How Long Do Bed Bugs Live on Clothes & How to Get Rid of Them

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live on Clothes? Stick with this short and informative article to know the answer with some prevention and elimination tips!

Bed bugs are tiny, egg-shaped insects that feast on human and animal blood. Due to their 5-9 mm size, bed bugs can easily burrow deep inside the cracks and fissures of mattresses, headboards, and bedsteads. Bed bugs also live on clothes, but for how long? Let’s find out below.

Learn Can bed bugs live in hair here

How to Tell if Bedbugs Are in Your Clothes?

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shutterstock/Pavel Krasensky

Below are some telltale signs that indicate the presence of bed bugs in your garments.

  • Bloodstains
  • Little, reddish-brown fecal marks on the fabric
  • Egg shells or shredded skins
  • Red, itchy bites on the skin
  • Musty odor from garments
  • Live wandering bed bugs
  • Sightings of dead bed bugs

Can Bed Bugs Bite Through Clothes?

Bed bugs can’t bite through garments because their small mouthparts are not designed to pierce the layers of cloth. But, if clothing is tight-fitting or made of a thin fabric, bed bugs may be able to bite through it. It’s important to note that bed bugs can crawl under clothing to reach exposed skin, so wearing long sleeves and pants does not guarantee protection from bed bug bites.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live on Clothes?

Don’t think leaving your infested garments will starve bed bugs to death. At room temperature, bed bugs can live up to 1 to 4 months on clothes without any meals. When they are unable to find a host, they move to a nearby location or item for food. But, if you are wearing those outfits regularly, then they survive and multiply forever.

Fact- The average lifespan of a bed bug is about 10 months.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Clothes?

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Cleaning and drying your outfits on a regular basis is the basic but most effective way to get rid of bed bugs. Try the below step-by-step remedy so that the bed bugs can’t live on clothes.

What You’ll Need

  • Laundry Detergent
  • Washing Machine
  • Plastic Bags
  • Zip Lock Bags
  • Clothes Dryer


1. Separate “Dry Clean Only” Clothes

First, sort out “Dry Clean Only” from other clothing, as these items cannot be washed. The dry cleaning process kills the bed bugs. Toss your clothes in zip lock bags and send them for the dry-cleaning process.

2. Sort Garments

After separating “Dry Clean Only” clothes, pre-sort your garments as per lights, darks, and delicates. Toss each pile of outfits into plastic bags and seal them properly. By doing this, you can set the highest washing and drying temperature for garments.

3. Set the Washing Machine

Pour the detergent liquid or powder into the automatic dispenser of your washer. In case your washing machine does not have one, then add the right proportion of detergent in its drum. Set it on the hottest water temperature setting, as per the fabrics and the correct cycle for the fabric types.

4. Transfer Clothes to the Washer

After setting up the washing machine, toss your garments inside it carefully, as bed bugs can spread to other areas. Don’t forget to dispose of the plastic bags in a trash can.

5. Next Dryer

Once your washing is done, transfer your garments to the dryer. Set the clothes dryer on the highest heat settings as per the fabric requirement and run for half an hour. When the temperature inside the dryer exceeds 40° C (104° F), it’ll eliminate bed bugs and their eggs for sure.

6. Store the Laundry

After drying, store your clothes in clean zip-lock bags until your house becomes free from bed bug infestation. If you are not interested in following this entire laundry chore, throw your garments into black-colored plastic bags and leave them in the sunlight for a couple of hours.

Notes- Before using the above remedy, wear a good quality face mask and hand gloves. Keep your children, pets, and elderly far away when you’re treating the infested garments.

Does Dry Cleaning Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, dry cleaning kills bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs. The high heat and perchloroethylene chemical are the key reasons for its effectiveness. If you have ‘Dry clean only’ garments, this method is the last resort to eradicate bed bugs. Let the dry cleaner know about your issue to handle it accordingly.

Do Bed Bugs Die in the Dryer?

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Yes, bed bugs can die in the dryer, but it depends on the temperature and duration of the drying cycle. According to research, bed bugs perish in the dryer only when the infested clothes tumble-dried on a hot cycle (>40 degrees C) for at least 30 minutes.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live on Clothes: Bed Bugs Prevention Tips

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After learning, How long bed bugs live on clothes, follow these preventive measures to inhibit their existence in the first place.

  • Thoroughly check old furniture, clothing, and bedding for signs of bed bugs before bringing them into your home.
  • Use protective covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows to eliminate bed bugs hiding places.
  • Toss out all the piles of clutter from inside and outside of your house.
  • Regularly vacuum and clean your home to remove bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Check the hotel room for bed bugs before unpacking, and keep your luggage off the floor.
  • Seal all the cracks and crevices to prevent bed bugs from entering your home.
  • Avoid sharing clothing and bedding with others, especially if they have a bed bug infestation.
  • Make sure to wash your pets’ bedding in the washer regularly.
  • If you use shared laundry facilities, put the outfits in plastic bags after drying.
  • Install door sweeps on the bottom of the doors.

When to Hire a Professional?

It’s recommended to hire a professional for bed bug infestations in the following situations:

  • Large or severe infestations: If you have a large or severe bed bug infestation, it’s best to hire a professional pest control company.
  • Health concerns: Bed bugs can cause a range of health issues, including allergic reactions and skin irritations. If you are allergic to bed bug bites, it’s best to consult with a professional.
  • Unsuccessful DIY treatments: If you’ve attempted DIY bed bug treatments without success, or the condition becomes worse.
  • High-value or fragile items: Avoid home remedies if your antique furniture or delicate fabrics are infested by bed bugs. Seek professional help to avoid any damage.

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