Does Ironing Really Kill Bacteria? Truths and Myths


The age-old practice of ironing is often touted for its ability to smooth out wrinkles and its supposed germ-killing abilities. But does ironing really kill bacteria and other common household pests? This article delves into the scientific truths and common myths surrounding the effectiveness of ironing in eliminating various microorganisms and pests. 

Myths and truths about ironing and bacterial kill 

In this section, we explore the validity of several claims about the power of ironing in killing bacteria and other pests. Each claim is scrutinised based on scientific evidence and expert insights, separating fact from fiction in domestic hygiene. 

Does ironing protect your clothes from bed bugs? 

The notion that ironing can eradicate bed bugs is a common belief among many. But does ironing kill bed bugs effectively? Research suggests that bed bugs and their eggs can be killed by temperatures above 120°F (49°C). Irons typically operate at much higher temperatures, which theoretically could kill these pests.  

However, the challenge lies in ensuring the heat penetrates deep enough into fabrics to reach and effectively eliminate all bed bugs and eggs. It's important to note that while ironing might kill bed bugs on the surface, it's not a guaranteed solution for a full-blown infestation, which often requires professional treatment. 

Does ironing kill moth eggs? 

Moths and their eggs can be a nightmare for wardrobes, leading many to wonder: does ironing kill moth eggs? The heat from an iron can indeed be lethal to moth eggs, which are generally susceptible to high temperatures. Ironing provides a level of heat that can destroy these eggs, potentially helping to protect your garments from moth damage.  

Nonetheless, similar to bed bugs, the effectiveness largely depends on the heat reaching the eggs, which are often laid in the deeper fibres of clothes. Regular ironing might deter moth infestations to some extent, but it should not be solely relied upon for complete control. 

Can dust mites be killed by ironing? 

Dust mites, tiny creatures thriving in household dust, are often a concern for their allergenic properties. The question arises: does ironing kill dust mites? Scientifically, dust mites can be eliminated by exposure to temperatures above 130°F (54°C). Since irons can reach these temperatures, they can effectively kill dust mites on the fabric's surface.  

Ironing your bed linens, curtains, and clothes can reduce the presence of these mites. However, as with other pests, the heat must penetrate sufficiently to be effective. Regular ironing, combined with other dust mite control measures like frequent washing and vacuuming, can be a useful strategy in reducing their numbers. 

Does ironing kill scabies? 

Scabies, a skin condition caused by mites, raises concerns about hygiene and cleanliness. Many wonders if ironing can help by asking, does ironing kill scabies? Scabies mites and their eggs are vulnerable to high temperatures. 

Ironing clothes and bedding at high temperatures can potentially kill these mites. This method can be particularly useful for items that cannot be washed at high temperatures. 

Again, it's crucial to note that while ironing may help control the spread of scabies on fabrics, it's not a substitute for medical treatment. Proper diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare professional are essential for effectively managing scabies. 


In conclusion, ironing at high temperatures can kill certain bacteria and pests like bed bugs, moth eggs, dust mites, and scabies. However, it should not be solely relied upon for pest control or bacterial eradication. A combination of heat treatment, regular cleaning, and, in some cases, professional intervention is the most effective approach. 

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