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Home dryer hot enough?

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  1. Crowinator

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Sep 11 2008 20:49:05
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    Hello, I'm new here. We just recently found out we had bed bugs (a small infestation, or an early one, according to the PCO) and had a PCO make the first visit, bought a mattress encasement, etc. We took all of our clothes and dried them on the highest setting at a laundromat and put them in ziploc bags, but now we are living out of the bags and washing/drying at home. It's really hard to manage. Does anyone know how to check if my dryer gets hot enough to kill things? Do most residential dryers get up to a certain degree? It's one of those small stackable washer/dryer units, and it doesn't feel to me to get that hot, despite being on high heat. Would leaving things going for two hours help, in that case?

    I just wondered if anyone else had problems with a home dryer or had advice on whether I should be worried. We've been doing the home wash/dry for about a week now and then putting the items back into the ziploc bags that we used at the laundromat that still have clean clothes in them. If my home dryer doesn't kill stuff, then we may be recontaminating the clothes already in there? This whole thing makes me kinda paranoid, but I don't want to spend another looooong weekend at the laundromat re-drying stuff if I don't need to. Thanks in advance! (c:

  2. livinginahorrorfilm

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Sep 11 2008 21:04:57
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    No advise at all. And in the EXACT same position as you and wondering.

  3. spideyjg

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Sep 11 2008 21:53:47
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    http://www.cooking.com/products/shprodde.asp?SKU=398810

    Get an instant read thermometer, a must for serious cooks anyhow, run a load of clothes until nearly done, pop the dryer open and insert the thermometer deep into the clothes until you just see the dial and shut the door.

    Wait 5 minutes and then you have an answer on how hot the clothes get in your dryer.

    It is a scientific as you can get without a lab I think.

    Jim

  4. BugsInTO

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Sep 11 2008 22:00:11
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    Our dryer is a full size front loader with a circular lint trap that clips into a housing on the inside of the door. I was able to safely put a meat thermometer between the cover and the trap inside the door to measure the temperature on a Hot Cycle. Beef Rare - 140 Degrees Fahrenheit.

    Not very scientific, and I had to be careful because the last thing I wanted to do was screw up the dryer, or drop the thermometer when I opened the door.

    But, it reassured me that the dryer was putting out enough heat. 180 degrees would be better, but 140 degrees for 1/2 hour on completely dry clothes (not too heavily loaded) should be enough.

    I called an appliance shop to ask about how to measure dryer temperature and they were very dismissive - saying there was no way to do it.

    I looked on the internet and there was mention of using a thermometer to measure the heat of the air as it is exhausted through the vent. So that might be another approach as well.

  5. spideyjg

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Sep 11 2008 22:32:16
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    BugsInTO - 30 minutes ago  » 

    I looked on the internet and there was mention of using a thermometer to measure the heat of the air as it is exhausted through the vent. So that might be another approach as well.

    Measuring the contents is more important if you ask me. A quick read plunged into the clothes is best because the holy grail is getting the clothes hot enough.

    Jim

  6. Crowinator

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Sep 12 2008 22:49:55
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    Thanks for the thermometer idea! That's exactly what I'm looking for, and I hope it turns out that our dryer is hot enough. We had PCO treatment five days ago and might be getting bites again; luckily, the PCO is coming again in a week and a half, but I'm worried we're doing something wrong in the meantime. This is expensive enough, but if I have to keep going to the laundromat -- man. Thanks again.

  7. DougSummersMS

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Sep 14 2008 10:12:29
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    I think Jim's idea is an effective approach.

    I would be careful with thermometers that contain mercury which could create a hazmat situation if broken. A mechanical or digital thermometer would be preferable.

    The most accurate method would be to use an infrared thermometer & measure the temp of the clothing directly. Infrared thermometers can be found for fifty dollars and up from a good tool supplier or Sears.

    For most people placing an oven thermometer in the dried clothing after the dryer has stopped for a few minutes should be sufficient to get a good approximation of the temperature of the clothing.

