Can You Remove Bed Bugs From Clothing?

March 16, 2015 by Doug Moore

bed bugs in clothing

With the reemergence of bed bugs as a common infestation, people are understandably looking for ways to prevent and get rid of bed bugs. One of the primary areas of focus should be clothing, which is a typical way that bed bugs get into people’s homes.

If you spot bed bugs in your clothes, it’s imperative that you take action right away—otherwise you could soon have a full-blown infestation in your home. Here’s what you can do to get rid of bed bugs if you find them crawling around your wardrobe.

1)     Immediately wash the clothing in detergent and hot water that reaches 120 degrees.

2)     Also wash any other clothing or bedding that’s been near the clothing that you know has bed bugs.

3)     For clothes that are dry clean only, you can of course take them to the dry cleaner, but be sure to tell the dry cleaner they have bed bugs so appropriate steps can be taken to keep the bed bugs from spreading at the cleaners.

If you don’t want to take them to the cleaners, put the dry-clean-only clothes in the dryer on 160 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, which shouldn’t damage cotton, linen, wool, silk, nylon, rayon, or polyester blends. When you’re done, always clean the lint trap and throw away the lint outside.

Another method is to place the clothes in black plastic bags and set them in the sun on a hot day – this works best in the summer. You’ll need to use a thermometer inside the bags to make sure they get to 120 degrees. If you need some extra heat, put them in a closed-up car sitting in the sun—but be sure the bags are tightly sealed!

On the other extreme, you can also freeze clothes to kill bed bugs. But this method is largely impractical unless it’s winter in a cold climate because it takes a couple of days below freezing temperatures to get rid of bed bugs. And most people don’t have the space in their freezers to do the job, and many freezers periodically rise to 40 degrees during defrosting.

4)     Once you’ve treated the clothes, vacuum every crack or crevice in your home. Some of the bed bugs may have already made their way into these hiding places.

5)     The best way to get rid of bed bugs if you continue to see them after treating your clothes is to call a professional exterminator. Because their hiding places are so hard to locate and to reach with the proper pesticides, it takes the knowledge and tools of pest control specialists to ensure the infestation is completely eradicated.

For more information about bed bugs, heat treatment, and canine bed bug scent detection, click here.

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