It’s tick season, so when you come indoors after a day in the great outdoors, you toss your clothes into the washing machine—it’s a good precaution in case any ticks have hitched a ride into your home. All that hot soapy water will kill any ticks, right?
Although washing clothes, and then drying them for an hour, has been the official prevention advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s not the best approach, according to new research in the journal Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases by researchers at the CDC, the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts.
Ticks, it turns out, love water.
In the study, 94% survived cold-water washes, and 50% survived hot-water washes. Once the clothes were wet, it took 70 minutes to kill the ticks in dryers on low heat, 50 minutes in dryers on high heat.
So while you’re probably OK with the standard wash-then-60-minute-dry advice, there’s a much more efficient approach—just toss the clothes in the dryer on high heat right away. No washing first.
It kills all the ticks—in six minutes. Most are dead in four minutes.
So when your clothes may have ticks on them, dry them on high for six minutes—then wash if they’re dirty.
For more from our report “Frightening Tick Alert—What You Need to Know Now,” please see the following stories…