Does Dry Cleaning Remove Bed Bugs?

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Many people recoil at the thought of having to throw away perfectly good or expensive clothes because they are infested with bed bugs. The good news is you don’t have to throw away the clothes because dry cleaning can remove bed bugs. There are of course a few exceptions but this is the general consensus.

Does dry cleaning kill bed bugs?

The short answer is YES, it can. Bed bugs of all life stages die when exposed to temperatures of around 104 to 122 Fahrenheit for more than 30 minutes. So putting your bed sheets in a dryer on medium to high settings can kill all bed bugs regardless of their life stages. This is a good way of killing whatever bed bugs are infesting your sheets and mattresses.

Unfortunately, eliminating bed bugs on your bed sheets by putting them in a dryer is not a permanent solution, and this is because bed bugs can thrive in several places and not just underneath your bed sheets. So even though you can eliminate them from your bed sheets with the help of a dryer, you can’t apply the same to other areas where they breed.

Keep in mind that dry cleaning only removes the bugs on your clothes. You need to call a bed bug exterminator to treat your house otherwise you will be soon back where you started.

Dry Cleaning to Remove Bed Bugs

bed bug on clothes
bed bug infestation on clothes

Sort your dry-clean-only clothes, place them in a plastic bag or bed bug-proof laundry bag and take to the dry cleaners. It is imperative that you let your cleaner’s know that the clothes are infested. This will ensure that the staff is careful about mixing your clothes with others and allows them to take the appropriate action. The cleaners will also let you know if they do not accept clothes with bed bugs as some establishments don’t have the chemicals or knowledge to deal with infested clothes safely. Most dry cleaners, however, do accept bed-bug infested clothes.

These use Perchloroethylene (PERC) or similar chemicals which are deadly for bed bugs but safe on your delicate fabrics. So if you are asking does dry cleaning kill bed bugs? the answer is yes! As long as the dry cleaner is using Perchloroethylene as part of the process. Place the plastic bag you used to carry the infested clothes in another bag and seal tightly before disposing of. Use a separate bag to pick up your dry-cleaning.

You don’t have to take all of your infested clothing to the dry-cleaners. Sort the ‘regular’ clothes as you usually do and place the different garments in separate plastic bags before sealing. Carry to your washer and empty the content of the bag with its opening inside the washer. Dispose of the bag in the aforementioned method. Sort your clothes where they are to avoid spreading the insects.

Run the machine on the hottest setting your fabric allows and do the same with the dryer. Dry for about 20 minutes on high heat. Repeat with the remaining clothing.

Dry Clean Only Clothing

If you want to avoid taking your potentially infested dry clean only clothing to the cleaners you can also try placing the affected items in the dryer. You would have to use the highest allowable heat setting for 30 minutes. That would suffice to kill any insects. Heat is a proven bed bug control method.

Dangers When Washing Bed Bug Infested Clothes Yourself

The safest solution is to take your bed bug infested clothes to a dry cleaner. This is however not always possible. You may not find a dry cleaner who accepts infested clothes or there is some other reason why you must wash or dry the clothes yourself. There are a few pitfalls you need to watch out for in this case.

Thick and Heavy Clothing

You may want to think twice about heat-treating thick items such as pillows, sleeping bags and comforters in your dryer. Although the dryer is a great way to kill bed bugs, there is no guarantee that it will work on thick items. There may be no other alternative than to throw these away if you can’t find a dry cleaner who will take them.

Delicate Clothing

You may also have to throw away your delicate clothing’s that may shrink, fade or become otherwise damaged in high heat. The higher the washing and drying temperature the better so either get the delicates to a dry cleaner or surrender them to the bin. You may need to consider destroying the clothes to make them un-wearable before disposing of depending on where you live and if the dumpster has a lockable lid. People rummage through dumpsters looking exactly for these kinds of things.

Spreading the Infestation

Severe Bed Bug Infestation
Severe Bed Bug Infestation

Follow the instructions for sorting, carrying and transporting bed bug-infested clothing to the letter. There might be a few areas of your house where you can still be comfortable despite the invasion and spreading the pests around only makes life more difficult.

Remember that only washing and drying your clothes in high temperatures won’t solve the bed bug problem. You still need to inspect and treat the rest of the house.

Keeping Bed Bugs off Your Clothes

It might be a while until you can have your bed bug problem treated for good. Meanwhile, you need to keep them away from your clothes both for your own comfort and so that you don’t spread the pests to others.

  • Keep your dirty clothes in a zip-lock bag until ready to wash. Remember that bed bugs are particularly attracted to dirty clothes.
  • Don’t put clean laundry where you know bed bugs are living such as your bed or chair.
  • Do not return your recently washed or dry cleaned clothes in the closet lest they get re-infested. Instead, place them in extra large zip log bags or at least 3mm super thick garbage bags closed with cable ties. The idea is you need an airtight seal.
  • Consider getting all your laundry done by the dry cleaner until you have confirmed that the bed bugs are gone for good.
  • Consider placing all your new shoes, purses, bags, clothing and such in Ziploc bags in a room that isn’t infested until you can clear the bed bugs.
  • Wear clothing only once where possible and immediately put in a sealed plastic bag or ziplock bag until it’s ready to wash.
  • See if you can find dissolving laundry bags. You can put these straight in the washer without taking out the contents and as the name suggests, will dissolve. This eliminates the hustle of replacing and throwing away plastic bags. These are mostly available online.

Why Dryers Are Not Enough to Eliminate Bed Bugs

bed bug a short description
bed bug – appearance

Most bed bugs hide under mattress covers and bed linens, but they can thrive in other areas as well. They can breed in backpacks, shoes, purses and even old clothes in a cabinet, In certain cases, they might be next in stacks of paper, stuffed animals and any dirty item where they are free to breed. All these items are potential breeding grounds for bed bugs, and unless these are all eliminated, the bed bugs will continue to breed and multiply.

So even though a dryer can kill some of the bed bugs in your bed sheets, it won’t kill off all of them. Some will survive, and shortly after they replenish their numbers. They will start to infesting your bed sheets all over again, which is why drying can never be a practical solution against the bed bug infestations, especially large ones.

Why You Need Professionals to Eliminate the Bed Bugs in Your Home

The only way to permanently remove bed bugs is by contacting a professional bed bug control company in Toronto to deal with your problem. Not only can they remove most of the adult bed bugs, but they can also identify potential breeding grounds in your bedroom.

Bed bugs breed quickly, and they can quickly re-infest your mattresses and bed sheets even after you have put them in a dryer. Unfortunately, bed bug eggs are the size of dust, so it’s almost impossible for untrained people to find the breeding grounds on their own.

Hire a Professional Exterminator to Remove Bed Bugs

Again, washing and dry cleaning will only treat the bed bugs on your clothes. If your clothes are infested, you can reasonably expect that the bed bugs are in your house. They will simply return to the clothes if you don’t solve the problem at its source.

Only a licensed bed bug exterminator in Toronto can guarantee permanent bed bug removal. These critters are immune to common household pesticides so your DIY extermination will most definitely fail. Ask for a warranty of at least 6 months to guarantee that the treatment is successful. Call The Exterminators today to book an appointment: 647-496-2211

Article Updated: September 17th, 2018

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Joe The Exterminator
Joe The Exterminator

Joe is a professional pest control exterminator with over 15 years of experience and enjoys sharing his knowledge about different pests and how you can deal with them.