Getting rid of a bed bug infestation takes more than just pesticides. Your exterminator will also need you to clean your home and launder potentially-infested items to help clear up the infestation; this is part of a process known as integrated pest management. If you're looking for direction on laundering your bed bug infested items, check it out here.
Transport items in bags
Bed bug infestations usually start in one room and then move to other areas of the home where people sleep. Your bedroom may be the only infested room in your home, so it's important to transport items to your washing machine carefully. If you're not careful, you could spread bed bugs to the rest of your home and make the infestation worse.
Collect all of the bedding, clothes, curtains and other washable items in the infested room in plastic bags. Tie knots in the bags, and for extra protection, double bag the items. Carry these bags to your laundry room, and empty the bags directly into the washer to ensure that bed bugs don't escape into the laundry room. Immediately dispose of the bags in another tightly-sealed garbage bag.
Wash items in hot water
Using your washer's cold water cycle helps you reduce your energy bills, but it's a bad idea to use this cycle when you're trying to get rid of bed bugs. While cold water can get your clothes just as clean as hot water, it won't de-infest your items.
Adult bed bugs will drown in the washing machine, but their eggs can survive the cold water cycle. When the water is 100°F, it only kills 25% of bed bug eggs, and the eggs that survive will hatch and re-infest your house. The hot water cycle—which uses 140°F water—will kill 100% of the eggs, as well as any adult bed bugs that are present.
Dry clean delicate items
Not all clothing can be washed in the hot water cycle. Delicate blouses, wool sweaters and suiting will be ruined if they're washed in this way, but that doesn't mean that you need to throw them out and replace your work wardrobe once the infestation is gone.
Dry cleaning makes use of perchloroethylene, a toxic chemical, to get your clothes clean. In high levels, this chemical can kill humans, but in the levels used in dry cleaning, it will kill your bed bugs instead. It's important to take your clothes to the dry cleaner in a bed-bug proof laundry bag to ensure that the infestation doesn't spread; make sure to let the dry cleaner know that the items may be infested.
Laundering potentially infested fabrics is an important part of getting rid of bed bugs, but if it's not done right, it can spread the infestation.