Cleaning Out the Critters: How to Check Furniture for Bed Bugs
Buying second-hand furniture from auctions, thrift shops, or estate sales is a great way to find unique pieces of furniture as well as to save some money. However, second-hand furniture often brings with them an unwanted guest: bed bugs! You need to know how to check furniture for bed bugs to prevent them from coming into your home and infesting other piece of furniture.
If you suspect that you have a bed bug infestation in your furniture, you need to act quickly because the more the infestation spreads in your home, the more costly it will be to treat. Even low-level infestations should be dealt with quickly because bed bugs have the tendency to reproduce quickly and move to other pieces of furniture. However, the problem is that low-level infestations can be difficult to detect for two reasons. First, bed bugs are hard to spot because of their size, ability to blend into their surroundings, and their tendency to stay in hard-to-reach spots in your furniture like cracks or corners. Second, bed bug bites can be mistaken for other things such as rashes or bites from other insects. Some people don’t even react to bed bug bites at all!
Here is how to look for bed bugs in furniture, and more importantly, how to control a bed bug infestation.
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny, reddish-brown insects. They are incapable of flight and they feed on blood, thus they are often found in homes. Since they are nocturnal, they are active at night which is when they crawl out of their hiding places and feed on people by piercing exposed skin with their proboscis and sucking on their blood.
Contrary to widespread belief, bed bugs are not found in the bed itself. Rather, they can be found in dark spaces such as your bedframe and headboard. Bed bugs can also be found in other furniture such as cabinets and drawers, or even in carpets, rugs, or wallpaper.
Signs of Bed Bug Infestation
As mentioned before, it can be difficult to determine the presence of bed bugs in your home by trying to look for the insects themselves or just by their bites. A more accurate way to determine whether you have bed bugs is by looking for signs of an infestation. Signs are physical manifestations of the presence of bed bugs. Seeing these signs is almost a surefire way on how to know if furniture has bed bugs.
Here are some of the common signs of having bed bugs in your furniture:
- Dark spots about the size of a ballpoint pen dot. This is bed bug excrement.
- Reddish stains where the movement of the furniture has crushed bugs.
- A musty and offensive odor like a wet towel that’s been stashed for a long time. Bed bugs excrete pheromones to attract mates.
Checking Your Furniture
If you have noticed one or more of the signs of having a bed bug infestation in your furniture, you should at once start looking for the bed bugs themselves. Here are the tools that you will need to search for bed bugs:
- Magnifying glass
- A dull knife
- A clean white sheet
- Vacuum cleaner
- Place the white sheet underneath the furniture that you want to check.
- Using your knife, run it across or into any cracks, grooves, or crevices in and around your furniture. You can also use your fingers for this if you wear gloves. If there are hard-to-reach areas, you can use your flashlight and magnifying glass to get a better look into these places.
- Once you have checked all possible areas where bed bugs can hide, check the white sheet for any of the signs of bed bug infestation. During your search, you might even find the insect themselves as well as their eggs.
- If you find any bed bugs on the white sheet, use the vacuum cleaner to clean them up.
If you have received an old mattress and you still want to use it, here’s how to check a used mattress for bed bugs:
- Inspect the sides of the mattress, especially the seams, for reddish-brown spots.
- Check the underside of the mattress.
- Look for holes or other entry points. If you see any holes in the mattress, this could suggest that bed bugs have already infested the inside of the mattress.
- Check for an unpleasant or musty odor.
Okay, I have Bed Bugs. Now What?
Now that you have determined that you have a bed bug infestation in your home, your response to control or eliminate the infestation will depend on the severity.
- Mild Infestation
A mild infestation is characterized by few physical signs of infestation and little to no sightings of the bugs. If you are lucky enough to have caught the infestation early and you only have a mild infestation, you can control it by vacuuming your furniture and décor thoroughly and laundering all your bedsheets and linens in hot water.
- Moderate Infestation
For moderate infestations, you will see significantly more signs as well as the bug beds themselves crawling around. Moderate infestations have an increased number of bites compared to mild infestations. If you have a moderate infestation, you can control it by using a steam cleaner. Steam cleaners will also kill bed bug eggs to prevent future infestations.
- Severe Infestation
If you have a severe infestation, you will be able to see bed bugs crawling around on your bed and you will have a lot of bites almost every night! For severe infestations, you might need to consider getting professional pest control services because it is already exceedingly difficult to eliminate the pests. You might already have bed bugs in furniture and other corners of your home that you cannot clean. You might also need to throw out pieces of furniture that have already been infested because it is no longer practical to clean them. This is especially true in the case of large foam mattresses because the bed bugs might have already burrowed into the foam itself.
Now that you know how to check furniture for bed bugs, you need to make sure that you inspect every piece of furniture that comes into your home especially if you are getting second-hand furniture. Remember, not all bed bug infestations are obvious especially if the infestation is only beginning. However, if you leave an infestation unchecked, the insects will rapidly reproduce and get everywhere! When it comes to bed bug infestations, that old saying rings true: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure!
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