can washing clothes kill bed bugs

can washing clothes kill bed bugs

Can Washing Clothing Kill Bed Bugs?

For those living with bed bugs, a common question is whether it’s possible to get rid of them by washing clothing. While washing clothes is an important factor in reducing and containing the spread of bed bugs, it is important to understand that it cannot always completely rid you of the problem.

What Washing Clothes Does

Washing clothes and bedding in hot, soapy water is an effective way to kill bed bugs and eggs. To be effective, clothes should be washed at a temperature of around 120°F or higher, and the water should contain a significant amount of detergent to destroy the bed bug’s outer shell. Additionally, any articles that are too delicate to be washed should be put in a dryer at a temperature of at least 120°F for no less than 20 minutes.

Limitations of Washing Clothes

Unfortunately, there are some limitations to washing clothes and bedding as it pertains to getting rid of a bed bug infestation.

  • Infested Bedding: If bed bugs have already made their way into your bedding, washing alone will not get rid of them. Bed bugs can hide deep in fabric, making it difficult for washing to eliminate them. Additionally, if you’re washing some areas of the bedding but not others, you could actually be doing more harm than good. The bed bugs that remain in the unwashed portions of your bedding could spread to further infest the previously washed portions.
  • Infested Clothing: Similarly, if bed bugs have already infested a piece of clothing, washing alone may not be enough to get rid of them. Washing clothes is only effective against bed bugs that are on the surface, and cannot penetrate deep into fabric. As a result, if clothes are heavily infested, it may be necessary to dispose of them as they may not be able to be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Re-infestation: Even if washing clothes and bedding is effective in killing bed bugs and preventing further infestations, you are still vulnerable to re-infestation if you are living within an environment with a bed bug problem. As such, it is important to take preventative measures to protect the other items in your home from becoming infested.


When it comes to getting rid of bed bugs, washing clothes and bedding is an important step in the process. However, it is important to understand that washing in hot, soapy water cannot always completely rid you of the problem. Additionally, it is important to understand the limitations of washing clothes, and combine it with other strategies to ensure a comprehensive approach to eliminating the problem.

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