Imagine coming home with clean and fresh laundry only to learn that you are bringing bed bugs. This scenario seems unrealistic, but you can get bed bugs from a Laundromat. You can get bed bugs anywhere but using a shared Laundromat increases the risk of getting them.
It takes a lot of effort to avoid getting bed bugs in a Laundromat. Nonetheless, there are several things you can do to minimize the risk of acquiring bed bugs. This post unloads everything you need to know to avoid getting bed bugs in your Laundromat.
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Getting Bed bugs from a Laundromat
The thought of having bed bugs in the Laundromat sends chills down every customer’s spine. While it is improbable that you will get bed bugs from a Laundromat, it is not entirely impossible. You may be cautious when visiting the Laundromat, but you can get bed bugs from less vigilant patrons.
It is not the washing and drying of clothes in a Laundromat that exposes you to bed bugs. This is because the washing agents and the heat used in the washer and dryer harm bed bugs. When you complete the washing cycle, any lingering bed bugs on clothes, bedding, linens, and sheets will be dead.
You often catch bed bugs in a Laundromat when they hitchhike on your clothes. If another patron were to bring infested clothes, bed bugs could hitchhike on you, and you would unknowingly bring them home. The best way to keep yourself safe in a Laundromat is to minimize interaction with other customers and their belongings.
Factors that increase chances of getting bed bugs in a Laundromat
Several factors increase the risk of acquiring bed bugs in a Laundromat. Even though bed bugs are not attracted to filth, the most impactful factor is the facility’s cleanliness. A clean and well-maintained Laundromat has less clutter that could harbor bed bugs.
Another factor that increases the risk of getting bed bugs in a Laundromat facility is the scope of human traffic it enjoys. Busy Laundromats with high customer turnovers are likelier to have bed bugs than less busy ones. If your local Laundromat is active, it is best to do your laundry at off-peak hours.
It is best to ensure that your local Laundromat is cleaned as frequently as possible. As a regular customer, there are several ways you can ensure that the Laundromat owner takes his cleaning responsibilities seriously. Bringing other patrons together periodically to discuss the local facility’s cleanliness and safety against bed bugs is helpful.
Mistakes to avoid in a Laundromat
Since Laundromats enjoy significant human traffic, you can get bed bugs from fellow patrons. It would be best if you avoided some mistakes that put you at a much higher risk of acquiring bed bugs in a Laundromat. Here are some of those mistakes:
Washing clothes in cold water
Using cold water in a Laundromat may seem like a good idea because it saves energy and avoids damage to clothes. In reality, using cold water is a massive mistake because bed bugs can survive in it even though it has washing chemicals. Using hot water at temperatures above 140° Fahrenheit (60° Celsius) guarantees the extermination of bed bugs in all life stages.
Point to Note: Do not put woolen clothes in the dryer along with other fabrics because high temperature destroys wool. Our comprehensive guide for getting rid of bed bugs in woolen items comes in handy when dealing with your woolen belongings.
Folding clothes on common folding tables
Using the Laundromat’s folding area increases the risk of getting bed bugs. Instead of using the public’s folding area, store your clothes in sealed vacuum bags, take them home and fold them there. If you think that’s tedious and time-consuming, imagine the people that have used communal folding tables. Any one of their clothes may have been carrying bed bugs.
No matter how careful you are in the Laundromat, bed bugs may still sneak into your clothes. Once at home, fold your clothes on a white sheet to make it easier to notice any hitchhiking bed bugs. Inspecting every piece of cloth thoroughly as you fold it would be wise.
Leaving your laundry unattended
It always feels good to let others lend you a helping hand, especially if you are a mother accompanied by a toddler. Unfortunately, leaving your laundry unattended or letting someone help in a Laundromat is not wise. Whoever offers to help may leave your clothes on the folding table or use the public laundry basket. Such actions increase the risk of getting bed bugs in a Laundromat.
Always keep an eye on your clothes, the washing machine, and the dryer while in a Laundromat. It would be best if you also took time to inspect all your clothes after each washing cycle before you store them in a sealed vacuum bag. These actions are tedious and time-consuming, but they are worth it because they help you avoid bed bugs.
