Bed bugs don’t technically live on the clothes you wear daily, rather they usually live in and around dresser drawers, cracks, crevices, baseboards, beds, and bed frames.
They can however take up a temporary residence on the items you are wearing. So, will washing and drying clothes kill bed bugs?
Does washing clothes kill bed bugs the answer is YES? Washing and drying your clothes in high heat will kill bed bugs.
Note that while this approach can kill bed bugs from individual clothing, bed sheets, and comforters, it will not get rid of the bed bugs still hiding in the home or bedroom.
How do you Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Clothes?
You will take your clothes or bedding material to the washing machine and wash them on high heat. Then immediately put the wash into the dryer on high heat for 90 minutes.
You will need a washing machine, a dryer, trash bags, and laundry detergent to get rid of the bed bugs that might be on your clothes.
First thing first, presort your clothes as you would when doing laundry, placing each sorted item into a trash bag.
You will want to put your clothes and sheets into a trash bag to carry to the laundry to prevent spreading bed bugs to other parts of the home.
Check on the washing instructions to make sure you wash your clothes at the appropriate water temperature.
Once you are done with sorting, seal the trash bags to prevent the bugs from escaping and thus infesting other areas of the home.
Steps to Remove Bed Bugs from your Clothes / Sheets:
Step #1: Get Ready to Wash
Add the detergent to the washing machine (you can skip it if your washer has an automatic dispenser). Set the hottest water temperature based on fabric recommendations and the correct cycle depending on the type of fabric. If you can wash on the hottest cycle then you should do that.
Step #2: How to Load Clothes in the Washer
Carry the bags with the infested clothes or sheets to the washing machine and empty them carefully into the machine. Avoid dumping out the clothes as the bedbugs could scatter away into the floor.
Once your clothes are in the machine, dump the trash bags, or better yet, burn them to ensure any pest still inside does not scrawl inside your home.
Step #3: Transfer your Clothes to the Dryer
Transfer your clothes to the dryer and set them to run for at least 90 minutes on the highest heat cycle possible without damaging the fabric. Normally, you want the heat to be over 113 degrees F or hotter in order to kill the bedbugs plus the eggs.
Step #4: Put Laundry into Clean Plastic Bag
Before folding your clothes, make sure you inspect the table or surrounding to make sure that it is free of bedbugs. Now fold them and store them in a plastic bag. Bed bugs do not like crawling on plastic so live out of the bag until the infestation is gone.
Do Bed Bugs Die in the Washer?
The only way bed bugs can die in the washer is if you use very hot water. Most washers unless commercial is not able to get the water to a temperature hot enough to kill bedbugs completely.
Ideally, the temperature needs to be 113 degrees F or more. You will also need the water to hold that heat for at least 20 minutes which would be tough to do.
Note that most bugs can also float, and thus they may not drown in the washer. Even if you leave your clothes sitting in the water for days, bedbugs can still survive.
Do Bed Bugs Die in the Dryer?
The dryer is what you need to use to kill bed bugs. Put the clothes in being careful not to drop any and make sure no bed bugs drop to the ground.
Set the dryer to the hottest level you can that will not damage your clothing. The hottest most dryers can get is between 140-160°F (60-71°C).
How Long to Dry Clothes to Kill Bed Bugs
Bed Bugs / Bed Bug Eggs the Exact Heat Killing Temperatures: If the dryer is at 113°F, you need to run it for 90 minutes. If the dryer is at 118°F, you need to run it for 20 minutes.
Do I Have to Wash all my Clothes if I Have Bed Bugs?
Yes, because bed bugs can spread throughout your wardrobe and make it harder to control the infestation. Therefore, you should wash and dry all your clothes/sheets then put them in a trash bag and live out of the trash bag until the bugs are gone.
Bedbugs can be a real nightmare and even a single bed bug or bed bug eggs missed in any of your clothing can spread the infestation.
Can Bed Bugs Live Through the Washer and Dryer?
Bedbugs can survive through the washer and dryer process if the temperatures are not high enough to kill them along with their eggs.
You still want to wash the infested clothes or sheets as the first step towards managing bedbug infestation. The dryer heat should be enough if done long enough to kill all bed bugs and eggs.
Does Laundry Detergent Kill Bed Bugs?
No, laundry detergent and other household cleaners are not strong enough to kill bed bugs. If you want to kill bed bugs you need a strong insecticide made to kill them. We recommend the products in this link to kill them.
Put all clothes and sheets into a trash bag to take to the washer and dryer. Load immediately and start washing them.
Wash clothes or sheets in hot water (at least 113°F) to ensure the water temperature is high enough to kill bed bugs. Dry them on a high heat 113°F setting for at least 90 minutes and 118°F setting for at least 20 minutes.
When removing items from the washer/dryer, inspect them for any remaining bed bugs.
Place all clothes into a plastic trash bag and use that until the bed bug infestation is taken care of and you are bug-free.