The dryer FAQ: doing the bed bug laundry

by nobugsonme on May 18, 2007 · 86 comments

in tools and weapons

Subtitle: killing the little b@#$%^&s

Attention: the FAQ below was written before the invention of a tool which many readers will find useful. The Packtite allows people to easily use heat to remove bed bugs from items which can’t go in a washer or dryer on hot, such as unwashable clothing, books, papers, shoes, etc. You can read more in the Packtite FAQ.


It’s common for pest control operators in North America to require customers to launder all their clothing to kill bed bugs. While people are often told to wash on hot and dry on hot, a hot dryer alone is sufficient for doing the bed bug laundry.

Consider this brief article in PCT Online (Jan. 2007) that rounds up information provided by bed bug researchers in a panel at the 2006 National Pest Management Association Conference. What’s interesting is that the researchers cover a wide variety of topics (from the efficacy of various pesticides to the usefulness (or not) of vacuuming, steaming, and hot dryers.

I was intrigued by University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter’s assertion that a normal machine wash would kill bed bugs (“normal” as in, not hot ?), and five minutes in a hot dryer would kill bed bugs and eggs. I said I’d like to see more data on this–I did not doubt it at all, but is it really so? Since a wash won’t kill eggs, this must be why the hot wash / hot dry combo are always recommended in university fact sheets. We’re told the dryer is what kills the eggs. But I think I’ve only seen Dr. Potter being quoted as saying five minutes drying was enough.

A hot dryer apparently runs at about 180 F. I doubt this temperature is achieved after five minutes, though. Can five minutes on a temperature somewhere below 194 F be enough, when companies providing thermal treatments do so at a core temperature of 140 F for four hours? (Winston clarifies this in the comments.)

But this is the only source I’ve seen on “five minutes being enough” (though it has been quoted in newspaper articles). Personally, habit and skepticism have had me recommending drying for over an hour. I always say, “dry on hot till it’s bone dry, then add 20 minutes.”

But then, dear Reader, I confess, I dotted my bed with lavender oil for months, hoping its reputed repellent properties would keep bed bugs away. I figured it probably wouldn’t, and it didn’t. But it was hard to give up this habit, since I believed it might be helping. That is kind of irrational, but I guess that’s what sleeping 4 hours a night does for you.

Since some believe washing and drying and storing clothing properly can make such a difference to bed bug treatment, I emphasized that we want to be sure we’re doing it right. It would be such a blessing for people to only have to dry things on hot for five minutes. It would save not only time, but lots of clothing items that simply can’t handle washing on hot and drying for an hour on hot. For those reasons, I hoped we could get more information on the research that was done.

So then, I remembered one motto here at Bedbugger Ask, and ye shall receive. (Information, people, only ask for information. If you need $500, it ain’t gonna happen.)

And lo and behold, Hopelessnomo pointed me to more information that is available from Dr. Michael Potter (and colleagues), in the PCT article “Killing them softly: battling bed bugs in sensitive accounts” (1/19/2007):

Bed bugs often infest bedding, clothing and other personal belongings which cannot be treated with insecticides. An oft-mentioned way to de-bug such items is laundering — yet to our knowledge, no testing has been done to verify effectiveness. A simple experiment was conducted to study this question. Three groups of live bed bug adults, nymphs and eggs were placed in small nylon mesh pouches which were then placed inside cotton socks. The bed bug-provisioned socks (along with a full load of clothing) were then run through a standard wash cycle using hot water. A second trial was run with similarly infested socks placed only in a clothes dryer. The bed bug-laden socks were accompanied by a load of unwashed clothing and subjected to high heat (greater than 175° F) for five minutes. No bed bugs or eggs survived the washing or drying cycles, suggesting that either regimen, alone or in combination, is effective.

Clothing, footwear, area rugs, toys, stuffed animals, backpacks and other non-launderable items can conveniently be de-infested by heating them for a period of time in a dryer at most settings. For reference, a typical clothes dryer run for five minutes at low, medium or high heat produced temperatures of about 140, 150 and 180°F, respectively, amongst a bundle of dry clothing– plenty hot to kill bed bugs. While certain items may require professional dry-cleaning, utilizing conventional washers and dryers may help limit the spread of bed bugs to these establishments.

This information suggests that either a hot machine wash, or a hot dryer running for five minutes with already dry clothing, will kill bed bugs and eggs. As Nomo suggests in the comments below (written before I added this update) “five minutes with dry items” is not so different from what we’ve been recommending at Bedbugger all along: “bone dry plus 20 minutes.” Well, make that “bone dry plus five.” I don’t blame if you if, like me, you’re a bit skeptical and want to stick to “twenty minutes past dry”– that may well be a good idea and we won’t call you neurotic.

As John sang, “Whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright, it’s alright.” For Bedbuggers, that’s another motto around here. The promise of a good night’s sleep is the grail. And spending less time doing your bed bug laundry (i.e. drying on hot and skipping the wash cycle if your clothing and linens are already clean) is a good thing.

As of 2012, there’s a new product which will help determine if the required temperatures are reached for heat treatment.  Although a hot dryer should be running very much higher than 120F as noted above, if you have any doubts about the machine you’re using, and want to be sure your dryer hits 120F, you can use Thermaspot temperature sensors (made by Packtite) to test this.  Just attach them to the inside of one or more items, and run them through the dryer.  If the dryer hits 120F, the sensor will turn from white to black. Read more about Thermaspot here. View Thermaspot temperature sensors at Bed Bug Supply.

The rest of the information from “Killing them softly” is also useful. Let me give you the highlights from what Dr. Potter et. al. recommend:

Discarding infested stuff: yes, but only if necessary. Seek a qualified PCO’s advice (qualified = knows the enemy well). If you are tossing it, wrap it well (and mark it!) and realize that if your neighbors or surrounding community pick up the item, they may come back via a crack in your shared wall, a visit to a dry cleaner’s, or the local diner. That should make anyone think twice and thrice.

Encasement: use high quality encasings that won’t tear.

Vacuums: harder to pick up bed bugs and eggs than you think; doesn’t really help unless you hit their harborage areas in a targeted way. Discard bags carefully (bed bugs can survive the trip down the hose), and do not use vacuum brushes, since they can lodge in the bristles. The dirty little so-and-so’s.


The steam portion of this FAQ has now been incorporated into the new FAQ on steam:
How to kill bed bugs with steam. It’s relevant both to treating your home and furniture and steamable “stuff” too.

Seasonal temperatures (“putting stuff outside”)

Regarding seasonal temperatures, backpackers take note: We get a lot of questions at Bedbugger about whether “leaving stuff outside” works–and occasionally hear from people who tried it and failed. I think it comes down to the temperature, the length of time, and what you provided the bed bugs to nestle in. (The last complaint I heard was someone whose down comforter had bed bugs surviving the cold — well, perhaps it was a very warm down comforter, and maybe it just was not cold enough outside to freeze them within it.) Dr. Potter says, in “Killing them softly”:

Lethal outdoor temperatures have long been employed in the battle against bed bugs. In the tropics, infested bedding is often left out in the sun and such methods can also be used during warm seasons in this country. It’s risky, however, to rely on ambient heating to achieve lethal temperatures in all harborage locations. Wrapping items in plastic before placing them outdoors in a sunny location (preferably on pavement), produces higher internal temperatures. It also pays not to over pack — more trash bags with fewer items make it harder for bed bugs to find cooler places to hide. Monitoring with a thermometer is also prudent, with a target internal temperature of at least 120° F.

In colder climates, freezing might be a way to de-infest furniture and other belongings. Bed bugs and their eggs can be killed by very low temperatures, but it is difficult to achieve them without using a deep freezer. Temperatures below 0°F for one to two weeks are generally believed to be needed to reliably kill all life stages. Fluctuating winter temperatures which often extend above this level are probably less effective and are currently being studied by Dr. Steven Kells at the University of Minnesota. Overall and throughout much of the country, heating tends to be a faster, more reliable option than chilling.

Some people talk about loading bed bug laundry into big garbage bags and leaving it on a porch or patio in winter. This is unlikely to be sufficient and we do not recommend it. Remember that bed bugs will seek the warmest spot and harbor there, and that the bags full of stuff may be quite insulating.

Again, if you experiment with ambient heat (which we do not recommend), at least consider using Thermaspot heat sensors (FAQ) to ensure required temperatures were reached at the core of the items.

