July 29, 2012

Ticks may not come out in the washer

I missed this 2007 article fromScienceDaily about ticks. After yardwork, our clothes have been going directly into the washer, and now I see that may not be sufficient. Clean clothes may not be tick-free clothes.

An entomologist (bug guru) decided to find out how tough ticks are after he found a Lone Star tick on the agitator after the wash. So he bagged up nymphs from two species—the lone star tick (now in the news for causing delayed allergy to meat) and the deer tick, (the creature that transmits Lyme disease—and put them in the washing machine.

He used a combination of water temperature settings and detergent types to wash the ticks. The majority of lone star ticks survived all the water-detergent combinations with no obvious side effects. Most of the deer ticks lived through the cold and warm water settings as well. But when one type of detergent was used with a hot water setting, only 25 percent of the deer ticks survived.

When it came time to dry, all the ticks of both species died after an hour of tumbling around at high heat. But when the dryer was set to "no heat," about one-third of the deer ticks and more than half of the lone star ticks survived.

Guess I will be using a higher heat setting now and hotter water.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing and drying clothes at high temperatures after spending time in areas known to harbor ticks.

So now YOU know!