Bugs at the laundromat(11 posts)
I'm bug free after a scare finding a lone bed bug in my travel gear earlier this summer. Although recently I found dead bed bugs in the washing machine I was about to use at the laundromat.
It seems the best way to still use the laundromat safely is to wash on hot and dry on hot. The catch is, is that most of my clothes cannot go through the drier, (or hot water really), aside from occasional circumstances. After reading through the FAQ, I'm not clear on whether or not a hot wash alone will kill the bugs AND eggs.
Does anyone have any ideas how to deal with this?
I can neither afford, nor do I have the hookups or space in my apartment for a washing machine. I don't have any friends close by with a washing machine to use. Perhaps if I were to move and buy a cheap washing machine, it would be cheaper and easier than treating an infestation were I to get one.
Any ideas would be most appreciated.
I use public Laundromats and i don't worry to much. Even if the water isn't hot they drown i hope. Sometimes the dryers don't work up to par too. I think the thing you have to watch is someone dumping their dirty clothes around so one gets loose, so guard your clean clothes.
I understand your fear and anxiety about picking up bugs at the laundromat. And I understand the clothing problem. (Is it me or lately does it seem even fewer things can be washed in warm and dried at all? I went to Target in the middle of the infestation to pick up some "inside only" clothes to wear while cleaning the apartment, so as not to cross contaminate, and I had a devil of a time finding t-shirts that didn't need to be washed in cold and dried on low! Anyway, I digress.)
I'm going to link you to this article, which gives the results of an experiment about killing bed bugs in various temperatures and combinations of being washed and dried:
I would read the section about the experiment about putting bugs in socks and washing at various temperatures.
It seems to me that the real problem is the eggs. I think most bugs are killed by a soapy wash of half an hour. The eggs are the things that it is a total pain to get rid of. They're the ones that require the super high heat.
I will tell you that since I began my battle, I have more than once stood over a washing machine and dryer and cried "My kingdom for a laundry set up in my own apartment." So I get your pain.
However, if you're meticulous about where you put your dirty clothes in the laundromat down, and then you make sure they get washed in soapy water for a half an hour (give or take a few minutes), and then you make sure that they travel home without coming into contact with any one else's unwashed laundry/places that bed bugs might be harboring at the laundromat, and then hang the air dry stuff up in your place that you know is BB free, I think you'll be okay.
You're ahead of a lot of people at this point--you know what to look for, and you know to look in the first place. All of that, it seems, bodes well for you knowing how to use a laundromat without picking up any hitchhikers.
The DRYER FAQ cites a Jan. 2007 PCT Online article that describes a test of a wash cycle with hot water, and a hot dryer cycle. Both killed bed bugs and eggs.
Sorry it was not clear enough to you, there's a lot of information in the FAQ, and it's a bit wordy altogether. For the reference, see the first major block quote on this page:
However, in the interest of time, if you have access to a dryer, it may be more efficient. A lot of things can be dried briefly on hot which can't be washed and dried.
(Michael Potter said bed bugs and eggs were killed in 5 minutes in sock in a hot drier; be careful not to overpack the dryer; remember that really thick items such as comforters and pillows may insulate bed bugs and we are not aware of studies showing exactly how long they must be dried.)
That said, many Europeans do not have access to dryers, and are able to get rid of bed bugs anyway by washing clothing on 60 C or above, based on Richard Naylor's research (see Fedupandparanoid in the first comment on the DRYER FAQ: http://bedbugger.com/2007/05/18/dryer/#comment-3201).
I trust that the dryer on the hottest setting will kill the bedbugs, but I advise people to be wary of the folding tables at the laundromat. I've seen people store piles of unwashed laundry on the folding tables for long amounts of time, so I wouldn't trust putting freshly-dried clothing onto a folding table at a laundromat or it could get re-infested.
If you are in a neighborhood with bedbugs (and most of us are, I fear) remember that people with many loads of wash to do because of bedbug infestations are are MORE likely to come to a laundromat so they can do them all at once. Also, in a laundromat you are indirectly exposed to the clothing and bedding of many, many people, some of whom will have bedbugs if some of the buildings in your neighborhood have bedbugs.
This is what happens when I try to post while working on work stuff. What I was trying to say was that the studies in question, which have good info, are mostly focused on fabric items that are already infested with bugs.
It seems to me that Freetobe's situation is a little different. If there are dead bed bugs in a laundromat, that raises the question of whether there are lives ones too. I assume that if FTB is nervous enough about BB than he or she is going to take basic precautions such as not leaving laundry sitting on the floor of a laundromat next to fabric items that could be infested.
