Dirty Laundry: Attracting Pesky Pests Into The Home

  • Written By: Phil Hawes
  • Time to read: 7 min.
pests around dirty laundry

Do you have a problem with pests in your home? Maybe it’s bugs, rodents, or even slimy snakes. If so, then this blog post is for you! There are many reasons why people may be having pest problems and one of them is dirty laundry.

Dirty laundry can be a source of food and shelter for a number of different pests, from insects to rodents. Dirty clothes, even if only left overnight, can quickly attract pests in the vicinity if not stored correctly. However, not all pests will be attracted to your laundry room by clothes.

All clothes need to be washed regularly to keep them fresh and clean but if that doesn’t happen- the dirt gets ground into the fibers which excite pests like insects and mice who come looking for food. Find out more about how dirty laundry can lead to an infestation of these pesky critters in your home by reading on!

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Does dirty laundry attract mice?

Mice require two things, food and shelter, and a pile of dirty laundry offers a perfect nesting site. A mouse is more likely to take up residence in a pile of dirty laundry than in a wardrobe simply because there is less daily activity. A mouse nest will lead to damage to your clothes and the presence of rodent feces.

Although it’s unlikely that a mouse will move into your laundry hamper overnight, it can certainly make a nest for itself over several days. If you have a busy schedule or even teenage children (boys are the worse), you are more likely to find mice in your home.

The problem probably isn’t the dirty laundry on its own, but rather a combination of factors that are making your home very mouse-friendly. You should change that.

The best way to get mice out of your home is to identify the source of attraction and remove it. it’s normally going to be a food source and an easy means of entry.

In order to keep mice away, you should make sure your home is completely free of food sources. Clean up any spills and throw out old food that is no longer edible (for humans). Make sure all trash cans or dumpsters in the garage are sealed tight with a lid so they can’t be opened by rodents who may want to enjoy an easy meal.

And of course, try to do your laundry on a more regular basis.

Does dirty laundry attract roaches?

Cockroaches, like many other pests, are attracted by dirty and squalor and so dirty discarded laundry is a perfect environment for them. A laundry hamper is more likely to become a nest for them than a food source, though more delicate clothing can become damaged. Roaches generally prefer dark and moist nests, so dirty clothing is a perfect choice.

As with mice, cockroaches will see your dirty clothes as an ideal place to set up camp. They’re not looking for food, they just want to lay eggs. unfortunately, that will mean that your laundry room will quickly become infested with roaches as they breed at warp speed.

Roaches are also capable of eating through wood and plastic (among other materials), so if you store your dirty laundry in a hamper made from one of these materials the clothes will not only attract roaches but they can also eat through the material and make their way in.

If your laundry room is also located close to your kitchen or has a source of water in it, you’ll find it really attracts the roaches.

Why? Because these insects love to feed on crumbs and food particles, so that’s why if your dirty clothes are piled up near a kitchen or in close proximity to any water source, there’s an increased risk of attracting roaches.

For this reason, it can be better for you and your family members if you wash their laundry as soon as possible after use or try not to produce more dirty laundry than you can wash in an average week.

If you have an infestation of cockroaches in your home and are wondering how to get rid of them, please consult our pest control section.

Does dirty laundry attract ants?

Dirty laundry can attract ants of all types as it is a great source of food to them. Dirty clothing can carry the excretions of exercise and food spills, all of which can offer nourishment to ants. These pests also communicate quickly, so a discarded piece of clothing can cause an infestation in a matter of days.

Depending on the ant in question, dirty laundry will offer them food in various ways. Ants will eat the food stains on clothes, and even feast upon any dead insects that may have come in contact with your clothing first.

If you have children, young or old, or are particularly messy when you eat, then be sure to soak those clothes first to remove the worst of the food spills before storing them to be properly washed.

But clumsy table manners aren’t the only things that might lead to an ant infestation of your laundry room. For people, who regularly exercise, the sweat that gets absorbed into your gym outfit will also attract some ants. These salt-seeking critters will extract the salty excretions and use that as sustenance.

