The first step in treating clothes for bed bugs is to contain the infestation. Once you find the infested items, seal them tightly in plastic bags. If possible, double layer the plastic bags to keep the bugs from escaping. Even one fertile female can establish a colony on her own, so it’s important to seal your bags tightly.
Before washing clothes, sort them thoroughly. If possible, place piles of clothes into separate plastic bags. This will keep the bugs from escaping and transferring to other items. Be sure to label the clothing with the appropriate washing instructions, including the maximum temperature for wash and dry cleaning. Lastly, make sure to use the correct cycle to ensure a clean washing.
While bed bugs cannot fly or jump, they can get on clothing by lying on it. You should also be aware that they tend to live and feed on dark, damp areas where they are not disturbed. If your clothes are left unattended in a hotel room, they’re more likely to be infested with bedbugs.
Bed bugs don’t live very long on your clothes, but they do need to be on their host’s skin in order to feed. They can only feed for five to ten minutes after they get on your skin. A study from Sheffield University has found that clothes that have a high concentration of dirt have twice as many bed bugs as clean ones.