The question then is what are the realistic chances of a bug surviving someone else's washer trip and then crawling into FTB's stuff in a subsequent wash and following FTB home.
We know that for people who already have an infestation, hot water and high heat are the keys to killing all bugs.
What exactly do we know about how likely it is for someone to pick up an infestation from proximity to someone else's infested in the process of being laundered stuff in a laundromat?
I mean, yes, we all know it's theoretically possible. But it's also theoretically possible for me to pick up a lone traveler from a book at a library or a seat in a movie theater, and I'm not going to stop checking out books or going to movies--I'm just going to be more vigilant about inspecting my apartment and making it less BB friendly.
It sounds to me, and correct me if I'm wrong freetobe, like what FTB is asking is how likely is it? I mean, yes, moving to an apartment with private laundry facilities decreases the risk, just like sitting in an aisle seat on an airplane increases the chances of getting out of the plane alive in case of a crash. But, the chances of a crash in the first place are pretty low, so I choose not to live my life assuming the plane will crash.
Again, maybe freetobe is at the place where even a slight chance is enough to make him or her move, but it may also be a question of trying to assess how much risk there is.
What I was trying, and clearly failing, to say is that I think the risk of picking up bed bugs at a laundromat, if you're conscientious about keeping your laundry isolated from other peoples' laundry and you're basically aware of your surroundings and looking for signs of an infestation in the laundromat itself, is relatively low. Not impossible, but relatively low.
What I'm wondering is whether the protocols for washing laundry in a laundromat for someone without an infestation would be the same as those for someone who has an infestation--and where the balance between damaging radically shortening the lifespan of the article of clothing is for someone without an infestation.
Hi - I think BBs will change a lot of things and that the protocols for washing for infested versus non-infested will become closer. We have been washing our clothes in cold water with a cold water detergent to save energy and be more environmentally friendly. We were thinking of getting a clothes line. Now we are back to washing in hot and drying in hot.... Once we get rid of the BBs (if ever) I don't know that I will ever be comfortable going back to cold water, at least not for the sheets.
My grandmother used to BOIL her laundry in large kettles on the stove in the days before she got her first washing machine in rural Ontario. No nylon, polyester, rayon in those days. I bet BOILING does the trick on bed bugs.
My main question is, will the eggs die in hot water alone without a hot drier?
My concern is that if there are dead bugs in the washing machine, there could be eggs in there too. And if they're capable (?) of surviving a hot wash, and I don't put my stuff in the drier after washing, I could be taking live eggs home.
I'm not that picky about doing my laundry against the care instructions, except for my synthetic fabric clothing which isn't designed for the drier at all. And is a little pricy as well to be throwing in there regularly.
My other concern, which I can put aside, is the environmental aspect of energy use. Perhaps the largest source of energy use in our homes (and laundromats) is the heating elements of hot water tanks and driers, etc. So by washing on cold and hang drying, one can knock out I believe nearly 90% of the energy of doing laundry. But I digress.
I just read your second link nobugsonme, thanks. It seems like if the water is above 60°C it will do the trick for eggs too.
Thanks everyone for your replies!
The environment is a concern, but think of it this way: the sooner you get rid of your bed bugs, the less energy (laundry) and the fewer pesticides and plastic bags you're using. The less time you have bed bugs, the less chance others get them (and start on their own energy-bag-pesticide slide). And the fewer of their friends and neighbors do the same...
I would probably continue to exercise caution in public laundromats especially if bed bugs were sighted there.
i do a lot of sewing, and have a huge extensive collection of fabric AND clothing that "can't" be washed on warm or with a hot dryer(most of the stuff i'm really worried about is underwear, you'd be surprised how many brands of men's underwear can't be washed hot)
When something is cold wash only, but no specific drying instructions, if its cotton, usually you can't wash something on hot for two reasons.
color and shrinkage
I've only dealt with this for a few weeks now, and i'm ok with washing my clothes in cold, but will dry it on hot for 2 cycles to be sure(and since we have to go to a laundromat its quite expensive, but less expensive than the chance of ruining a $40 swimsuit or a $25 pair of undies)
I also separate out things and i will wash my cold stuff first, then i will put my hot stuff in the same washers right after just to be sure to kill them if they don't die from all the water.
but anyways, i'm getting long winded. moral of story, if it is cotton, usually you are safe to wash it hot especially if you don't care about it being super vibrantly colored and its pre shrunk. I also use a garment steamer, so everything is very very wrinkle free lol
Keep in mind that many fabrics which can't be machine washed AND dried can still be dried on hot for 10 minutes. Drying dry items does suffice and takes much less time. Yes, you will have to experiment with which fabrics can handle drying.
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