Study: Bed bugs find your dirty laundry deliciously inviting

SHEFFIELD, England — If you want to avoid bed bugs, don’t leave your dirty laundry in conspicuous places, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield in England conducted an experiment to see what wooed the parasites, using two temperature-controlled rooms with identical starting conditions. Each room contained four bags of clothing, half of which were clean and the other half soiled. Bed bugs were also let loose in both spaces.

Bed bugs
What’s the best way to keep bed bugs away? Clean clothes. A new study finds the creepy crawlers are attracted to dirty laundry. (Photo credit:

Meanwhile, each trial saw carbon dioxide released in one of the rooms, intended to replicate the effects of human breathing.

Overall, the bed bugs were found to have taken refuge with either humans or clothes that contained their scent. The latter, less-suspected outcome was proven by the fact that the insects were twice as likely to form around the dirty clothes than the clean ones in the absence of a human host.

It is believed that merely leaving clothes in a suitcase or on the floor in an infested area could lead to an influx in bed bugs, which have recently seen a dramatic resurgence in number.

“Bed bugs are a huge problem for hotel and homeowners, particularly in some of the world’s biggest and busiest cities,” says Dr. William Hentley, the study’s lead researcher, in a university news 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 suggests that travelers and residents keep their worn items in a sealed bag, so they can avoid being bitten, which may later lead to a hard-to-stop infestation.

Although bed bugs are more pesky than virulent, no one likes suffering their itchy sores.

The full study was published last month in the journal Scientific Reports.


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