Can Bed Bugs Live In Clothes? - City Pests

Can Bed Bugs Live In Clothes?

can bed bugs live in clothes
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Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite – Anon

The idea that something could be feasting on any of us while we sleep is terrifying.

It isn’t a coincidence that most of the folklore, old wives’ tales, legends, and urban mythology about the unseen horrors that lurk unbidden in unseen corners always seem to take place during the hours of darkness.

Werewolves appear at the first sign of a full moon, vampires spontaneously combust if they’re not tucked up in their coffins by dawn’s early light, trolls live in caves far from the sun, and ghouls, ghasts, specters, spooks and ghosts only make their presence felt during the midnight hour.

They’re collectively known as the things that go bump in the night for a reason. The night is when we’re at our weakest and when we’re easy prey.

The only time that we’re unable to defend ourselves is when we’re sleeping, so naturally, that’s when the things that haunt our nightmares choose to strike. 

We’re petrified of what might happen while we’re sleeping and appalled by the idea that an unwanted and uninvited guest could sneak while we’re dead to the word, upend the natural order, turn the tables on us and turn the hunters into the hunted. But what if the idea of something sucking your blood while you’re sleeping wasn’t just a fanciful plot twist that Bram Stoker used to sell a million books?

What if the monsters didn’t just live in your cupboard and under your bed? What if they actually shared your bed with you, waited until you fell asleep, and then slowly, but surely started to dine on you while you were dreaming? What if we told you that creatures that regard you as nothing more than their next meal, didn’t just live in your bed, but could also live in your clothes?

It’s frightening, isn’t it? And what’s more, it’s absolutely true. The creature we’re talking about? This mysterious bloodsucking fiend?  It’s the Cimex lectularius, or as it’s more commonly known the bed bug.

What Is the Cimex Lectularius? What Is A Bed Bug? 

Bed bugs are insects that belong to the cimex (a classification that typically feeds on the blood of mammals) family.

While their bites can, and do, cause skin irritation and rashes, they don’t usually have any long-term or lasting health implications, That said, their presence has been known to trigger allergies and can have a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people who come into contact with them. 

They spend the majority of their time in the dark hard to reach places such as the undersides and seams of mattresses, and small cracks and holes in walls. Adults tend to vary in size from one to seven millimeters and can survive for up to a year without nourishment.

Notoriously difficult to locate and eliminate, the primary method for dealing with bed bugs revolves around the treatment of symptoms rather than tackling the actual infestation. 

Is It True? Can Bed Bugs Live In Clothes As Well As Beds?

Short answer? Yes. Longer answer? Absolutely. While they’re small, slow-moving insects that prefer to feed on sedentary hosts, which is why they predominantly feed at night and upon sleeping victims, bed bugs can crawl from a mattress on to, and into, clothes and make their homes in your favorite shirts, pants, and suits.

While the majority of evidence would tend to suggest that it is mainly pregnant females who tend to migrate to find new hosts, adult males, even though examples are far rarer, have also been known to replicate a similar pattern of behavior and take refuge among, and in, clothing.

Entomologists and scientists have also theorized that the bed bugs proclivity for attaching itself to clothing is one of the major factors that help the insect to spread from one household, and place, to another. 

If Bed Bugs Are In My Clothes, Will They Bite Me?  

Habitually, bed bugs prefer to prey on still and non-moving targets, which means that they won’t usually bite while you’re going about your daily routine.

However, when you’re relaxed, after getting home from a hard day at work and settle down with a warm drink for the evening, bed bugs absolutely can, and will, bite.

You might not be in bed, but the bug doesn’t know that and if given the chance, will bite, and feed on your blood.

Can Bed Bugs Carry And Communicate Diseases?

In a small minority of victims, bed bugs have been known to cause anaphylactic shock and trigger allergic reactions such as asthma. Multiple bites can also lead to systemic poisoning and bacterial skin infection, mainly due to the victim repeatedly scratching the bites.

While there is conclusive scientific evidence that bed bugs are capable of carrying a number of different pathogens, viruses, and diseases there is no direct evidentiary proof that they can either spread or communicate them between hosts. 

How Do I Know If I Have Bed Bugs? And How Do I Know If They’re In My Clothes?

Unfortunately, the only way you’ll know is when you start to display the symptoms associated with a bed bug infestation.

The most prominent symptom is the appearance of a number of small, incredibly itchy wheals and/or blisters that usually display in the form of a red, angry rash.

Even though the rash, and bites, can be incredibly irritating, as we’ve already said, there are usually no long term health implications associated with bed bug bites. 

washing clothes on high heat for bed bugs

How Can I Get Rid Of Bed Bugs? Do I Need To Throw My Clothes Away? 

First things first, you don’t need to throw your clothes away and a bed bug infestation doesn’t mean that you need to start shopping for either a new Winter or Summer wardrobe.

Conventional wisdom suggests that washing your clothes in a high-temperature cycle in your washing machine could get rid of bed bugs, but scientific evidence has proven that this isn’t the case.

Bed bugs can survive high temperatures and multiple washes, and while it might prove effective, as the bugs are nesting in, and around, your bed, it’s a little like treating the symptom and not the disease. You might get rid of them by washing your clothes, but if they’re already in your home, there’s nothing to stop them from making their home in your clothes again.

All in one bed bug kit

All In-one Bed Bug Kit

The only sure and certain, and completely effective way of dealing with bed bugs is by either calling pest control and having them deal with the problem or finding a more cost-effective way to do it yourself.

And having dealt with a couple of infestations, the best and most effective way that we’ve found of dealing with bed bugs is by treating any, and all, areas of possible infestation with this all-in-one Bed Bug Kit from Do My Own.

We used it, and after following the easy to follow instructions to the letter, we didn’t have any more problems. Our advice? Don’t throw your clothes away and don’t suffer unnecessarily.

Get the kit and get rid of the bugs. Then there’ll be no more monsters under, or in, your bed and you’ll be able to sleep soundly and securely again.

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Mike Henderson
Mike Henderson

Mike (AKA 'Pest Control Mike') is a pest control operator from New York with over 15 years experience dealing with a wide range of pests. He shares his knowledge on this blog and provides useful information to help you combat pests on your own.

For severe infestations and professional advice you can also request a free pest control quote here.

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