Can dirty clothes cause bed bugs?

Although on its own dirty laundry won’t cause bed bugs in a sterile home, it can facilitate their spread. Bed bugs are attracted to humans, particularly the odor, and in absence of humans they find soiled clothing just as alluring. Travelers can unwittingly transport bed bugs back home when they crawl into their dirty vacation outfits.

According to a study by the University of Sheffield, bed bugs are more likely to leave their habitual nests in beds and other soft furnishings to seek out soiled clothing when humans are absent.

Unfortunately, these bugs love us humans so much that they want to get into bed with us. But if people aren’t around, they will gravitate to the smell of our dirty laundry as a substitute.

Bed bugs can also be attracted to dirty laundry in the house, living room, or kitchen. They’re just looking for a warm place to rest and our clothes fit that bill nicely because they are so soft with all of those folds.

When people’s clothing is washed regularly (every week) bed bugs are less likely to hitch a ride on it and so spread less effectively from home to home.

So, no, just having dirty laundry won’t bring them into your home but it’s a strong reason to use a washing machine before you fly home.


Does dirty laundry attract all insects?

As well as ants, dirty laundry can also attract big black carpenter beetles which are attracted to moldy fabrics for the sustenance of their larvae. This is a problem because this beetle species bores into the cloth itself, damaging it.

Flies will also be attracted to dirty laundry, particularly for the smell and any sugary residue from your meals. This is more likely if the laundry basket is open to the elements.

How to store dirty laundry to deter pests

The best way to store your dirty laundry without attracting pests is to store it in a closed container.

This will make the smell of your laundry less noticeable, and not as appetizing to pests looking for food. This is also true if you remove any sugary residue from your clothing before storing it away.

A plastic bag or sealed box are both suitable options, but avoid storing dirty laundry in an open hamper for any period of time.

Also, stop storing your dirty washing in your bedroom. Not only does this make the presence of pests more unpleasant, but it will also speed up the spread of pests such as bed bugs.

You can also place bait boxes and natural deterrents ( such as essential oils) for the pests that you encounter the most.

In addition to this, you can try to produce less dirty laundry by changing your habits. For instance, try to wear some clothes more than once. This not only saves on resources but also on your utility bills.

Suggested laundry hampers

The best type of laundry hampers for deterring pests are ones that you can close in some way. I would recommend the following products, all of which can be bought on Amazon.

Link to Amazon

Link to Amazon

Link to Amazon

How to stop moths from eating clothes

If you find that after you’ve cleaned your clothes you are now having issues with moths eating them, it’s time to act.

The best ways to prevent moths from attacking your clothes are:

  • Vacuum your wardrobe to eliminate dust particles, which can then attract moths.
  • Wipe down your closet’s interior and around baseboards, clothes storage rods or shelves, and other areas with a soft cloth to make them easier for creepy-crawlies to germinate themselves on.
  • Store only clean, dry fabrics in the closet. Clean and dry goods avoid being exposed to odors, oil & moisture that attract moths.
  • Keep out-of-season clothes and linens in closed air-tight storage containers where moths can’t reach them.
  • Instead of stacking clothes in season, keep important clothing clean by hanging them on a clothing rod. Store suits and dresses in resealable garment bags to make sure they’re protected from dust and dirt.
  • Line storage boxes, closet shelves, and dresser drawers with mothballs or small bags filled with dried herbs that repel moths can help keep your clothes clean.
  • Wood is a prominent material used in closet furniture, and there are some positive benefits to using cedar. One downside of wood furniture, however, is its power to attract moth larvae. You can avoid this problem by replacing your wood closet furnishings with Cedar equivalents and lining the inside of drawers with hamster bedding made from cedar shavings.
  • Before storing any clothes or linens in the closet, make sure they have been through a hot wash cycle (or dry cleaned them), especially any deals you’ve picked up second hand.

In conclusion, dirty laundry can and will attract pests to your home if they are not properly stored. Be proactive with the storage of clothes by soaking them or storing some in sealed containers before you have an infestation on your hands!

Cockroach on sealed food bag

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