How to Clean Clothes with Bed Bugs

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs can thrive not just in beds, but also in sofas, chairs, and yes, even clothing. Clothes with bed bugs can be problematic because the bed bugs will have easier access to you and end up biting you more.

Get rid of bed bugs in your clothes now with these simple instructions.

Bed bugs can die in the laundry

Bed bugs often choose to stay in places that are often undisturbed. So, if these pests happen to thrive in your clothes, it means that these clothes are stored in a way that they are not disturbed that often. They are probably stored in a wardrobe infested with bed bugs or piled up near other infested furniture.

Bed bugs prefer furniture such as beds, sofas, and chairs, but it’s not unheard of for these pests to thrive in undisturbed clothing.

Luckily, bed bugs in clothes can be killed easily.

  • Bed bugs can die in water. Bed bugs thrive in safe spaces. They are not outdoor bugs that can thrive even in harmful conditions. Because of this fact, they can easily die in water because they are not good swimmers. This is the reason why putting your clothes in the laundry is an efficient way to kill these pests.
  • Bed bugs can die in heat. Part of the laundry process is heating your clothes. On the unlikely chance that the pests survived tumbling in the water for a long period of time, you can still kill them once you put the clothes in the dryer. Bed bugs can die when exposed to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bed bugs in clothes can be killed in the laundry.

How to clean clothes with bed bugs

There are three main takeaways in cleaning clothes with bed bugs – preventing the spread of the bed bugs, killing the bed bugs, and avoiding reinfestation.

Separate your pest-infested clothes

To prevent the further spread of the bed bugs in your home, it’s best to separate the pest-infested clothes from those that are not. If all your clothes are stored in one location, don’t take your chances in diagnosing each and every piece of clothing. Intend to wash every single one of them.

But no, you don’t just carry them in the open until you reach your washing machine. That might help spread the bugs in your home. Put the clothes in a bag that you can properly seal. Put them in the bag according to how you are going to wash them.

For example, sort the clothes by color and temperature tolerance. Use multiple bags if necessary. Disposable ones are better too.

Put the clothes in the washing machine

Don’t just open the bag and drop your clothes in the washing machine. Opening the bag carelessly can let bed bugs escape and further spread them across your home. Place the bag inside the washing machine and release its contents there.

Seal the bag again before putting it out of the washing machine. Then throw the bag in a trash bin outside your home to prevent reinfestation in case there are still trapped bed bugs there.

Wash the clothes for at least thirty minutes, and use a high temperature setting if possible.

Disinfect your wardrobe

While waiting for your laundry, make the best use of your time by disinfecting your wardrobe. Bed bugs may be thriving there and they will reinfest your clean clothes if you don’t kill them.

There are bed bug sprays out there you can buy. Just make sure to read the label and follow instructions to guarantee their effectiveness and safety.

But generally speaking, bed bug sprays are fairly simple to use. Just spray them in your entire wardrobe, giving particular attention on cracks, crevices, and corners. Let the insecticides do their magic by leaving them to dry on their own.

Put the clothes in the dryer

Dry your clothes once the time in the washing machine is up. It’s recommended to dry the clothes in the dryer instead of just hanging them outside and let them dry on their own. This is because there is no better bed bug killer than heat.

Sure, it’s unlikely that bed bugs will survive tumbling in a washing machine full of water for a long time, but you can never be too complacent. Bed bugs may not drown because some washing machines don’t use a lot of water. Bed bugs may also be hidden in the pockets of the clothes and end up being protected. There are so many ways bed bugs can survive a trip to the washing machine.

After washing, put the clothes in the dryer. Make sure that the heat setting will be able to reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike water, heat will be able to penetrate every inch of the clothes. There is no hiding from it. Bed bugs will surely die from it.

Store your clean clothes properly

After drying your clothes, store them properly. And no, this doesn’t mean you should put them back into the wardrobe that you have just bombarded with bed bug spray. Most insecticides work by leaving them for a long time. It may take hours or days for the insecticides to take full effect.

You can store your dried clothes elsewhere, preferably in an isolated container where they can’t be reinfested by bed bugs.

Repeat the process until all your clothes are cleared

If you are washing all the contents of your entire wardrobe, it’s likely that you will need more than one session in your washing machine and dryer to clear everything out. Just repeat the steps enumerated above. Give particular attention to how you bag and dump clothes into the washing machine. They are the keys to preventing the further spread of bed bugs not just in your clothes, but also in your entire home.

Clothes with bed bugs should be washed and dried in heat.

How to clean clothes that can’t be washed

Some clothes can’t be washed. But there is no need to worry. There are still things you can do to get rid of bed bugs in these clothes.

  • Take them to the dry cleaners. This is your best bet, but it may be hard to find dry cleaners that will accept clothes with bed bugs.
  • Spray them with insecticide. Use the insecticide you have used in your wardrobe. There are no cracks and crevices to hide in fabrics, so bed bugs will not last long in clothes sprayed with insecticide.
  • Isolate them. Put the bed bug-infested clothes in an isolated container, like a plastic bag. Bed bugs will starve without food in the bag. This may take at least two months, so you will have to do this on clothes you can live without for a long time.

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