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How Long Can Ticks Live on Clothing?

After a long hike in the woods you might end up with a few unwanted house guests. If you’re not careful you’ll end up with ticks hitching a ride on your clothes. This leads to the question “How Long Do Ticks Stay On Clothes?”.

Ticks can only survive for short periods of time in a household environment. They rarely last more than 24 hours on clothing, but moist environments can extend their life 2-3 days. Ticks that have eaten a blood meal can last longer, but not long enough to bite again or lay eggs.

Why should I worry about ticks if they can’t live in a household environment? It’s all about minimizing your chance of catching Lyme Disease. The rest of this article will show you how to ticks and get them off your clothes.

How Long Do Ticks Live On Clothing?

Technically a tick can last years without a host, but that’s not going to happen in a household environment. A tick will usually drop off your clothes and most likely die within 24 hours.

A typical household environment has 70-75 percent humidity level which will dry out a tick fast. There’s just not enough moisture in a house for a tick to survive for more than a day or two.

Ticks might be able to last a little bit longer on damp clothes in a hamper, but probably no longer than a week or two. They definitely won’t last long enough to have a blood meal or lay eggs.

Why Do Ticks Stick To Clothes?

We’ve all had to deal with ticks at some point in our lives (you probably didn’t even realize). If you spend any amount of time in the outdoors you’ve probably brushed against a tick or two.

Ticks aren’t like most of the other blood sucking insects(they’re actually a spider). They can’t jump or fly so it’s hard for them to actively hunt. A tick spends its life perched in tall grass waiting for unsuspecting animals to pass by.

As you walk through tall grass a tick will latch onto your body, unlike flies and mosquitoes, which only bite for a few seconds. They crawl across your clothes looking for exposed skin to start burrowing and sucking blood. You won’t even feel the bite!

That’s why it’s important to wear long pants/socks whenever you hike through tick infested areas. More clothing and less exposed skin reduces your risk of getting bit.

How Do I Keep Ticks Off My Clothes?

There’s no surefire way to keep ticks off your clothes. Spend enough time outdoors and you’re bound to run into a tick or two. With that being said, you can try to avoid tick infested areas.

Ticks can be found throughout most of the world, but they’re mostly found in warm humid environments. They’re most active during the warm/humid months of summer.

Ticks like to hang out in moist grassy areas with lots of shrubbery. Anywhere with tall grass and lots of weeds is bound to have ticks.

Insect Repellents Help Keep Ticks Off Clothes

Use bug and insect repellents to reduce your risk of getting bit by ticks. Insect repellents containing DEET are the only products proven to repel ticks. I really like the OFF! Deep Woods Bug Spray. It’s cheap, works well, and you can find it everywhere.

Permethrin is considered a safer insect repellent, but it’s less effective. I still like to treat my hiking clothes with Sawyer’s Permethrin Spray before camping trips. There’s really no reason not to try it!

How Do You Get Ticks Out of Your Clothes?

Killing ticks isn’t rocket science! There are 2 surefire ways to kill ticks that get on your clothes and gear. You can store your gear in the garage and wait for them to die naturally (2-3 days), or use heat to kill them instantly.

I usually use a simple combination of the 2 methods to manage ticks. My tent, backpack, sleeping, etc stays in the garage for a few days after I go camping. Dirty clothes comes inside, but it goes in the washing machine immediately.

Just wash and dry your clothes on the high heat setting. That’s all you need to do! You don’t even need to wash the clothes if you’re short on time. A quick 15-20 minute high heat drying cycle will dry them out and kill them.

How Else Can I Avoid Ticks?

There’s no way to avoid ticks completely, but you can work on minimizing risk. Get rid of tick habitats in your yard by mowing tall grass and staying on top of weeds. This will significantly reduce your chance of being bitten.

You will still need to be careful when hiking/camping in the woods, but it will reduce exposure. Just check your body after hiking and wash/dry your clothes with high heat.

Call your doctor if you think you’ve been bitten so he can get you on antibiotics. Antibiotics will help prevent Lyme Disease and other illnesses before they get dangerous.