Bedbugs are every laundromat customer’s nightmare. Imagine bringing home what looks like a fresh and clean load of laundry only to discover you’ve brought these unexpected visitors into your home instead. But how realistic is this scenario, really? Can you get bedbugs from a laundromat?
Can You Get Bedbugs From a Laundromat?
If you’re a laundromat owner, you have probably been asked about bedbugs at least once by an anxious customer. If you’ve ever dealt with an infestation, or know someone who has, you know exactly why they’re so worried. Bedbugs are hard to detect, their bites are extremely itchy and painful, and getting them out of your house can take multiple tries and thousands of dollars in pest control.
As a laundromat owner, you should take bedbugs seriously. If your laundromat becomes known as a bedbug hot spot, prepare to lose business. On the other hand, if your laundromat is known to be clean and safe, customers are more likely to trust you with repeat business. So, how worried should you be about bedbugs?
It’s Unlikely That Your Laundromat Has Bed Bugs (But Not Impossible)
First off, here’s some news that will give you and your customers a sigh of relief. While some customers may inadvertently bring bedbugs into your establishment, the odds that they’ll be passed on to other customers are slim to none. A well-maintained laundromat is extremely hazardous to these little pests. There aren’t many places for them to hide, there typically isn’t food present for them during their active feeding times, and washing and drying clothes is actually a great way to kill bedbugs.
That being said, while it is unlikely a customer could get bedbugs from merely coming to your laundromat, there are two scenarios where passing bedbugs from one customer to another is possible. In one scenario, a bedbug could make its way into a machine and then end up on someone’s clothing. In another, someone could leave a pile of laundry somewhere in the laundromat that is harboring bedbugs or eggs. What can you do about these scenarios?
Do’s and Don’ts of Bedbug Laundromat Management
In order to make sure bedbugs aren’t a hazard for your laundromat customers, follow these common-sense tips:
- DO know how to get rid of bedbugs. Temperatures of 120 degrees or above are high enough to kill bedbugs and their eggs. Typically 30 minutes of drying on “high” is enough to get rid of them. Items that have been exposed to bedbugs should be kept in airtight sealed plastic tubs or bags and emptied directly into machines. They should be spot-checked for bugs once they are removed from the machine.
- DON’T make assumptions about who does and doesn’t have bedbugs. Some people assume that bedbugs are more likely to come from low-income customers, but the data shows that bedbugs do not discriminate. You can get them from five-star hotels as easily as you can get them at Motel 6. Bedbugs are just bad luck.
- DO keep an eye on your dryers. A good dryer has more than enough power to take care of bedbugs. However, if a dryer isn’t working correctly, unevenly-heated clothing can leave cool “pockets” where bugs and eggs can survive a dryer cycle. Make sure your dryers are in good working order.
- DON’T let full-service orders pile up. People don’t always know they have bedbugs right away, and a wash-and-fold customer might inadvertently drop off contaminated clothes before they catch the issue. If those clothes are sitting next to or on top of someone else’s clothes, cross-contamination becomes more likely. Don’t let clothes sit around, and try to keep customers’ clothing separate, especially before it is cleaned.
- DO keep your laundromat clean. While a typical laundromat isn’t a hospitable environment for bedbugs, they can find homes and places to lay eggs at a laundromat that has too much clutter. Be sure junk and clothes don’t pile up, and keep your laundromat as clean as possible.
Most importantly, remember that the chances of a customer getting bedbugs from your establishment are small — but they aren’t zero. Being smart about bedbugs now can save you a lot of grief in the future.
Can you get bedbugs from a laundromat? It isn’t that likely, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. As a laundromat owner, be sure to follow the best bedbug hygiene possible, and keep your equipment in good working order so your customers won’t need to worry about it.
Be sure to check out Laundry Solutions Company, a full-service provider of premium vended, on-premises, and multi-housing commercial laundry equipment. To learn more about our products and services, please give us a call at 800-383-9274 or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!