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Bedbugs want business travelers to air their dirty laundry: study

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Sheffield, England – Business travelers take heed: Bedbugs are attracted to your dirty laundry, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Sheffield.

Working on the theory that the global increase in infestations is a result of cheaper international travel and bedbugs’ attachment to luggage and clothing, the researchers conducted experiments in two identical climate-controlled rooms. They placed two bags of soiled laundry and two bags of clean laundry in each room and added carbon dioxide levels to one room to simulate human breathing. Bedbugs were present in each room.

In the room without the increased carbon dioxide, bedbugs were twice as likely to gather in the bags of soiled laundry, drawn to human scent. In the room with the human presence simulation, bedbugs left the clothing to find a live host.

“Bedbugs are a huge problem for hotel and homeowners, particularly in some of the world’s biggest and busiest cities,” researcher William Hentley, of the university’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said in a Sept. 28 press release. “Once a room is infested with bedbugs, 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.

“Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bedbugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations.”

The study was published Sept. 28 in the journal Scientific Reports.

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