There’s nothing worse than finding out that your favorite shirt or suit has been infested with bed bugs. As much as you’re not scared of insects, you just can’t get over the fact that you share your precious home and wardrobe with these creatures.
Bed bugs will start from your mattress, then they conquer your wardrobe, and you’re only left with your carpets and chairs that are in bed bugs’ queue and just wait their turn to be infested. Getting rid of bed bugs can be a tumultuous process but it’s not impossible.
So, how do you get rid of bed bugs in your clothes? Getting rid and preventing bed bugs in clothes can be done by washing the clothes regularly, using a steamer, carefully storing the clothes, and using a few more methods, which we’ll talk about later in the article.
If you have bed bugs in your clothes I really know how you feel. You feel skeptical and you think that this is just another article on the internet that won’t help you. Well, that’s not true. This article is all you need to learn on how to get rid of bed bugs in your clothes efficiently, without wasting too much time and energy.
We’ll not waste your time anymore and jump straight to the nitty-gritty of the article.
How to Tell if Your Clothes Are Infested with Bed Bugs
The worst thing about bed bugs infestation is that it’s almost always detected when it’s severe. A small infestation won’t bother you too much or won’t bother you at all. But, when bed bugs start crawling all over your house, mattress, and clothes, you’ll notice them right away.
The first thing you’ll notice is that your skin becomes itchy every single day or the day after you’ve worn your piece of clothing. You’ll start seeing red spots on your skin, indicating that some insect drank the blood from that body part. You can sometimes confuse bed bugs with mosquitos but there’s a significant difference.
When a mosquito bites you, you have a large red spot on your body part. It sometimes gets swollen and it’s very itchy, to the point where you can make it bleed from scratching.
When it comes to bed bugs, their bites are very small but concentrated on a certain spot. Do you see the difference? One big bite versus several small bites. Now that you’ve concluded that bed bug infestation is going on, you can check your clothes, mattress or wardrobe for bed bugs.
If you notice dark grey stains on your clothes, it may be an indication of bed bugs infestation. They love hiding their eggs in your clothes, which is why there are those tiny eggs that look like stains.
Furthermore, they also defecate there, leaving the fecal remains all over your clothes. This, in combination with itchy skin, tells you that you’re dealing with the bed bug infestation. Now that you’re completely sure that this is the case, drastic measures should be taken and we’ll talk about them in just a minute.
How Long do Bed Bugs Live on Clothes
Like almost every living being on this planet, bed bugs can live a pretty long life, which depends on the temperature they live in. Since bed bugs are cold-blooded insects, they love sitting in cold and they despise the heat. Their life span also depends on the frequency of eating in conjunction with the temperature they spend their life on.
For example, bed bugs can live two to three months in your clothes without having a single blood meal. If you keep your clothes in a very cold room, the life span can further be increased to almost a full year without a meal. The reason why they die after this is that their metabolism slows down, resulting in complete shutdown and death.
Now, if we take normal conditions into an account, bed bugs can feed once in five to ten days. In this case, their life is increased and on top of that, they multiply, which makes it impossible for them to disappear on their own.
Their feeding time is, in most cases, is at dawn or an hour before dawn but they will gladly feed anytime when they’re hungry. The feeding lasts about five minutes and after that, they return to their hiding spots. They don’t stay too long on your skin because our skin emits heat and as mentioned, bed bugs don’t have a good time with the heat.
Different Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes
Now that you’ve learned all about bed bugs, it’s time to see how to get rid of them and remove them from your clothes successfully. There are several ways to do this and those include frequent washing, drying, vacuuming, steaming, and proper storage. In the next section, we will give you an in-depth step-by-step guide on how to get rid of bed bugs. If you’re up for that, we suggest you keep reading.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes, Step-by-step Instructions
Method 1- Sorting Your Clothes
Step 1 – Upon detecting the infestation, pick up your clothes and split them by the type of material and color. Separate them into whites, delicates, etc.
Step 2 – Get a couple of plastic bags.
Step 3 – Sort every type of clothing in the separate plastic bag.
Step 4 – Seal your plastic bags tightly! This is very important, as bed bugs can squeeze through the tiniest holes and if this happens, you might be in trouble.
Step 5 – Now that you did this, your clothes are ready for washing, which is the next method of getting rid of bed bugs in clothes.
Method 2 – Washing and Drying
Step 1 – Get your sorted clothes and open the plastic bag.
Step 2 – Be sure to check the washing instructions of every piece of clothing and put them in your washing machine accordingly.
Step 3 – Set the washing temperature to the highest setting, as the excessive heat will quickly kill the bed bugs. Cold or mildly hot water will be ineffective. On top of that, very hot water will help eliminate the specific smell that bed bugs can sometimes produce.
Step 4 – Wait for your clothes to get washed properly, which is usually 2 to 3 hours.
Step 5 – Now it’s time for drying. This is where you also need to set the highest temperature, to make sure that every bed bug is killed.
Step 6 – Some items will require dry cleaning, which is why you need a dryer. Set the clothes in the dryer for 30 minutes and use high heat.
Step 7 – Pull out your clothes and check the results.
Step 8 – If everything is clean, sort your clothes accordingly and you’re good to go.
Method 3 – Spray Around Your Wardrobe
Step 2 – Before spraying, wipe around your wardrobe both on the outside and on the inside.
Step 3 – Put on your fumigation mask if needed and set up your spray.
Step 4 – Spray inside the wardrobe, outside, on the top, and at the bottom
Step 5 – Spray around the wardrobe, especially furniture with clothing.
