What to Do with Clothes During Fumigation?

Fumigation is recognized as one of the most effective ways to control pests and remove harmful microorganisms in an enclosed area. The process involves using lethal gases such as phosphine, hydrogen peroxide, and methyl bromide to exterminate pests in homes and stored products like grains.

During fumigation, the targeted area or structure is sealed with materials such as plastic and tape. Alternatively, the fumigator can enclose the entire structure in a tent of vinyl-coated nylon tarpaulins. The enclosed structure is then filled with gaseous pesticides (fumigants), which effectively suffocate all insects (roaches, bed bugs, termites, etc.).

What to do with clothes during fumigation is a common concern among home and business owners. This article answers this question and more.

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What You Must Do Before Your House Is Fumigated

Fumigation is best done by a certified pest control expert. Ideally, the technician will guide you on how to prepare your house for fumigation. But if you’re doing your research before the consultation, here are the things you must do to ensure your home is ready for fumigation.

  • All living things, including children, adults, pets, fish, seeds intended for planting, and plants must be removed from the house before fumigation. This means that you should arrange alternative accommodation so that you and your family can be away during the entire process.
  • Food, medicine, pet food, and tobacco products must be stored in highly resistant glass or metal containers or sealed in protective fumigation bags as advised by the fumigator. Alternatively, remove all ingestible products entirely from the structure.
  • Open all interior doors to every room in your house. You should also open drawers, closets, and other areas where pests can hide. This way, fumigants will reach every corner of the house, ensuring total pest extermination.  
  • Talk to your fumigator to confirm your house is ready for fumigation and ask any questions about the process, for instance, how long the fumigation will take, which pests will be eliminated, and when it’s safe to re-enter your home after fumigation.

What to Do with Clothes During Fumigation?

If you are wondering whether you need to remove or protect your clothes during fumigation, the answer is no – yes – it depends. To begin with, unlike consumable products, you don’t need to remove your clothes from the house during fumigation.

That’s because clothes and other items like upholstered furniture, toys, towels, and bedding do not absorb the fumigants. So, you don’t need to remove any of these items when your house is being fumigated.

To help you understand better what you should do with your clothes during fumigation, let’s have a quick look at the three types of fumigation your technician can apply.

The Three Types of Fumigation

During the consultation, your technician will shed light on the type of fumigants they’ll use to help you prepare your home accordingly:

Solid Fumigants

Solid fumigants are used during solid fumigation. The technician disperses fumigants such as powders, pellets, or tablets whose quantity depends on the size of the area being treated. Some experts say that solid fumigation is the most effective fumigation method since it kills insects-pests in all their stages, from egg to adult.

How can solid fumigation affect your clothes? Perhaps the biggest risk associated with solid fumigation is that your clothes will be covered in dead bugs rather than being contaminated by the fumigants.

That’s because solid fumigants are usually placed in the corners of your home or under big furniture. However, complete fumigation of the entire house may contaminate your clothes with an unpleasant fumigant odor. You can put your clothes in a protective bag or wash and sanitize them after fumigation.

Gas Fumigants

Gas fumigants are the most frequently used fumigants by pest control experts. These extremely toxic gases are released into a structure to kill pests or protect stored products like grains from destructive insects.

While Sulfuryl fluoride is used to control pests in grains, fruits, nuts, and other consumable goods, methyl bromide helps control invaders like rodents and termites. The pest controller precisely measures the amount of fumigant to be released depending on the current weather and the cubic footage of your structure.

How can gas fumigants affect your clothes? Gas fumigants are not as concentrated to contaminate your clothes. But as a precautionary measure, you can wash them at least once to get rid of dead bugs and unpleasant chemicals.

Liquid Fumigants

Liquid fumigants are used during liquid fumigation to eliminate pests, insects, and mold. The fumigator uses sprayers to disperse large quantities of toxic liquids over a designated area.

Unlike other fumigants, precautionary measures must be observed when using liquid fumigants as they can be toxic to humans, volatile, and combustible. For instance, carbon disulfide, a popular fumigant, has been shown to have adverse effects on the respiratory organs of the body.

How can liquid fumigants affect your clothes? Liquid fumigants are highly concentrated, and the chances of contaminating your clothes cannot be ignored. Therefore, you are advised to protect your clothes during liquid fumigation. Disregarding safety measures can lead to unwanted effects.

Can You Leave Clothes During Fumigation?

As seen above, clothes and other household items like kitchenware will not absorb the gases and liquids released during fumigation. Therefore, you do not have to remove them.

But note that pests are notorious for hiding in clothes, often as a last resort. Hence, pest controllers recommend employing some protective measures to ensure your clothing remains pest-free throughout the fumigation process.

The best precaution to take if you decide to leave clothes during fumigation is to store them in airtight bags. The bags will protect your clothes from unpleasant odors and keep live and dead bugs off your clothing. Additionally, if your infant’s mattress is enclosed in plastic, you should remove it from the house during fumigation.

Must You Wash Clothes After Fumigation?

The most commonly used fumigants do not leave behind residues on household items and clothing. However, these items will be covered in dead bugs, which can slightly discolor or stain your property. Besides, some dead bugs are capable of transmitting disease-causing pathogens through close contact with the bugs on your fabric.

So, must you wash clothes after fumigation? Not necessarily. Clothes are not affected by fumigants. But to be extra safe, you should wash your clothes and everything else in the house after fumigation. After all, you need a clean home free from dead bugs and chemical odors. 

Be sure to dispose of any edibles like sugar and packets of chips that might have been left in the house during fumigation.

Are Fumigants Toxic to Humans?

Yes, most fumigants are toxic to living things, including humans, children, pests, and pets like dogs and cats. Exposure to these chemicals during or after fumigation can lead to undesirable effects. Therefore, you should talk to your technician and find out what type of fumigant will be applied to your property and what precautions should be taken.

When Can You Re-enter Your House After Fumigation?

Generally, you should stay away from your home for at least 24 hours. But some types of fumigation may require you to stay away from your property for as long as three days for the fumigants to dissipate completely.

Every pest control company has its unique post-fumigation procedure. The exterminator will perfume a clearance test after the fumigation process. They will then dismantle the tent, allowing your house to aerate. Finally, they will use a clearance device to determine if your property is safe to be entered.

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