Only dry cleaning processes that use PERC (Perchloroethylene) to dry clean your clothes can kill bed bugs. Organic dry cleaning processes that use silicone, hydrocarbon, or carbon dioxide are not proven to kill bed bugs. There are also dry cleaners that specialize in helping to destroy bed bug infestations in clothes. If possible, contact one of these specialty businesses for dry cleaning service. No matter what dry cleaner you visit, notify them that your clothes may have bed bugs.
Can Bed Bugs Survive Dry Cleaning?
Whether or not bed bugs survive dry cleaning depends on the process used for dry cleaning. PERC (also known as PCE, Perchloroethylene, or Tetrachloroethylene) is a powerful dry cleaning solvent that can kill bed bugs. However, other dry cleaning methods are not proven to kill bed bugs. Dry cleaners that advertise “organic” dry cleaning do not use PERC, so they will not be able to kill bed bugs.
- Bed bugs can survive some dry cleaning methods but are killed by others.
- A dry cleaner that uses PERC to wash your clothes can kill bed bugs.
- Organic dry cleaners do not use processes that are capable of killing bed bugs.
Although PERC is still commonly used by dry cleaners, there are some dry cleaners that use other methods. Silicone, hydrocarbon, and carbon dioxide dry cleaning are not shown to kill bed bugs. Carbon dioxide dry cleaning may seem like a good idea since carbon dioxide gas is commonly used to kill bed bugs, however this isn’t a good dry cleaning option. A liquid form of carbon dioxide is used for dry cleaning, so bed bugs may be able to survive the process. If you want the best chance of killing bed bugs in your dry-clean-only clothes, take them to a business that uses PERC for dry cleaning.
4 Steps to Kill Bed Bugs in Dry-Clean-Only Clothes
If you have a bed bug infestation in your home, there’s a high probability that the bugs have gotten into your clothes. This can be very daunting if you have dry-clean-only garments that can’t be cleaned in a washing machine. Here’s how to make sure the bugs in your delicate fabrics are killed fast:
Dry Clothes if Possible
Heat treatments are one of the best ways to kill bed bugs, so a dryer is an excellent tool for making your clothes safe to wear. Begin by checking your dry-clean-only clothing to see which garments are dryer safe. Load these garments into the dryer—do not wash them beforehand—and dry them on high heat for 30–45 minutes.
- The heat from your dryer is hot enough to kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
- Place any dryer-safe, dry-clean-only clothes in your dryer.
- Run the dryer on the highest heat setting the clothes can withstand for 30–45 minutes.
- Do not dry clothes that are labeled as not dryer-safe.
- Continue with the following steps on this list to make sure all the bed bugs are dead.
Heat over 113℉ (45℃) begins to kill bed bugs, while temperatures over 140℉ (60℃) are certain to destroy bed bugs and their eggs. So, use the highest possible heat setting that is safe for your clothes. Since the clothes won’t be wet from the wash when you load them into your dryer, they’ll heat up fast. This will kill most—or all—of the bugs before you go to the dry cleaner.
Contact a Dry Cleaner that Specializes in Bed Bugs
Some laundry services specialize in eradicating bed bugs. Search your local area for a laundry service that helps eliminate bed bug infestation. Most major American cities offer such services. They can wash your clothes to eliminate bed bugs and may be able to offer bed bug control services for dry-clean-only clothing.
- Search your area for a laundry service that specializes in bed bug infestation.
- A specialized bed bug laundry service will use products and processes designed specifically to kill bed bugs.
- If there is no specialized service in your area, continue to the next steps.
If your region has a bed bug laundry service, it’s highly recommended to use it. These professionals can work with your exterminator to prevent a bed bug re-infection in your home. However, you can kill bed bugs with the help of most dry cleaners. Just follow the next steps to do so.
Inform Your Dry Cleaner about Your Bed Bug Infestation
It is essential that you contact your dry cleaner before you bring in clothing that may be infested with bed bugs. Inform them that you are currently working to eradicate a bed bug infestation. This will allow your dry cleaner to sort and handle your clothes specially, to prevent the bed bugs from spreading. It will also allow them to offer you services that will help kill off the bugs.
- Contact your dry cleaner before bringing your clothes in—inform them that your clothes may have bed bugs.
- Knowledge of your bed bug infestation will allow the dry cleaner to handle and treat your clothes to kill the bugs.
It may be embarrassing to tell your dry cleaner about bed bugs in your clothes, but it is essential. Remember, it is not your fault that your clothes may have bed bugs, and it does not mean you are unhygienic. Bed bugs are a pest that can invade all types of homes. Informing your dry cleaner of the situation will get you one step closer to killing bed bugs permanently.
Request PERC Laundering
Ask your dry cleaner to wash your clothes using PERC (pronounced like “perk”). This compound, known as Perchloroethylene, is strong enough to kill bed bugs. Other dry cleaning processes aren’t deadly to the bugs. Make sure the dry cleaner offers PERC cleaning service and will use it on your clothes. This is the best way to kill bed bugs in dry-clean-only clothing.
- Speak to your dry cleaner and request that your clothes are cleaned with PERC.
- PERC (Perchloroethylene) is the best dry cleaning process for killing bed bugs.
- Other dry cleaning processes are not guaranteed to kill bed bugs.
In the United States, the majority of dry cleaners use PERC, so it’s often easy to get your clothes cleaned this way. Do not take your clothes to a dry cleaner that will use anything other than PERC to clean your clothes. No other dry cleaning process is as powerful as PERC for killing bed bugs.
Can You Get Bed Bugs From Dry Cleaners?
There is a very low chance that your clothes will pick up bed bugs from a dry cleaner. Since most dry cleaners use PERC to wash the clothes, few bed bugs are likely to survive a trip to the dry cleaner. However, there is a small chance your clothes could become infected with bed bugs at the dry cleaner. It’s more likely bed bugs will enter your home by migrating from a nearby apartment or being carried in on used furniture.
- There is a very low chance that bed bugs will infest your clothes at the dry cleaner.
- You’re more likely to pick up bed bugs from used furniture or from sitting on an upholstered surface infested with bed bugs.
- Use a well-reviewed dry cleaner to further reduce your risk of bed bugs.
A reputable dry cleaner will keep clean clothes separate from dirty clothes, which reduces the chance of bed bug infection. Check online reviews for dry cleaners in your area. Use a dry cleaner with a good reputation to further decrease your risk of bed bug infestation.
Can You Take Your Clothes to a Dry Cleaner if You Have Bed Bugs?
To make sure you kill bed bugs in dry-clean-only clothing, follow these steps:
- Place any dryer-safe garments into a dryer on high heat for 30–45 minutes. The high heat will kill bed bugs and their eggs.
- Search for a dry cleaner in your area that specializes in bed bug removal. Contact them for service if possible.
- If there are no specialty bed bug dry cleaners nearby, notify your dry cleaner of your bed bug infestation.
- Request that your dry cleaner use Perchloroethylene (PERC) to clean your clothes. This solvent is strong enough to kill bed bugs.
By following this process you can eliminate bed bugs from all your clothes that require dry cleaning. Within days, you’ll be able to wear your clean clothes again without fear of bed bugs.