Can A Dryer Kill Bed Bugs? (Find Out Now!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Not too long ago, I had a bed bug infestation in my home. It was devastating, especially since I’m severely allergic to their bites. The first thing I had to do was find a way to kill them after they nested in my clothing and sheets. I knew some clothes wouldn’t hold up to a wash, so I was lost. Like many people in my situation, I wanted to know if a dryer could kill bed bugs as well as a hot wash.

Dryers running at a minimum of 140 degrees (high heat) will kill bed bugs and their eggs. Use the highest heat-level selection on your dryer and run your clothes through it for at least 30 minutes, otherwise, the dryer may not heat up properly. However, this method will kill the bugs but not clean your clothes.

If you were hoping to find a way to get rid of bed bugs without having to clean your clothes, drying might not be the best idea. But, there are some things you can do in order to make sure that you get rid of bed bugs once and for all?

Why Do You Need To Treat All Your Clothes And Linens During A Bed Bug Infestation?

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to eradicate, and part of the reason for that is due to their love of hiding in crevices. Their most favorite materials? Warm, fuzzy clothes and linens. Oh, and they are so good at hiding in them, that it only takes one errant bed bug to cause a re-infestation.

To make sure that you are getting rid of all the bed bugs out there, you need to kill them by exposing them to high heats. Studies show that bed bugs cannot survive heat higher than 140 degrees. This means that washing (and drying) your clothes at a high heat will be enough to kill them and remove the pheromone that could urge other bed bugs to find their way inside.

Does Drying Your Stuff Kill Bed Bugs?

If you ask any bed bug expert, they’ll tell you that drying your stuff in a regular laundromat won’t always be enough to kill bed bugs—but that it can sometimes do the trick. The reason why drying alone doesn’t kill bed bugs is simple: bed bugs might be able to find a crevice inside your clothing that’s shielded from the dryer’s heat.

How Effective Is Drying When It Comes To Killing Bed Bugs?

Believe it or not, a study was done on this. It revealed that drying is fairly effective at killing bed bugs, but not effective enough if only done for short bursts. Here’s what the study showed:

  • A 10-minute cycle on HOT only killed 75 percent of nymphs and 85 percent of adults. This was because the dryer was not strong enough to kill off all the bed bugs, or because the bed bugs were able to find a place to seek shelter.
  • A 30-minute cycle on HOT killed 90 percent of bed bugs on all life stages. Even here, there were a couple of outliers who were able to survive.
  • A 30-minute cycle on COOL killed virtually no bed bugs. This is because there was not enough heat to actually do much aside from causing them discomfort.
  • Dry cleaning killed off every bed bug from every life stage. This is the best solution for clothing that is delicate or that cannot otherwise be put into a washing machine.

How Effective Is Washing Your Clothing When It Comes To Killing Bed Bugs?

Washing your clothes with high heat and an adequate amount of soap is the most commonly recommended treatment for clothing that has been exposed to bed bugs. It will kill 100 percent of bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs—provided that you make sure that the water being used is above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

How To Kill Bed Bugs Without Using A Washing Machine

There are several instances why you might not be able to dunk your clothes (or linens, or upholstery) in water and soap. It happens, but you still need to be able to get rid of bed bugs. There are several alternatives out there that you can choose to use. Some of the most common include:

  • Use a steam cleaner on sensitive items. The steam from a handheld cleaner will be hot enough to kill bed bugs instantly, and won’t harm your clothing too much.
  • Spray down your items with isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is an instant bed bug killer and won’t harm upholstery, clothes, or shoes.
  • Place your items inside a hot car on a sunny summer day, and leave them there for five days. To do this properly, you need to make sure your car’s temperature reaches 140 degrees across the board. Otherwise, bed bugs might find a way to stow away in a smaller crevice where they can stay cool.
  • Dry clean your most delicate items. We touched on this before, but it’s still worth discussing once more. Dry cleaning killed 100 percent of bed bugs in that study. If you are worried about the sunlight and extreme heat of a “car treatment” wrecking your clothing fibers, then dry cleaning is the best bet.
  • Consider getting carpets professionally cleaned. A rug shampooer and some vacuuming will be enough to get rid of bed bug eggs in your rug fibers. (And yes, they do nest inside carpets, too!)
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in crevices and corners. Though it can have a drying effect on the air and materials around you, DE remains one of the best go-to bed bug killers in history. This solution should be used for areas that don’t have upholstery or cloth, but still require some sort of protection from bed bug infestation.

Should You Try To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs On Your Own?

If you are going try to get rid of bed bugs, be forewarned–this is not something that is best left to your own devices. Professionals are definitely the way to go here, especially if you are a renter or if you have a case that’s gotten out of control. This is because regular pest control tools aren’t enough to handle bed bugs, which means you often will need to rely on the pros.

Related Questions

Can bed bugs freeze to death?

It’s possible to kill all stages of bed bug life by dropping the temperatures to 0 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours. However, most people don’t like to have their home freezing cold and this technique has been shown to have a higher risk of missed spots.

How do people get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are most commonly transmitted as a result of bed bugs hitchhiking on items, then finding themselves in a new environment. Once bed bugs are in a new place, they almost immediately start laying eggs and biting people. It’s worth pointing out that bed bugs are not caused by poor sanitation. Rather, it’s a matter of bad luck in most situations.

Is there a lotion that can prevent bed bug bites?

Calamine lotion has been linked to bed bug-repelling qualities that make it a smart tool to use when you’re suffering from an infestation. By slathering it on, you might be able to avoid getting bitten.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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