Bed bugs can be found around the world, in part because they’re good travelers. One of their favorite methods of transit is also pretty horrifying. As Quartz reports, dirty laundry enables bed bugs to return home with travelers when they return from vacation.
A new study published in Scientific Reports found that bed bugs actually seek out smelly clothes. Researchers made the discovery after having four people wear cotton clothing for three hours as they went about their normal activities. Afterward, they took the worn clothing, put it into bags, and arranged the bags, alongside bags of clean clothes, in a circle. A family of bed bugs was then placed in the center. When the bedbugs were released, more of them opted to move into the bags containing dirty laundry bags than the bags containing clean clothes.
“Soiled clothing left in an open suitcase, or left on the floor, of an infested room is more likely to attract bed bugs,” the authors write. “When packed into a suitcase, they will accompany their host back home.”
So, what do you do? Researchers suggest putting your dirty clothes sealed away in a tight container to keep any unwanted guests from hitching a ride back home with you.