How To Find Bed Bugs In Your Clothes

Find Bed Bugs.
But Don’t Help Them Spread!

When you’re trying to find bed bugs, the last thing you want is for one to stow away on your clothing. And the inspection itself could drive them deeper into hiding. Here are five strategies to help you find bed bugs – without helping them spread.

Need to knowhowto inspect for bed bugs your home or hotel room?Read the step-by-step instructions here.

IMPORTANT NOTE:If at any point you find a live bed bug,stop.Your inspection is done for now and you need to start working on your bed bug pest control plan.Don’t jump the gun and grab for a bed bug spray can or fogger!That’ll just make things worse. Head over to the bed bug pest control section to learn what to do next.

How to Find Bed Bugs Without Spreading Them in Your Home

The key is to plan ahead: be ready to contain items for de-bugging later, avoid hitchhikers, and tread lightly to keep them from scattering.

Contain potentially "buggy" items.

Contain items for potential de-bugging as you go.That way if there are bedbugs, they won’t get spread to other parts of the room.

  • Don’t just fling the bedding on the floor. Put it in a plastic bag and tie it up tight.
  • Bag up clothes as you pull them out of dresser drawers
  • Put non-clothing items in bags (or plastic totes) too – just in case.

Then you can take it all down to be de-bugged in the dryer when you’re done.

Watch out for hitch-hikers.

You don’t want to let some of these little buggers to hitch a ride on your clothing while you’re looking for them.You’re going to be getting up close and personal with their hideouts, so this is a real possibility. Here’s how to prevent that:

  1. Put clothes that you know are bedbug-free in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
  2. When you’re done inspecting, strip down (make sure the blinds are shut. )
  3. Put the clothes you were wearing in another plastic bag and seal it or tie it up tight.
  4. Get dressed silly! Put on the bug-free clothes from the first bag.
  5. Take the potentially buggy clothes down to your clothes dryer (for de-bugging) and tumble them on high heat for 30 minutes to kill any bed bugs or eggs you might have picked up while doing your inspection.
  6. Make sure you tie the bag used for the buggy stuff up nice and tight and throw in in the trash outside.

If you follow these steps, you will seriously reduce the risk of taking bed bugs with you to other parts of the house.

Tread lightly.

You don’t want the inspection itself to cause bed bugs to spread.Here’s how to find bed bugs without making them scatter: Go slowly, and “tread lightly”. Be gentle as you move items. Keep in mind that if they are infested, the bed bugs are likely to scatter if you upset their hiding places too violently. Do just one area at a time – and take your time!

And remember, if and when you find a live bed bug – you’re done.Stop looking for now and go straight to bed bug pest control.

How to Find Bed Bugs in a Hotel Room Without Taking Them Home

Knowing how to inspect a hotel room for bed bugs is a key bedbug prevention skill. But if you do find them, how do you make sure they don’t come home with you?

Safeguard your stuff in the bathtub.

The bath tub?!Yep!Put everything you have in the bathtub the moment you walk into the hotel room. This is the last place bed bugs are likely to be found in a hotel room, so its the safest place for your stuff. Don’t set anything other than your bed bug inspection gear anywhere else until you’ve deemed the room to be bed bug safe.

If you do find bed bugs or signs they have been there, take a picture. Then head straight to the front desk to ask for another room.

Contain your clothes for de-bugging.

Once you’re in a room that passes inspection, go to the bathroom and contain the clothes you are wearing.

This is important because while you were finding the bed bugs, they might have found you and decided to hitch a ride. The bathroom is the best place to do this because you will be able to easily see if any fall off or “make a break for it” and kill them before they infest your new room.

  1. Take off all the clothes you have been wearing.
  2. Put the clothes in a plastic bag and seal or tie it up tight for later de-bugging.
  3. Check the bathroom floor for any "runaways" and kill or contain them.
  4. Take clean clothing out of your suitcase (which should still be in the bathtub) and put them on.

Sealable bags like large zip-loc bags are better if you have them. When you get home, use your dryer to de-bug those clothes along with everything else.Optional:You can ask the hotel to dry your clothes on high for 30 minutes to kill any bugs or eggs that might be on them.

Now that you know how find bed bugs without spreading them further, it’s time to get to work.Learnhow to check for bed bugsstep-by-step with this tutorial.

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How To Find Bed Bugs

Need to know how to find bed bugs in your home or hotel room?Let’s walk through the inspection process step-by-step right now. It’s time to find out if you have bedbugs.