  8. livinginahorrorfilm

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Sep 14 2008 12:07:39
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    On a happy note: I found a dead BB on a shirt that just went through the wash cycle. I was happy to see that as I have not been putting some thigns in the dryer if it would ruin them. However I suppose it could have been dead before going in....but I like to think the hot water was what did it.

  9. Crowinator

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Sep 14 2008 20:22:35
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    Well, we did the thermometer test and found it barely gets up to 120 degrees. That's not good, right?

    We have no idea what to do. We just bought this house two months ago and now wish we could burn it down. We had no idea it was a fixer-upper in the first place, so things are breaking or being sucky (like the dryers) all around us, and having the bugs makes everything worse. I don't know what to do with our clothes in the house, out of the house, how to keep track of everything . . . we just put de all over our bedroom and I think it got on our pillows . . . well, anyway, at least we know we can't count on our dryer now, I guess.

  10. DougSummersMS

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Sep 14 2008 21:07:37
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    You can wash the DE out of your pillow cases or vacuum it up with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner.

    120 degrees is on the low side since you want a minimum of 120 degrees throughout the contents to the core of the material.

    Some commercial dryers are also set pretty low to save energy. I saw one recently that showed a temp of only 105 degrees on the LED display on the control panel.

  11. Anonymous

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Sep 15 2008 0:15:00
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    Wait, you placed a thermometer on clothes just out of the dryer and the read was 120dF?

    In a laundry experiment referenced in the FAQs all bedbugs, nymphs and eggs died during a 30-minute cycle on hot; the temperature got to 45dC (that's 113dF). The amount of laundry was 3.2 kg = 7 lbs.

    Therefore, it seems to me, no real reason to despair. If you're worried, just pack the dryer lightly and leave it on for a good long spell after they're already dry. A laundromat might be more efficient but you do what you can with the tools you have.

    Good luck in any case.

  12. Crowinator

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Sep 15 2008 0:30:17
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    Hopelessnomo: I did what someone above suggested, and let the dryer run full of clothes for a long while (40 minutes), after which I stuck in the thermometer and shut the door for five minutes. So, the clothes weren't taken out and not much heat was lost, if at all. We have a really tiny stackable washer/dryer unit, and that's why I was worried in the first place. However, if we can get away with 120, that's okay then -- I've been drying most things for 80-100 minutes. I'll start packing the dryer lighter, too. Thanks.

  13. spideyjg

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Sep 15 2008 1:13:47
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    Did you stick the thermometer in the clothes pile or on top of it?

    In the pile would be the most accurate.

    Jim

  14. BakedBedBugs

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Sep 15 2008 23:34:19
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    If you are sure that all you are getting is 120 then run it for an of hour. In an environment like a dryer where the clothes are constantly being tumbled, that is more than enough.

    Tony

  15. Danno

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Apr 14 2009 14:25:02
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    Here are some answers for you regarding doing Bed Bug Laundry.

    Before I begin, I would like to disclose that I'm the owner of a company in Toronto that specializes in laundering clothing that has been exposed to bed bugs. So, no advertisement from me here, just some professional advice.

    Let's begin by exploring what is necessary with regards to heat and the elimination of bed bugs. The CDC (centre for disease control) in Atlanta does address this issue, albeit in a very rudamentary form.

    Bed bugs can be killed by exposure to heat (in a dryer for instance) but they must be exposed to a temperature of at least 130 degrees F. for a minimum of 35 minutes.

    Let's take a look at the above statement; The BED BUGS must be exposed to this temperature for that time period, so one must ensure that the 'load' at its core is that hot for that time (minimum!!!). In 'normal' home dryers, it is simply not possible to ensure that you are maintaining that temperature at all times. In fact, it is all but impossible to know exactly what temperature your home dryer is maintaining to begin with. Most home dryers do not heat up to 130 degrees in the first place. For those of you trying to figure out how hot your home dryers will get (usually electrically) the only way is to contact the manufacturer (look it up on the web, it's the easiest way but have your exact model number handy) and see what the specs on your particular machine are.

