Bed Bugs on Clothes
Bed bugs are easy to mistake for bat bugs, booklice and carpet beetles so it is crucial that you are able to positively identify the offending pest. Effective extermination hinges on correct identification and using the best treatment method for the pest.
Adult bed bugs are roughly the size of an apple seed or a ¼ inch long, have flat bodies and brownish in colour. Bed bugs double in size and turn a reddish colour after a blood meal. These pests are potentially anywhere there is high human traffic including in public transportation, stores, movie theatres, hotels and libraries among other places. Since they don’t jump or fly, many people wonder if it is possible to contract bed bugs in your clothes.
Can Bed Bugs Hide in Clothes?
The short answer is Yes. Bed bugs can hide in clothes and furniture. If you have noticed that your wardrobe has been infested by bed bugs, probably because one of them exited their hiding place, then here are a few tips on how to get rid of bed bugs in clothes. The first thing you need to do is know where they are concentrated most. Are they in your closet or the laundry room? Once you are aware of their most frequent location, then you are a step closer to eliminating them.
You need to keep the infested rooms quarantined. Do not introduce any new things into the room and do not remove clothes from the closet in an effort to discard them. You may have thrown away the infested garments, but you will not get rid of the pests entirely. The most important thing is to keep them from spreading and call bed bug exterminator Toronto.
Can Bed Bugs Hide in Clothes?
The answer to the question whether bed bugs can hide in clothes is nuanced although the quick response is YES. Bed bugs can hide in clothes.
The good news is since bed bugs don’t jump or fly, are nocturnal, only come out to feed and don’t like moving hosts, it is very unlikely that you will pick up bed bugs on your clothes.
Bed bugs, unlike other parasites such as lice, do not live on their human hosts and typically only hitchhike. This also means that it is equally unlikely that you will contract bed bugs from sitting next to someone in a public place.
Most people pick up bed bugs from infested buildings such as a library where the pests come out for a blood meal. If you are the unfortunate target, you transport the bed bugs in your clothes, bag or briefcase.
A far more likely scenario of getting bed bugs in your clothes is by leaving them in a pile near an infested area such as a hotel bed or floor. Bed bugs like to stay out of sight and a pile of clothes offers a great hiding place. You carry the insects in your suitcase and spread them to your home. This example is one of the most prevalent ways in which bed bugs spread.
A study published at the University of Sheffield concludes that bed bugs are twice as likely to infest dirty clothes as clean clothes. This is worth thinking about before putting your dirty laundry in a pile on the hotel room floor.
Can Bed Bugs Be Washed Out of Clothes?
It is possible to launder bed bugs out of your clothes. The idea isn’t to drown them which may not be effective but rather bed bugs don’t do well with heat.
Most experts agree that you can kill all bed bugs infesting clothing by washing at a constant temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit and then spinning in the dryer at the same temperature. Duration varies between 20 minutes to one hour although you might want to err on the side of an hour to be sure.
Sort out your infested clothes and put them in a plastic bag and seal the mouth tightly before transporting to the laundry area. Put the mouth deep in the washing machine before opening to release the clothes. Put the plastic bag in a second plastic bag, seal and dispose safely.
Thick fabrics such as cushions, pillows, draperies and bedding may be more difficult to treat because the thickness may not allow the heat to penetrate all layers. Consider using the maximum heat allowable for these fabrics and for a longer time or opt for a dry cleaner.
Dry cleaning also works for killing bed bugs in case you have delicate fabrics that cannot withstand high temperature. It is prudent that you inform the dry cleaner that your clothes are infested so that they can take appropriate measures to prevent spreading.
Be careful while transporting infested clothing to the dry cleaners. Use a bed bug proof laundry bag or double plastic bags with the mouth tightly sealed. Dispose of the used bags carefully.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes
Apart from washing and drying in high-heat, there are a few other things you can do to get rid of bed bugs in clothing.
You can try bed bug laundry treatment and detergents designed for use in your washing machine. Look out for products with natural ingredients and safe for fabrics since some of these treatments can be harsh on textiles and even humans. Unfortunately, many of these aren’t as harmless as advertised. You should be skeptical about bed bug treatments that claim you should wash with cold water.
An alternative heat treatment option is to put your clothes inside a black, sealed plastic bag and leave them outside on a hot day. There is actually heat treatment bags designed for this very purpose. These treatment bags come complete with a digital thermometer so you can check the heat has reached at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are using your own plastic bag, use an infrared thermometer to monitor the temperature. Leave the bag out for at least a few hours to guarantee the heat penetrates to the clothes in the middle of the bag.
Finally, some internet sources recommend spraying the fabric with a mixture of bleach and water which supposedly irritates the bed bugs. There doesn’t appear to be any scientific basis for this claim nor another common myth that dryer sheets in pockets repel bed bugs.
Take all the clothes and put them in a garbage bag to ensure that the bugs do not spread into other rooms as you move them to the laundry room for cleaning. Proceed to wash the clothes in hot water. Once they are clean, you can dry them for not less than half an hour using high heat to kill any remaining bed bugs that may have survived the wash.
The best cause of action is to contact a bed bug exterminator because trying to do any DIY’s at home can be futile considering you do not have as many resources and experience as a person who exterminates bed bugs for a living and has been doing so for the past several years. DIY’s may seem cheap, but you may need to do them a number of times before you can see any tangible results. This means you will have to spend money on pest extermination products before you can get any results, but usually, these products are not useful against severe bed bug infestations.
Also, the strict pesticide regulations in Ontario can prove to be a headache if you plan on doing a DIY. For example, if you have to spray or fumigate your home you may need a permit from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Hiring a professionally licensed exterminator will give you the most efficient results because they will get rid of the pests and destroy their eggs, therefore, ensuring that they do not hatch into little headaches once again.
Remember hiring the exterminator over DIY’s, means you have more people on the job as compared to doing it on your own. As others work on cleaning the clothes, the rest will ensure that the pest’s breeding zone is fumigated or sprayed to stop any future infestations.
Call a Professional Exterminator
The only proven way to get rid of bed bugs from clothes is through heat treatment. Keep in mind that this only kills the bed bugs in the clothes and not those infesting the rest of the house. Keep your laundered clothes in a tightly sealed plastic bag and remove only when needed until you have had an exterminator treat the entire house.
The only sure way to get rid of bed bugs in Canada permanently is to hire a professional exterminator. Only an expert can find all possible hiding places and use potent active ingredients that are not available to the general public. Be sure to get a warranty for the extermination.
Article Updated: September 26th, 2018