When planning to wash clothes that have been exposed to bed bugs, first, sort all of the clothes and place them in sealable bags.
Next, wash your clothes according to the instructions on the label, because some delicate clothing may require handwashing.
After washing, dry your clothes in the hottest temperature setting on your dryer. If you do not have a dryer, drying your clothes out under the sun can also work.
Make sure you clean all of the surfaces in your home that your infested clothes have touched.
If you want to know more about how to properly wash your clothes that have been exposed to bed bugs, keep on reading.
Can bed bugs live in clothes?
Yes, bed bugs can live in your clothes, but they do not choose to. Bed bugs prefer to live in cracks or furniture or walls, where it is dark and they are unlikely to be disturbed. Bed bugs do not like living in the clothes in your closet because you are most likely going to be moving the clothes around every morning when choosing what to wear. But if you have a habit of throwing used clothes on the floor in piles for days or weeks, that may be enough time for bed bugs to make themselves at home.
Any clothing left on the floor can potentially harbor bed bugs. Studies have shown that these bugs seem to prefer worn clothing because they can smell the person’s scent on them.
Bed bugs can certainly hitch a ride on your clothes. This is the most common way a person infests their house after staying at, say, a hotel that had an infestation.
They can hide in the seams of your clothes, in your shoes, and even inside your pockets. They are unlikely to stay on your clothes once they get to your home, but it can happen.
How long do bed bugs live on clothing?
The average lifespan of a bed bug is between six months and one year. But if the bed bugs are living in your clothes, this means they cannot feed. Bed bugs that do not feed can survive for two to three months, depending on the climate you live in.
Does washing my clothes kill bed bugs?
Yes, washing your clothes can kill the bed bugs as long as you do it properly.
It may be frustrating knowing that your clothes are infested, but know that there are plenty of solutions that can take care of the problem without having to throw any of your clothes away.
Can bed bugs survive in water?
If your clothes are completely submerged in water for an extended period of time, then no, the bed bugs cannot survive in water. But if you use a washing machine and the bed bug is able to make its way to a spot that allows access to even a small amount of air, they can possibly survive. The key to making sure they do not survive when using a washing machine is to make the water as hot as possible, around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
How do I wash clothes that have been exposed to bed bugs?
Put your clothes in bags
First, you need to bag the clothes that you think were exposed to bed bugs. This is so you can keep the exposed clothes quarantined and avoid it from touching your floor, bed, and other clothes. Bags are easier to use when you dump the contents into the washing machine. Make sure to use a large plastic bag that is reasonably thick so it does not tear easily.
If you just arrived from a trip and you suspect the clothes you took with you were exposed to bed bugs, bag all of the clothes you brought in plastic bags immediately, including the clothes you were wearing when you arrived home. Bed bugs cannot get out of sealed bags and this can effectively prevent the worsening of the infestation.
Seal the bag
Seal the bags with the exposed clothes with tape or string. Make sure it is completely sealed so there is no possible way for the bugs to get out.
These bugs can fit through the tiniest gap, so make sure all openings are taped shut.
For the best seal, twist the top of the bag shut before taping it. You might think this is excessive, but just remember that one pregnant female bug can start an infestation.
Pour all contents of the sealed bags into your washing machine
If you have several bags of infected clothes, wash them one bag at a time.
Place the entire bag of clothes into the machine. Once the bag is inside, rip the bag open. You do this so that the contents of the bag have as little exposure to your home as possible.
Set the washing machine to the highest temperature possible, as long as it is appropriate for the kind of clothes you are washing. Half an hour in the highest temperature is needed to kill both adult bed bugs and their eggs.
Make sure you place the used plastic bag inside another plastic bag and throw it into the outside trash can.
Use your dryer to kill the bed bugs
After your laundry is done, place your clothes in the dryer. While doing this, inspect if you see any dead bed bugs. Most, if not all, the bed bugs should have died by now, but to be doubly sure, the dryer’s high temperatures of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit can kill all of the bed bugs in minutes.
Clean your closet
Empty out your closet and bag your clean clothes too. Use a bed bug spray and spray it into the cracks and corners, the upper and lower corners of the inside of your wardrobe, as well as the insides of the drawers in your wardrobe. Leave the spray to dry completely before putting your clothes back in.
Wash your clothes that have been exposed to bed bugs by sealing them in a plastic bag first. Make sure there are no tears and no way for the bugs to escape.
Place the plastic bag with the clothes into the washing machine and tear the bag inside. This is so the bugs do not spread in your home and are released only into the washing machine.
After washing your clothes, place them in the dryer to kill any remaining bugs and eggs.
Lastly, make sure you use bed bug spray on your closet and wardrobe to take care of any bed bugs that may have accidentally gotten out.
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