Thanks to Dr. Potter and his team for their helpful research on how to get rid of bed bugs using heat.

And special thanks to Hopelessnomo, who mentioned the article in the forums, and directed me to further sources.

Update (7/19/2007):

Additional information on thermal, cold, steam, etc. is included in Stephen L. Doggett’s Bed Bug Code of practice. See the table of contents.

Frank, at the War on Bed Bugs, also did an interesting post on hot and cold treatments. Check it out.

Update (10/4/2007):

Some people have recommended something like this for drying shoes in the dryer:

Update 12/07:

If you are thinking of using a dry cleaner for some or all of your clothing, read this FAQ first!

Update 1/08:

NotSoSnug points us to a library protocol for getting bugs out of books:

I should add that there is a librarian protocol to heat paperwork at 130degF for 3hrs to kill insects (remember to include a pan of water to keep some humidity). Any longer will melt binding glue (I know I forgot one night and it did). Also, till tape receipts are heat sensitive so they will turn dark. Annoying if you need the receipts for business!

See the ‘Bookworm’ section, Paragraph #7:

Thanks, NotSoSnug!

Update 6/2009:

For clothing which needs to be washed, you have the option of packing laundry in dissolvable laundry bags such as Bug Bags or GreenClean bags. They allow you to seal in bed bug laundry, and wash the items directly in the bag, which will dissolve in the laundry process. They provide an alternative to using and throwing away garbage bags.

Bed Bug Supply sells Bug Bags:

1 Fedupandparanoid May 18, 2007 at 4:08 am

There seems to be a lot of resistance to accepting that washing alone can kill eggs. There has been research done that proves washing alone (at a temperature in excess of 60 deg) will kill eggs as well as nymphs and adults. That’s a hot wash (as in for whites) but not the hottest wash which is 90 deg C on my machine. The recent research done by Richard Naylor at the University of Sheffield supports this too and his research confirmed some earlier research studies. This is in the process of being published but has been presented to Europes largest Pest Control convention in April (attended by US pest control experts) and mentioned in PCT Online which is where I first came across it (I’ve also sent a copy of the material given out to the conference to Nobugs). I have spoken to Richard Naylor and have also been told by several other sources including Sean at the Bed bug resource that washing alone will do it. As I understand it, it’s the temperature that’s important whether wet or dry heat and it is really important that you don’t stuff the machine too full so the temperature can fully penetrate. If you can, washing and drying together makes doubly sure I suppose and if it makes people feel more secure that’s a good thing but if it’s not actually necessary then that’s a good thing too for those who can’t do both. I seem to keep mentioning this at every opportunity but it is surely important to keep an open mind and advised best practice can change as new research is carried out and should be acknowledged.

2 Fedupandparanoid May 18, 2007 at 5:23 am

When I posted previously I hadn’t read the article and I thought you meant that it actually stated washing alone kills all stages whereas with regard to washing alone it says ‘will kill bed bugs’. Thought I’d better clarify that, but I still stand by the rest of what I said about the latest research findings which do show washing alone at 60 deg C kills all stages.

3 hopelessnomo May 18, 2007 at 10:01 am

Hi Nobugs, I’m sorry I should have also posted the other articles I found, but I could not locate the links (I have computer and internet access limitations).

I guess we need to get a subscription to PCT, since these researchers do not otherwise share this information directly with us.

Anyway, here is the article that discusses the laundering/drying experiment, plus other experiments conducted by Dr. Potter and his colleagues.

Here is another article that discusses their 2005 field trial of bed bug eradication efforts in apartment settings.

I hope all of this helps broaden our understanding. I really wish we didn’t have to hunt for this information. These articles were written for a pest control professional audience.

4 hopelessnomo May 18, 2007 at 10:04 am

Also, like I said in the forums, the clothes in the dryer were already dry! So 5 minutes after everything is really dry is comparable to what this site has been recommending. (Bedbugger recommends 15-20 minutes, is that correct?)

5 hopelessnomo May 18, 2007 at 10:14 am

I’m sorry, I didn’t do the links correctly.

The apartments field trial article is here.

And the laundering/drying plus other experiments article is here.

6 wantmyskinback May 18, 2007 at 10:36 am

What is interesting about the laundering story is it was written a few months ago. Thankfully it’s current and so I trust it a bit more. Thanks NOMO.

7 hopelessnomo May 18, 2007 at 11:14 am

Yes, Fedup, advised best practices can change and I’m sure we’re all on the same page on that one! However, I haven’t seen resistance to the research you mention. In fact, I hadn’t seen it all before. But I’m glad you’re mentioning it here, as the Potter laundry experiment supports what you say about a hot wash being sufficient.

8 hopelessnomo May 18, 2007 at 11:39 am

The practical applications that would alleviate our troubles with possibly infested items are boundless. 5 minutes in a hot drier is unlikely to really damage something, say a handbag, a pair of shoes? That might be better than hoping (and praying) anything in there will eventually come out to reach us and cross some poison, or long-term storage, or spraying with something, or just throwing things out. Or am I overreaching?

9 nobugsonme May 18, 2007 at 12:31 pm

I had not had time to previously read the data you sent because I got it right before I went on vacation–and as you can imagine, a lot of emails and information piled up. But it was much appreciated. You have to understand that all the university fact sheets I’d read that I could remember had mentioned hot wash and hot dry. I am glad to find other recommendations being made.

I do have one caution, though: in NYC, most people who don’t dry their clothes in a dryer, hang them at home. It should go without saying that hanging clothing indoors to dry is a bad idea, since bugs can crawl into them. They should be dried in a dryer or outside (and not hanging against your windowsill, as some New Yorkers also do!) and bagged before being brought into the home.

Nomo, I am going to convert this one to a FAQ when all the comments come in. I think you’re right–though I caution that five minutes in the dryer for a leather coat, handbag, etc. may not be enough. Remember that clothing is much thinner than leather. We also have had people report down items dried for an hour have come home infested. That may have been an unproven assumption, but I believe it to be likely that five minutes would absolutely not be enough for those items.

I’d like to see tests on drying leather jackets, handbags, down comforters, polyester comforters, and pillows. I’d caution anyone trying to treat those materials.

10 nobugsonme May 18, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Oh and please– everyone– reread the post, which was totally rewritten based on the article Nomo pointed to.

11 Fedupandparanoid May 18, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for posting the information. Good idea to make it a FAQ. It is great that this research is being done, similar research seems to be being done in several places which is encouraging and concentrating on practical efforts that we can make ourselves. Hopefully this is something that could make all our bb busting lives easier, cheaper, and less time consuming.

12 willow-the-wisp May 18, 2007 at 5:24 pm

It is all interesting and I always want to err on the side of caution. I like the combo effects of time and heat. In other words, if you want to de infest a nice leather jacket–why not totally isolate it for a few months…. then toss it into a dryer that has already been running for 8 or 10 minutes (so it is already good and hot at the start.) I hope all this talk of 5 minutes does not confuse anyone into thinking you can just throw a bunch of clothing into a commercial dryer for even 15 minutes and be guaranteed that all eggs and stages of the bed bug are dead.
Like the Integrated Pest Management Idea–I feel I have transferred that method into the practical stuff wee can do at home: some examples of what some might say is neurotic would be to, say, heat stuff, like a leather jacket for as long as you think it can stand it–then double or even triple wrap it in shrink wrap fashion. Keep it that way for a few months 9and so by now any bed bugs still possibly alive are weakened) Then–carefully put it into a PRE-HEATED Dried for say 20 minutes.
I am very happy always to read about practical measures but want to remind people that, most commercial washers only offer a cool or cold pre rinse … and when the hot water is piped in, it mixes with the cool damp clothing and will create a lower temperature.
At the beginning of an infestation it is really often hard to judge it as “light” or “moderate” Heavy–is just easily seen … there is always possibilities that what appears to be a “light” infestation is actually a moderate one, or say … if you don’t figure out how to eliminate the source of the incoming bugs … then you have what I’d phrase as a continuous light infestation or a continuous moderate infestation.
I opt for bone dry pulse 20 minutes–especially during the first 3 or four weeks of infestation. It takes time for us to figure lout the parasitic nature of the bug the insidiousness of the bug and the tenacity of the bug. OK sure … I am a bit perturbed at myself for throwing away my keyboard–which in retrospect probably was not infested. But… if it had been and I was lax about it–think if all the hundreds of dollars I spent already “eliminating” them… then they are back all because I did not do a careful inspection, under well lighted conditions and had a magnifier on hand as well.

