How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs Off Your Clothes

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.

Laundering Items to Kill Bed Bugs

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Laundering Items to Kill Bed Bugs (.pdf)

Washing clothes and bedding is a simple and cheap method of killing all bed bugs. It is a very important part of both do-it-yourself bed bug control, and when you have professional pest control company apply insecticides. Washing will kill some of the bed bugs, but it is the heat of drying that will kill any remaining bed bugs. With a few common-sense practices, you can easily disinfest clothes and ensure these items do not become bed bug hiding places as you remove bed bugs from the rest of your home.

Key steps in washing clothes to control bed bugs

There are three main steps to think about when washing items to remove bed bugs. These steps include: sorting clothes; washing and drying; and storing clean clothes.

Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Before you panic, read up on how the pests really operate.

The resurgence of bed bugs in American homes has caused many a sleepless night — but not everything you hear is true.

Before you start pointing fingers at the reasons your home is infested or why you do — or don’t — have a bed bugs problem, know this: Entomologist Richard Pollack, Ph.D., has found fewer than 10% of the critters people identify as bed bugs actuallyarebed bugs. That’s also why he doesn’t trust websites that list reports of bed bugs at hotels.

If you suspect you’ve got some unwelcome visitors at your house, here is everything you need to know about these nasty insects first.

Where do bed bugs come from?

Bed bugs most notoriously hitch rides on luggage, but traveling isn’t the only way to pick them up. They can easily be carried into the house on secondhand furniture, clothing, boxes, and pillows, so inspect such itemsverycarefully. Encasement products like Good Housekeeping Seal holder AllerEase mattress protector can also prevent bugs that do make it inside from hunkering down in crevices.

But while reports of bed bugs at movie theaters and in retail stores have made headlines, it’s rare that someone actually brings them home, says Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an urban entomologist at Cornell University.

What are bed bugs attracted to?

Whether you have a messy home or a neat home, bed bugs only care that their food source, a.k.a. people, are nearby. Luckily, there’s no evidence they transmit diseases as they feed. The real threat: itchy, red bites, which are the first sign of an infestation.

Can bed bugs bite through clothes?

Unfortunately, long-sleeved pajamas won’t shield you from bed bug bites. In fact, that’s one of the tell-tale signs of an infestation. "If you wake up with numerous bites, especially under your clothes, it could be bed bugs," says David Dunham of Go Green Bedbug Dogs. Not everyone experiences the same skin reaction though. "It’s common for one person to become the host or the person getting all the bites, while their spouse or partner will get no bites at all," he adds. "Usually the person not getting bites will discredit their partner’s concerns.

Now, here’s how to get rid of bed bugs:

The first step is searching your furnishings, particularly along and behind the headboard and sides of the mattress. Bed bugs will hole up in furniture, along baseboards, in cracks in walls and, yes, in beds. Look for black stains (they leave behind blood and fecal matter), discarded molted skins, and the bugs themselves, but don’t wait too long to contact a professional.

"The biggest mistake people make is waiting too long to call for help, because the longer the problem goes on, the bigger of a chance they’ll spread within the home and even outside of the home," Dunham says.

Send or bring evidence to your local Cooperative Extension office (usually $5) or contact an online bug-ID service such as Pollack’s IdentifyUS ($30) for a diagnosis. Accuracy is very important, so pinpoint the areas and rooms in your home that need treatment and act swiftly.

As soon as you determine you have bed bugs, seal the infested bedding and clothing in clean plastic bags. Sort items based on how you would wash clothes and make a separate dry-clean only pile, advises the University of Minnesota Department of Entomology. Then wash and dry the items at the hottest temperature they can withstand.

While some bugs will die in the washing machine, it’s the heat of the dryer that will kill more of them. At least 60 minutes on a high-heat setting should do the trick, according to New York State Integrated Pest Management. Immediately dispose of the used plastic bags and put clean clothes in new ones. Don’t take the items out of the bag until the infestation is successfully controlled.

Thoroughly vacuuming rugs, floors, furniture, beds, and all cracks and crevices can also cut down on your bed bug population, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Afterwards, put the contaminated vacuum bag in a tightly sealed bag and throw it away in an outside garbage bin.

