Treating bedding and clothing for scabies

The scabies mite can live up to about 36 hours without human body contact, which means that scabies can also be spread by contact with clothes, bed linens, and household articles.1 To make sure that all scabies mites are killed, follow these steps:

  • Immediately after starting treatment for scabies, clean all the affected person's bedding and the clothing that he or she has worn within the past 2 to 3 days (48 to 72 hours).1 Either wash all items in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer, or dry-clean them.
  • Any items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned must be placed in a closed plastic bag for at least 7 days.

It is not necessary to make extra cleaning efforts, such as washing the bedding daily or washing walls, floors, or furniture. The exception is for people who have crusted (Norwegian) scabies: Do wash the bedding and clothing daily while this form of scabies is being treated.

Citations

  1. Chosidow O (2006). Scabies. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(16): 1718–1727.

Last Updated: March 30, 2009

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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