Do You Need To Wash All Your Clothes To Remove Bed Bugs?

by Derrick | Last Updated: May 8, 2022

Bed bugs are a nightmare. When you’re ready to get rid of bed bugs, you may wonder how much laundry will be required. This is a reasonable concern and one that you should understand before starting your bed bug removal process.

You need to wash all your clothes to remove bed bugs because they might hide in the leftover laundry. As soon as you spot a bed bug, spray your clothes with rubbing alcohol, then sort and wash them. Finally, dry all the clothes, including those you couldn’t wash due to their delicate fabrics.

This article looks at how to get rid of bed bugs. Keep reading to learn how much laundry you need to do to remove bed bugs.

Does Washing Clothes Kill Bed Bugs?

Washing clothes can help kill bed bugs. Although bed bugs are unlikely to live on your clothes, they can make a home out of what’s in the suitcase and drawers. Washing these clothes can help you get rid of the bugs. However, the drying process is the most crucial as the heat kills more bugs.

Bed bugs can live for up to 3 months on your dirty laundry. They are resilient creatures and have a lifespan of anywhere between 6 months and a year with adequate feeding. However, the bugs are probably not feeding when they live on clothes.

Even without feeding, bed bugs can still survive for 2 to 3 months—this might vary depending on the climate they’re exposed to.

So by washing your clothes, you can get rid of bed bugs living in your clothes. Moreover, any remaining bed bugs will die when drying the clothes after washing.

How Often Should You Clean Bed Bug-Infested Clothes?

You should clean bed bug-infested clothes once only, as doing so is enough to clear your bed bug problem. Make sure you dry the clothes properly after washing them. The heat from drying your clothes should effectively kill any leftover bed bugs. 

Another thing to remember is to inspect the laundry after it’s dry. You’ll want to make sure that no bugs survive.

Beg Bugs Can Leave Stains on Your Clothes

Bed bugs can leave some dreadful stains on your laundry. The stains (bed bug excrement) look like dark rusty spots and can probably be cleaned in a single wash.

If you notice the stains before washing the laundry, you can do a few things to pre-treat them.

To treat the stains, you need to rub them with cold water (hot water will set them further.) You can also lift the stains further by blotting hydrogen peroxide on the damp areas. Or, take the easier route and use an enzyme-based fabric remover to eliminate all the stains before you wash the laundry.

How To Wash Bed Bug-Infested Clothes

As discussed, washing bed bug-infested clothes is an effective way to get rid of the bugs. You need to wash all the clothes, or the bed bugs will hide in the remaining laundry. Empty your drawers and suitcases and remove all your beddings.

Here are some of the supplies you’ll need:

  • Trash bags
  • Laundry detergent
  • Rubbing alcohol

You’ll also need a working washing machine and dryer.

Spray the Clothes With Rubbing Alcohol

When you notice a bed bug on colorfast clothing, spray it with rubbing alcohol. Doing this will kill all the live bed bugs on site. However, it won’t kill the eggs or eliminate the infestation. Nevertheless, it’s an important step that can save you from having to handpick and squash the bugs.

You should also dry clean non-colorfast clothes immediately if you spot a bed bug on them.

Sort the Clothes

Separate your garments between dry clean only and those that you can wash. You cannot wash clothes in the dry clean only pile, but you can put them in the dryer on high heat to kill bed bugs.

Next, sort your clothes like you usually do before doing a load of laundry. Ensure you do this in the infested area to avoid spreading bed bugs to the rest of the house. Place each load of laundry in a trash bag and seal it tightly.

Wash the Clothes

Add regular detergent to your washer’s drum if it doesn’t have an automatic dispenser. Then, select the highest water temperature recommended for the fabrics you’re about to wash and set the correct cycle.

Take the trash bags and empty them carefully into the washer. Don’t just dump the clothes roughly because the bed bugs could be airborne and infest your laundry room or communal laundromat.

Finally, dispose of the trash bags immediately, preferably in an outside bin.

Dry the Clothes

Once the cycles are done, transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer. You need to set the heat cycles at the highest recommended temperature for the fabrics. The dryer also needs to run for at least 30 minutes. Typically, 120°F (48.9°C) is enough to kill the bugs and eggs.

It’s also important to note that you can skip the steps above and start with this one if you just want to kill the bugs and don’t want to wash your clothes. Since the heat kills the bed bugs, you don’t need to wash your clothes first.

If you don’t have a dryer, you can also air-dry the clothes under the hot sun.

Store the Clothes in a Strategic Location

Once your clothes are dry, you can fold them on a table that you’ve inspected first to make sure it’s bed bug-free. Now you can proceed to store them.

After washing them, you can use plastic bags or containers to store your bed bug-infested clothes. Keep them stored until you’re sure the infestation is over.

Helpful Tips for Washing Bed Bug-Infested Clothes

Here are some tips to keep in mind when getting rid of bed bugs in clothes:

  • Put delicate fabrics in the freezer if you can’t wash or dry them. Bed bugs can’t withstand freezing temperatures and will eventually die. Leave the clothes in the freezer for at least 4 days, then take them out and inspect them.
  • Start disinfecting as soon as you see signs of a bed bug infestation.
  • Use a bed bug repellent to eliminate the infestation rather than just washing all your clothes.
  • Consider using a clothes steamer to wash delicate clothing like pillows instead of throwing them in a washer. Follow the steamer’s instructions and ensure you cover every surface to eliminate all the bugs and eggs.
  • Don’t leave any clothes on the floor during the disinfection process. The bed bugs may hide in the fabric and drop to the floor.


You need to wash all your clothes to get rid of bed bugs. Washing the clothes once is enough, and the drying will effectively kill the bugs and their eggs . Dry the clothes at their highest recommended temperature and let them stay in the dryer for at least 30 minutes.

Once your bed bug-infested laundry is washed and dry, keep it stored in a plastic bag or container until you’re sure the infestation has been eliminated.