how long do we need to bag our laundry?(3 posts)
How long after your home is treated do you need to continue to dry your clothes for 30 minutes and bag them in plastic before you leave to go somewhere? I'm trying to be careful. I don't want to spread this problem to anyone, and when I start reading all these blogs it's as if the bedbugs never go away. Please tell me people have success with this issue.
Not an expert but I've seen it stated on this site that after 2 months of being bite free with no evidence of live bugs that you can consider yourself "free" of them. Many bedbuggers continue to dry and bag their clothes for much longer though to be on the safe side.
Since bed bugs are especially stealthy creatures, it can take a while after treatment to be sure that you're bed bug free--especially if you don't react to the bites.
As for when to consider yourself likely bug free, the rule of thumb people around here tend to use is that 60 days with no new signs of bugs (bites, fecal matter, cast skins, sighting of live bugs or unhatched eggs) is a pretty good indicator that you're all clear.
I swear I wrote a post in the past about the purpose behind bagging, but I can't find it, so I'm going to try to recreate it here.
When you're making a decision about what steps to take and when to stop doing certain things, it helps to understand what the purpose behind a step is.
PCOs suggest bagging in order to reduce the number of bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs in the residence being treated. Since bed bugs will harbor in fabric items, washing and drying those items until the items reach the thermal death point for bugs means that the dusts, dry vapor steam, and/or chemical pesticides used by the PMP have fewer bugs to contend with, speeding up the process of eliminating the infestation.
But the bags don't kill the bugs. I think some people think that, perhaps, the bugs are suffocated due to lack of oxygen when the bugs are contained inside bags, but that's not only not true, it's not the real reason that bagging is suggested as prep by *some* (though not all) PCOs, nor is it the reason we suggest storing your clothes in bags while you're in the middle of treatment. I'll try to address each one separately, as the reasons for each are pretty much different.
The reason you bag post washing and drying is to prevent any new bugs, nymphs, or eggs from getting into the items. The process of running clothes through hot water in the wash and then high heat in the dryer is to use the heat to kill bugs and eggs that might be in the clothes.
In the case of delicate clothes that don't do well with being washed at all, let alone in hot--or dried at all (let alone for extended periods of time), debugging the items once and placing them inside sealed bags means that if you only wear those items in non-bed bug infested places, you don't have to put the wear and tear of long dryer cycles and hot washes on those items more than once.
If you have bugs or eggs in the residence, then it's a good idea to keep clothes that you plan to wear outside the residence in plastic bags until you're sure you're bed bug free.
(My solution was to go to Target and buy three pairs of basketball shorts and three polo shirts, along with three cheapo sports bras. I would get out of "work" clothes (many of which were dry clean only or delicate hand wash only) when I got home, put those items in sealed bags, and change into my bug zone clothes. The work clothes could wait until my infestation was treated--since I had heat done, it was a one time thing. If the Packtite had existed, I would have used that, but it hadn't been invented yet. The buggy clothes could get washed and dried within an inch of their lives and I didn't care if they were ruined.)
Thus, if you're putting clean clothes into plastic bags, that's done to prevent those clothes from being reinfested with bugs or eggs. Obviously, you don't want to take any hitch hiking bugs with you when you, say, go to work, or a friend's home, or your doctor's office.
Some PCOs make people remove all clothes from closets and dressers just to make it easier to apply pesticides. If that was part of your treatment protocol, then I wouldn't put unbagged items back into dressers and closets unless you're all clear of bugs and/or you're totally okay with having to rewash and redry. re-dry-clean, or re-Packtite the items in question.
Bagging items that can't be washed--like purses or shoes--is done, again, to prevent the spread of bugs. If you're sure you're clear at home, you no longer need to do that. If you're not sure, it's better to be safe rather than run the risk of taking a stray hitch hiking bed bug to someplace that might develop an infestation, setting up a situation in which you could reintroduce the bugs back into your residence.
Since it can be so hard to know when you're clear, some people find a good canine/handler team and have a follow up when they think they're clear to give them a little bit more peace of mind. However, if the team isn't good, it may not be so reassuring. The key is to find a dog/handler team that will confirm any canine alerts with visual inspection. As with any process, dog/handler teams are not 100% right.
For a lot of people, it can take a pretty long time to get over the anxiety and stress associated with bed bugs.
Hope some of that helps. Hang in there.
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