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Gross: Bed bugs might be lurking in your dirty laundry


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Photo: Stocksy/GIC

If just hearing the words “bed bugs” send shivers down your spine, you’re not alone. But even if you just splurged on that special mattress protector, wash your bedding almost too regularly, or have mastered your very own home cleanse, you can still get bed bugs. So what gives?

Recent research published in Scientific Reports suggests that bed bugs might be camping out in your dirty laundry—not your secrets, but your literal stinky clothes. (And for reference, it’s actually the body odor humans emit while sleeping that attracts the bed bugs in the first place, the team based at the University of Sheffield found.) Still, bed bugs were most attracted to clothing left lying around while traveling, spiking the likelihood of you bringing home a new bug family after your romantic vacay.

So basically, you can think of bed bugs as the most undesirable hitchhikers ever.

The experiment concluded that bed bugs were twice as likely to hang on on bags containing soiled clothes compared to bags containing clean clothes.

The experiment, which involved tote bags containing both clean and soiled clothing, concluded that bed bugs were twice as likely to hang on on bags containing soiled clothes compared to bags containing clean clothes.

“Keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag when staying in a hotel could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them.”

“Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations,” study author William Hentley, PhD, advised in a press release. “Once a room is infested with bed bugs, they can be very difficult to get rid of, which can result in people having to dispose of clothes and furniture that can be really costly,” Hentley added.

So, when you arrive home, make sure to wash and dry everything on high heat, then send delicate garments to the dry cleaner in the same, sealed bag in which you brought them home, the Environmental Protection Agency instructs.

While getting the laundry done seems impossible when you’ve got e-mails to catch up on and a spin class to get to, the last thing you want to do is deal with an infestation of quite possibly one of the creepiest creepy-crawlers around. And even if you haven’t been traveling—stay on top of your laundry (and keep the chore as healthy as possible).

Check out these 10 super-simple rules for clean living. Don’t have a lot of time? This home-cleaning hack only takes 30 minutes.