Yes, bed bugs can survive the washing machine if washed incorrectly. You need scorching hot temperatures to kill bedbugs.
There are few things as frustrating (or as offputting, truth be told) as having to deal with a bedbug infestation.
Bedbug infestations can bubble up almost out of nowhere, through absolutely no fault of your own – even new clothing, new bedding, and even new mattresses can carry bedbugs.
Figuring out how to stop them in their tracks, kill them all (and their eggs) and prevent them from reoccurring later down the line is critical.
Obviously, your washing machine is going to play a big role in making sure that bedbugs are banished once and for all. You should know, though, that if you wash your bedding incorrectly you might not kill those bugs at all – something that a lot of folks don’t know!
Below we run through everything you need to know about using your washing machine and dryer to get rid of these infestations once and for all.
Can Bed Bugs Survive the Washing Machine?
Yes, as crazy as it sounds it is in fact possible for bedbugs to live even after going through a washing machine.
You’d think (like most people) that bedbugs would get wiped out completely, drowned, and then spun off into oblivion after going through a normal washing machine cycle. But that’s not always what happens.
In fact, bedbugs can survive dozens and dozens of cycles – one right after another – if you aren’t using the right settings on your washing machine.
Cold water is the main culprit here. Cold water will never wipe out a bedbug infestation. You need heat (and lots of it), essentially boiling those bugs to death and making sure they never reestablish themselves when the laundry is done.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the ins and outs of what you want to do to kill bedbugs with your washing machine and dryer.
How to Kill Bed Bugs in the Laundry
Wash Only Contaminated Materials
First, only ever wash bedbug contaminated material – bedding, clothes, etc. – with other bedbug contaminated material.
You don’t want any cross-contamination!
In fact, it’s not a bad idea to put all of your bedbug-contaminated material into a washable laundry bag just to make sure that there’s no chance those nasty little bugs can “jump out” and land on something else.
Mix up even just a single piece of none contaminated clothing with your bedbug-infested sheets, for example, and your whole wardrobe may have to be pulled apart and washed to get rid of this already unpleasant infestation.
Wash with the Hottest Temperature Water Your Fabrics Can Take
As we highlighted a moment ago, you want to make sure that you are washing your fabrics with the hottest possible water temperatures they can take.
It’s a good idea to look this up, double checking and confirming that the material you’re going to drop into the laundry together can handle the same scorching hot temperatures.
Not all fabrics can though, and you don’t want to destroy everything in your laundry just to try and wipe out a bug problem.
As soon as you figure out just how hot you can go, though, bring that right up to the line.
It’s also not a bad idea to pretreat your clothing with either commercial bedbug laundry sprays, rubbing alcohol, or other anti-bedbug chemicals.
This might not be enough to kill off the infestation completely, but it’ll set you up for success for sure.
Dry for At Least 30 Minutes
Next, you need to run your whole load through the dryer (again on as hot a temperature as your fabrics can handle) for at least 30 minutes.
This gives those remaining bedbugs another blast of skyhigh temperatures, basically cooking them to death but also wiping out bedbug eggs that can be pretty resilient.
At least 30 minutes in the dryer is recommended, but there’s no reason you couldn’t stretch that out 45 minutes (or longer) if your fabrics can take it.
Let Professionals Deep Clean Your Bed Bug Stuff for You (With a Heads Up, Of Course)
Of course, if you want to wash your hands (no pun intended) completely of getting rid of your bedbug infestation you might want to bring your bed sheets and other fabrics to a professional cleaner and have them handle the heavy lifting for you.
Obviously, you’ll want to call ahead and make sure that these professionals will take bedbug-infested fabrics to begin with.
They’ll probably have specific rules and procedures you have to follow to bring your fabrics so that they can be quarantined from everything else.
Follow those directions to the T and you’ll be good to go.
Believe it or not, bedbugs can in fact survive going through a normal cycle in your laundry – especially if you are running your laundry with cold water.
Hot water is an absolute must and then you have to get your laundry into the dryer (on high heat) ASAP for the best possible results.
If you’re still dealing with a bedbug problem after this it might be time to call a drycleaner or professional laundry service and see what they recommend