    I've read in this string that some of you are using thermometers to try to ascertain the temp of your home dryers - DO NOT DO THAT! IT'S DANGEROUS!

    What you need to do is find a commercial dryer that will tell you what temperature it is maintaining. In addition, only a commercial (gas utilizing) dryer will be able to bring the temp of the laundry load high enough for full eradication. And, commercial dryers are computerized so that a particular temperature can be input and maintained with an 'audit' of the temperature kept throughout the entire drying cycle. Commercial laundering of bed bug laundry is usually done at 180 degrees F. +/- 10 degrees. In other words, the temp never goes below 170 and can reach as high as 190 degrees F.

    In our operation we begin treating the laundry right from the wash cycle with specific products that are effective and safe. This kills the bed bugs right there but we don't stop there. We go on to the drying cycle which ensures full eradication.

    There's no point in treating your living space if just one bed bug still exists anywhere in your laundry.

    In my professional opinion, you must treat your living space in addition to your laundry to maximize your chances of success. This includes spending a bit of money - it's a drag to have to do that but if it gets rid of them, I think we can all agree that it's worth it.

    D. Morgan
    Moderator: Assume "Danno" means that it's dangerous to insert a glass/mercury thermometer (like a ferver type) into the dryer, either because it will break when its maximum temperature is exceeded or from agitation.

  16. Danno

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Apr 14 2009 14:28:49
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    One more thing...

    I've also read that some are putting their clothing into plastic bags and then drying thing that way.

    Simply put, it's a fire hazard.

    Do yourself a favour and don't put plastic into a dryer.

  17. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 15 2009 0:24:07
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    Danno - 9 hours ago  » 
    One more thing...
    I've also read that some are putting their clothing into plastic bags and then drying thing that way.
    Simply put, it's a fire hazard.
    Do yourself a favour and don't put plastic into a dryer.

    I have not seen this anywhere, Danno. Perhaps you could link us to it?

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  18. hoo2677

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 15 2009 1:26:06
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    Please keep in mind that wet clothes take longer to get up to temp. I've been doing two dryer cycles consistently. I will also tell you that at one point my neighbor (whom I got this problem from) did a lot of drying of bedding without washing and one time when i went to put my stuff in the dryer following her, and i sh*t you not, a live adult came right out of in front of the lint filter. Just stuffing a bunch of dry stuff with bugs in it, allowed one to come off and not go into the dryer bin. It obviously didn't get hot enough in front of the lint filter in the front. I totally freaked that someone else might have hit that dryer and put their stuff in and taken that little bad boy home in their laundry. Please practice good community hygiene if you live in a multi-tenant building.

    Portland, OR

  19. spideyjg

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Apr 15 2009 1:26:24
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    Here was my dryer testing confirmation thread Danno.

    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/dryer-testing-theory-confirmed

    You notice I said nothing about leaving the thermometer inside. Great you have a business there in Toronto that you set up specifically to launder BBs dead. Well I just looked around San Diego and I don't have anything like that nor do most of the folks anywhere outside Toronto.

    As to your statement here

    For those of you trying to figure out how hot your home dryers will get (usually electrically) the only way is to contact the manufacturer (look it up on the web, it's the easiest way but have your exact model number handy) and see what the specs on your particular machine are.

    I gotta disagree about that being the only way. IMHO the only true way is measurement of your particular dryer. That is why I came up with my little meat thermometer test that anyone with $6 to buy a quick read thermometer can gauge if their dryer is even in the ball park.

    By all means if you have a better idea, that anyone in the world can easily implement to test their dryer, please present it.

    +1 on the no plastics in there observation. Never saw mention of that idea but good advice Danno.

    Jim

  20. n8whit

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Aug 19 2011 20:32:16
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    I do not have bed bugs thank God but my daughter had lice. So I put in thermometer in my dryer (home- normal sized made by Whirlpool) and my thermometer was past 155 degrees Fahrenheit!