P.S. everybody (but especially nomo) I got the CD with the pics! Yeah!

13 willow-the-wisp May 18, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Oh yes … pillows … I washed and tried drying mine for 2 full hours. They were still damp and so I threw them all away. (6) In retrospect–I’d double bag them and keep them. At that time I just “ran out of quarters” but I had plenty of plastic bags.

Bed bugs is a live and learn experience

14 Winston O. Buggy May 18, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Well it certainly can be said while some like it hot some do not. Mike I’ve found has
been clear and methodical in his work and the integrity of the facts are important as
we develop baselines and benchmarks (I hate that term).
As far as ” when companies providing thermal treatments do so at a core temperature of 140 F for four hours?” Please understand there are other factors at play. Heat treatments are governed by several factors and the lowest successful heat is what is usually desired. Too hot and things dry out and crack as it removes moisture two armories out of one NOT GOOD. Also the trick in heat treatment is bringing the temp down slowly to avoid moisture and condensation issues. So 140 at four hours is easier to deal with than 194 for an hour. Especially since these are core monitored temps.
Sorry willow and folks, I was off doing a public health lecture and will continue my
point of view FYI input over the weekend. Hope you find it interesting.

15 willow-the-wisp May 18, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Yes Winston I sure do! I was about to ask what ever happend to Mister Buggy? I’ve been rather busy myself … slow and methodical … right?

16 nyjammin May 20, 2007 at 8:32 pm

I used to only wash at the laundermart and hang clothes up to dry on a wooden hanger in my home. My family’s pant had the perfect crease down the middle and all the shirts had the perfect crease down the side of the arm.

Now, I wash all on HOT and dry on HOT for an hour or as some people say bone dry plus 20 minutes. Hanging my clothes up to dry in my house is now a no-no. I’m truly going to miss that.

17 S. May 21, 2007 at 3:20 pm

I was so relieved to read the article with all of its information on steaming. I think we hit every point!

– Our steamer reaches over 200 degrees.

– It has a pretty big tank, it can go for about an hour before needing to be refilled.

– We used the large triangle head, it seemed to be the lowest pressure, highest surface area attachment.

– We wrapped the head with a towel to further concentrate the heat.

– The steam was definitely too hot to touch, I know because I got too close and burned my hand a couple times.

– We went slowly and methodically across each cushion and base.

Even though we steamed the couch a few weeks ago, and I felt pretty happy with my work, this article provided further validation that IF there were still any bedbugs in the couch, they should now be gone.

This is one more notch in the belt. Thanks for all this great info!

18 Willow-the-wisp May 21, 2007 at 6:48 pm

That’s really great news S., (welcome back!) I know how that couch was a “torment’ to you. And … a few of us have received a few burns. I for one, as well, was burned on my ankle, but PLEASE don’t ask me “HOW I MANAGED THAT ONE”.

Let’s just leave it at: it was one of my hair-brained schemes … which don’t always quite work out the way I think they will, and, it was a small burn but it took nearly a moth to heal fully.’

I’m glad about this article yet I still choose to err on the side of caution, re: my comments above, regarding washers and driers as they apply to the average “Joe and Jane.”

19 nobugsonme May 21, 2007 at 7:40 pm

I think the other thing to remember about steaming is it can only penetrate an inch or so. So you are steaming the surface of the sofa, or one side of the throw rug. If they’re deep inside the sofa, that’s another thing entirely.

(This is not directed at you, S., but a caveat for others at earlier stages. Your bed bugs are gone! I believe it! 🙂

20 nyjammin May 21, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Can you steam wood floors or wood furniture? I would think that the high heat would warp the wood or create molding to some degree.

21 willow-the-wisp May 21, 2007 at 10:12 pm

to warp wood via steam is a likly result. It is on a case-by-case basis, as is everything with bed bugs.
YOU, WE …ALLl need to be as specific as possible.
example If I had 100 bed bugs in my hardwood floor, I’d be more likely to go ahead and ruin it–than if I only had 5 bed bugs in it, sort of a thing.
Is there a landlord? Do you care for him or her? and visa virsa, and on and on ….

22 nobugsonme July 19, 2007 at 8:11 pm

added link in FAQ to Doggett’s Bed Bug Code of Practice (2007).

23 hotwater July 20, 2007 at 3:18 pm

If heat of 120 degrees kills them. Can the landlord just put on the heat on a hot day and have the entire house heated to 120 or over or would this cause to much damage to the house or risk fires? I live on the top floor of a wooden house and it gets sweltering.

24 nobugsonme July 20, 2007 at 9:47 pm

Two reasons why I understand hotwater’s plan won’t work:

1/ A temp of 120+ for three to four hours is required. The entire home including the space deep inside the walls and structure has to be at this temperature (or they will simply flee into the walls or structure to hide out in the cooler spaces, and then come back).

2/ Bed bugs will get to flee into the walls or other spaces if the temps do not get raised FAST enough. The temperature change must be swift. Doing this in your home will not be fast enoguh. Otherwise they adjust and/or flee.

This is what I’ve gathered from reading and talking to people who know more about killing bed bugs with thermal and freezing (where as I understand it, the same principles apply–in reverse).

There are professionals who do this thermal treatment, and they heat, quickly, to 140 F and leave it there for four or more hours.

25 willow-the-wisp July 20, 2007 at 10:34 pm

peeling wall paper and paint …. cans of “raid” or cleaners left in the cabinets exploding … bottles of turpentine you forgot you had or rubbing alcohol–igniting …. lighter fluid for the BBQ … and more.
MUCH MUCH MORE at that high high temp.
No No No.
Don’t so it!
I’d never do it that high and no sane person would. I’d draw the line with professional dehumidifyers, double lined BLACK plastic bags labled with different things in them: Some will sit in the car for a month and then go back inside … some will go to the dry cleaner Some … you may want to leave in the pastic for a while longer.
It is an excessive amount of stuff to think/worry about–to EVER heat a house up to anything over 100 or maybe 105. Don’t the heaters stop at about 100 or 105? (All temps in F).
ALL bags sealed 100%–so the car does not become infested.
etc … etc … etc …
But if you think it thru safely and do it carefully–it can be done.
Living in the dessert, right now, (especially last week) must be sheer HELL on BED BUGS—and sheer hell on the sufferers too!

Please … do not ever get that desperate to heat a house that high—and I’m a guy who likes to take risks. I’d just not ever do it.

26 willow-the-wisp July 20, 2007 at 10:35 pm

let me make sure I got my point–no higher than 105–and with that I’d do a lot of prep work and ask a lot of professionals FIRST.

27 nobugsonme July 21, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Willow, my point was NOT that hotwater should heat his/her home to 120+F. It was that thermal treatments should only be done by professionals.

105 F as you suggest is not going to get rid of someone’e bed bugs. I understand you had good reasons for having to treat bed bugs yourself, but I firmly believe others should get a qualified PCO in and have things done right. The bed bugs will be gone sooner, and more thoroughly.

Doing it yourself (including trying to reach high temps) may not help and may make your problem worse (for example, scattering bugs into walls or other parts of the building.)

I really hope people will read the FAQ on doing your own pest control, on thermal and other treatments. They are based on research. Experimentation is not always a good thing where bed bugs are concerned.

28 willow-the-wisp July 21, 2007 at 8:26 pm

Dear Sir or Madam—wherever or whoever you are ….
PLEASE don’t so that.

The water damage from a fire in my building alone, took weeks for them to correct, and this was only most recently. You may prefer to rent or buy professional dehumidifiers. Just to take the moisture OUT of the air, during the height of summer. This too will help dry out the bugs a bit. I see this as safe and probably effective—but have not tried it.
Could get costly too—but it would not ruin your home the way hosing it down with hot water would. All kinds of experiments are not going to help. With every experiment, I ever did on a bed bug—something went wrong or something unexpected happened.

They are not your average cockroach whatsoever.

I am clicked on for the notifications for this blog topic—if you need any more help convincing them how dangerous that will be—not might be—but will be, please,
no bugs let me know pronto OK?!
What do others think about hotter dryer air in terms of killing off bed bugs–via a dehumidifiying machine, (or two)?

29 nobugsonme July 21, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Do you mean “will a dehumidifier help while you get persistent professional treatment from a PCO that knows bed bugs?”
Then yes. Dehumidifying can’t hurt.
But may not be necessary.

