Wash Bed Bugs Away If...

Do you know there is a wrong way to wash bed bug infested clothing? The wrong way, will not kill all stages of bed bugs.

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The correct method has been proven by several bed bug scientists – Richard A. Naylor and C.J. Boase out of Sheffield University and Stephen L. Doggett out of Australia. Follow these instructions for the best possible chance to kill every last one of those nasty pests – including bed bug eggs – the hardest life stage of the pest to kill.

To determine these kill temperatures, bed bugs were sealed in cotton bags, placed in pockets of clothing or within the folds of bed sheets and laundered under monitored conditions. For example, clothes that were soaked for 24 hours in cold water without detergent killed the bed bug nymphs and adults but did not kill their eggs.

Hot Wash Water

A 30 minute wash water of 60C (140 oF) has been proven to kill every stage of bed bugs – nymphs, adults and eggs. Anything less, say at 40 oC (100 oF), and you have a 75% chance bed bug eggs will remain viable and hatch later.

Hot Tumble Dryer

Articles that are not in need of washing may be placed directly in a tumble dryer. The hottest setting for at least 30 minutes for a 7.7 pound load (3.5 kilograms) will do the trick killing bed bug nymphs, adults and bed bug eggs. The contents must reach 40-50oC (104-122oF).  Anything less, time wise or heat wise may result in less than a 100% kill rate. If the article is thick, e.g. a comforter, heat for a longer period to ensure the desired kill temperature is reached throughout the item.


Another option is freezing. Like washing, there is a right and a wrong way and the wrong method may not kill all bed bug life stages. At least two hours at  -17oC (1.4oF) is required for 100% kill rate, keeping in mind, 2.5 kg  (5.5 pounds) of loosely packed dry laundry takes eight hours to reach that target temperature.

Dry Cleaners

Temperature sensitive articles may be dry cleaned.  Seal the clothing in plastic bags (no twist ties, double tape the bags shut) for transport to the cleaners to avoid transference.

Following these protocols will help you disinfest clothing and bedding where bed bugs may seek refuge. To ensure the bed bugs are gone, install passive bed bug monitors, like the BB Alert. For added protection hire a bed bug dog service, like Bed Bug Mutts for a fast, accurate answer to the question, were all the bed bugs washed away?

Posted on March 27, 2012 .