3 Ways to Avoid Bed Bug Infestations from Second-Hand Furniture

Posted on: 3 November 2015

It's common knowledge that bed bugs can lurk in second-hand furniture, but this doesn't mean that you need to stop going to garage sales and thrift stores. As long as you take precautions, you can continue to shop at garage sales and thrift stores for your furniture. Here are three ways to avoid getting a bed bug infestation from second-hand furniture.

Carefully inspect all furniture

Before you purchase any piece of used furniture, you need to carefully inspect the item for signs of bed bugs or bed bug activity. This inspection needs to be very thorough because bed bugs are tiny and are infamous for their hiding skills. Make sure to check every inch of the item you're interested in, including places like drawer joints, the heads of screws, and the seams of furniture.

The most obvious sign that a piece of furniture is infested is the presence of adult bed bugs themselves. Bed bugs are brown, seed-shaped insects with flattened bodies. However, even if you don't see bed bugs, the item could still be infested, so you'll need to look more closely. Examine the item for dark brown spots; these spots may be bed bug feces. Tiny, cream or yellow skins may be bed bug egg shells. On upholstered furniture, you may see rust-colored stains; these stains are a clue that bed bugs were crushed. If you see any of these signs, don't buy the furniture.

Quarantine furniture after purchase

Even if you have carefully inspected a piece of furniture, it may still be harboring hard-to-see bed bugs (especially if the seller has cleaned the item to hide evidence of an infestation), so you should quarantine the item after you purchase it. To do this, place the item inside a plastic storage bin with a tight-fitting lid or a plastic bag that is tightly knotted and store it your garage. If any bed bugs are hiding inside the furniture, they will be trapped inside the bin or bag, and will not be able to get into your house.

The items need to be left in quarantine until any bed bugs that may be present have starved. This takes a surprisingly long time, see you will need to be patient. A recent study found that adult bed bugs can survive anywhere between 41 and 142 days without a meal, so to be safe, round up and keep your furniture in quarantine for at least five months. Once the quarantine period has passed, it is safe to introduce your new piece of furniture to your home.

Freeze potentially-infested furniture

Another way to avoid bringing bed bugs into your house is to freeze any used furniture that you suspect may be infested. To do this, you will need a large chest freezer. This is most practical for smaller furniture like side tables, but it's also possible to disassemble larger items to make them fit.

The items need to be left in the freezer for at least four days, and your freezer needs to be set to 0°F or lower. Check the temperature first make sure that your freezer is cold enough, as eggs may survive temperatures above 0°F, and avoid opening the freezer while you're treating the furniture to ensure that it stays cold. After sufficient time has passed, you can take the furniture out of the freezer and use it without worrying about bed bugs.

Furnishing your home with used furniture can introduce bedbugs to your home, but only if you're not careful. You can prevent an infestation by carefully inspecting possible purchases and by quarantining or freezing furniture before using it. For more information, visit resources like http://cavanaughspest.com.