Why Your Dirty Laundry Could be Attracting Bed Bugs

October  3, 2017

Bed bugs, the much maligned mattress pest, are full of mystery. They’re hard to detect and even harder to eradicate. Thankfully, I don't have any experience with them. But a new study sheds some light on the much-maligned mattress invaders that might help you keep them at bay.

Bed bugs, according to a study published in Scientific Reports, are attracted to your dirty laundry. In fact, besides a living human host, worn clothing is a bed bug’s preferred place to roost. Turns out they're attracted to the potent human smell on soiled fabric.

This is both good and bad news. On the downside, we've learned bedbugs have twice as many preferred places to call home. But knowledge is power. We can better shield ourselves from impending attack. Since we now know bedbugs tend to hitchhike in bags of dirty, worn clothes, keep those smelly clothes contained in a bag or hamper. Or, better yet, clean.

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Have you ever had an unfortunate run in with bedbugs? Tell us how you handled it in the comments.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Michael H. May 24, 2019
bed bug control can be done right with expert advise, or a professional service to handle the job. for advise before doing any type of pest control is where you can the best information.
BerryBaby October 5, 2017
I don't wait for the hamper to get full. I do a laundry regularly and keep the hamper empty.
Shalini October 3, 2017
Eeek! Horrifying! I guess I'd better get to all that laundry...
Nancy S. October 3, 2017
I'm certain I brought home an adult bedbug from a thrift store purchase. Now I leave in a really hot or freezing trunk of my car, use bedbug-specific sprays, or launder promptly. Be careful what you bring in!