Bed bugs in clothing can lead to bed bug bites and further infestation.
Bed bugs in clothing should be taken seriously as usually it is not a matter of just picking bed bugs off of the clothing to solve the problem.
Bed bugs can infest clothing by moving from an infested area or article to the clothing. For example, if jackets are hung in a closet at school or work next to infested clothing, there is a good chance of infestation of the uninfested item. In public areas, such as at restaurants, there is fast turnover of clothing as customers come and leave, so infestation is a possibility when bed bugs are hidden in clothing of others.
Since bed bugs have flat bodies and are small, they can go onto an article of clothing and find an area behind a seam to hide. If the bed bug is an adult female, the seam can soon be full of eggs which will hatch in about a week. This then can lead to massive infestation of any area where the clothing is stored.
While it is not practical to inspect each article of clothing when it comes back home, there are some steps which can be taken to reduce the chances of infestation. First, keeping clothing away from other peoples’ clothing in a public area can reduce the chances of infestation—e.g. avoid putting clothing in piles with other clothing in public areas. After a trip, inspect all clothing for signs of infestation such as evidence of insects, blood smears, or insect parts.
If clothing is infested, it is best to avoid taking the clothing to a dry cleaner unless the cleaner is informed that the clothing might be infested. If the cleaner isn’t aware of the infestation, they might put the clothing near clean clothing, spreading the infestation.
A short time, about twenty minutes, in a dryer at medium to high heat will kill all stages of insects. This can be done before laundering or dry cleaning. If clothing must be moved to a public laundry, make sure that bed bugs are not spread.
If the bed bug source can be identified, such as a school, it is a good public service to notify the source so that they can take necessary control measures.