How Hot Does The Laundry Temperature Need To Be To Kill Bed Bugs

If you've ever traveled, stayed at a hotel, or bought second-hand clothing or furniture, you've undoubtedly been warned against the potential of bed bugs. Bed bugs are given their name for their tendency to nest in beds and suck blood from people while they sleep, as PestWorld explains.

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don't denote anything about your cleanliness or lack thereof. There are any number of ways bed bugs can end up in your home, including from used furniture, getting into your purse or luggage, being introduced by a visitor, or following a stay at a hotel or another person's house, per the New York State Department of Health.

Once you identify bed bugs, though, you need to act quickly to get rid of them. Pesticides are one way to get rid of the pests, as is moving your furniture away from walls or climbing surfaces, cleaning your home thoroughly to kill any pockets of bugs, and washing all your sheets and clothing where bed bugs could hide and burrow. This latter action is only effective, however, if you wash your laundry at the right temperature.

Long and hot cycles

There are a few things that can kill bed bugs, and one way is through temperature. This is also very effective — you can kill bed bugs by hand as you see them, but exposing them to extreme temperatures kills a lot of them at once. Temperatures at and below zero degrees Fahrenheit, for example, can kill bed bugs over a few hours, according to PF Harris. You can throw things into the freezer for a few hours to achieve this.

However, you can also kill two birds (or bed bugs) with one stone through your laundry. You already need to wash anything the bed bugs have or could come in contact with, and the washer and dryer provides a hot environment that can help rid you of your pest problem.

According to a study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, bed bugs at all stages of life will perish at 140 degrees Fahrenheit; however, sustained heat at 122 F (and above) will also kill them.

At minimum, a hot water cycle in the washer for half an hour, followed by a hot cycle in the clothes dryer for another half an hour, should rid you of any present bed bugs. Home Warranty of America notes that most dryers reach a temperature of 125 F to 135 F. If you have a larger amount of clothes you're washing and drying, go for longer and hotter cycles if possible.