Before you can check for bed bugs in your home or hotel, you need to know what bed bugs look like, other signs you have bed bugs and where they hide so you know where to look.

How to Look For Bed Bugs Step-by-Step

If you follow these instructions, step-by-step, you will be just as likely as to find bed bugs (if they are present) as a professional.

Start with the bed.

This is the most likely place you’ll find bed bugs because they like to hide close to where they feed.Here’s how to find bed bugs there:

  1. Carefully pull back the bedding and look for signs that bedbugs have been around like blood spots and fecal stains.
  2. Thoroughly check the mattress, paying particular attention to edges, seams and air-holes. If possible, turn the mattress on its side to inspect the under-side too. Bed bugs are more likely to be closest to the head of the bed, but make sure you take a look at the foot end of the mattress too.
  3. Do the same with the box spring. You may have to cut or remove the gauze “protector” on the underside of the box spring to take a good look inside – but you need to do this (unless it’s not your bed, of course). Box springs are the #1 bed bug hiding place, so spend extra time doing a really thorough inspection here. This is where a flash light and magnifying glass become your greatest allies. Pay special attention to wooden joints, corners, screw holes and staples. The wooden slats make a very attractive place for bedbugs to lay their eggs and the area where the cover is attached to the frame is a favorite hiding spot too.
  4. turn your attention to the head board and bed frame. Remember to really look closely at any grooves in wooden headboards and pay attention to corners and joints. Don’t forget to pull the bed away from the wall and inspect the backside completely too.

Next, try to find bed bugs in any upholstered furniture.

This includes sofas, love seats, recliners, easy chairs, chaise lounges, and ottomans.Here’s how to find bed bugs in these items:

  1. Carefully remove all cushions and pillows and inspect them one by one. Paying attention to seams, tufts and piping. Also examine the zippers closely (this is another common place for bed bugs to hide and lay their eggs).
  2. Look in and around all the seams of the couch or chair itself. Don’t forget to lift up any skirting and check the underside – focus especially on pleats in the fabric and the seam that attaches it to the piece of furniture.
  3. Pull it away from the wall to inspect the back side as well.
  4. If at all possible (with the help of a friend or partner), lay it on its back side to inspect underneath/inside just like you did with the box spring.

Now, turn your attention to the night stands and dresser to see if you find any bed bugs there.

(You can also use the directions below for coffee tables, end tables and desks in other rooms of the house.)

  1. Take everything out and put it in a large garbage bag or plastic tub with a cover to reduce the possibility that they spread if there are bed bugs in those items.
  2. Pull the drawers completely out, one – by one, and thoroughly inspect each one inside and out. Remember to check underneath as well. Like the headboard and frame, pay close attention to the corners, joints, screw heads and any grooves where bedbugs might like to hide or lay their eggs.
  3. Next, check inside, behind and underneath the piece of furniture itself. I think you know what I’m would say here about, corners, joints and crevices. (c’mon, I’m sure you need a chuckle by this point)

If you’ve gotten this far and found nothing.

You’ve checked thetop 92.6% of places where bed bugs are foundin residences with infestations according to a study conducted by the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky.

You also have all the skills you need to inspect the other places you might find bed bugs. You will find a list of more places to look for bed bugs here.

IMPORTANT NOTE:If at any point you find a live bed bug,STOP.Your inspection is done for now and you need to start working on your bed bug pest control plan.

Don’t jump the gun and grab for a bed bug spray can or fogger!That’ll just make things worse. much worse. Head over to the bed bug pest control section to learn what to do next.

How to Find Bed Bugs When You Travel

Obviously when you’re inspecting for bed bugs in a hotel or friend/relative’s guest room, you have to make some modifications. You really can’t tear the bed apart in a hotel room. And youcertainlydon’t want the folks you’re visiting to come-a-knockin’ asking“everything okay in there?”

Hotel rooms can present some special challengesbecause the bed frame and head board are usually affixed to the floor and wall.

Generally you won’t have access to the the box spring (if there even is one) so your efforts will need to focus on the mattress itself, the head board and anything within about 5 feet of the bed.

Also, don’t forget the luggage rack (never put your stuff there) and make sure to check any upholstered furniture like love seats and chairs.

When you’re staying with folks you know,discretionis the word of the day.You can hit the most common bed bug hiding places without making a ruckus. Focus on the mattress, visible parts of the box spring, and the headboard.

