Thrift Stores: Bed Bugs are Real, and Back with a Vengeance

Protect Your Business – Protect your Workers – Protect Your Customers

Train your workers:

  • Schedule a presentation to train all staff on how to identify the telltale signs of
    bed bugs.
  • Visit to download pictures and additional

Visual inspections

  • Carefully inspect the item(s) that are to be sold/donated.
  • Pay particular attention to:
    Bed Frames/Mattresses
    Coffee/End Tables
    Stuffed Animals
    Wall Hangings
    Upholstered Furniture
  • Check corners and crevices for signs of bed bug activity, which includes:
    Bed bugs (reddish-brown), eggs (white), cast skins (yellow) and fecal dots (black).
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  • Contract scheduled services with a professional pest control company.
  • Have your building, vehicles, and items in storage closely inspected and treated if
  • Completely destroy anything infested that you throw away, to avoid someone retrieving it for
  • Ask your donors if they have bed bugs in their home: Have they seen bed bugs in the house? On furniture? Do not accept items if they answer yes.


DO NOT: Take upholstered furniture if the cloth is ripped or torn: Exterminators often remove the dust cover on the bottom of sofas and chairs to treat them. Rips and tears in the upholstery allow the bed bugs to burrow into the stuffing.

DO NOT: Ignore the problem: it will only get worse. Without taking precautions, your business, your employees and your customers are at risk.

DO NOT: Try to treat your facility yourself! There is nothing that you can buy that is safe for you to use, and it is illegal to self-treat your facility.


Step by Step

  • Ask every donor about issues pertaining to communicable diseases, bed bugs, pet hair/allergies, etc. – do not accept items if they answer yes
  • and do not take cloth items that are ripped or torn
    • This minimizes the chance that pests are inside soft furniture or mattresses where we can’t see them
  • Train each employee on what to look for and how to identify the telltale signs of bed bugs
  • Follow up with periodic refresher training about health risk issues and bed bugs
  • Each vehicle, checkout, and intake station should have pocket identification guide
  • Do several times as the items are handled
    • Initially as items are being retrieved from donors
    • As item is displayed
    • At checkout
  • At each of these stages train employees to looking for the tell-tale signs of bedbugs – fecal staining, eggs, actual bugs dead or alive
During these scheduled preventive treatments & inspections, the building, trucks, and items should be treated and/or closely inspected
If issues are detected and confirmed they are permitted to select new items to replace the items with issues


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