Fighting bed bugs is not that hard (am I really saying this?) No, seriously, if you clean, remove visible bugs and eggs, vacuum regularly (assuming the PCO agrees) and get persistent PCO treatment in all infested units, every two weeks until the bed bugs and all signs are gone.

Too often people looking for alternate treatments here aren’t doing the above, and I think they do themselves a disservice.
Except for rare cases (eg people with seriously compromised immune systems), good experienced bed bug PCOs should work, and in other cases, I’d want to find a professional to do thermal (or maybe Vikane or cryonite).

30 willow-the-wisp July 22, 2007 at 3:14 am

WELL FOR “CRYONOUT” LOUD, WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST SAY THAT! am I really saying this–no … I like agree with all of the above: the trouble is finding a good PCO, provided your even allowed easy access to one, which–many people are not.
Unfortunately, that is why I sef treated and why many others do too. Then there is stigma involved, cost prohibitations too and so much more.
How do we change that? Let’s focus on that–so that reckless self treating or even non-reckless, self treating becomes a thing of the past. Let’s all brainstorm again on that aspect of this problematical area, woth regards to best treatment for bed bugs.
That is not my area of expertise—“my job” is to remind people that the world is not flat, lest they forget: I take this opportunity here and now to say: if Itigrative Pest Control agrees that 50/ 50 partnerships/or “ownership” in getting rid of the bug is a valid concept, more or less–and—if it is then realized in the real world I’ve done “my job.”
Even only a day sooner if it occurs, I’ve done my job.

Not all new sufferers know how much stress they are under … That is where a lot of the recklessness comes from, not to mention the sleeplessness. Other routes too misinformation, bravado, embarrassment—timing, living situation, and on and on …

Here, on the site, we’ve got fabulous Entomologists and PCO’s … But out in the real world we all soon learn how different it is more often than not.
Many sufferer’s are hard-pressed to find a PCO’s who they can and should trust.
Worse is if they trust the PCO’s that really don’t know bed bugs much either.

Hence … all the on-line do it yourself products—and hence, too, perhaps–more misery, pain, and suffering by people who wind up self-treating, before, they think it over wisleyy–Heck I was guilty of that; as to a degree most of us are. This is why I always talk about safety with you in these conversations.
My greatest hope is that clients and PCO’s will unite in communicating and working together, had you not known that?
When will it ever happen and how?
Until it does … bugs go bump in the night and all of a sudden the population is double till “gazillions” seem to be biting our poor sufferers, many of then uneducated and desperate–until they come here.
That’s been my exact experience, and I see others experiencing similar problems
landlord difficulties tenant cooperation.
All that’s got to be fixed first–before you can expect people to jsut naturaly easily find an understanding knowegable and ethical PCO company.
Things there seem to be getting better all the time form where I sit–So bravo to all of us, as–we’re mainly the one’s putting most of the stuff out.

31 willow-the-wisp July 30, 2007 at 2:48 pm

truly a must read!

32 pleasehelp October 8, 2007 at 2:30 pm

S.: (or anybody else w/a suggestion)… What brand steamer do you have? I’m fed up with my Shark. It has too much pressure & the light goes from red to orange after less than a minute (I think I’m supposed to wait until it’s red again, about 2 minutes, before resuming steaming… lost the directions). This is my first post. First thought we had bb’s, a PCO came & looked at some shed exoskeletons from the bed & proclaimed them to bb’s (he didn’t use a magnifying glass even after I offered mine). But an entomologist has since id’d the castings as being from carpet beetles. After hours of reading, I think my excruciatingly itchy bites might be from mites… we do have birds’ nests in the soffits, occasional house mice, and the carpet beetles as possible hosts. So I plan to start steaming. I’ve seen mention of a ‘Reliable T730A’ steamer for $400. Anybody have any experience with this or others? Thanks everybody – this is such a valuable forum.

33 nobugsonme October 8, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Good question, Anon. Where did you see the reliable T730A steamer mentioned? That might be a good place to start. I don’t have a good steamer recommendation but perhaps others do.

34 rom October 8, 2007 at 9:15 pm

In this post in the forums, S. mentions using the White Wing steamer, bought from Allergy Buyers Club.

35 nobugsonme October 9, 2007 at 12:31 am

This is the White Wing Steamer rom mentions:

36 pleasehelp October 9, 2007 at 3:39 pm

(formerly ‘Anonymous’ ) Thanks for your replies! White Wing looks good… I can’t for the life of me figure out where I first saw the Reliable T730A… it was on the web site of a PCO, I believe… It was pictured on their main page, on the left side, & they said they used it.

37 nobugsonme October 9, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Here is the Reliable T730a:

38 pleasehelp October 9, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Thanks Nobugs!!!!

39 Miserable and Desperate October 29, 2007 at 3:25 pm

To all of you wonderful people that have taken the time to put this site together…

I don’t know what to do anymore. I live in an apartment and its been a month, and I have done what I thought would help with the bed bugs. I washed + dryed on high heat everything I own about 3 times and put it all in garbage bags, twisting and spinning the tops until they are air tight, flipping them over, and resting on the twisted top so nothing could get in. I’ve quarantined my comforter, pillows, and residual clothing from my closet outside in bags on the balcony, and have not opened the door since I put them out there (can they get in to the house still??). I’ll probably end up just throwing them out.

I completely dissasembled my bed and discarded all of my old bed clothes. The frame is from ikea, its metal, and i removed all of the slats (which were COVERED in blood and brown nastiness) vaccumed all those bugs up (probably about 70-100 of them) put the mattress against the wall like the PCO reccommended, had a treatment done, but the bugs are still there. I haven’t slept in my apartment for a month and I feel homeless. I think they are in my clothes, but I’m not sure. At this point, I’m unable to differentiate between the psychological stuff and what’s actually happening – I feel that there are bugs crawling all over me all day and I can’t shake it because eveyrthing I’m reading and the 20-30 bites on my thighs, butt, and wrists suggest that the little bastards are still biting me somehow.

I come home just to do laundry, but based on what I’ve been seeing, is it possible that the bugs are just migrating out to the leather couch where I sit while my laundry is drying and bite me without me knowing it while i’m playing videogames or somethin? i thuoght they were nocturnal? Maybe the fact that I’m not sleeping tehre at night means they are keen to bite me when im home between 6 and 10?

What’s worse, the landlord has gone on vacation and wont send another exterminator for another 2 weeks! What am I supposed to do?? I have a hearing mid next month taking the property management company to court because I have written proof that other apartments in my complex had bedbugs before I did, and I’ve had the same furniture for 6 years with no problems. I’ve requested my lease be terminated, but I dont want to bring any of the furniture with me – its probably all in fested, and I NEVER want to deal with this again…

Does anyone have any advice for me, other than to wash every single piece of clothing I have, dry it on high heat, and put it in sealed bags? Maybe I’m not sealing the bags enough?? I’m sorry about the long post, I’m just so frustrated, and I feel like those little @(&@#&(* have taken my life from me!

Please help someone 🙁

40 nobugsonme October 29, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Hi Miserable,

It does not sound like you are doing anything wrong with your clothing.

If I had to guess, I’d say your sofa may be infested. This is extremely common. Bed bugs also infest desk chairs and other places we sit and watch tv, read, or use the computer.

While they are primarily nocturnal, they absolutely will bite you in all these other locations, in daylight or in the evening. It is more likely if you are sitting still for awhile. If you do not sleep in your apt., then they absolutely will bite in the daytime. (By the way, it is hard to kill your bed bugs without sleeping in the apt., because they need to be lured out to bite you in order to cross poison and die.)

You probably are not being bitten constantly all day long–but one effect of the allergic reaction to bed bugs seems to be the FEELING of being bitten all day long.

You need follow-ups every 2 weeks or so until all bed bugs, bites, and other signs are gone. It sounds like you had a sizeable infestation.

Chairs and sofas should be treated.

If your neighbors may still have bed bugs, then it will be hard to get rid of yours. The best thing might be for you to call the management company (in the landlord’s absence) and demand a follow up visit from the PCO. If they will not send one, and you are in NYC, you could call 311. (This may antagonize them if being let out of the lease is considered a favor.) Infested neighbors should also call 311. If enough people from one building call, and are found to have bed bugs, the city will tell the landlord to treat the whole building.

We have FAQs on landlords, on treatment, and on feeling like you’re being bitten all the time. Keep reading the FAQs and let me know if you have more questions.

