Does Dry Cleaning Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny, apple seed-sized insects that survive by feeding on animal or human blood. Because they like human blood, your home is an attractive destination for them. One of the places where they nest is in your clothes. 

If you’re in the middle of an infestation, it may be tempting to just burn the house down, with everything in it! But before you do that, maybe it’s better to clean everything first?

Does dry cleaning kill bed bugs?

Yes, dry cleaning kills bed bugs, as does washing and drying on hot in a home washing machine. Here are the basics:

  • Dry cleaning kills bed bugs
  • The bugs can be killed by the chemicals or the high temperatures
  • Sometimes the eggs survive the dry cleaning process

Noticing bed bugs can be challenging! These tiny vampires can live in your clothes while still getting the chance to feed on your blood once in a while. If you find them, get rid of them before the infestation becomes too much to handle.

Read on for more on the effect of dry cleaning on bed bugs. 

Does Dry Cleaning Kill Bed Bugs?

Dry cleaning uses special chemicals instead of water combined with laundry detergent to remove stains from the clothes without affecting the stretch and shape of the clothes. This is why some delicate clothes are labeled “dry clean only.” 

Dry cleaning uses special chemicals instead of water combined with laundry detergent.

So what kills bed bugs during the cleaning procedure? Is it the dryer or the chemical used? The answer is both.

A combination of chemical cleaners and heat can effectively kill bed bugs. 

Regarding the dryer’s part in killing bed bugs, the higher the temperature, the better the chances are of killing bed bugs. So, if you’re using a home dryer, ensure that the temperature is at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, and if you suspect there are eggs, 120 degrees Fahrenheit will suffice. 

It is essential to note that not all dryers can reach the mentioned temperatures, so you can use a small thermometer to check the machine’s temperature, or check the manual. 

The chemical used in the dry cleaning process can also eliminate bed bugs. However, there are many solvents that laundromats use. The most common is Perchloroethylene (PCE), that’s excellent for oil-based dirt. The good thing with PCE is that it is non-toxic to humans but lethal to bed bugs. 

PCE is not suitable for the durability of your clothes. The chemical can cause your clothes to lose their original structure and color. Due to this reason, dry cleaning your clothing frequently is not a good idea.

Can Dry Cleaning Repel Bed Bugs?

Although dry cleaning kills bed bugs, it doesn’t prevent them from infesting your clothes again once more eggs have hatched. This is because the chemical used in your laundromat for dry cleaning has no lingering effects on your clothes, so they won’t ward off these bloodthirsty insects in the future. 

In addition, dry cleaning your clothes frequently isn’t ideal as the chemical reduces their lifespan.

So, what else can you do to remove bugs from clothes? 

How To Wash Clothes That Have Bed Bugs

Before you begin washing clothes that you suspect of having bed bugs, there are certain things you will need. They include rubbing alcohol, trash bags, laundry detergent, a washing machine, and a dryer. With these tools, you will effectively kill bed bugs without reducing the quality of your clothes. 

First, you should sort out your clothes according to their colors, colorfast and non-color fast. If your clothes are non-color fast, then skip this step. For colorfast clothes, apply rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol does not eliminate the bed bugs’ eggs, but kills the live ones. 

Second, sort the clothes according to their washing instructions on the label. This will preserve the color and quality of your clothes. You will use the trash bags to store your clothes before washing them in the machine. Keeping them in a trash bag prevents bed bugs from crawling into another room

Next, empty the clothes from the trash bags into the washing machine. Each emptied trash bag should be put in a clean trash bag and disposed of outside, as well. Next, you set the hottest temperature that your clothes can handle with regular detergent. 

Finally, dry the washed clothes at the hottest temperature that cannot spoil them. Dry the clothes for at least 30 minutes. 

Safeguards Against Bed Bugs to Take at The Dry Cleaners

Now that you have eliminated the tiny nuisance bugs from your clothes, how can you ensure they are permanently gone? 

First, you should be watchful of the place you go to dry clean your clothes. The truth is, you might have brought bed bugs into your home from the local laundromat! It can happen in your Uber, in your movie theater, in your carpet cleaner… and from your dry cleaner.

So, if you take your clothes to the laundromat, inspect the washing machines and folding areas for these little crawling insects. When it comes to these repulsive insects, you can never be too careful!

This article has continually stated how heat is the biggest enemy of bed bugs but freezing your clothes is effective too. This tip is essential for clothes that cannot be dry cleaned at high temperatures—for example, suede and silk, even your shoes. 

Freezing your clothes is effective too.

First, put the clothes in a plastic bag and place them inside your freezer. Then, adjust the temperature to -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the clothes there for two days, and no bed bugs can survive such conditions. 

Moreover, it would help if you did not place your clothes on the laundromat surfaces. Instead, it would be best if you came with your basket or cart. In addition, do not fold your clothes at the laundromat. 

This is because the surface where you place your clothes for folding might have bed bugs. Instead, inspect your basket or cart and put your clean clothes there.

Then, do the folding at home. 

If you do not have bed bugs, ensure you carry your dirty clothes in a cloth bag and wash it every time you do laundry. On the other hand, if you suspect bed bug infestation in your clothes, carry your clothes in a sealed plastic bag.

Sealing the plastic bag prevents the bed bugs from spreading to other places. But note that bed bugs can survive in a sealed environment for up to a year!


Although dry cleaning can eliminate bed bugs, it is not the silver bullet for ensuring bed bugs do not infest your clothes. If bed bugs are in your home, you should eliminate them from your home and then clothes. 

Eliminating them from your home will ensure that when you dry clean your clothes, there will be no other instance of your clothes having bed bugs.

So, don’t let bed bugs ruin your fashion!