“Goodnight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a phrase that most of us grew up hearing. However, as grown-ups living in modern society, we struggle to keep our families safe from bed bugs owing to high treatment costs. The silver lining to the bed bug problem is that it is so huge that it has attracted widespread research.

Recent research shows that one pocket-friendly way of getting rid of bed bugs is using your washing machine and dryer. This article takes you through everything you need to know when getting rid of bed bugs by laundering. By the time you finish reading it, you’ll be able to save your hard-earned using your washing machine and dryer.

Does Laundering Kill Bed Bugs?

Using a washing and a dryer on your laundry can kill bed bugs if you do it right. You cannot kill bed bugs by washing your clothes at a low temperature. A washing machine exterminates a small number of bed bugs through submersion and detergent poisoning. Heat is necessary to achieve 100% efficiency.

High heat is necessary to achieve 100% efficiency when using a washing machine.

You must set your washing machine at 60°C (140°F) to kill bed bugs at every life cycle stage. It is also advisable to put the clothes in a hot dryer after washing them to kill any remaining bed bugs. Leaving the clothes in the washing machine for half an hour and the dryer for another 30 minutes does the job.

Steps To Follow When Using Your Washing Machine and Dryer

Laundering using a washing machine and a dryer is a pocket-friendly way of getting rid of bed bugs. That said, there are some steps you must follow to achieve ultimate success. Here is a comprehensive outline of the key steps that you need to follow:

1. Sort your clothes

  • First, separate the potentially infested clothes from other clothes to avoid re-infestation in other areas of your house. That said, it would be wise to wash all your clothes even if you notice bed bugs on some of your clothes
  • Isolate dry-clean-only clothing because you should not make them wet. You can only place them in a hot dryer but not your washing machine.
  • Put the clothes in sealed air-tight bags before moving them to your laundry room or the Laundromat to avoid spreading bed bugs.

2. Washing and drying the clothes

  • Empty the clothes into the washing machine (dryer for dry-clean-only clothes) and dispose the emptied bags in clean sealed ones before proper disposal.
  • Wash and dry the clothes under high temperature. Please not that the high temperature required killing bed bugs damages wool. That said, you can still use the washing machine and dryer except that, the process of getting rid of bed bugs in wool using heat is different from ordinary fabrics.
  • For dry-clean-only clothes, all you need to do is put them in the dryer under ideal temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60° C) for around 30 minutes.

Point to Note: You do not necessarily have to use both the washing machine and the dryer. If you don’t wish to wash your clothes, you can just use the dryer under proper temperature setting.

Using the Washing Machine

The tricky part is finding a balance between washing with enough intensity to kill bed bugs and taking care not to ruin delicate fabrics. By now you have sorted the garments into different piles that you will have to wash separately. There is also the chance that severe infestation may stain your clothes. You may have to launder them separately as well.

A washing machine can solve the bed bug problem on washable items

Take the clothes and carefully place them into the washing machine. Take care not ruffle bed bugs and bed bug eggs and get them onto the floor or the clothes you wearing. Start with the less infested clothes, especially the whites . Save the colored and heavily infested for last. Use enough water and let the clothes wash for a little longer than you would normally wash your clothes.

Using the Dryer Alone

You can as well use the dryer alone to eliminate bed bugs from your clothes. It will however only kill the critters but it will not clean your clothes. If your end game is only killing bed bugs, then you do not have to clean your clothes. At high enough temperatures, the dryer can kill bed bug adults, nymphs and even bed bug eggs. You would however have to run your garments through the dryer for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Empty the clothes into the dryer taking care to separate the delicates from the other clothes. Dispose off the trash bag away from your house as it could harbor bed bugs from the clothes. Set the dryer either on medium or high setting depending on the delicateness of the garment. Check the tag on your clothes if you are not sure. Run the dryer for at least thirty minutes to effectively kill the critters and their eggs. Take out the clothes, fold and put them in a separate and clean bag.