Consider how often/recently the room is likely used.If it’s been closed up since the last time uncle Chuck came through 6 months ago, chances are slim there will be bed bugs present (they would have migrated to where people in the house sleep or lounge). If it’s also used as a reading room, take a look at that big comfy upholstered chair.you get the idea.

Whether you’re on the road or at home, make sure you know how to find bed bugs without helping them spread.

How to Find Bed Bugs without Spreading Them

The last thing you want is for some of these little buggers to hitch a ride on your clothing while you’re looking for them. You’re going to be getting up close and personal with their hideouts, so this is a real possibility. Here are five ways to help you find bed bugs without letting them spread.

You are here:

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Share This!

Get the 10-Minute Bed Bug Crash Course for FREE!

Enter your email address below, and I’ll send you the link to download it for free right away! Want to know more about it first? click here

Check outourFACEBOOKpage!

You can also find the most recent content and news updates on the Bed Bug Answers blog.

Find what you’re looking for fast using one of the search boxes below.

Search this site:

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FTC Disclosure:This site contains some advertising and affiliate links. That means if you click and/or buy through those links, the merchant may pay a small commission to support this site– at no extra cost to you.

Thanks!! Your support of this site is really appreciated 🙂 (See more details in the Disclosure Policy )

Shop for Bed Bug Products

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Bed Bugs Pest Control: You Must Plan for Success – Here’s How

To get rid of bed bugs, pest control planning is a must. It’s not a one-shot deal. No worries, making a bed bug pest control action plan is easier than you think! Just follow simple these steps.

Bed Bug Symptoms – 8 Signs of Bed Bugs You Need to Know

The first bed bug symptoms people often notice are bites, but they’re not proof that’s what you have. Learn the tell-tale signs of bed bugs and how to check for them.

Why I Love Bedbugger.com

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Bed Bug Fogger Alert: Don’t Grab that Can Till You Read This!

A bed bug fogger (bug bomb) seems like a quick-fix for those nasty little suckers, right? WRONG! Here are 3 reasons they don’t work and 5 ways they make things worse and prolong your agony.

FREE!Get the10-MinuteBed Bug Crash Coursee-book.absolutely free.J ust enter your details below and I’ll send the link to your inbox right now.

US EPA

Bed Bugs

How to Find Bed Bugs

If you have a bed bug infestation, it is best to find it early, before the infestation becomes established or spreads. Treating a minor infestation, while an inconvenience, is far less costly and easier than treating the same infestation after it becomes more widespread.

However, low-level infestations are also much more challenging to find and correctly identify. Other insects, such as carpet beetles, can be easily mistaken for bed bugs. If you misidentify a bed bug infestation, it gives the bugs more time to spread to other areas of the house or hitchhike a ride to someone else’s house to start a new infestation. Learn about identifying bed bugs.

Bites on the skin are a poor indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites can look like bites from other insects (such as mosquitoes or chiggers), rashes (such as eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all.

Looking for Signs of Bed Bugs

A more accurate way to identify a possible infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs. When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
  • Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
  • Live bed bugs.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.

If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:

  • In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains.
  • In drawer joints.
  • In electrical receptacles and appliances.
  • Under loose wall paper and wall hangings.
  • At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.
  • Even in the head of a screw.

Can you wash bed bugs out of clothes?

Bed bug infestations are on the rise in the U.S., and coming up with effective ways to deal with these nocturnal pests has become a big topic around the water cooler. Although bed bugs can hitch a ride on just about anything, including shoes, handbags and luggage, clothing is a common target. It’s possible to eradicate bed bugs from laundered clothing, bedding and household textiles like drapes and area rugs, but it takes heat to do it.

A sustained temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit will kill all stages of the bed bug’s lifecycle. Some experts suggest maintaining the heat for at least 20 minutes while others recommend continuing high temperatures for an hour. That’s good news if you’re trying to get bed bugs out of your clothes: Washing your clothes in hot water will probably kill them, and spinning your clothes in a hot dryer will certainly kill them. In fact, just stuffing your bug infested clothes in a trash bag, sealing it and putting it out in the sun on a hot day will kill any critters inside. Just make sure the interior of the bag reaches a sustained 120 degrees Fahrenheit by checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer.

If you’re dealing with dry-clean-only garments, the dry-cleaning process kills bed bugs, too, but it’s probably a good idea to let the dry cleaner know there may be bed bugs in the clothing you’re leaving at his facility. He may want to quarantine your clothes before treating them.

If there will be a delay in cleaning your garments or dropping them off at the dry cleaner, keep them in a sealed trash bag in your garage to make sure you don’t spread them to multiple areas in your home.

