Bed bugs are quite small, usually about the size of apple seeds or even smaller, but they can be extremely annoying. Since they are not that big, it is difficult to find them and tricky to get rid of them. It can take weeks and several attempts to fully clear a bed bug infestation. Many people decide to use pesticides, but they do not realize how harmful these chemicals can be. Moreover, these pesticides may not prove effective every time, and the reason is that many types of bed bugs have actually developed immunity against the substances used in commercially available pesticides. Nevertheless, pesticides can certainly help eliminate bed bugs, but it is better to try other methods first, such as washing all your infested clothes.
Washing Your Clothes
Bed bugs usually infest clothing, bedding, and other personal belongings. It means that even if you decide to use insecticides to kill bed bugs, you just cannot use this method on your clothes and other delicate items. That is why you will have to consider washing your clothes to clean them properly.
However, you need to bear in mind that washing alone is not going to help. You have to heat-treat your clothes in the dryer at proper heat settings. It is also important to wash your clothes for long enough to kill all types of bed bugs in all their life stages. There is some research to back the idea of washing clothes to de-infest them; however, you might need to use a large tumbler dryer to get the best results.
To de-infest your clothes, you should ensure you heat-treat those items at a temperature setting no less than 50C. In fact, it is better to go for the highest setting. Some experts are of the view that washing your clothes in a tumble dryer at a setting of 50C will kill bed bugs in half an hour. However, it is better to keep the temperature setting at 60C and treat your clothes for at least half an hour. Not using the dryer for less than half hour would leave a large majority of nymphs unharmed. At 60C, you can expect good results, as this temperature setting is enough to kill adults, nymphs, and eggs.
Steps to Remember When De-Infesting Clothes
Even when you know the basics, you should still spend some figuring the best way to complete the procedure. To understand and handle the procedure better, you can divide the whole thing in three steps. First, you have to sort all your clothes, then you have to wash and dry them, and finally you have to store clean clothes properly. Here are a few key things to remember:
Sorting Your Clothes
It is better to pre-sort your clothes before you start washing them. You should sort clothes carefully and then place them in separate plastic bags. Here, it is important to consider the fact that you will be heat-treating your clothes at the highest temperature, which could be damaging for some of your clothes. Therefore, it is a good idea to separate dry-clean-only clothes from the ones you can place in a dryer. Once you have separated your clothes, be sure to seal the bags carefully. Not taking good care here would make matters worse and might even spread bed bugs in other areas of your home.
Washing and Drying Your Clothes
Once you have sealed all the bags, take them to the laundry room and empty them carefully into the dryer or washer. The best way to empty the bag properly is to fold the bag opening into the center and then wrap the bag around the opening. Soon after you have emptied the bag, immediately put it into another clean plastic bag and seal it. Repeat the same with all your bags.
The next step is to choose the highest temperature setting, and wash and dry your clothes. Again, you need to ensure that your clothes and the fabrics can withstand high heat. Ideally, you should a temperature setting of over 40C for a 7.7lb load. At this setting, you should be running the dryer for no less than half an hour. This will help kill all the bed bugs as well as their eggs. Keep in mind that the dryer is only going to kill the bed bugs and you will have to clean clothes afterwards – you can as a professional cleaner for help.
Storing Cleaned Clothes
It is important to practice some care when you take your clothes out of the dryer. The best thing is to get a few new plastic bags and put your clothes in them. This is especially important if you are using a commercial laundry facility. Seal the bags again. Ensure that you do not put your cleaned clothes on any surface that you have not inspected for bed bug infestation. Take those bags home but only get them out once you have cleared bed bug infestation from your home. It is better to leave your cleaned clothes in the bags and remove clothes as needed. This will help prevent re-infestation of clothes.
As you can see, washing your clothes in a dryer is a simple way of killing bed bugs. However, you need to be careful when handling clothes. Moreover, you need to ensure that you are not putting your delicate clothes in the dryer. For those clothes, you can consider soaking them in cold water for some time. Bed bugs cannot survive in the freezing temperatures. Once you have killed them, you can wash those clothes as you normally would. You should also bear in mind that you might get bed bugs again if you fail to kill them properly in the first place. This can happen when you do not leave your clothes in the dryer for long enough – not being able to select the right temperature setting may also lead to re-infestation. Just practice some care and you will be fine!