PSA: Bedbugs Are Really Into Your Dirty Laundry

Add a ziplock bag to your packing list, new study says.

Four years ago, I found myself sitting with my boyfriend, my dog and my two cats, huddled in my Saturn sedan in the parking lot of Penn Treaty Park, in the rain, for four hours while our home was treated for bedbugs. Because where else does one go with a dog and two cats in the rain?

Never again, I tell you.

Now, my fear of bringing bedbugs back with me from traveling borders on psychotic, which is why when I spotted a post titled “Dirty laundry a powerful magnet for bedbugs, study finds” on the Guardian, I clicked immediately.

Here’s the deal: According to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, in lieu of a human host to seek out (ick), bedbugs were twice as likely to gather on the inside of tote bags holding dirty laundry over tote bags containing clean clothes. TWICE as likely, people! The study authors think this has to do with human odor — when they can’t find an actual human, it seems bedbugs seek out human scent. Gross, we know.

As lead study author and ecologist William Hentley said, “It is the first time human odor has been considered as a potential mechanism facilitating long distance dispersal in bedbugs.” Because of their findings, the study authors suggest keeping dirty clothes sealed off in something like a ziplock bag when traveling. And considering Philly often falls at the top of the list of bedbug-infested cities, this advice might be worth taking for Tinder sleepovers, too. (Hey, safe than sorry, right?)

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