These tips don’t just work for clothing, either. Washing and drying with hot water, dry cleaning and heat treating will kill bed bugs in bedding, draperies, pillows, cushions, area rugs and other household textiles, too. Just make sure that the heat penetrates all the layers of the items you’re cleaning.

I Need Tips for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes

N ight time bug bites and stains on your bedding reveal that you’ve been invaded by bed bugs. Now you’re finding them everywhere, including your dresser drawers and clothes closet. You’re taking steps to get rid of nasty little pests, but now they’re in all your clothes. Your priority now is learning how to get rid of bed bugs in clothes. Is there a special detergent that will help? Is it better to pay a dry cleaner? Or do you just have to toss everything in the trash? Keep reading. We’ve collected the tips and information you need.

Table of Contents

Bed Bugs Can Infest Your Clothes

Bed bugs thrive wherever people are. They are travelers and can hitch a ride on about anything. That includes your luggage if you set it anywhere near a bed bug.

You may not have bed bugs in your home, but you can carry them home from anywhere you visit, including five-star hotels or your best friend’s house. You can learn here how to prevent bed bugs from invading your living quarters.

Bed bugs love dark spaces. That includes the folds of your clothes. When they don’t have better places to hide, bed bugs crawl into your clothes.

Washing and Drying Has a Surprising Benefit

Bed bugs have infested your clothes. Does that mean you have to spray them with the same insecticide you’re using on the carpet and mattress? It’s supposed to be safe for fabrics. How will you get any of the poisonous residue out of your lingerie?

Actually, getting rid of bed bugs in your clothes isn’t as complicated as getting rid of them elsewhere.

Two goals to consider:

  1. Keeping the bugs already in the clothes from infesting other areas.
  2. Keeping bugs from other areas from re-infesting your clothes.

Plastic bags that seal tightly are your best friend for both these goals.

The Process Is Effective If Done Correctly

Follow these three basic steps to wash and dry clothes infested with bed bugs:

  • Seal the clothes in plastic bags.
  • Wash and dry the clothes.
  • Seal the cleaned clothes in plastic bags.

Don’t place the bags where there might be a bed bug infestation. If all the bed bugs in your home have been eradicated, then you can put your clothes in drawers and closets after cleaning. If not, take what you need each time from a sealed bag, and reseal the bag.

Hot Water

Heat kills bed bugs. Use the hottest water that safe for your clothes when you wash them. You can add cleaning products to the wash water, but the hot water is what kills them. It’s best that the clothes are in hot water for at least 30 minutes, so you may need to use two wash cycles.

Avoid placing the plastic bag on the floor or tossing your clothes in one at a time. Carefully unseal the plastic bag so that the opening is inside the washer. Then push in the clothes from the bag without touching them.

Keep Your Clothes Sealed in Plastic. Once the bag is empty, quickly reseal it, then place it another bag and seal it. Dispose of both bags outside in an appropriate trash container. The bed bugs in the inside bag will eventually die from lack of food.

When you transfer the washed clothes to the dryer, avoid allowing them to touch anything. If you’re at a commercial laundromat or other shared facility, place your clothes in a sealed bag directly from the dryer. If you’re using your home washer and dryer, you can fold or hang your clothes as you usually would, if you’re sure there are no bed bugs in the area. Putting bed-bug infested clothes on the floor allows the bugs to spread and infest the laundry area.

Laundry Soap

Bedbugs have become resistant to the chemicals traditionally used to exterminate them. Effective chemicals, such as those in modern insecticide sprays, aren’t suitable for use in your laundry.

Laundry soap is meant to clean your clothes. It doesn’t contain insecticides or other ingredients that are toxic to bedbugs. When you’re getting rid of bedbugs in your clothes, washing and drying at high temperatures is all that you need to do.

Some people add dishwashing detergent, such as Dawn to the wash water. Dishwashing detergents can kill bed bugs on contact. They’re effective when sprayed directly on bugs, rather than put in laundry wash water. For more tips on how to get rid of bed bugs naturally, read this article.

Bleach

Harsh chemicals like bleach will kill bedbugs. Even if you use products that promise they won’t fade fabrics, bleach is still a risky way to try to get rid bed bugs in your clothes. Internet advice recommends adding the bleach to hot water when you do your laundry. Then use high heat in the dryer to dry them. The bleach may kill a bed bug or two, but it’s the high temperatures that destroy them.

