Is it possible to get bed bugs from a public laundromat?
September 25, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to get bed bugs from a public laundromat?

I've been using our local cleaners who charge by the pound because I'm paranoid about using a public laundromat in NYC due to bed bug paranoia. Is it possible to get bed bugs from public washers and dryers?
posted by TreborDuncan to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
High dryer heat kills bedbugs. If you were to pick something up in the washer, you'd kill it in the dryer (as long as you're using the high heat). I understand bed bug paranoia, believe me, but the truth is that there are a lot of other ways it's more likely you'd pick up the little beauties.
posted by OmieWise at 11:29 AM on September 25, 2011

If your cleaners is anything like mine, they do the wash in the exact same machines as the people who come in, so there's really no difference.
posted by griphus at 11:31 AM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Absolutely possible, yes. Ditto for the cleaners.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:32 AM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

(And really, anywhere. Theatres, restaurants, offices, etc.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:33 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you can get bedbugs anywhere. I haven't heard any particular paranoia about the laundromat but I don't live in NYC.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:40 AM on September 25, 2011

You can definitely get them at a laundromat. You can also get them by sitting in a movie theatre chair, checking your coat at the coat check in a club, or from many many other things.
posted by Flood at 12:13 PM on September 25, 2011

thanks for the replies. i know there are many ways you can get them, i just wasn't sure if it was more likely at the laundromat than other places.
posted by TreborDuncan at 12:15 PM on September 25, 2011

The laundromat may be your best option - unless NYC laundromats operate really differently from midwestern ones. So you wash your stuff, right? And then you put it in a dryer of your choosing and can keep drying as long as you need to/can pay for it? Dry all your stuff until it's completely dry. Laundromat dryers almost certainly reach bedbug-killing temperatures pretty easily, because they're large and industrial-strength. Once your stuff is dry, bag it in sealable bags - contractor bags or those ultra-giant ziplocs you can order online. Honestly, you probably have WAY more control over the situation than you would by sending stuff to the cleaners.

Remember that your coat/bag can pick up bedbugs at the laundromat like anywhere else - whatever bedbug precautions you take normally, take them at the laundromat too.
posted by Frowner at 12:43 PM on September 25, 2011

You could pick up bedbugs at the movie theatre, or sitting in a comfy chair at your local used bookstore or coffee shop.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:37 PM on September 25, 2011

My apartment had bed bugs when I lived in NYC. One of the steps in treating them is to take all of your clothes, quarantine them in trash bags, take them to the laundromat (assuming your apartment or building don't have a dryer you can use), and then cook your clothes in the dryer for a while. (Apartment treatments take weeks, so you then seal them up again in new bags and keep them quarantined while they're in your dwelling, away from walls and furniture.)
Treatment Procedures. Infested and infestation-prone bedding and garments will need to be bagged and laundered (120°F minimum) since these items cannot be treated with insecticides. Another effective and efficient option is to place clothing, toys, shoes, backpacks, etc., in a clothes dryer set at medium to high heat for 10 to 20 minutes. This will kill all bed bug life stages and can be done alone or in conjunction with laundering.
Something to think about here is that if someone else is doing your laundry for you, bed bugs are a threat. Your clothes may be placed next to something that is infested at some point after they're run through the dryer but before you get them back. In that perspective, you're probably safer taking them to a laundromat and controlling the whole show.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:51 PM on September 25, 2011

In case it isn't clear what my answer was:

Bed bugs are a persistent threat in NYC. Dryers kill beg bugs. So while nowhere with clothes is perfectly safe, you shouldn't allow yourself to be so paranoid that you won't use a laundromat. Make sure to use the dryers long enough, keep track of where everyone else's stuff is, and don't put your post-dryer clothes down on wooden seats.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:54 PM on September 25, 2011

s/wooden seats/where people sit/
posted by Mikey-San at 7:56 PM on September 25, 2011

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