While some people think over-the-counter sprays are a solution, pyrethroid-based pesticides may kill or repel some of the insects, but can be dangerous if misused, and it’s doubtful you’ll be successful on your own. Instead, get written quotes from three licensed exterminators detailing their course of action, including pesticides, traps, and/or heat treatments they’ll use and how and where they’ll use them. "You should ask lots of questions to the companies you interview, because a good company will answer them and will never pressure you to make an appointment," says Dunham.

Asking the company about their success rate and if their treatment comes with a guarantee, should their efforts not be successful, is a must. Good luck!

How to Get Rid Of Bed Bugs in Clothes

Just because you live in one of the most up-scale neighborhoods, does not mean that you won’t have to deal with bed bugs ever. As you might have seen through the other resources presented on this website, there is not much one can do to stop bed bug infestations. Despite taking several precautions (especially while traveling etc); many homeowners all over the United States are encountering bed bugs from time to time. Bed bugs themselves are known as ‘world’s best travelers’ since they tend to hitchhike their way into our residences.

Continue reading to learn ways in which you can get rid of bed bugs from your clothes, and, ultimately, your homes.

Steps to launder clothes effectively to kill bed bugs

So you had a great vacation in Florida this winter, but have come home to find bed bugs in the clothes you took there? Then do follow these laundry tips to help you get rid of bed bugs in clothes:

  1. Spray your clothing with rubbing alcohol until you can get them to a laundry unit. Rubbing alcohol helps eliminate bed bugs on contact. Make sure you sort the clothing in infested and non-infested groups. Bag and separate the two sets into plastic bags to prevent bed bugs infesting the clean clothes.
  2. Next, you must bag and clean items which cannot be laundered, such as shoes, books, electronic goods, jewelry etc. Heat these bags to at least 120 F where possible. You can wrap the items in plastic bags and place them outside in sunny areas. Alternatively, you can freeze bed bugs by exposing them to below-freezing temperatures. This cold treatment, however, has to be done for at least a period of 2 weeks to ensure killing all the eggs and larvae of bed bugs.
  3. Once you are back home from your vacation, place your entire luggage outside in the garage/terrace if you have one. Carry the sealed and bagged infested clothing to the laundry unit or a Laundromat. Spray the empty luggage/travel bags using insecticides or bed bug sprays. Store the luggage away from your sleeping areas while the bed bug treatment is ongoing.
  4. Next, you could contact pest control specialists to treat the inside of your home.
  5. In the mean time, wash the bed bug infested clothing in hot water at a temperature the fabric can withstand. In case of delicate clothing, you could use steam treatment to get rid of bed bugs. Point the steamer on the infested clothing to target the eggs and larvae. You can even sort the delicate clothing to take to the professional dry cleaners. Make sure that you seal all bags with infested items so that the bed bugs are not able to escape and hide in other parts of your home.
  6. When you arrive at the Laundromat, tip each of the plastic bags containing the infected clothes into the washer. Seal and discard the empty bags using clean garbage bags to prevent bed bugs from escaping and infesting other users of the public Laundromat.
  7. You can use your regular detergent, bleach or fabric softener as you normally do when washing clothes.
  8. Dry the washed clothing in the dryer units on medium to high setting.
  9. Items like shoes etc which cannot be washed with hot water can also be put inside the dryer that is run on medium to high heat to kill bed bugs.
  10. Once your clothes are dry, fold them neatly and place them in new and clean plastic laundry bags.
  11. Now you must take necessary precautions to get rid of bed bugs in your home before you open and unload the washed clothes.
  12. You could take help of professional pest control companies or follow DIY measures given on this website to rid your home of bed bugs.
  13. Vacuuming is an essential part of bed bug control, and you must do this daily for ensuring a bed-bug-free home.
  14. Once you are sure there are no bed bugs in your apartment, you can unload the laundered clothes into your closets.
  15. If however, you still suspect bed bug activity, keep the clothes sealed in the laundry bags. This will ensure that the bed bugs do not re-infect your clean clothing.

Make sure you follow an integrated pest control management program which involves multiple strategies to prevent and control bed bugs on a daily basis. These include daily laundry to kill bed bug eggs from bed sheets, clothes and linen as well as regular sanitation and chemical applications on all infested sites.

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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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