Step 6 – Wait for the spray to dry and then repeat the process. Don’t be afraid to put more spray, as the dry residue can kill some of the bugs.
Method 4 – Properly Store Your Clothes
Step 1 – To properly store your clothes, it’s essential that you have plastic bags and/or tightly-sealed plastic boxes.
Step 2 – Whether your infestation is under control or not, store your clothes inside and keep it shut. Even if you have bed bugs on your clothes, a plastic bag will keep them in control, until you control the infestation outside.
Step 3 – If you’ve washed your clothes, be sure to store them in a CLEAN plastic bag or box and place it somewhere where bed bugs can’t reach it.
Step 4 – Don’t just mix your clothes altogether. Be sure to sort them out as we mentioned above, and then use your plastic bag.
Step 5 – When you finish packing, check around to see if there are tears or holes.
Step 6 – If you find holes, unpack your clothes and put it in the new plastic bag or box.
Step 7 – Keep the clothes inside until you’ve eliminated the rest of bed bugs in your house.
Method 5 – Use Your Vacuum and Steamer
Step 1 – Vacuuming can be done before or after washing and drying. We recommend that you do it after you’ve washed and dried your clothes.
Step 2 – Sort out your clothes in a way that they lay completely flat on the surface.
Step 3 – Use the vacuum cleaner to slowly vacuum every part of your clothes. Go slowly and be patient.
Step 4 – If you see particular spots where bed bugs once were, be sure to clean it or else bed bugs can infest again.
Step 5 – When you’ve finished cleaning, it’s time to grab your steamer.
Step 6 – Steamer needs to be set at a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius, which is, in most cases, the maximum temperature.
Step 7 – Go slowly with the steamer, steaming all parts of the clothes, including sleeves and pockets.
Step 8 – Now turn your clothes inside out and repeat the process of steaming.
Step 9 – Store the clothes accordingly. Either in plastic bags, boxes or directly in your wardrobe. Make sure that the wardrobe is completely clean and properly sprayed, just like we mentioned.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes
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Cayenne pepper is a natural bug killer when mixed with natural items such as oregano and ginger. The best thing about this solution is that it kills bed bugs on contact, so you don’t need to wait a few hours for them to die.
The natural solution can be made by mixing one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, oregano oil, and ground pepper. Mix them up, add some water, and pour it into a spray bottle. Since this is a safe solution for people, you can spray in indefinite amounts. We promise that this will kill every bed bug that gets sprayed on touch.
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Indian lilac is great for clothes infestation. In fact, it’s specifically used for this type of infestation. The main purpose of this plant is to stray the bed bugs away from your home and your closet. You can use it by crushing the leaves and spreading them around.
Alternatively, you can boil the leaves, strain the liquid from the leaves, pour it in the spray bottle, and spray the solution. You can spray it wherever you want – sofas, closets, wardrobes, beds, and other furniture in your house. The result is that these nasty bugs will never approach your house again.
If you love eating beans, you should think about using bean leaves to combat your bed bugs in the closet. This method is discovered about 80 years ago when the researchers found out that the microscopic hair on the leaves successfully impaled and cut the limbs of bed bugs.
Here, you don’t need to boil the leaves but just put them on the surface of your closet or directly on your clothes and wait for bed bugs to emerge. The leaves will not only make it harder to walk for bed bugs but will also dismember their limbs and kill them.
Just like people burn saga to get rid of evil spirits in the house, burning thyme will eliminate bed bugs. However, it’s not as effective as saga and requires some time and repetition to make it effective.
The process needs to be repeated every few days until you see the results. All you need to do is tie a stick of thyme with a cloth and set it aflame near infested areas. This process is NOT always safe, which is why we don’t recommend it to people who don’t know what they’re doing.
Bed Bugs and Clothes – More Information
For further reading, we recommend that you check out our previous article about bed bugs in clothes. In that article, we explain everything you need to know about bed bugs in clothes before you can successfully combat them. This is an in-depth article and it’s easy to grasp and understand, so we recommend that you take 10 minutes and read it.
These two articles will teach you everything you need to know about these stubborn insects to fight and hopefully, get rid of them for good.
To summarize, getting rid of bed bugs in clothes can be a tumultuous process but in most cases, it isn’t. If you’ve read the article in whole, as well as the article we recommended in the previous section, you’ll have no problems getting rid of bed bugs. Sure, they are stubborn but humans are masters of adaptation and as always, we have plenty of solutions at our disposal. If you have bed bugs in your home as you read this, don’t lose your morale. You have a very good chance of winning this battle and get rid of them for good.
If you can’t get rid of bed bugs by yourself, you can always call a professional exterminator. This method works always but it isn’t a cost-saving solution. Still, would you rather spend some cash and have your house clean or suffer from bed bugs bites and scratch yourself every day? If you take drastic measures, you can always defeat them before the infestation stars taking turn for the worse.
Until next time, stay clean and bed bug-free. You’ll thank us later!
List of Sources
Preparing for Treatment Against Bed Bugs. Oct 17, 2015, United States Environmental Protection Agency
Dolling WR. 1991. The Hemiptera. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.
Ghauri MSK. 1973. Hemiptera (bugs), pp. 373-393. In K.G.V. Smith [ed], Insects and Other Arthropods of Medical Importance. British Museum, London, England.
Potter, M. Bed Bugs. Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Schuh R, Slater JA. 1995. True Bugs of the World (Hemiptera : Heteroptera) Classification and Natural History. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.