Home PestsTermites

Does Washing Clothes Kill Termites?

Termites 4

Termites are a common household pest that can cause significant damage to wooden structures and furniture. But did you know that termites can also infest clothes? In this article, we’ll explore whether washing clothes can kill termites, and we’ll provide practical tips for preventing and treating termite infestations.


Washing clothes can kill some termites, but it is not the most effective method. Termites can survive underwater for 16 to 30 hours, depending on the species. While heat and certain detergents can kill termites, these methods only target termites present on fabrics and are not practical for treating termite infestations in your home structure. Therefore, professional pest control services are recommended for comprehensive termite elimination.

Can Washing Clothes Kill Termites?

While washing clothes can kill some termites, it’s not the most effective method. Termites can survive underwater for 16 to 30 hours, depending on the species. A study found that 50% of native subterranean termites could survive over 19 hours when submerged in water. Eastern subterranean termites can survive for up to 30 hours, while most Formosan termites die after 16 hours.

How Does the Temperature of the Water Affect Termites?

Termites are sensitive to heat and can die when exposed to temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Washing clothes or fabrics at water temperatures of 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit and then drying them at 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit can harm termite eggs. However, this method is not practical for treating termite infestations in the structure of your home, as it only targets termites or their eggs that may be present on fabrics.

The Impact of Detergents on Termites

Different types of detergents can have varying effects on termites. Some detergents, such as sodium borate (borax), can be toxic to termites and may cause their death. Borax interferes with the termites’ digestion, leading to starvation. However, the effectiveness of borax in termite control is limited because it doesn’t penetrate wood easily.

Can Certain Fabrics Provide a Safe Haven for Termites?

Certain fabric materials, particularly those made from plant materials like cotton and linen, contain cellulose, which is a source of nourishment for termites. Therefore, termites could potentially use these fabrics as a safe haven during washing. However, drying your clothes, either in a dryer or by exposing them to sunlight for a few hours, is more effective in killing termites.

Do Termites Re-infest Clothes After Washing?

Termites can re-infest clothes, especially if the source of the termite infestation in your home is not addressed. Therefore, it’s important to consult a professional exterminator to assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Termite Infestation in Clothes

To prevent termite infestation in clothes, it’s important to keep your closets clean and to wash soiled clothes promptly. Store clothes in sealed containers, use natural repellents, inspect storage spaces regularly, and address termite infestations promptly.


In conclusion, while washing clothes can kill some termites, it is not a comprehensive solution for termite infestations. It’s important to consult a professional pest control service to ensure all termites are eliminated and to prevent future infestations. By taking preventive measures and addressing any termite infestations promptly, you can protect your home and belongings from these destructive pests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use bleach to kill termites?

Yes, bleach can effectively kill termites. However, it’s a temporary solution and does not eliminate the colony or the queen. For a comprehensive solution, you should seek professional pest control services.

Can termites infest synthetic fabrics?

No, termites generally do not infest synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, as they primarily feed on cellulose, which is found in plant materials like cotton and linen.

Are there natural ways to repel termites?

Yes, there are natural ways to repel termites. For instance, certain essential oils like clove and vetiver oil can deter termites. Orange oil is also known to kill termites. However, these methods are not as effective as professional termite treatments.

Do termites cause any health risks?

Termites do not pose direct health risks to humans as they do not carry diseases. However, they can cause significant property damage, and their droppings and discarded wings can trigger asthma and other allergic reactions in some people.

Can termites survive in cold climates?

Most termite species prefer warm climates, but some, like the Eastern subterranean termite, can survive in cold climates by moving into deeper soil layers or indoor areas to escape the cold.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *