washing clothes kills bed bugs?

Does Washing Clothes Kill Bed Bugs?

It’s happened, the one thing you dread so much about visiting hotels. You’ve taken every precaution you can imagine, but somehow it just wasn’t enough. You’ve brought home bed bugs from your last business trip. What are you going to do? If you wash the clothes in your suitcase, will the bed bugs die? If not, what is the best way to get bed bugs out of your clothes? 

Its a natural feeling to know if there’s ways of killing bed bugs for yourself. Bed bugs can find their way in to your suitcase, into your drawers, and anything that you may have accidentally left on the floor. They are excellent hitch hikers. It is always recommended to wash your clothes as soon as you get home from a hotel, but is this actually an effective way of killing bed bugs? Or is it just a way to get rid of some of the bed bugs, leaving you to figure out how to get rid of the rest?

While washing your clothes can help remove the bed bugs from your clothing, and even kill some of them, washing clothes isn’t actually a good way to completely kill all of the bugs that may have taken up a new residence in your clothing. While washing is not an effective way to get rid of the entire population it should still be part of your process to prepare for professional treatment.

How to Kill Bed Bugs in Your Clothes

In order to receive proper and effective treatment from a professional, it is extremely important for you to prepare your things properly. However, if you wash your clothes in hopes of killing bed bugs without using the proper caution, you can end up spreading the problem throughout your home. You need to be very thorough with your preparation.

Bed bugs are able to live without blood for two to three months. If you live in a colder climate, they can live up to a year without blood, because they are cold-blooded and they can slow down their metabolisms. They are most active about an hour before dawn, so you should try to avoid any activity with the clothes during this time if possible.


When you are preparing your clothing for the washing machine, you need to sort your clothes in the area that is already infested. This may be your bedroom, living room, or your laundry room. Sort your clothes into piles how you would normally wash them, except you will be putting them into plastic bags instead of laundry baskets.

When you are finished sorting your clothes into the plastic bags, seal them as tightly as you can. If you have clothing that needs to be dry-cleaned, make sure you put them into a separate sealed bag so that it can be handled by a professional.


After your clothes have sat in the tightly sealed bag in the infested area for at least 8 hours, you can start the washing process. Be sure to carefully tip the bag into the washing machine, taking extra care that nothing falls onto the floor.

Immediately take the empty trash bags and put them in a new, clean trash bag. Seal the new bags extra tight and throw them away. It is best to throw them away in an outdoor trash can.

Wash the clothes on the highest temperature that should kill bed bugs your washing machine will allow. There is no detergent out there that is specifically for killing bed bugs, so you can use your normal laundry detergent for this part. The most important thing is that the water is as hot as possible.


Very carefully and extremely quickly switch your laundry from the washer to the dryer. If possible, the heat inside your dryer should meet or exceed 120 degrees for a time period of at least 30 minutes. This will provide the greatest effort to remove not only bed bugs, but their eggs fro your clothing as well.

For your items that need to be dry cleaned, you need to notify the business you are planning on taking your garments to ahead of time. Your clothing risks spreading the bed bugs to the clothing of other customers. The business will need to be able to prepare to properly treat your clothes.

Storing Clean Clothing

If you are doing your laundry in a place that has shared laundry, such as a laundromat, dorm room, or apartment, take your dry clothes and immediately put them in new plastic bags, sealing them tightly. Make sure you do not remove a single item from those bags until you make it home. 

If you are doing your laundry at home, carefully remove each piece of clothing from the dryer and fold them immediately. Make sure you keep the clothes in the laundry room while you fold them to make sure any surviving bed bugs don’t find another place to live in your house.

Place your clean clothes into sealed plastic bags or totes until you can get treatment to make sure the bed bugs are completely gone. Keep the bags or totes away from other parts of your house if you can. Try your best to not remove any articles of clothing unless you absolutely have to.


Dealing with bed bugs in your home and in your clothes can be an extremely frustrating. They are also really difficult to get rid of. Does washing clothes kill bed bugs? Partly, but it’s likely that not all of them will die. If you take care of things properly, you can contain the infestation and get rid of as many of the bugs as you can.

If you are worried that you might be dealing with a bed bug infestation throughout your home, it is best to contact a professional to completely control the situation. Do not try to take care of things completely on your own. If you try to get rid of them all on your own, it could make the infestation worse.

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