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New trick for getting rid of ticks

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The rain has gone away, which means more of us will be outdoors. Ticks can and will find you. New research shows a better way to get rid of those ticks that hitchhike on your clothes: Place the clothes directly into the dryer for as little as six minutes.

When ticks latch onto your skin, they can spread diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme.

"They are a parasite and pathogen and they can harm us, so it's really a good idea to get them off of you as quickly as possible," said Bruce Chladny of K-State Research and Extension in Wyandotte County.

Chladny said you should inspect yourself for ticks before you go back indoors. Then shower and do a full-body check.

"Even up into your hair, your ears, those types of places, any place that's kinda warm and cozy where they can stay for a few days to get a blood meal," Chladny said.

A common recommendation has been to wash your clothes and dry them for an hour to get rid of any stragglers. But a new study in the journal Ticks and Tickborne Diseases finds even with hot water, half of ticks survive the washer. Researchers found none survived if the clothes went directly into the dryer. As little as six minutes of high heat did the trick with ticks.

"The ticks can actually be killed by just putting them into a hot dryer for just a few minutes before even washing them," Chladny said.

He pointed to other preventive steps. Mow any weed patches on your property. Use insect repellent containing DEET. There's also permethrin although it should only be used on clothes and shoes and not your skin.