Practical Solutions for Treating Laundry Infested With Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)

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The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius (L.) (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) is known to become associated, from time to time, with clothing or linen. In such locations, it may escape insecticide treatment, and may be carried to new locations. We test the suggestion that laundering is sufficient to kill all life stages and thus help prevent reinfestation and dispersion. We establish minimum temperatures for washing and minimum temperatures and times for tumble-drying, as well as testing cold soaking, dry cleaning, and freezing as alternative strategies for delicate items. Data loggers were used to confirm temperature settings and monitor temperature changes during the treatments. Adult bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs were sealed into small, permeable cotton pouches, which were then placed into garments of clothing. Washing at 60°C was found to be effective against all life stages, as was tumble drying on a hot cycle (>40°C) for at least 30 min, dry cleaning with perchloroethylene, and freezing at −17°C for at least 2 h. Using data loggers it was also shown that 2.5 kg of loosely packed, dry laundry takes ≈8 h to reach −17°C. Soaking for 24 h in detergent-free water was found to be effective against active stages but had no effect on eggs.

Keywords: Cimex lectularius; bed bug; control; laundry

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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