Mosquitoes flying around

Can Bed Bugs Live in Your Clothes?

March 24, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

It’s common knowledge that bed bugs invade bedding, mattresses, and upholstered furniture, but beg bugs live in clothing and closets as well. Bed bugs are expert hitchhikers that sneakily catch a ride on your coat, suitcase, clothing, or outerwear. You can potentially pick up bed bugs just by spending time in an area that is infested and then accidentally bringing them home. If you’ve found a bed bug on your clothes, read this quick guide to learn how to address the problem.

Signs of a bed bug infestation 

The most common indicator of a bed bug infestation is waking up with small, red, itchy bites you didn’t have when you went to sleep. Other signs of bed bugs include:

  • Stains: Small blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases. For example, if you wake up with bites on your ankles, check for stains at the foot of the bed.
  • Spots: Dark, rusty spots can indicate bed bug excrement. Look for these spots on sheets, mattresses, bedding, clothing, and walls. Incidentally, these spots are also common signs of bed bugs in your carpet.
  • Debris: Bed bugs leave behind fecal matter, egg shells, and shed skin. Check areas where bed bugs hide, including carpeting, closets, wardrobes, bedding, fabric headboards, and the seams of mattresses for any of these signs.
  • Odor: Bed bugs have scent glands that give off an offensive, musty odor that isn’t hard to miss.

bed bug infestation


Can bed bugs live in wardrobes? 

Bed bugs love closets and wardrobes because they’re dark. Wardrobes also likely have human scents that attract bed bugs. If your wardrobe is near your bed, the likelihood of bed bugs increases as they tend to set up shop near their food source. Bed bugs can stay alive in closets even if they aren’t near a food source since they can go 20 to 400 days without a meal. 

Wardrobes containing outerwear, like clothes, jackets, scarves, and hats, are also susceptible to beg bugs. They often travel to new locations jumping onto your clothing while you visit an infested area. You’ll know there are bed bugs in your closet if you see reddish-brown spots or start smelling a stale, foul odor.

How long do bed bugs live on clothes? 

They are survival experts, so bed bugs can stick to clothes for several months. Even without food, they can survive for long periods, waiting to find a new source. While they’re much more likely to look for a place near a food source, they’re fully capable of waiting extended periods for their next opportunity.

Does washing clothes kill bed bugs? 

Washing your items is a good way to get rid of bed bugs on your clothes. Bed bugs are not likely to survive a washing cycle, especially if it uses hot water. If you’ve found bed bugs on your clothing, a high-temperature wash-and-dry cycle is an efficient way to address the pests on your clothes. However, there’s no guarantee this will solve an infestation fully. If you’ve found multiple bed bugs on clothing, they’ve likely made their way into your bedding and, possibly, your mattress.

Laundry in washing machine and basket indoors

Do I have to throw all my clothes away if I have bed bugs? 

Fortunately, no! As mentioned above, washing and drying your clothes at a high temperature will kill bed bugs. It’s a good idea to complete an entire wash-and-dry cycle twice to ensure your clothing is bed bug-free. Wash every piece of clothing that was in an infested area, even if you don’t see the bugs on them. It’s also important to remember that if you take your clean clothes back into a potentially infested area, they’re likely to end up with bed bugs again. Time the treatment for your clothing and living space at the same time if possible.

How do I get rid of bed bugs in my closet? 

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult household pests to address. Vacuum every corner of your closet, paying close attention to the seams of carpeting and the edges where the flooring meets the wall. Remove all of your clothing and clean it thoroughly. Then contact a pest control company to make sure bed bugs are professionally dealt with. Professional services can manage these pests for you and prevent them from returning.

Hawx Pest Control Services 

With cutting-edge, proven methods, qualified technicians, and the top products and services available, Hawx is the leader in residential pest control services. We will address infestations thoroughly and create a custom treatment plan to suit your needs. Restore the peace and comfort of your home, and call us today for a free estimate to get your bed bug problem under control.

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