There are few reliable ways to kill bedbugs, but heat seems to do the trick. In fact, the temperatures required to kill bedbugs are attainable through the use of your household clothes dryer. Killing bugs that have taken up residence in your closet, however, takes little more than some careful laundering. Addressing the larger bedbug problem in your home is likely going to require a licensed and experienced pest professional.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Check the label on your clothing to make sure drying at a high temperature won't damage, warp or shrink the fabrics.
Wash your clothes in the water temperature indicated on the label. How water is best, but the water in your washer might not get hot enough to kill bedbugs and eggs, so it isn't as important as the dryer temperature.
Dry your clothes on high heat. It takes temperatures of 48.9 degrees Celsius or higher to kill bedbugs, according to University of Kentucky entomologist Michael F. Potter. Dry your clothes for at few minutes to let the dryer heat up, then continue to dry for at least 10 to 20 minutes.
Place fabrics that don't need to be washed straight into a hot dryer for 10 to 20 minutes. Doing so kills bedbugs, eggs and nymphs. Avoid temperatures higher than 71.1 degrees Celsius because they'll damage fabrics.
Place items you cannot safely put in the dryer, such as delicate fabrics, shoes, purses and accessories, in black plastic trash bags with a thermometer. Place them in a hot car or in direct sunlight to produce temperatures similar to your dryer. Once the temperature has exceeded 48.9 degrees C, leave the items in the bag for at least 20 minutes.
Tips and warnings
- If you must wash clothes at a laundromat or community laundry room, pack your clothes in trash bags instead of baskets, and dump the bags directly into the machines. Dispose of the bags in an outdoor trash bag to prevent spreading bedbugs to others. Bring extra clean bags to bring your clothes home.
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