Making a spray of half bleach and half water and using that on your mattress is fatal to bed bugs hiding there. That can help keep your clothes from being re-infested. You’ll find instructions here on how to get rid of bed bugs in furniture to keep them from getting into your clothes.

Special Laundry Detergents

You will find products online or in retail outlets that are meant to be added to your laundry to kill bedbugs.

These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Bed Bug 911 Exterminator Laundry Treatment.
  • Formula 4 Bed Bug Detergent.
  • SayByeBugs Laundry Treatment.

The products claim to be non-toxic and safe for fabrics.

Searching for a list of ingredients in bed bug laundry detergents yields information such as:

  • All-Natural,
  • Proprietary formula,
  • Special formula.

You can use any of the products that you care to try, but note that most of the directions advise you to use hot water in the wash.

If the instructions include washing in cold water, then you are to use high temperature in the dryer. It’s the heat that kills the bed bugs, not the detergent ingredients. It’s also worthwhile noting that some states don’t allow the use of some of the products. Those products may not be as harmless as advertised.

How Do I Kill Them With Heat?

As has been established, high temperatures are fatal to bed bugs. High temperatures can also be harmful to certain fabrics. Items that require dry cleaning can’t be washed. Some of these can be placed in a dryer, but you must use the highest temperature and leave the items in for a minimum of 30 minutes. Then you can take them to a dry-cleaning establishment.

It’s a matter of courtesy that you inform the dry cleaner that the garments were infested with bed bugs. You should also take them in a sealed bag, in case the dryer heat didn’t kill them all.

Ranger Heat Bed Bug Treatment Bag

Put The Sun To Use

Another option for using heat to get rid of bed bugs in clothes is to make use of the sun. Put your clothes in a sealed plastic bag. Place the bag in the sunshine for a few hours. You can use an infrared thermometer or similar instrument to monitor the temperature. Keep in mind that the clothes in the center won’t get hot as quickly as the outer layer.

What Temperature Kills Bed Bugs?

How hot does hot have to be to kill bed bugs? Research and experiments have shown that temperatures of at least 50 degrees C or 122 degrees F are fatal to bed bugs. That temperature must be maintained for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Bed bugs have 3 major stages of growth.

These are:

  • Egg,
  • Nymph,
  • Adult.

If you don’t eliminate all three stages, your items will soon be re-infected.

A 24-hour soak in cold water, then drying on high temperature can kill adults and nymphs. This can be an option for delicates that hot water would damage. It won’t destroy eggs, so you may have to repeat the process several times.

Using temperatures that are at least 60 degrees C or 140 degrees F will kill eggs, nymphs, and adults. Maintain the temperature for at least 30 minutes. Regardless of the temperature, the nymphs won’t die in less than 30 minutes.

What Are the Steps to Kill Bed Bugs in The Dryer?

When transferring wet clothes from the washer to the dryer, place them in plastic bags and avoid letting them touch anything. If you’re placing items in the dryer without washing them first, they must go directly to the dryer from a sealed bag. Place the opening of the bag in the dryer and push the garment in. If you pick up clothes and place them individually in the dryer, the bed bugs can infest the laundry area.

If clothes ball up in the dryer, the inside garments will be cooler. In that case, leave the clothes in longer. Skip the cool down cycle in all cases.

To avoid potentially re-infesting the next load of clothes, thoroughly clean the lint trap. Place the lint in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of it away from the laundry area.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets smell nice to humans. Bed bugs don’t care for the smell and will avoid it. That’s led to the belief that dryer sheets are an effective way to repel bed bugs. Dryer sheets do not kill bed bugs or get rid of them.

If you put dryer sheets in one location, the bed bugs simply move to a nearby location. A dryer sheet under your mattress won’t keep bugs out of other parts of your bed. A dryer sheet in the pocket of a garment won’t keep pests away from the rest of your clothing.

Bed bugs emit a musky odor. Dryer sheets can mask that odor, leading you to think that your pest problem has been solved. It hasn’t. The infestation will worsen, potentially making eradication a much harder job than it would have been otherwise.

A bed bug infestation takes a lot of work and time to eradicate. Getting rid of bedbugs in clothing isn’t as difficult as getting rid of them in furniture, carpets, and mattresses. Plastic bags that seal tightly, hot water, and a clothes dryer are all you need to make your clothes bed-bug free. You can also treat your bedding, except for pillows, the same way. Pillows are too thick for the heat to effectively penetrate to the center. Toss them, but wash and dry everything else.

You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.

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