Drying clothes helps to get rid of bedbugs, but does not eliminate bedbug infestations from homes or buildings. But placing clothes and pillows in a hot clothes dryer is one good step in a multifaceted approach to getting rid of bedbugs. The heat in a dryer for one hour kills bedbugs and bedbug eggs, according to Cornell University, but a professional exterminator will still need to treat the home.
The University of Florida states that bedbugs exposed to 113 degrees Fahrenheit die. Clothes dryers can get this hot, kill bedbugs and not damage items. If the clothes dryer reaches temperatures about 115 F, then items only need to be in the dryer for about 15 minutes rather than a full hour. Cornell University recommends that all clothes and fabrics in a suitcase be placed immediately in a dryer after returning from a hotel or motel. But if people do not have access to clothes dryers, using a washing machine set to hot should also kill bedbugs.
Professional exterminators, also called pest management professionals, recommend laundering clothes, bed linens, drapes, small pillows, machine-washable shoes and stuffed animals before they come to treat a home. They also recommend tidying rooms to make fewer places for bedbugs to hide; vacuuming floors and baseboards. Place all laundered items in resealable plastic bags so that bedbugs cannot get into them and hide. By doing all this, the insecticide sprays will have the best chance at coming into contact with bedbugs and killing them.
Although heat kills bedbugs hiding in clothing, bed linens or any items placed in a clothes dryer, it cannot kill bedbugs hiding in other places in the home. Bedbugs run quickly from disturbed items and their near-flat bodies make them able to hide in very narrow cracks in walls, furniture, picture frames, electrical outlets and mattresses. A pest management professional sprays areas where the remaining bedbugs hide. Often two treatments are needed in order to kill any newly hatched bedbugs.
Placing items suspected of harboring bedbugs in black plastic bags and setting them outside in the sunlight is thought to kill bedbugs, but not enough heat is generated to kill them, according to Cornell University. The entire contents of the bag would need to get over 113 F and only some parts of the bag may get that hot. All the bedbugs need to do is move to the cooler spots to survive. A clothes washer and dryer is far more effective.
- Cornell University New York Integrated Pest Management: FAQ List for Bed Bugs
- University of Florida; Bed Bugs and Blood-Sucking Conenose; P. G. Koehler, et al.; 2009
- Univeristy of Florida News; UF Researchers Turn Up the Heat on Bedbugs With New Low-tech Treatment Method; July 2009
- The College of Physicians of Philadelphia: Bed Bugs Bite
- Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
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