  21. Legette

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Sun Aug 21 2011 17:10:54
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    You can use an inexpensive infared temperature gun avilable in most stores like Sears:

    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/search_10153_12605?keyword=laser%20infrared%20temperature%20gun&seaxlas=1

    Just used it on my dryer and got an exterior reading (while it was running) of about 114'. Inside was about 156'. I feel better now knowing that it's ok.

    {check out my full bed bug war story at: http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/be-the-bug-my-war-story?replies=1#post-117862}

  22. spideyjg

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Mon Aug 22 2011 9:33:44
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    Good that you verified the temps of your dryer.
    IR thermometers are fine but are of limited use after the war is over.

    A good instant read thermometer is very useful in the kitchen afterwards to ensure you don't under or overcook your food.

    Jim

  23. goingcrazywithbb

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Mon Feb 13 2012 12:43:24
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    Crowinator - hello - thank you for your post. I'm in the exact position as you are when you started this post. Any update on how this ended? I feel like it's never going to get better and I'm tempted to abandon my house. Help!

  24. jrbtnyc

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Mon Feb 13 2012 15:30:34
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    goingcrazywithbb - 2 hours ago  » 
    Crowinator - hello - thank you for your [posts]. I'm in the exact position as you are when you started this [thread]. Any update on how this ended? I feel like it's never going to get better and I'm tempted to abandon my house. Help!

    (Perhaps you realize this but just to make sure: note that Crowinator hasn't posted on this thread since 2008 September or on any thread since 2009 January.)

  25. buggerinLA

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Mon Feb 13 2012 15:39:28
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    It is a pain the butt, but why not take your clothes to a laundromat and heat in an industrial dryer? I have dryers in my building but they never seem to get hot enough. For me, its not worth the risk, so I take my clothes and bedding bi-weekly to the nicest local laundromat nearby and wash and dry on super-high heat. The clothes come out so hot, they are almost too hot to fold for several minutes. I can't be sure its over 120 degrees, but it's probably better than your home dryer for now.

    Just my humble opinion, but I am not an expert.

  26. alexandrews1981

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    Posted 3 months ago
    Wed Jul 2 2014 18:30:27
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    I have a front loading Whirlpool GEW9200 series dryer with a "High" heat setting. Relatively well packed running for 4 min with already dry laundry. I place the common kitchen digital TruTemp thermometer in the laundry itself while still in the machine, and press the laundry around it. This ensures I am getting the temp of the laundry itself, not the cool air flowing into the laundry now that I've opened the door. I easily within a minute or so obtained a temperature reading of over 135 degrees Fahrenheit. This means the dryer is producing air over 135 and is heating my laundry to a more than sufficient temperature to kill. This temperature was achieved with an ambient room temperature of about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The drying is giving me about a 67 degree rise. Generally though, if it is too hot to handle it is probably hot enough. Mine was nearly too hot for me to keep my hands in while taking the temp.

    To be honest I hadn't thought to check till I read this thread. My washer also has a sanitize setting which must also be high enough to kill.

    It is more likely to reach higher temps in the laundry, with more laundry in the machine, not overloaded, but a normal load. A slightly higher/average static pressure means it takes more time for the air to pass over the heating element, therefore heating it to a higher temperature. Less laundry and the air just zips right through. Make sure your lint trap is clear and your dryer exhaust/intake is clear.

    It seems more likely that commercial dryers will not reach temps unless specifically set to, as their objective is profit, not public service. And that it would follow logically that home dryers will be set to run higher, as most home goods are made to be inefficient so that you consume more. Therefore, it is very likely that a well functioning dryer should easily reach temps high enough to kill bed bugs, and bugs in general.

    Also, just to back that up, I am trained in HVAC, and have experience in competent appliance repair. My wife also works in an industrial/commercial laundry facility.

    What you need is to do is have your whole home heat treated. There are some pest control outfits that offer this service. It will heat your whole home up to 135 or more, and maintain that for as much as an hour. They may go per room, or just do the whole home all at once. This is the most effective if you keep things picked up, and don't heap things against walls or pack things under beds. Air needs to freely flow around everything. Also, remove candles and things with low melting points.


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