Bed bugs and dryer sheets aren’t two things we usually hear together. But with endless household hacks flooding our inboxes and social media feeds, could they be connected somehow? The short answer is that although dryer sheets are on a list of home remedies to combat bed bugs, many of these tactics are ineffective in controlling this persistent pest.
Despite our insistence that our home could never have bed bugs, these pesky critters sometimes find their way in. And when they do, many of us wonder how we can efficiently extinguish these bugs. You might wonder if bed bugs could survive a round in the washing machine. Are there products and methods that can kill bed bugs and their eggs? If bed bugs are living in my home, what are the chances they are hiding in the folds of my clothes?
Let’s separate fact from fiction to answer some of the most common questions about these pesky pests.
What Will I Learn?
- How Long Do Bed Bugs Live On Clothes?
- How Do You Get Rid Of Bed Bugs In Clothes?
- Can Bed Bugs Survive In Water?
- What Kills Bed Bugs And Their Eggs?
- Get Professional Bed Bug Treatment
How Long Do Bed Bugs Live On Clothes?
Bed bugs can live up to two to three months without a blood meal. In colder temperatures, however, these pests can survive up to a year without food since they are cold-blooded and their metabolism can slow. Under normal circumstances, bed bugs feed once every five to ten days.
Bed bugs are most active about an hour before dawn, although they can feed anytime if they are hungry. Once a bed bug feeds, which usually takes about five minutes, it will retreat back to its hiding spot. Because bed bugs don’t like heat, they won’t stay on your body like ticks or lice might.
Since our body heat is too warm for bed bugs and we move too much, these creatures are unlikely to hitch a ride on you or your clothing. These pests are more likely to make their way into your home on a backpack, briefcase, purse, suitcase, mattress or a used piece of furniture. Sometimes, we can bring in bed bugs on clothing, so if you are concerned about an infestation, you can always launder items with hot water or dry them with high heat before bringing them into your bedroom.
How Do You Get Rid Of Bed Bugs In Clothes?
Technically, bed bugs can live through a cycle in the washing machine. The truth is that while washing your clothes or linens will kill most of the bed bugs, the heat of drying your items will ultimately exterminate any remaining bugs. As we mentioned above, bed bugs do not tolerate heat.
Even if a bed bug can survive the spin cycle, machine washing your clothes and linens—and any other machine-washable item—is the first step you’ll want to take if you suspect you have these pests in your home. Furthermore, it’s also a solid preventative measure you can take to keep them out in the first place. There are, however, a few specific steps to consider when washing items to rid your home of bed bugs. Let’s explore the specifics of each.
Once you’ve identified the infested area, sort your clothes as usual when washing clothes. For example, separate your clothes into colors, whites, delicates, etc. Next, place each category in its plastic bag to transport your laundry to the washer and dryer; sealing the bags shut will prevent bed bugs from moving into other rooms in your home or the public laundromat. Before you begin washing, identify the washing instructions to know the highest wash and dry temperatures possible for each sorted pile. Remember that if you have a dry clean-only pile, those items will only be placed in the dryer.
Washing and Drying
After dumping each pile into the washer (or the dryer for dry clean-only items), you must put the bags where you transported your laundry into another clean suitcase. Then dispose of both bags to avoid spreading any bed bugs.
To begin washing and drying, set the temperature to the hottest temperature each category can safely tolerate. Put dry-clean-only items in the dryer for 30 minutes on medium to high heat. This temperature will kill the bugs.
Storing Your Clothes
Once cleaned, fold your clothes immediately and store them in a new, clean plastic bag until you are sure the infestation has been controlled. Remove the clothes as needed from the bags. After handling the infestation, you can take clothes from the plastic bags and back into your closet or dresser.
Can Bed Bugs Survive In Water?
Bed bugs can survive in water. It depends on their duration in or under the water and if they were floating. When washing your clothes, it is assumed that bed bugs are drowning, as they are likely under the water for about an hour. That’s why washing your clothes kills most bed bugs on your clothes and linens. If a bed bug is floating, meaning it has air access, it can survive.
In one study, researchers soaked bed bug-infested clothes for 24 hours in cold water without detergent. Although the bed bug eggs survived, all the nymphs and adults were killed.
It’s important to consider that bed bugs that can float are typically those who have not had a meal, as they are very light and their bodies can lay flat. While a bed bug can float, its survival depends on the water’s temperature. In other words, bed bugs have a much higher chance of survival if floating on cold water. In most cases, bed bugs won’t survive much time in the water, scorching ones.
What Kills Bed Bugs and Their Eggs?
If you’re facing a bed bug infestation, you must act quickly to control the problem. While you can try many at-home remedies, be sure to research to know which do-it-yourself treatment will work and which ones will waste your time—and your money. Let’s start with a few of these remedies that don’t work:
Dryer Sheets Won’t Kill Bed Bugs
Contrary to what many people believe, placing dryer sheets on furniture or in your closets to repel bed bugs doesn’t work. The same applies to plant oil-based repellents containing pyrethroids or plant oil. Based on research conducted at Rutgers University, no data shows that either method will prevent a bed bug infestation.
Moth Balls And Other Household Cleaning Products Are Ineffective
Rutgers University conducted another study to show whether mothballs could be used to control or repel bed bugs. The study indicates that after one week, less than 50% of bed bug adults died as a result of the use of mothballs. The mothballs did not affect the bed bug eggs.
Similar studies tested rubbing alcohol and everyday house cleaning products, and like mothballs, spraying rubbing alcohol directly on potentially infested areas only killed, at maximum, half of the bed bugs. Furthermore, because it is highly flammable, rubbing alcohol should not be used to prevent or control bed bugs. Bed bugs had an even higher survival rate when tested against house cleaning materials. Researchers from Rutgers University tested several disinfectants; in all cases, bed bugs survived direct spray treatment.
Foggers Won’t Help, Either
Many people use foggers to control indoor pests, but according to a study done by Ohio State University, they do nothing to control or prevent bed bugs. More importantly, using multiple foggers can put you at risk of other problems, including a house fire.
Now that we’ve discussed methods that don’t work and debunked a few myths, let’s explore how homeowners can address an infestation.
Frequent Washing and Drying Can Kill Bed Bugs And Eggs
Washing and drying your clothes and linens in hot water effectively prevents and kills bed bugs and their eggs. It’s also important to wash and dry any other washable fabrics in your home, including items like couch covers.
Proper Storage Can Prevent Bed Bugs From Spreading
While treating your home for bed bugs, one of the more effective ways to keep bed bugs out of materials that have already been washed is to store clothes and linens in plastic containers or tightly sealed in a heavy-duty plastic bag.
Steaming and Vacuuming Can Introduce Heat
As we’ve mentioned, bug bugs do not like heat. So introducing high temperatures can be an effective way to prevent and kill bed bugs. If you want to try the DIY approach, you can steam areas bed bugs might hide, including on your sofas, mattresses, bed frames, and carpeted areas. Keep in mind that extreme heat can potentially damage delicate fabrics.
Vacuuming can eliminate live and dead bugs and their shed skins if bed bugs are in your home. Vacuum cracks, seams, zippers, bed trims, upholstered furniture, and anywhere you think bed bugs could potentially be hiding.
ABC Is The Answer To Your Bed Bug Problems
Because bed bugs are so difficult to handle using a DIY approach and many common home remedies don’t work, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends hiring a professional to increase your chances of successfully addressing your bed bug infestation. ABC Home & Commercial Services experts use an integrated pest management approach to offer homeowners effective, long-term treatment solutions. With ABC’s help, your bed bug problem can be a thing of the past.