Can Bed Bugs Travel on Clothes?
Anyone who has experienced them can confirm that dealing with bed bugs is an absolute nightmare! These blood-sucking critters will infest every crevice of your home, biting you when you fall asleep and leaving painful, red dots behind on your skin. So how do the little devils get into your home in the first place?
Can you bring bed bugs home on the clothes you're wearing?
First, let's examine how bed bugs spread. Bed bugs will set up a sort of home base as their colony. This can be a mattress, box spring, sofa, bed frame, or other stationary location that provides them with both cover and a steady supply of humans to snack on.
Bed bugs are not a fan of moving around. They like peace and quiet. This is why they wait until their humans are asleep before sucking their blood. Fortunately, this means that they typically will not try to explore your clothes if you sit on a bed bug infested couch or other colony sources for a short period of time.
However, it is not entirely unheard of for bedbugs to transfer onto clothing. If you take a nap on a bed bug colony's location, some of the pests can attach themselves to your clothes, but it is far more common for them to hitch a ride on a suitcase or other forms of luggage left out in a hotel room. When staying in a hotel, is it best to keep your suitcase stored on metal luggage racks rather than on the floor or a chair.
Leaving your dirty clothes in a pile on the floor or stacked up on the bed will also increase bed bugs' chances of seeing them as a viable spot to explore. Clothing on bodies will most likely not attract them.
How long do bed bugs live on clothes?
Bed bugs will not simply die on their own if they are left on your clothes. If you bring your clothes home with you, they may use your laundry as one of their home bases and crawl out at night to feed.
Bed bugs also have the capability to survive for quite a while without food. Studies have shown that bed bugs can survive without a meal for 20 to 400 days, depending on the temperature. You can try starving them out, but you may have to wait a year! Since you likely need the clothes that are infested with bed bugs, it is not a good idea to wait for them to die off on their own.
Should you throw away clothes infested with bed bugs?
By this point, you may be ready to trash or burn your clothes. But don't worry! You can get rid of bed bugs in your clothes.
Like it says above, bed bugs will typically not select your clothing to live in. Instead, they may have taken up residence in your mattress crevices or other furniture. You need to treat the bed bugs source to get rid of them completely, or you will be forced to treat your clothing repeatedly.
If you think that the bed bugs are only in your clothing, congratulations! It is much easier to treat your clothing than to try to exterminate a bed bug colony in a heavy piece of furniture. If you are waking up with multiple bed bug bites, there is a good chance that they are not only in your clothes.
When it comes to treating clothes for bed bugs, the first step is to contain them so that the bugs cannot spread somewhere else and hide. Take the infested items in question and place them in sealed plastic bags before you do anything else—double layer the bags to be extra sure that no bugs escape. Even one fertile female can restart the colony on her own and grow a bed bug population quickly.
You may be worried that the bed bugs have decided to hitch a ride on your body even after you isolate your clothes, but don't panic. This is highly unlikely. Bed bugs prefer immobile, sleeping humans to ones that are upright and moving around. If you feel bugs crawling on you, it is most likely psychological (due to the grossness of finding bugs in your clothes) or some other kind of pests.
How do you wash clothes if you suspect bed bugs?
If you are worried that your clothing is infested with bed bugs, you can wash them to get rid of the pests. Look around to make sure that bed bugs have not already chosen somewhere else to settle. Take any clothing or sheets that have come into contact with the suspected fabric with you, and ensure it is sealed properly as well.
Once your clothing has been carefully sealed, take them to where you plan to wash them. Be careful during transport that there are no openings in the bags containing your clothing.
Once you have reached your laundry machine, carefully tip the bag of infested clothes into your washing machine. Dispose of the empty plastic bag into a separate clean bag just in case some bed bugs remain in the trash bag.
Wash your clothing at the hottest temperature that your clothing allows for with your regular laundry detergent. Once your clothes have been washed, carefully and quickly transfer them to your dryer.
How long should clothes be in the dryer to kill bed bugs?
To effectively kill adult bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) and their eggs, your dryer should reach temperatures above 120 degrees for more than 30 minutes. Keep your clothes in the dryer until they are completely dry.
Killing Bed Bugs on Your Clothes With A Steamer
The main enemy of bed bugs is intense heat, so you may also find success using a high-powered steamer on your clothes. This will not need the same amount of time as the washing and drying method, as the heat should be enough to kill bed bugs on contact. Carefully go over all of your clothing with the steamer. After treating your clothes, you may want to wash them again to get rid of any dead bugs left inside of them.
If you are still waking up with multiple bite marks, you may be dealing with a serious bed bug infestation that can't be treated on your own. Use our pest control hotline today to connect with local experts and put an end to your bed bug problem for good!