How to Clean Items With Bed Bugs

Bedbugs are avid hitchhikers. They can travel from one room to another, and from floor to floor, by crawling, or attaching to a host. Bedbugs come out at night to feed on your blood, and they hide during the day. Bedbug bites and dark streaks of blood and droppings on your bed indicate that you have a bedbug problem. To get rid of bedbugs and to keep the infestation from expanding, learn different ways to clean infested items.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Trash bags
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer
  • Car
  • Freezer


    • 1

      Use a vacuum cleaner to clean bedbugs off infested items. A vacuum cleaner kills all life stages of bedbugs, regardless of whether they're adult bedbugs, larvae or eggs. Vacuum carpeted floors, especially areas where the wall meets the carpet; pull the carpet up from the floor and vacuum below it. Scrape the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner over infested areas, such as behind headboards, underneath nightstands and along fabric folds and seams of sofas and beds. Discard the vacuum cleaner bag outdoors, in a sealed trash bag.

    • 2

      Wash infested fabrics, such as bedding and clothing, in the washing machine set to the hot cycle; the water temperature must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the washed items to the dryer for up to 20 minutes, to make sure all bugs are dead. The hot water from the washing machine and the heat from the dryer kill all bedbugs on the fabrics.

    • 3

      Take non-washable fabrics, including wool, linen and silk, to the dry cleaner. Double-bag the items in trash bags and seal the bags. Inform the dry cleaner of the bedbug-infested items so he can practice caution when opening the bags and keep them separate from other clothing.

    • 4

      Use outdoor heat to kill bedbugs. Seal the item in two trash bags and place it inside a car that's parked in direct sunlight. Wait at least 24 hours before removing the bag. When the temperature inside the car reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the bedbugs die. Brush or wipe the dead bugs off the item outdoors. Avoid placing multiple items in one bag because this offers the bedbugs multiple hiding places and makes it harder to kill them.

    • 5

      Expose bedbugs to the cold from your freezer for at least five days. Bedbugs die in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Double-bag infested items and seal the bags before placing them in the freezer. Once killed, remove the items from the freezer. Take the bags outdoors and shake, brush or wipe off the dead bugs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep cleaned items away from infested areas to avoid re-infestation. Store them in a separate room, in airtight storage bins, garment bags or heavy-duty trash bags.
  • After cleaning, treat the infested area with insecticide to kill any bedbugs that were left behind.
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

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