally have a better residual effect, meaning they can continue to kill bedbugs for an extended period after application.

Final Thought 

Now that you know how long bedbugs can survive in plastic bags, it’s important to note that subjecting the bags to extreme cold or hot temperatures is necessary to kill them.

Utilizing alternative methods can simplify the process and provide faster results. If you’re uncertain about the best course of action, you should seek assistance from nearby pest control organizations. They can offer professional help and guidance to address the issue effectively.

Best of luck in resolving the problem!