There are factors that could determine whether the bed bugs were eliminated from your clothes. Some dryers may have thermostats that regulate temperature. If the temperatures were not high enough, you may have to call a technician to remedy it. A hundred percent mortality of bed bug eggs requires at least 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using Both the Washing Machine And Dryer

Utilizing the efficacy of both the washer and the dryer is taking a two-pronged attack against bed bugs. The history of bed bugs shows that these critters are resilient hence, using both the washing machine and dryer doesn’t hurt. You can also spray essential oils that kill bed bugs on your clothes after taking them out of the dryer. This brings in the added advantage of leaving your clothes smelling nice and clean.

Dump your garments into the washing machine taking care to separate delicates, the coloreds and the heavily infested into separate piles. Add your regular detergents into the washer and leave it to clean at the hottest temperatures. Thereafter, move the clothes from the washer into the dryer. Run the dryer at high setting for a minimum of thirty minutes to eliminate the remaining bed bugs and bed bug eggs.

Storing Laundered Garments

Take out the garments from the dryer, fold them and put them into a clean plastic bag. Remember that bed bugs are resilient bugs and can survive almost anywhere. You would therefore need to exercise caution where you place them or where you would fold the clothes. If the bed bugs somehow dropped onto the floor or the table while you were sorting the clothes, they still can hitch a hike in your clean clothes. They still can start a new infestation problem in your home.

Store them in separate but clean plastic bags and put them away from their original storage locations. Your wardrobe, suitcase, bag or dressing room may be the starting places of the infestation.

Treating Stubborn Stains From Bed Bugs

Bed bugs tend to leave small brown spots on your garments even after they are eliminated. The stains are usually protein based as they are made of blood. They are little more stubborn than usual. So the normal cleaning may just not cut it. Do not despair. You still can kill bed bugs and leave your garments stainless.

If the stains are not so stubborn, there is a chance that the washer and dryer may be sufficient to rid you of them. Rub alcohol on the stain before throwing the clothes into the washing machine. As spot cleaners, alcohol removes surface oils that are not affected by soap or detergents. Wait for ten minutes after applying alcohol on the bed bug stain then toss the clothes into the washer for best results.

There are also enzyme –based fabric stain removers in the market that work best to remove stains. Apply the stain remover and let it soak in for about ten minutes before washing the garment. You can readily get this from your local and online retail stores. Essentially, they work by degrading the stains or breaking them into smaller molecules to be washed away.

The other option would be to wash your garments on “cold” setting. Being organic, the cold keeps the protein in the bed bug stain loose which in turn increases their chance of being removed from the fabric. Add detergent into the washing machine and run it cold. Like all the other stain removers, patience is called for. Repeat the process until the desired effect is attained. Take care not to ruin the fabric or colour.

Final Thoughts

The dryer and washing machine provides cheap and affordable ways to kill bed bugs in your clothes. That said, the efficiency of these machines depends on your ability to use them. You must also remember that treating washable items does not solve your bed bug problem entirely.

If you find bed bugs in washable items, these vampiric critters are likely to have spread all around your home. Luckily for you, our bed bug treatment guide bundle offers several effective and safe extermination methods for you to use.


Can washing alone kill bed bugs

Yes. If done long enough, bed bugs drown in the water. However, washing alone is ineffective because it does not destroy bed bug eggs.

At what temperature does the dryer eliminate bed bugs

A temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit is required to kill the bed bugs.

How long does it take to kill bed bugs at the dryer

Setting the dryer at high heat or setting, you will have to leave your clothes for at least 30 minutes to effectively kill all bed bug eggs.

Are bed bug eggs destroyed at the dryer

Yes. The dryer will have to be in at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The clothes will also have to be left in the dryer for at least 30 minutes to kill all bed bug eggs.

Can washing and drying eliminate an infestation

Depending on the infestation size, the washer and dryer may solve your bed bug problem. However, a massive infestation requires professional intervention.