Bed bugs are perhaps one of the biggest headaches to have to deal with. It's easy for these pesky little bugs to hide in the nooks and crannies of furniture, clothing, and more, and you only need a single pregnant female to cause an infestation of more than 5,000 bed bugs within a 6 month period. There are plenty of places and ways where you can expose yourself and your belongings to bed bugs. In particular, one of the easiest places for bed bugs to thrive in are shared laundry facilities. The bed bugs can hide in the laundry equipment, any clothing that is laying around, and many other places before hopping onto your belongings. To limit your risk of having to deal with a bed bug infestation when using shared laundry facilities, consider implementing the following 3 tips.
Avoid Using Shared Laundry Equipment
You'd be surprised at just how quickly bed bugs can scurry and hide in nooks and crannies of laundry equipment and machines, as well as in any clothing that might be lying around. There are an abundance of places that will house bed bugs in shared laundry facilities. To avoid allowing bed bugs to jump from someone else's laundry to your laundry, avoid using any shared equipment that might be lying around. This includes things like metal carts and trays, and especially cloth laundry carts. Use your own hampers instead.
Once your clothing has been washed, you want to move it immediately so that other people don't get a chance of handling your laundry. Don't mix your laundry with others'. If possible, toss all of your laundry into a sealable laundry bag or hamper immediately after it has been dried by the dryer.
Run the Laundry Machines Through an Empty Cycle with Hot Water First
Most laundry machines give you the option of running each cycle using cold water or hot water. Depending on the type of fabric that you are washing, cold water may be preferred over hot water. Unfortunately, it's easy for bed bugs to survive cycles that have been run with cold water. If the person before you had bed bugs, the bed bugs could easily find a place to hide in the nooks and crannies of the washing machine or the dryer if they weren't exposed to and killed by hot water during the cycle. Similarly, a cold tumble in the dryer will not kill of any bed bugs either.
To limit your exposure, run the laundry machines that you will be using through an empty cycle with hot water first. You can also run the dryers through an empty cycle as well to allow the heat to basically kill off any bed bugs that might have survived or might have jumped into the dryer after it has been used. In general, a 10 minute hot tumble dry will effectively kill off 75% of all nymphal bed bugs and 85% of all adults.
Clean the Dryer's Lint Trap First and Dispose of the Lint Separately
An easy place for bed bugs to hide is in the lint trap of the dryer. Before you toss your clothes in the dryer, clean the dryer's lint trap first. You'd be surprised at just how much gunk might have accumulated there. Getting rid of the lint will also make the dryer a lot more efficient at drying your clothes, and you'll be less likely to end up with laundry that is still damp or wet.
Make sure that you dispose of the lint separately. You don't want to expose your laundry to the lint at all, so it's a good idea to keep your clothing in the washing machine while you clean the lint trap. To prevent the bed bugs from running away and scurrying throughout the shared laundry facility, clean the lint dryer over a plastic bag, and tie the bag shut when you toss it in the garbage later on.
It's unfortunate, but shared laundry facilities are a great place for bed bugs to hide and find different hosts. If someone who is dealing with a bed bug infestation brings their laundry to the facility, the bed bugs can easily jump from one host to another. All you need is one pregnant female to get onto your laundry, and you'll find yourself facing a full-blown infestation. Because of this, there's no harm in taking preventative measures just to be safe. If you do find yourself with a bed bug problem after using shared laundry facilities, contact a professional bed bug control service for assistance.