41 randi November 14, 2007 at 3:56 am


does anyone have any advice on what to do with things like handbags, purses, luggage, hats, boots??? I have some things that i really don’t want to throw out… especially new things!

my landlord is having an exterminator come in the morning… but dealing w/ getting my cat to get into the box to be boarded took up my whole afternoon!! now it’s 3am and i’ve got all these questions i wish i had answers to as i try to pack everything up int the next 5 hours (after 2 days of hell)!



42 nobugsonme November 14, 2007 at 4:15 am

The FAQ above is all I know, randi. That and the linked article from Michael Potter. Good luck! At this point, though it is not ideal, try to seal up things that need to be dealt with similarly (eg clothes to wash, clothes that must be dry cleaned, shoes to be dried or frozen or sprayed, etc.) since you won’t have time to do more than that tonight. Good luck and come to the forums if you have more questions! (Blue forum button at top right.)

43 natalia December 11, 2007 at 3:18 pm

My bf was at my apt, in my room, watching tv for a few hours when I wasn’t home. When I arrived he showed me two bites next to eachother on his forearm and asked me if i had bedbugs. I said, “No. I’ve seen little brown spider around and even on my bed, so it’s probably them.” Over a two week period he experienced three more single bites on his arms. One weekend we slept at his place, and then the following Monday I slept at home alone. Tuesday I woke up with eight bites in a circle on my left arm and five scattered across my mid section. I freaked out and talked to my roommates you said they’ve seen some and been treating their rooms themselves. I asked if they informed the landlord or extermintor and they responded by saying they feel there treatments have been effective. Without wasting a single mintue I called for an extermintor to checkout the entire apt. One roommate appeared to have thrown out everything he owned with a single sleeping bag on the floor. The extermintor immediately spot a bug in his room. The second roommate had everything she owned in plastic and when the exterminator held a flashlight to her plastic covered mattress he accidentally smashed a bug with his finger, which was then stained with blood. I freaked out. Called the landlord and demanded immediate treatment and didn’t spend another night there until I eventually moved out. I washed and dried all ym clothing on high heat and put it all in a rented storage unit. There was a launry facility next door and i would keep a clean towel there (in a plastic bag) and use it to wrap myself while I washed the clothes I was wearing before I went anywhere else. I through out everything I owned beside books and shoes which I’ve put in ziplocks and plastic storage containers that now sit on my new backporch. I’ve brought only my clothes from the storage unit where they sat tightly knotted in plastic bags for a month. Over two weeks I’ve woken up on two separate occasions with a single red welt on my mid section. After the first time, I stripped my new bed, left the bedding in a tightly knotted double plastic bag on the freezing back porch (it’s been 20 degrees and snowing everyday). I’m so paranoid I want to have the apt prof. sprayed for bed bugs, but unfortunately, I was fired the same tuesday I initially woke up with bites, have have zero dollars in my bank account. I want to cry wishing I threw my clothes away too. What should I do?

44 nobugsonme December 11, 2007 at 7:53 pm

natalia, can you tell us what city you are renting in? The landlord may be liable to provide treatment. If so, it probably has to be professional treatment, by law.

45 Battleofthebugs January 20, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Thought I’d share my dryer experience today. I put a load in the dryer that had first been washed on hot first. Our dryer’s highest setting is “regular heat.” We do the more dry to less dry cycle, which takes about an hour. I have gotten into the habit of inspecting the dryer lint, and today was no exception. In the lint I found a small bed bug nymph, totally dried out. I have been concerned about whether our dryer was hot enough, and felt this was a good find.

Has any one else found a bed bug in their washing machine or dryer?

46 nobugsonme January 20, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Yes, Battleofthebugs, another reader said they found bed bugs in their apartment building laundry room’s lint trap. In this case, since they had apparently not used that machine yet, it was taken as a sign that others in the building had bed bugs.

Update: added NotSoSnug’s book suggestion to FAQ.

47 fightorflight February 5, 2008 at 6:30 am

I have been advised by our site’s excellent moderators to post my opinion on this subject here:

About the “5-minute” findings, promulgated I believe by Dr. Michael Potter at U of Kentucky: I have reasons to suspect that I spread the bugs to a good friend because I did not keep the clothes on my back, including coat and sneakers, in the dryer long enough. I spoke with a representative of a sniffer dog company in NYC, who seemed pretty knowledgeable, and he strongly recommended 3 dryer cycles. That has to be at least an hour. I did about 50 minutes with my already dry stuff and, like I said, I think something lived.

My strong, strong recommendation: In the real world, 5 minutes is not enough – for anything!! I mean, I thought I was going above and beyond with 50 minutes. With these beasts, you want to act like building contractors do – comply with code and then go another 40%, something like that. Do not do anything near the minimum. I say, 1 hour minimum.

Whew, now I feel better.

48 fightorflight February 5, 2008 at 6:44 am

I shouldn’t have said “promulgated,” I should have said, “reported.” Michael Potter is doing great research.

49 nobugsonme February 5, 2008 at 3:31 pm


And as I say above, Potter’s test was done on socks. It stands to reason larger or thicker items require more time, so no one here should be assuming that 5 minutes would be enough for a pair of jeans or another larger item.

However, I think an hour on dry items that are not thick (ie normal clothing–shirts, jeans, etc.) is probably overkill, and may damage them. If it doesn’t, and makes you feel better, then why not? But there’s a difference between something that reassures you, and something that is the best advice for everyone.

When it comes to stuffed animals, comforters, pillows, etc. the jury is out and I am not sure I’d trust them even after a long spin.

For what it’s worth, a dryer cycle at three of the NYC laundromats near me, is 10 or 12 minutes.

50 jorge April 25, 2008 at 1:35 pm

My wife is suffering so much right now- so I am going to get a steamer that way if they return we can take action. I saw a steam fast max steam cleaner sf275 that I want to buy. Will this help me with my bedbug problems? Here are the specs thanks everybody.

1500 Watts of Steaming Power.
Convenient 12 Ft. Cord.
Fill to 50 Ounce of Maximum Steaming.
Lighted On/Off Switch.
Combination of Wheels and Casters for Easy Movement.
Utility Brush Storage Compartment.

Unit Dimension: 17.52 x 11.42 x 9.25
Unit Weight: 13 Lbs.
Presure: 44 PSI
Temperature: 220 F.
Runing time: 1 OZ / 1 minute. Max: 50 OZ for 50 minutes

We all know that bathrooms are the worst places in the house to clean, right? No problem! Let the powerful 1500 Watts SteamMax Cleaner do the dirty work in your house. SteamMax Cleaner will clean your entire house from the bathroom to your car’s engine; nothing escapes the power of SteamMax Cleaner! Ready to use in minutes, SteamMax eliminates dust mites and other allergens. You can steam clean, mop and sanitize your floor with no chemicals needed. The SteamMax Cleaner reduces smoke and other odors as well as allergens such as dust mites and pet dander. A combination of wheels and casters allows for easy movement while you clean. SteamMax Cleaner also offers you a free Bonus Package with 4 utility brushes, a scrub pad, and a brass BBQ grill brush.


Kitchen Cleaning.
Windows Cleaning.
Bathroom Cleaning.
Furniture Cleaning.
Floor Cleaning.
Car Cleaning.
Eliminate Dust Mites and Allergens in carpet and bedroom.
Last for 1 hour before refilling.
1500 Watts of Steaming Power.
Convenient 12 Ft. Cord.
Fill to 50 Ounce of Maximum Steaming.
Lighted On/Off Switch.
Combination of Wheels and Casters for Easy Movement.
Utility Brush Storage Compartment.

Unit Dimension: 17.52 x 11.42 x 9.25
Unit Weight: 13 Lbs.
Presure: 44 PSI
Temperature: 220 F.
Runing time: 1 OZ / 1 minute. Max: 50 OZ for 50 minutes

1 Floor brush
2 extension wand (4 feet long total)
2 Short Nylon Utility Brushes
2 Long Nylon Utility Brushes
1 Brass Brush
1 Scrub Pad (This accessory is handy)
1 Angle jet nozzle
1 Triangle brush
1 funnel
1 Measuring Cup
1 Squeegee
1 Cloth Cover (Installed on the Floor Brush)

51 Desperate June 29, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Will the normal home washer and dryer will be efficient in killing of the bug?