Protecting your clothes from bed bugs in a Laundromat
There is no definite way to avoid getting bed bugs in a Laundromat, but some actions can help protect your clothes. Here are some protective measures that you should know:
Use plastic bags
Using a plastic bag when carrying your laundry to and from the Laundromat is wise. Bed bugs, like any other living thing, need oxygen to breathe. A vacuum-sealed plastic bag does not have any oxygen, making it the most negative space for any bed bug. You must also empty the contents of the plastic bag directly into the washing machine to avoid contact with other surfaces.
Caution: If you have no choice but to use a cloth bag, ensure that you wash and dry it with the rest of your clothes. It would be best if you also inspected before you put your clothes back in.
Use heat on your laundry
Heat is your best friend whether you use a washing machine at home or in a Laundromat. Heat treatment, when done correctly, kills bed bugs. Wash and dry your clothes at the highest temperature that the fabrics can sustain. Using hot water at temperatures above 140° Fahrenheit (60° Celsius) guarantees the extermination of all life stages of bed bugs.
A dryer is essential in your fight against bed bugs. Hot water combined with washing chemicals is mainly effective against bed bugs, but these critters are sneaky and may find pockets of cooler temperatures. You need to run the dryer for about 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the bulkiness of your clothes.
Point to Note: Clothes whose fabric cannot be subjected to extremely high temperatures, for example, wool, require rigorous inspection.
Inspect laundry baskets if you must use them
Laundromats provide laundry baskets for their customers. These baskets are hotbeds for bed bugs because all patrons share them. It is in your best interest to avoid such communal baskets as a plague.
Laundromat floors and seats are some high-risk spaces for contracting bed bugs in a Laundromat. If you have to use the Laundromat’s laundry basket, you must meticulously inspect it for bed bugs before using it. It would be best never to put the basket on the floor or near the Laundromat’s seats.
Inspect folding tables if you need to use them
Folding tables often enjoy considerable traffic in a Laundromat. Avoid using folding tables whenever you visit a Laundromat. Nonetheless, if you must use a folding table, you need to inspect it thoroughly. Some of the things you need to look for include:
- Bed bug exoskeletons
- Dark or rusty spots
- Living bed bugs
- Bed bug eggs
Inspect seats before using them
Please picture how many people use the Laundromat use communal seats. Bed bug statistics show that they are everywhere in the USA, meaning some people likely have bed bugs. If you sit in a contaminated chair, you will unknowingly take bed bugs back to your home.
It is advisable to avoid sitting on Laundromat seats if you don’t have to stay long. However, you must inspect your seat thoroughly if you must use it as you wait in line. Most individuals get bed bugs from Laundromat seats without their knowledge.
What to do when you see bed bugs in a Laundromat
If a Laundromat acquires a negative reputation for having bed bugs, it will lose its customers. Owners find it challenging to accept that they have bed bugs because of the impact on their business. This is why the first thing you need to do when you see bed bugs in a Laundromat is collect evidence. Use your phone to take pictures or collect live bed bugs.
Once you collect evidence of bed bugs, notify the Laundromat’s management so that they can take action. You must notify the local health authorities if the administration does not take the necessary treatment measures.
Bed bugs are tricky critters that know how to hide and crawl on you when the right opportunity presents itself. You can get bed bugs in a Laundromat, but the risks are low, provided the management is doing the right thing. This does not mean you should put your guard down when visiting a Laundromat. The key takeaways from this post are that you should avoid mistakes like:
- Folding clothes on communal folding tables
- Using cold water to wash your clothes,
- Leaving your laundry unattended
Are Laundromat machines sanitary?
Public Laundromat machines are relatively sanitary, provided the management takes its maintenance responsibilities seriously.
Can you use a Laundromat if you already have bed bugs?
You can still take your washable belongings to a Laundromat if you already have bed bugs. It is best to pick a specialist bed bug laundry service if you already have bed bugs.
Can bed bugs live in laundry machines?
Bed bugs can live in laundry machines when they are mismanaged and kept in unsanitary conditions. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that these critters can survive in the washing machine long enough to infest it.