Many experts have stated that washing clothing in hot water, followed by drying on high heat until bone dry is the most effective way to kill bed bugs and their eggs on clothing, bed linens and other washables. Many instructions warn you to dry items for at least 20 minutes to one hour to ensure killing all bed bugs and eggs. The problem is that many articles of clothing can’t stand up to such rough treatment, they require a more delicate touch.
University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter conducted experiments to test the effectiveness of laundering to de-bug clothing, bedding and personal belongings that cannot be treated with insecticides. The experiment placed three groups of live bed bug adults, nymphs and eggs into small nylon mesh bags, then tucked them inside cotton socks. Two trials were conducted:
- The buggy socks were washed with a full load of clothing in a standard hot-water wash cycle.
- The buggy socks were dried only by adding them to a load of unwashed clothing in a clothes dryer and dried for five minutes on high heat (greater than 175° F).
“No bed bugs or eggs survived the washing or drying cycles, suggesting that either regimen, alone or in combination, is effective,” the study reported. Click the post title to read about the study in PCT online, the web version of Pest Control Technology magazine.
The study results will make life considerably easier for bed bug sufferers. Not only will it save money on utility bills (or quarters if you have to trek to the neighborhood laundromat), but non-launderable items such as delicate clothing, footwear, area rugs, toys, stuffed animals, backpacks, etc. can be conveniently de-bugged by heating them for five minutes in a dryer at most settings. In five minutes a load of clothing in your average clothes dryer set to low, medium or high heat reaches temperatures of about 140, 150 and 180°F, respectively.
Of course, if you have bed bugs, you may decide to crank up the heat and keep the dryer running longer just to make sure. But the good news is, you don’t have to. For more information on bed bugs, check out the Stern Environmental Group website. If you have bed bugs, give us a call. We are the bed bug experts and can rid your home of the nasty bugs. You’ll sleep well tonight when you get “Stern” with your pests.