52 bugy's shame August 13, 2008 at 7:30 am

so, i came across this site because i have managed to decrease my daily intake of bedbug bites.

i threw out all mattresses and i got a spray called: JT EATON bedbugs killer.

Anyway, my infestation was not bad at all. However, the day I threw my mattresses out, I turned them over to see what my “problem” looked like. I noticed there was only one bedbug, on each bed, that was near the head of the bed(this is so gross). I knew there were more bedbugs inside the mattress, but wasn’t trying to disturb them. I immediatelly thew out the mattresses and bagged up everything in the one bedroom that had them and the living room. My second bedroom didn’t have them because the person sleeping in there rarely got bit. I or the people living with me, did not want to sleep on a mattress filled with dead bedbugs, fecal amtter and dried blood.

So, I sprayed in all the areas of possible infestation(cracks and crevices in the walls,along the baseboards.

I even started vaccuming twice a day, now that I am on vacation.

Since then, I have been bitten 4 nites in a row.

I am still looking for the one thing or several things that will help me eliminate these creatures.

When I go back to work, I don’t want to have to worry about getting bit everynight and coming to work scratching up a storm.

I have tried some other things like using a BLOW DRYER directly on them. The only thing with that is you could blow them away and not find them…

I was told directy pouring alcohol on them dries their nasty little bodies up quickly.

I must say that I have used the lavendar oil and the oil seems to cut down on the irritaion I guess because the bugs slide off of you(thats if you put the oil right before you go to bed).

I am on a diligent search, so right now, I am going to start my process of vaccuuming before I go into the bedrooms and clean in there!

53 nobugsonme August 13, 2008 at 2:49 pm

bugy’s shame,

The reason I recommend you use a professional pest control operator (PCO) with experience killing bed bugs is because they’re actually hard to get rid of.

Very hard.

I am not sure which Eaton spray you’re using (they have more than one bed bug product), but a google of the full name and the term “MSDS” will get you information on what you’re actually using. Knowing this would help others advise you.

Most PCOs use a variety of methods including sprays and dusts, strategically applied. And they generally have to repeat treatment (though a PCO who finds the bed bugs’ harborages will probably get away with fewer follow-ups).

Dry vapor steam, again used strategically (see the Steam FAQ linked from the post above), can be useful. But you need to do your research.

Lavender oil may make you feel better but it will not get rid of bed bugs or stop them feeding.

You need to recognize also that if any neighbors with homes attached to yours (above, below, sides) have bed bugs, they also need professional inspections. They may have no idea, they may not react to the bites.

If you want to discuss your methods further, please come to the forums:

54 bedbug78 September 30, 2008 at 6:38 pm

It looks like the options are:
– Any heat above x F will kill within 5 minutes
– For lower heat, anything above 7 will kill, but will take at least 3 hours.

Can any of the entomologists here weigh in on what x and y are, and what are some useful midpoints (i.e. allow you to bake some shoes without burning them and without taking 4 hours)

Thank you

55 endless_fight January 1, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Hi there

Happy New Year, and I do hope it will be bedbug free for you all 🙂

This site was really helpful, however I am confused with all the different suggestions and ideas, and I don’t know what to do next, especially since I don’t have mush time to the next PCO visit, and I have to do something!

I read here that you should combine washing and drying on hot just to be safe enough. I understand now, which is comforting, that washing on hot might be enough. I don’t have a dryer – it’s really not a standard in my country – and in summer we dry our clothes outside, while in winter we dry it inside the house where it’s pretty warm thanks to the central heating. Is this enough? Please tell me it is cause this is the only thing I can do! I have lots of clothes, and shoes and purses, and I have no clue what to do. I was happy to read freezing might help, but it doesn’t seem safe enough. Now we have temperatures around -10 Celsius at night and lower, and during the day around -5. But I read here it’s not enough!

I’ve discovered this site a week ago and all I’ve been doing is reading and reading and reading, trying to learn what my next step should be. I got bbs in late July 2008, I brought them from a boat in Italy, which later discovered the infestation but didn’t let me know.
I had problems and was severely bitten at the beginning. I moved from bed to sofa which was a mistake of course. And then two and a half months later I discovered that bbs were to blame. I immediately called PCO – there aren’t many in my town, and I couldn’t find “the best one for bbs”. A guy came and said it wasn’t bad (I disagree now). My biggest mistake – I wasn’t home when he came, my parents were, and they didn’t ask many questions or at least not as many as I would. He sprayed a little and left, as if we will never see him again. I thought that was it (if only I found this site earlier!). Two weeks later I found live ones and called the guy again. He came and used some sort of bombs (great to read here that made the things worse…the treatment was three times more expensive than the regular one….). Again they say that should do the trick. After that bomb treatment I felt free to wash all my clothes and I rearranged all my stuff and cleaned everything up as if the bbs were dealt with completely. A mistake again, since I saw them walking around the room 3 weeks later and I freaked out completely. I call PCO again. Cause now I see them walking around in my living room, on the floor or on the wall, and I can imagine they can be absolutely everywhere, in the parquet floor, huge wooden closet… I was hoping they would be only in the bed or sofa, but I didn’t find any there anymore.

Since late October I’ve had 5 treatments, and in a few days I’m about to have the sixth one. I’ve had no advice from my PCO on how to treat my clothes, books and other stuff. Actually I’v had no advice from them whatsoever, and the first time all we got was an impression that they didn’t need to come again.
All the stuff from my closet (which was sprayed last time) was put on the pre-treated sofa, and is now on a huge pile. I am planning to start washing the stuff and bagging it and storing to another place. That is why I need advice on washing only, and not drying the clothes. Some of the stuff I will need to wash by hands, is that ok too? I have some delicate clothes that cannot be washed on more that 40 degrees Celsius and this worries me, so I’d rather wash them by hands.

My original plan was to bag the stuff which is now all around the place (for example handbags and shoes) and put them on the balcony to freeze on this cold. I have to make order somehow, but I don’t know where to start anymore, since I was a bit discouraged with this info I read here.
I live with my parents in a three-floor apartment. I’m on the third floor, I have a small bedroom and a living room and a bathroom. I found live bbs in bedroom and living room, and one dead one in the bathroom (this was before the 4th treatment). I get the feeling they could be anywhere. So far my parents haven’t had problems on the floors below. The trouble is, I’ve been sleeping on the second floor after every treatment cause my rooms smelled really bad on chemicals. So I wasn’t there most of the time to act as a bait to bbs. Furthermore, I’m planning to move in to my bfriend’s house, and I’m scared to death of taking little buggers with me. I’ve been careful as much as possible so far (instinctively and without reading any advice) and it seems I haven’t spread any, by pure luck I guess. I am worried that when I leave and go to live with my bfriend in a month or two, bbs will start looking for new victims and spread to other floors. I don’t feel comfortable leaving this place until this is resolved, but it’s a long fight and I have to go on with my life which hasn’t been normal since August.
I desperately want to do the right thing, but feel kinda lost, cause cooperating with the PCO is not something I can count on really, and finding a new one isn’t gonna help either. And you say that it’s really important to follow their advice. The only thing I can count on is that they use a lot of chemicals. Last two times they really soaked the place. Since then I haven’t seen a live one, and I found one or two dead ones. I’m scared that some might have chosen to escape from the sofa to the pile of clothes and other stuff which is now on the sofa, though I hope they will die then cause the sofa itself was saked before tossing the stuff on it, and I haven’t found any live ones before the treatment (though they might have been in the material itself).

Sorry to write all this just like that, but I’m running out of time, and reading through all this just makes me more confused. I cannot use any of the self treatment chemicals you write about here (nowhere to buy them), my mattress is not protected the way you describe it. I plan to wrap it in nylon after the next treatment, and isolate bed and sofa with vaseline, duck tapes and put the legs in bowls. I will wash my clothes and bag it and place somewhere else, but I need to know is it enough to do it in a way I described above, since I have lots of delicate clothes, and some of it cannot be washed on a temperature higher that 40 C.
I plan to bag most of the stuff in transparent garbage bags and make them airtight somehow. And then leave some sealed, the ones I probably won’t need for 18 months. Others I will maybe open after the next treatment. Though I’m afraid that bbs won’t get out when everything around is sprayed with chemicals, and they how do I know these bags are really safe?

