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Study Shows Dirty Laundry Attracts Bed Bugs

Leaving dirty clothing all over your room, whether at home or a hotel, could be attracting bed bugs. A recent study by entomologists at the University of Sheffield, published in Scientific Reports, tried to determine why bed bugs infest your mattress and where they could be hiding.

Details of the Study

The researchers hypothesized that bed bugs aren’t specifically attracted to humans. Rather, like other blood-sucking pests, they’re after the smell and degree of carbon dioxide exhaled. As background for this study, such creatures will gravitate toward dry ice – or frozen carbon dioxide – left out in the open for a couple of hours. To these pests, the ice signals they’ll be able to get fresh blood from a living thing.

To follow up on this initial hypothesis, the researchers wanted to determine if dirty laundry – which also smells like humans – would attract bed bugs. For data, volunteers wore white cotton T-shirts and socks for three hours in the afternoon, then placed the items into a tote bag. At the same time, bed bugs in a container placed in a controlled room were given fresh human blood. Then, four tote bags – two with dirty laundry – were spaced evenly throughout the room.

Results of the Experiment

At this point, the researchers allowed the bed bugs four days to crawl around the space. During some tests, the room also included a block of dry ice to simulate a human. Throughout these observations, researchers found that bed bugs were twice as likely to go after the dirty laundry. Not having dry ice in the space appeared to intensify this behavior.

Through these results, the researchers concluded that you should consider how and where you keep your dirty clothing, especially when traveling. Never leave it out in the open and have a solution for storing it away. Because bed bugs easily hitch onto items, make sure dirty clothes are kept in a separate compartment from your clean ones. When you return home, wash everything right away.

After your home has been infested, bed bug extermination almost always requires a professional. If you’re currently dealing with these pests, call us to make an appointment today.