Bed Bugs are attracted to dirty laundry

Keeping dirty laundry in the bedroom allows bed bugs to thrive because they are attracted to soiled clothing. A study by the University of Sheffield has shown that the insects are drawn to dirty laundry, which could be their method of “hitchhiking” between countries.

The parasites are a headache for hotel owners because infestations are difficult to spot until the bugs start biting. Once a room is infested with bed bugs, they can be very difficult to get rid of and can result in people having to dispose of clothes and furniture, which can be really costly.

The study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them or to another hotel. In the study experiments were carried out in two identical, temperature-controlled rooms, in which four tote bags were placed in the presence of bed bugs. In the absence of a human host, bed bugs were twice as likely to aggregate on bags containing dirty laundry compared with those with the clean clothes. The findings suggest that the bugs are drawn to residual body odour in dirty laundry, so worn clothes left in an open suitcase, or on the floor of an infested room, may attract them. It is the first time human odour has been considered as a potential mechanism facilitating long-distance dispersal in bed bugs. Before feeding, bed bugs are a flattened oval shape, light brown and around 5mm long, but after a blood meal, they swell up to become rounder and darker. They can survive for six months without feeding and, although they are not dangerous, they can cause discomfort and stress to those who are bitten by them.