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Study: Leaving out your dirty laundry attracts bed bugs

Lower fuel prices and super low-cost airline carriers like Spirit Airlines have made travel more affordable, but one major drawback has been a corresponding surge in bed bug infestations worldwide.

Bed bugs, known by their scientific name Cimicidae, are parasites that are attracted to humans. Bed bugs are easily caught but incredibly difficult to eradicate, causing major trouble for many hotel owners.

The EPA has provided useful tips for avoiding bedbugs, such as keeping your suitcase off the floor of a hotel room while traveling and using plastic bins instead of hotel furniture. But new research suggests that keeping your dirty laundry sealed away so odors can’t escape can also keep the bed bugs at bay.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Sheffield examined bed bugs in controlled experiments with dirty and clean laundry to see if bed bugs, attracted to the odors in dirty laundry, made their way into suitcases.

For the experiments, the researchers placed four bags of laundry (two dirty, two clean) in two identical rooms with controlled air pressure.

The researchers increased the levels of carbon dioxide in one of the rooms to simulate human breathing.

In the room with open dirty laundry and low levels of carbon dioxide, the bed bugs were twice as likely to gravitate toward the laundry.

In the rooms with high levels of carbon dioxide, the bed bugs tried to find human hosts.

The results of the study show that leaving out dirty laundry, on the floor or in an open suitcase, attracts bedbugs, which means you’ll be bringing back more than souvenirs and memories from your travels.

“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,” said Dr. William Hentley, leader of the study.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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