56 nobugsonme January 2, 2009 at 2:03 am

endless flight,

The article hopelessnomo linked to in a comment above says,

LAUNDERING/DRYING. Bed bugs often infest bedding, clothing and other personal belongings which cannot be treated with insecticides. An oft-mentioned way to de-bug such items is laundering — yet to our knowledge, no testing has been done to verify effectiveness. A simple experiment was conducted to study this question. Three groups of live bed bug adults, nymphs and eggs were placed in small nylon mesh pouches which were then placed inside cotton socks. The bed bug-provisioned socks (along with a full load of clothing) were then run through a standard wash cycle using hot water. A second trial was run with similarly infested socks placed only in a clothes dryer. The bed bug-laden socks were accompanied by a load of unwashed clothing and subjected to high heat (greater than 175° F) for five minutes. No bed bugs or eggs survived the washing or drying cycles, suggesting that either regimen, alone or in combination, is effective.

175 F is 79.44 Celsius. If your washing machine will sustain a temperature of 80 C for 5 minutes, Potter’s study suggests this will suffice. If temps do not go that high, then read the comments of Fedupandparanoid at the start of the comments above. She shares data from a UK researcher about other temps used in a washer, and bed bugs.

Remember the items can become infested while being air dried or while being stored. I would not necessarily bag them once dry (as we suggest people should do with clean, dried clothing) since you may possibly be bagging bed bugs in. Still, some PCOS do not recommend bagging anyway. Bed bugs can be treated without bagging anything. It really depends on the PCO’s protocol.

The good news is that in many countries, pest control workers can use materials that are more effective than those found in the US and Canada. This may work in your favor. If you do not get actual treatment, washing and bagging stuff is not going to help much. I strongly suggest you try to find someone else (another PCO). If you tell us where you are, it may be so that someone from your country has been here before.

If you want to discuss this further, please come to the forums where you will get many more responses:

57 Mr. X August 18, 2009 at 1:07 am

Here are some metric conversions for you. Please add them to the main text.

0 F = -17.8 C
120 F = 48.9 C
130 F = 54.4 C
140 F = 60 C
150 F = 65.6 C
175 F = 79.4 C
180 F = 82.2 C
194 F = 90 C

(The formula for F to C is subtract 32, divide by 9, multiply by 5.)

58 Suzanne October 7, 2009 at 11:32 pm

How can I deal with clothes that cannot be washed in hot water? I can’t find anything about that anywhere. 90% of my clothing needs to be washed in cold water. What if the garments shrink and won’t fit anymore? HELP!

59 nobugsonme October 8, 2009 at 1:22 am


It is not necessary to wash on hot and then dry on hot.

If you are going to dry on hot, washing on cold is fine.

If the item is not supposed to be dried in the dryer, things are more complicated. As the post above explains, you do not have to put a wet item in the dryer for however long it takes.

You can, alternatively, dry the item, then put it in a hot dryer for a much shorter period, which won’t hurt many items. The Potter study referenced in the post talked about a dry sock: bed bugs and eggs in the dry sock were killed after five minutes in a hot dryer. (If the item was wet, it would probably have taken much longer.) Keep in mind, we don’t know exactly how much longer it will take to kill bed bugs in a thicker item than a sock, so you might want to dry those a while longer.

Hope that helps.

60 janasg October 22, 2009 at 11:40 pm

I am currently living off of my balcony waiting to move in January to a brand new apartment still being built that will be nasty parasite free. I keep all my clothing and bedding in plastic bags after washing and drying daily in hot water. Our shoes are kept outside and any backpacks or purses are as well. This is one of the most disgusting and mentally stressful things to ever happen to me and I hope that everyone out there who is infested can get rid of them. I’m moving because the building is infested and although I am getting treated for a THIRD time tomorrow, I can’t live with the paranoia and insomnia anymore. KILL ALL THE DIRTY B*#@%$!S!!!!!!

61 kate December 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Okay, so what about books? What about knick knacks? Do I seal those in bags also? Can I heat them to kill bugs? What do I do about the things that really CANNOT go in a dryer??

62 nobugsonme December 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Hi kate,

Some Bedbuggers have used a Packtite to kill bed bugs in books and other items which cannot go in the dryer (or which are more easily treated in a Packtite). It does cost (approx. $295) but you don’t have a lot of easy options for this. More on Packtites here.

63 kate December 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Please, please, do I not have any options besides buying this thing? I really really cannot afford it – will just bagging them for 18 months and making sure they are air tight do NOTHING?

64 nobugsonme December 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Sorry, kate, I thought you were looking for other heating options besides the dryer — and I don’t think there are other good ones.

Re: bagging: no one knows exactly how long bed bugs will live in a sealed bag, but I understand that if it is sealed in an airtight fashion, for 18 months, that should definitely kill any bed bugs inside.

65 Elizabeth February 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Yesterday I was in apartment where I left my suitcase open and went out for 2 or 3 hours. On returning I saw about 3 live bed bugs and several dead ones in the afternoon. On discovering the bugs I packed up and left and then shook out my clothes outside.

My question is – should I heat dry all my clothes (there’s a lot of them and some delicates too) and throw out the newspapers and books that I had lying around?
I can’t figure out how seriously to take it. Would they have laid eggs in the time I was out? and it that the equivalent of asking how long is a piece of string?

I would hate to bring bed bugs to the next place I live!

Thank you!

66 nobugsonme March 1, 2010 at 12:49 am

Yes — take it very seriously. They can be hiding in your suitcase, clothing, books and papers, or other items. You cannot be too careful. There’s also a FAQ on what to do if you have been exposed, under our travel FAQs.

67 Rosa March 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I just found 2 bed bugs on my bedroom window. I need information on the steam method and does it. Thanks

68 nobugsonme March 2, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Hi Rosa,

Make sure your problem is bed bugs before implementing treatment. Bugs on the window may be bed bugs but may also be a problem such as bird bugs (closely related, similar appearance) or bird mites (which look quite different). There are places to have bed bugs identified by mail if you need to.

If it is bed bugs, seeing two of them is a bad sign, because they normally hide very well. It’s unusual to see even one.

Steam can work well, but is not a one-shot solution. You will have the most luck if steam treatments are done carefully and repeatedly, and augmented with the use of pesticides and dusts. Please see our steam FAQ for more suggestions on how to choose a steamer and how to use it for this purpose.

Because killing bed bugs is not easy or necessarily safe, we recommend you get a PCO to treat your home for bed bugs. They may steam or may be willing to have you steam followed by their treatment. If you must do it yourself, be sure and do lots of research, to make sure treatment is effective and safe for your family.

Please come to the forums if you want further support or feedback.

69 bugged out May 9, 2010 at 2:54 am

Hello everyone,
I thought I would tell you what has happened to me and my mother. I contracted bbs after moving into an apt that already had them because of my nebiors who have not treated and had them for 2 years. I have had my apt treated 4 times and am getting ready for the 5. I have been washing and drying almost every day and every day and night i’m itching but no more visible bite marks. everyone I know thinks i am completely insane. I have pretty much gotten rid of every thing i own and am now considering not taking a single thing with me when I move in 22 days THANK GOD I can only hope they are not in the next apt I’ll be living in. Not only has this happened to me but to my mother as well(because of me visiting her not knowing I had bbs) . I think this is a living hell I’ve been sleeping in my tub for a month. my mother and I are literally mentally and physically exsauted from this ordeal if this does not kill us the chimicals will. Iam at my wits end. If anyone has any advice,suggestions, or Ideas on how to get rid of these nasty bugs plz respond. and how should I prevent infesting my new apt? should I have them treat before I move in? Thanks

70 nobugsonme May 10, 2010 at 11:00 am

Hi bugged out,

I am sorry you’re going through this and you’re right to be cautious when moving.

Some people have had their moving truck professionally treated with Vikane gas (sulfuryl fluoride), in order to prevent moving bed bugs to the new home. This is available in many areas, and can be pricey but if you will otherwise be replacing items, it may work out as a better option.

In at least one location (Western Mass./Vermont) you can also get a truck thermally treated by a professional, with the same effect.

If you are in the US, a Packtite can be used to thermally treat smaller items (unwashable clothing, books, shoes, knick-knacks, and so on). You can read more about them here. Items so treated would need to be sealed in an airtight manner to prevent reinfestation before the move.

Please post your question in our active user forums for more feedback or to follow up.

