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04th Oct 2017

Keeping dirty laundry in your room could attract this creepy crawly

We're feeling very icky all of a sudden.

Anna O'Rourke

Ugh.

We’re all a bit stuck for space around the home but new research is prompting us to rethink where we keep our dirty washing.

Having a basket of unwashed laundry in the bedroom could allow bed bugs to thrive, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

As we all travel abroad more often these days, there are more bed bugs about than ever before and it turns out they have a particular taste for dirty clothes and sheets.

In an experiment, researchers from the University of Sheffield placed a bag of dirty washing and a bag of clean clothes in a room containing bed bugs.

They found the insects, which can reach put to half a centimetre in length, were twice as likely to gather on the dirty washing as the clean clothes.

It’s all because they like the smell of humans, say the researchers.

“Bed bugs are attracted to the odour of sleeping humans and we suggest that soiled clothing may present a similarly attractive cue, allowing bed bugs to ‘hitch-hike’ around the world after aggregating in the laundry bags of travellers,” they wrote in the study.

Keeping bed bugs at bay is a big problem for hotels and other types of accommodation, so avoiding a build-up of dirty clothes and keeping things in sealed bags (rather than an open suitcase) are good ways of avoiding bringing the bugs home, advise the researchers.

As for the laundry pile at home? Best to stay on top of it with regular washes and keep it in a utility room, we reckon.