There are many scenarios where bed bugs can hide in public places, and one of these places is the laundry mat. But can you get bed bugs from a laundry mat? Yes, it’s possible, but there are precautions you can take.
Bed bugs are notorious for hiding in tiny crevices and can survive long periods without a blood meal. If you frequent a laundry mat, taking precautions is essential to avoid bringing home unwanted pests.
When we are doing routine bed bug inspections in buildings with shared laundry on the premises, every once in a while, our bed bug sniffing dogs will find a bed bug. Recently our dog, Goosey, alerted us on the bottom lint trap of a dryer. A live adult bed bug was sitting there when we opened the lint trap.
It’s because someone washed their bed bug-infested items. When they placed the infested items into the dryer, the bug could run from the heat and find somewhere cool enough to survive.
When visiting a laundry mat, it’s best to take the following precautions that we list below. Some of these include: using the high-heat dryer as much as possible, not leaving your clean clothing in shared laundry carts, and checking all surfaces others use. We go into more detail below.
At a Laundry Mat: Use the Hottest Setting Possible
1. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate, and a high-heat dryer is an effective tool for controlling bed bug infestations.
2. Bed bug eggs cannot survive the intense heat of a high-heat dryer and are instantly eradicated, helping to prevent new infestations from taking hold.
3. High-heat dryers can reach temperatures as high as 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to kill all stages of bed bugs in a single treatment.
4. The heat generated by the high-heat dryer penetrates deep into the walls and crevices where bed bugs hide, ensuring that all areas of an infestation are treated simultaneously.
5. Bed bugs cannot develop resistance to the extreme temperature of a high-heat dryer, making it an effective long-term solution for eliminating existing infestations and preventing future ones from occurring.
Prevent Your Clean Clothes From Getting Bed Bugs on It
After your clean clothes come out of the high-heat dryer, immediately bag them. Fold your clothes at home, instead of on the shared tables. Use a bed bug proof laundry hamper at home, or place them into a plastic bin for protection.
Reasons Why Bed Bugs May Be on Public Seats at the Laundry Mat
1. Bed bugs are adept at hiding in the cracks and crevices of furniture. Therefore public seating areas such as those found at the laundry mat provide ample hiding places for bed bugs.
2. Laundry mats can be busy places with people coming and going frequently. Plus, many people clean their bed bug infested laundry at a public laundry mat. Unfortunately, this makes it easy for bed bugs to hitch a ride in clothing or other personal belongings and find their way into the laundry mat.
What Can I Do to Prevent a Bed Bug From Rehoming Itself With Me if I Sit Down in a Public Laundry Mat?
1. Before sitting in a chair, inspect the chair and any surrounding area for signs of bed bugs. Look for bed bug droppings (tiny black ink-like spots), live bugs, or bed bug eggs on the chair and nearby surfaces.
2. Seal any items in a plastic bag, such as clothing, cloth laundry bags, backpacks, or purses, that may pick up a stray bed bug.
3. Keep an eye out for any early signs of bed bugs while at the laundry mat and immediately report any suspicions to staff.
4. When leaving the laundry mat, check your clothes for any potential hitchhikers and bag them immediately when you get home. Bagging your clothes will reduce the risk of introducing hitchhiking bed bugs into your home environment.
Can You Get Bed Bugs From a Drop-Off Laundry Service?
In major cities like NYC, many New Yorkers use one of the laundry pick-up/drop-off services. These services save you time, so you don’t have to spend time doing laundry. But there is a risk!
If the service unknowingly picks up someone else’s clothes with bed bugs, you are at risk. If their dirty, bug-infested laundry bag is sitting next to your clean clothing, there is a chance that one of their bugs can crawl into your belongings.
One thing is always to ask them to use the high-heat dryer on their clothing. Next, when you get your clothing back from the laundry service, you must immediately take your clean laundry out of their bag.
I have helped one too many clients who found a lone bed bug crawling on the outside of their laundry bag. Usually, they just received clean laundry from their local laundry service. To their dismay, an unfed bed bug crawls on the outside of the bag.
They often call us for a bed bug-sniffing dog to search their apartment. In many cases, we do not find any other bugs. If you are in a similar situation where you find one bed bug but no others, we can help with an inspection.
Can Bed Bugs Come From Washing Machines?
While bed bugs can come from washing machines, this is an unlikely source. Bed bugs typically spread through people and their belongings, such as clothing or bags.
Washing machines are a possible transport point because the temperature needed to kill bed bugs isn’t usually reached in a regular wash cycle. So if one person with an infestation uses a washer, the next person can get a bug on their laundry. So does washing clothes kill bed bugs? Well, it’s not the washer that kills bed bugs; it’s the dryer.
However, if infested items are put in a hot water wash with a high-heat dryer cycle and left there for at least 60 minutes, it may be enough to kill bed bug eggs and other insects. It’s important to note that any items placed in the washer with infested items can become contaminated unless you wash them separately with hot water and a high-heat dryer cycle for at least 60 minutes.
Can Bed Bugs Survive the Dryer?
No, not usually. If you use the high heat setting and don’t pack the dryer with too much stuff, you should be able to kill any potential hitchhiking bugs safely.
The dryer should reach at least 120°F for a minimum of 30 minutes to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
It’s important to note that putting too much clothing in the dryer can reduce the temperature inside and may not be hot enough to kill the bugs effectively.
How Do You Keep Bed Bugs Out of Laundry Mats?
Completely keeping bed bugs out of laundry mats is impossible since the laundry mat is many people’s first stop when they have bed bugs.
All you can do is take preventative steps to prevent them from rehoming themselves with you. Plus, keep vigilant with the monitoring at your own home.
A good steamer for bed bugs is an easy way to kill any pests (not only bed bugs) like mites, latridiidae beetles, body lice, head lice, carpet beetle larvae, flea larvae, or other unwanted bugs. We use the Dupray Neat Steamer weekly for cleaning, sanitizing, and preventing bugs.
Final Thoughts for Can You Get Bed Bugs From A Laundry Mat?
So what is the conclusion to the question: “can you get bed bugs from a laundry mat?” Yes, you can; above all, remember that you should never leave your clean laundry in a shared laundry cart. Before using them yourself, take the time to inspect all surfaces others have used. And always use the high-heat dryer whenever possible. Following these simple tips will decrease your chances of bringing home any bed bugs from your next trip to the laundry mat.