Even if you are not easily scared by insects, you’ll probably still be terrified of finding bed bugs in your home. Living in packs, these insects can quickly take over an entire bedroom. And while your bed is a great place for bed bugs to live, so are your clothes. In fact, a wardrobe full of clothes is a paradise for these tiny critters.
That’s why today, we’ll dive deeply into bed bugs and learn more about their behavior and how they interact with your clothing. Plus, we’ll also give you a few handy tips that you can use to get rid of any bed bug infestation in no time!
What Are Bed Bugs?
Generally speaking, bed bugs are insects that feed on animal and human blood. They are small, similar to the size of an apple seed, and have a brownish-colored body. What makes bed bugs so terrifying is that they only attack when you’re sleeping. Fortunately, unlike mosquitos, bed bugs don’t spread any disease and shouldn’t cause any severe health issues.
Although bed bugs are usually encountered on people’s beds, they are actually traveling insects. As a matter of fact, they use purses, luggage, and backpacks to move from one place to another. They might even migrate between apartments depending on the size of their colony.
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What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Even though bed bugs are not dangerous, their bite can cause allergic symptoms. The most affected areas are usually your neck, legs, face, hands, and arms. More often than not, a bed bug bite will be:
- Swollen and red with a dark spot in the middle
- Lined or grouped in a zigzag pattern
- Similar to a mosquito bite
How Do I Know if I’m Dealing With an Infestation?
There are many signs that could point towards a bed bug infestation besides finding bites on your body. When inspecting your bedroom, try to keep an eye out for:
- Blood stains on your pillowcase or sheets
- Eggshells, fecal spots, or shed skins
- A musty, disturbing odor near your bed
- Rusty or dark spots on your mattress, sheets, walls, and clothes
If you suspect that bed bugs are living in your room, it’s best to remove all bedding and try to pinpoint the insect’s home. Also, check the area around your bed, inside your books, and even in electrical outlets. And lastly, bed bugs can attach to your clothing, so don’t forget to inspect your closet too.
Can Bed Bugs Stay On Your Clothes All Day?
Bed bugs can live and thrive on clothes that are packed away or stored in your closet for days, weeks, and sometimes months. Even if they don’t have access to blood, these parasites can live for up to three months. And, in cold climates, bed bugs are able to survive for a year without food due to their slow metabolism.
When it comes to the clothes that you wear, the situation is a bit more complicated. For starters, you need to understand that bed bugs are cold-blooded insects. In other words, they hate the heat, so they only feast on your body for a couple of minutes before retreating to their hiding spot. However, while they will avoid getting in contact with your skin, they can still infest isolated areas of your clothing, such as pockets and creases.
Keep in mind that even one single bed bug is able to breed. Therefore, you need to regularly inspect every corner of your clothes. Sure, bed bugs might not attack you during the day, thanks to your body temperature, but infestations can be gross and difficult to deal with later down the line.
Can Bed Bugs Travel on Clothes You’re Wearing?
As noted earlier, bed bugs are traveling insects. Usually, they’ll migrate for miles using your clothes without even being noticed, catching a ride to the next room, house, or bus, taking over all pieces of furniture and clothing along the way. Remember that bed bugs will never miss a chance to travel around wherever you go.
However, since your clothes can also retain heat from your body, bed bugs might choose a more comfortable alternative. Thus, it’s more likely that you’ll encounter them in suitcases, purses, and backpacks than on your garments.
Do I Need to Throw My Clothes Away?
Thankfully, unless the infestation has gotten out of hand, you won’t need to throw away your clothes. Actually, washing and drying them should be enough to kill any bed bug and their eggs. Yet, you’ll still need to check the rest of your wardrobe and bedroom for other signs of bed bugs.
Removing Bed Bugs From Clothing
While throwing your clothes into the washing machine is effective, you should still take the necessary precautions to avoid infesting other parts of your home. All you need is rubbing alcohol, a washing machine, and a dryer!
1. Spray With Rubbing Alcohol
First of all, you should check and find out if your clothes are colorfast. If the label recommends washing them with similar colors or separately, you should skip this step. If not, you can spray your clothes with rubbing alcohol to kill any live bed bugs. However, be careful, as rubbing alcohol is very flammable. So try to do this away from any open flame source, like fireplaces, candles, or cigarettes.
2. Sort Your Garments
It’s vital that you sort your clothes according to their labels. For instance, keep items that can handle hot wash together. Then, place them in a trash bag until you can throw them into the washing machine. That should prevent bed bugs from hopping off your clothing and infesting other rooms. But if you want to be extra careful and avoid contaminating your home, you should do the sorting in an area that’s already infested.
3. Wash Your Clothes
When washing your clothes, choose the hottest temperature that they can handle. That way, you’ll destroy any bed bugs and their eggs instantly.
Remember to remove your clothes directly from the bag, and put them carefully in your washing machine. Once emptied, trash bags should be placed in another clean bag and disposed of. Otherwise, you risk spreading bed bugs on the floor, from where they’ll be able to travel to other places.
Do Bed Bugs Die in the Dryer?
Dryers can often reach temperatures of up to 135 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to kill all bed bugs. Therefore, you should dry your clothes at the hottest temperature recommended by their manufacturer for at least 30 minutes.
What About Dry-Clean Only Clothes?
Are your clothes dry-clean only? Then put them in a trash bag and take them to a local dry-cleaner. Just note that some dry-cleaners won’t take in infested clothing. Even so, you should still be honest with them regarding your bed bug problem, so they can make an informed decision.
Preventing Bed Bugs From Getting on Clothing
Once you’ve gotten rid of bed bugs, you’ll want to do your best to avoid further infestations by using these practical tips:
- Frequent Machine Washing and Drying: Regularly washing and drying your clothes will keep bed bugs at bay. Just make sure to use hot water and dry your garments completely before putting them in your closet.
- Proper Storage: Placing your clothes in a wardrobe is not enough to prevent bed bugs from moving around your home. Instead, you should store them in a sealed plastic container or a plastic garment bag.
- Steam and Vacuum: High temperatures are the best way to kill bed bugs. As a result, you should steam your wardrobe and clothes frequently. It’s also a good idea to vacuum your closet once in a while to get rid of any eggs.
Dealing with bed bugs can feel like a losing battle, especially when you realize that they can also take over your clothing. However, while the very idea of having bed bugs on your outfit is terrifying, it doesn’t have to ruin your day. With a bit of patience, knowledge, and the right tools, anyone can say goodbye to bed bugs forever!