Host-seeking ticks often remain on clothing of persons returning home from work or recreation in tick habitats, and can pose at least a temporary risk to people and pets in these homes. Laundering clothing has been one of the recommendations to reduce tick exposure. Host-seeking lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.), and blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say, nymphs confined in polyester mesh packets, were included with laundry in cold, warm, and hot wash cycles of an automatic clothes washer. Ticks were also placed with washed clothing and subjected to drying in an automatic clothes dryer set on high heat and on air only (unheated). Most nymphs (≥90%) of both species survived the cold and warm washes, and 95% of A. americanum nymphs survived the hot wash. At the time of their removal from the washer, I. scapularis nymphs were clearly affected by the hot wash, but 65% were considered alive 20–24 h later. Large percentages of nymphs of both species survived hot washes in which two other detergents (a powder containing a nonchlorine bleach and a liquid) were used. All ticks were killed by the 1 h cycle at high heat in the clothes dryer, but with unheated air some nymphs of both species survived the 1 h cycle in the dryer. Given the laundering recommendations of clothing manufacturers and variation in the use automatic clothes washers, laundry washed in automatic washers should not be considered free of living ticks.
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Vol. 40 • No. 5