An undisputed truth of bed bug treatments is that steam is one of the most effective ways to kill the little critters on contact. The nearly universal adoption of high-pressure steamers by pest control professionals has led to an explosion in the number of professional-grade steamers available to the public. Dry vapor steamers range from $300 to over $4,000 and can have any of a wide variety of features. However, they all share a limiting factor in that the heat they rely on to kill bed bugs only comes from one source: the boiler. Italian manufacturer Polti aims to change that with their all-new Cimex Eradicator.
Unlike conventional steamers, the Eradicator features a second heating element inside of the gun itself. This chamber rapidly expands and heats the steam that was fed from the boiler before pushing it out of the barrel, resulting in an exceptionally hot and dry steam. With a maximum tip temperature of 356 degrees Fahrenheit, this is easily the hottest steamer we have ever tested. There is also significantly less water vapor emitted by the Eradicator than by any other steamer we’ve seen, which means more heat penetration ability and less cleanup after the job is done.
The features sound good in theory, but is the new Eradicator state of the art or just a flash in the pan? Read on as we find out.
Unboxing and First Impressions
When you’ve unboxed as many steamers as we have, you get used to a certain convention of what will be included. A steamer is usually accompanied with extension tubes, an array of brushes and heads, a couple of microfiber towelettes, and a thin user manual.
You can imagine our surprise then when the Eradicator arrived with none of that. In place of the usual assortment of accessories, we instead pulled out a specialized treatment guide, large multilingual user manual, demonstration DVD, high-quality protective gloves, two steam concentration tubes, a brass cleaning brush, and two bottles of HPMed, Polti’s proprietary cleaning solution. Polti has made every effort to make the Eradicator a unique, specialized, and forward-thinking tool, and the unboxing experience reflects that.
The steamer itself is definitely something special. The rounded edges, solid white body, and tactile buttons and dials make the Eradicator feel more like modern hospital equipment than a sanitation tool. Despite the use of plastic instead of metal, the body and parts all feel very solid and substantial.
Using the Eradicator
The Eradicator certainly looks high-tech, but how does it handle? To begin our testing, we popped open the patented safety cap and filled the 2-liter tank to capacity. After plugging in the 10-foot cord and pushing on the generous boiler power switch, we waited about 12 minutes for the boiler to do its thing and bring the pressure up. This is about a standard heat-up time, but it felt long because we have been spoiled by the Il Capo’s wicked fast boiler. Fortunately, the generous 2-liter capacity can keep you steaming for up to 2 hours without needing to refill.
Once the tank was at a boil and the pressure gauge was redlined, it was time to get steaming. Just seconds after we switched on the steam gun (with a separate power button, which is unusual) and pulled the trigger, a torrent of incredibly hot and incredibly dry steam came billowing out of the oversized barrel. From this moment, we knew that the Eradicator was definitely something different – instead of a slow build-up and a narrow jet of wet steam, this gun was blasting out a wide spray of dry vapor from the start. Due to the wide dispersal of the vapor, the risk of blowing bed bugs around instead of killing them in their place is virtually eliminated.
Our temperature testing wasn’t exactly scientific: we each volunteered to put our hand in front of the jet to see how hot it felt. We definitely don’t recommend trying that at home, because the Eradicator’s steam is extremely hot. The secondary heating element in the gun is no joke, and we believe the manufacturer’s claim of 356-degree max tip temperature. This extreme temperature is the Eradicator’s claim to fame: while it only takes 180 degrees to kill bed bugs on contact, this extra temperature ensures that even bed bugs hiding deep in cracks, crevices, and soft materials like mattresses and upholstered furniture can’t escape the Eradicator’s steam output.
Ridiculous steam output isn’t the only trick up the Eradicator’s sleeve. Polti included two bottles of HPMed, a unique cleaning solution that fits on the bottom of the steam gun and mixes its fluid into the steam. This solution will help remove bed bug fecal stains, blood spots, and that characteristic odor left behind by an infestation. Naturally, this solution isn’t required, and the gun ships with an empty bottle attached for those that don’t want to bother with it.
Also in the box are two steam concentration tubes that are used to narrow the dispersal of steam to a more concentrated central point. However, we felt that the steamer performed better without those attached, so we recommend that you only use those when you absolutely need to focus steam on a tight space.
The Polti Cimex Eradicator is the first steamer on the market made for just one purpose: killing bed bugs. While other steamers have earned their place in many a pest control truck, the Eradicator’s specialization might take over as the tool of choice for fast contact killing. It’s insanely hot, insanely powerful, and still insanely easy to use. There are a lot of bed bugs out there, so the Eradicator has a lot of work to do, and it’s now available in the US for the first time.