71 dreadthebugs May 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

My daughter moved into an apt that had bedbugs. She had moved some things in on a Wed. Sprayed spectracide along the baseboards the next morning since she saw some palmetto bugs (roaches). Continued moving in, put clothes, shoes, purses, picture frames, suitcases etc on the floor in the bedroom along with all bdrm furniture. She noticed dead bugs by the baseboards in the bedrm Sun am which we identified as bedbugs (google) and had that verified by Truly Nolan on Mon.. We moved everything out by Tues. That’s about one week of exposure to the bb. Clothes were washed/dried @ laundrymat so the water was warm and dryers ( not sure how hot?) The comforters were still damp in spots.
All the furniture was moved in a uhaul to a storage ares where it was treated with suspend sc & delta dust and is in a storage unit to until we treat it a 2nd time.
All items moved from the apt. were left in the suv baking in the sun for 3 days (south FL heat registered 130 on our temp gauge inside the truck). However when I pulled some things out yesterday I found 4 live bb hiding in seams of some bags. Help! I have looked over everything we unpack, we spray, we shake, we vacuum then store her things our patio or in our garage.
I’m at my wit’s end I do not want these horrible bugs in my house. The clean laundry has been brought into the house to be sorted before packing to store. How do we keep the bugs from infesting the house the cars & her next apt?? Please advise what steps to take to prevent their spread.

72 nobugsonme May 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Hi dreadthebugs,

I am so sorry you’re going through this.

Please repost your entire comment on our forums, where you will get a much broader range of responses.

The bottom line is that anything that was in the apartment or your car may be infested. Any location you have introduced those items to may be infested. The storage unit where you treated items may also now be infested, as well as anything that came in contact with it.

If you saw four live bed bugs in the bags, after items were baked in the car, then you may have been exposed to a large infestation. I would strongly recommend getting knowledgeable help from a pro who has a lot of experience with bed bugs, and who is willing to listen to your story in detail and cover all the bases (i.e. exposed items in bags, exposed storage area, potentially exposed car.

Re: the dryer: DRY clothing will probably be free of bed bugs and eggs if it was bone dry and hot. (If you put dry clothing in a hot dryer to debug it, experts recommend 30 minutes.) If items are still wet, I would be concerned that bed bugs may be harboring in cooler areas inside. This is especially possible with thick items like comforters, which need to be dried for a very long time to kill bed bugs which can be insulated in the core of the item. Unfortunately, I do not know exactly how long it would take to debug a comforter.

As you discovered, you can’t rely on bed bugs dying in stuff left in a car even if the temps reach 130 in the vehicle. While the killing point is below 130 F, it’s crucial that deadly temperatures are met and maintained to the very core of the item, for a period of time. A Packtite is a tool which can be used to kill bed bugs in your stuff; it comes with a temperature probe, and so you can ensure the temps reach 120 F at the core of the items, then leave the item for at least an hour at killing temps. You can see information about the Packtite here or on our Useful Stuff page.

You should also read up on detection. This FAQ on detecting bed bugs should help. You need to employ some methods to determine if other locations (car, new apt., house) have been infested.

Please come to the forums, tell us more about your situation. You are in the right place.

73 dreadthebugs May 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Thanks for the advice. We finally finished unpaking the SUV. we found some dead bb but no live ones! We realize some may be hiding in the deep dark crevices of the truck so we’re going to vacuum the truck then we will spray it all over with professional grade spray we got from a commercial pest company (they were recommended by our PCO).
I still have questions…how often does a female lay eggs? Is it the same even if they haven’t eaten? Does it take 12 days for the eggs to hatch? We are on day 7 since the exposure, so eggs haven’t hatched yet, so if we spray the truck today we should kill off any remaining bb & the eggs, right?How often will we need to spray the truck to get rid of any surviving bb?
If a few live bb did get into the house what other steps will I need to take? How often should the PCO treat our house? We need help to get this under control! It should be very possible to be successful since we are in a single family home, right?
The furniture was put in my daughters friend’s garage. If they sprayed a border around the edges of the the garage & in the area where they treated the furniture that should protect his garage from bb? They will be treating it again tomorrow too. Since the bedrm furniture & couch was only in the apt for 4 days how infested could it be? I know I have lots of ques. for you but you are my main source of info . Thank you for your help, this advice is so necessary to help us with this bb battle!

74 Lou May 19, 2010 at 4:55 am

Bed bug females will mate and lay eggs but not if they haven’t eaten, especially for weeks since the last meal. Hatching is temperature dependent so it varies. After feeding, males and females will readily mate. Females don’t produce consistent numbers of eggs, but can lay one or a few or no eggs every day. If she uses up her food (blood) storage, she cannot produce eggs or keep the sperm alive. Feeding again and also mating again lets her produce more eggs.

75 dreadthebugs May 19, 2010 at 11:05 am

That’s great news for us. The apt had been empty for a month or so and the dead bugs we found were flat & not filled with blood. Hopefully any live bugs in our truck did not lay eggs and the intense heat of south florida along with the bb insecticide will wipe them out. Thanks for the info.

76 James June 8, 2010 at 12:19 am

Anyone know about the effectiveness of using the oven? I’ve been putting books and shoes in there, heating it to 200 degrees and hoping it will work. My suspicion is that maybe the bugs can escape through the cracks to somewhere else once the heat begins to rise.

77 mark sauce July 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm

A good overall cheap strategy in a single post:

Bedbugs can climb the walls and drop on to your bed from the ceiling like nasty little ninjabugs. Try running a long strip of wide tape horizontally across every wall in your bedroom, making sure that strip of tape is touching. Now apply vaseline to that tape. Bedbugs can’t cross vaseline. Reapply the vaseline as needed. This will prevent them from crawling up the walls and landing on you. Move your mattress as far away from the walls as you can.

Also, get a bed frame if you don’t have one already, place a plastic plate or something under each leg and cover it in vaseline. Now you’ve blocked them from ground attacking you and from ceiling and wall attacking you. Now to block them from within. Throw out your bed skirt.

Get Aller-Ease Waterproof mattress covers from walmart or find a similar product, only $30 in canada for queen size. It can block dustmites (0.04mm), and water, so it can block bedbugs, also if you check the Aller-Ease website it says their product has been tested as bedbug bite proof. OR there are vinyl allergenic waterproof bed covers, $11 for queen size at walmart, should do the trick, get one for your mattress and one for your boxspring.

So far everything here has been about keeping the bedbugs off you while you sleep, but they can live 6 months without food so denying them a meal will take a long time to kill them. So don’t stop there’s still more you can easily and cheaply do. Seal as many cracks as you can with tape or caulk. Squeeze your caulk into tight holes. If you still got funds brush some diatomaceous earth around and into cracks and such. When a bedbug breaths in that diatomaceous it’ll rip into its lungs harder then Rosie O’Donnell rips into a bag of Lays. Lay down some neem oil they don’t like the smell (neither will you), though in doing so you may just chase them elsewhere, neem oil alone doesn’t stop them that would be too easy.

Wash your clothes in hot water, dry them thoroughly (none of those massive dryer loads that are still damp after an hour use some sense). Keep all your clothes in garbage bags. Wash your sheets often. And bedbugs love clutter, so tidy up as best you can. If you’re a packrat it’s time to change your ways, throw out that stuff you almost never use, the occasional uses for that junk are not worth the risk that it could be hiding bedbugs.

TOO LONG DIDN’T READ? Here’s the cliff notes:

-Wide tape, one long strip running horizontally along the middle of every wall, all the strips touching at the ends. Now cover that tape in vaseline. Will prevent bugs from crawling up the walls and ceiling to fall on you. Move mattress as far from walls as possible.
-Get a bed frame, under each leg a plate of vaseline to prevent bedbug ground attacks.
-Mattress cover, Get Aller-Ease Waterproof mattress covers from walmart or find a similar product. Duct tape plastic 3.5-4mil sheeting around your boxspring if you’re cheap.
-Seal as many cracks in the floor, walls, etc, as you can with tape and caulk
-Brush some diatomaceous earth around and into cracks and such, neem oil.
-Wash your clothes in hot water, dry well, keep in plastic bags. Wash sheets often.
-There’s a bee in my glasses oh no please don’t sting my eye, go away bee.
-Tidy up, reduce clutter they can hide in, throw out your junk.
-Stay frosty

78 nobugsonme July 23, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Mark Sauce,

You have some good advice but some of it is lacking. We have an encasements FAQ and DE FAQs which go into more detail about how to choose and use these products properly. We also do not recommend barriers to bed legs, except for ClimbUp Interceptors, which will trap rather than deter bed bugs (as barriers such as vaseline might do).

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