BED BUGS: Tips for shopping at thrift stores and garage sales

Bed bugs are back in central Ohio with a vengeance! And they don’t care if you drive a Porsche or a Pinto. Bring home bed bugs, and you get more than you bargained for: infestations, perhaps thousands of dollars in extermination fees, loss of property, isolation and anxiety. Follow these tips to help avoid infesting your belongings and home.

What’s a Bed bug?

Bed bugs wingless insects that feed on blood.

They prefer human blood, but will also feed on animals. Bed bugs are being seen more and more in apartments, hotels, homes, schools, hospitals, and dormitories. They crawl very fast, and can hide in clothing, second-hand furniture, suitcases, and boxes.

Carefully inspect the item(s) that you are interested in purchasing.

Pay particular attention to:

  • Bed Frames/Mattresses
  • End Tables/Dressers
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Clothing/Shoes
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Mirrors and picture frames
Check corners and crevices of furniture for signs of  bed bug activity.

Bed bugs (reddish-brown), eggs (white), cast skins (yellow) and fecal dots (black).

When in Doubt: Get out!

If you think you see evidence of bed bugs, tell the proprietor and leave! When you get home, wash everything that you wore in HOT water 120°≥F and use the drier on HIGH setting for 30 minutes, or dry clean.

Bring the Plastic

Take any treasures home in plastic bags that seal. (You can find brands such as Hefty and Ziploc in 3 – 22 gallon sizes.) Even a tightly tied plastic grocery or garbage bag is better than nothing, and put the bags in your car’s trunk. If you buy furniture: inspect it carefully. Very, VERY, carefully.

Bring the Heat

 Don’t remove your $5 Prada dress from the plastic bag until you’re ready to launder it. The first time from the bag, put it in the washer on HOT (120°≥F) and the drier on HIGH setting for 30 minutes, or dry clean.

If treatment is necessary, use a licensed pest management professional (exterminator). Nothing that you can buy over the counter is effective at killing bed bugs! More information is available at:

  • Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force: www.centralohiobegbugs.org
  • In Franklin County call 211, or call your local health department or extension office.
  • National Pest Management Association

    www.pestworld.org/For-Consumers; email: info@pestworld.org phone: (703) 352-6762

*** P.S.: No dumpster diving!

If it’s in a dumpster or garbage can: leave it there! Even if it’s the PERFECT plant stand, the previous owner may have thrown it away because it is infested with bed bugs.

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