In recent years, more and more people turn to small and big charity shops to get some nice and affordable home accessories, clothes and even garden furniture. No matter what you’re looking for, charity shops are full of items, perfectly described by the popular saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
With the many good sides of second-hand furniture, though, comes the concern whether you brought some unwanted guests along with your new sofa. Now, at DOMAIN we will take a look at all the risks of bed bugs in used furniture and of how you can prevent it.
Second-hand Furniture – is it Really Worth it?
Just as many people find it normal to shop second-hand furniture, still, the majority of us have certain doubts about it and would always simply buy new furnishing.
At Garden Toolbox we have a wide range of patio sets, pop up gazebos, garden sheds, tables, chairs, cantilever parasols, chest of drawers, dressing tables, wall mirrors, and also wardrobes, mattresses, bed frames and divan beds.
Those who do shop, however, present some solid reasons for doing so:
- It’s cheap – It’s very cheap. You buy tons of clothes, a quirky carpet, 3 flower pots, a hoodie for your cat, and all of this for £70 only.
- The hidden treasures – A lot of people leave their furniture in perfectly good to be sold. Many of them are just moving away and are not able to bring everything with them to the new location. So, if you have enough patience to look for the right piece, you will be rewarded accordingly.
- Eco-fashion – In the world of today, we have to be more and more cautious about our surroundings and what exactly we do to our home planet. Buying used furniture will contribute to your unique sense of style and give you the opportunity to be a part of a sustainable way of life.
- Raise awareness – Most of those shops have a parent charity. This means that when you go to a shop, which is associated with a stated organisation, you are supporting the cause. These charity shops are a great way to let people know about various nonprofit organisations and how exactly they make our world better.
So, as you can see, there are many reasons to fill your car boot with second-hand furnishing, but it’s time to take a look at the reasons why you should always keep an eye open for potential pests.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Used Furniture?
Absolutely yes. Bed bugs are excellent travellers and can survive more than 20 weeks without food.
Nobody wants to go home and say: “Honey, I think maybe there is a small possibility that I bought furniture with bed bugs in it”. That phrase wouldn’t make any spouse happy.
So, you have to be aware that most of the times, you don’t know much about the couch you’re buying and can never be too sure about where it’s been. There are many cases, in which people brought an infestation along with a used sofa.
Even though bed bugs are not the only pests lurking in used furniture and your home, they are the most common ones and in recent years there have been more and more complaints about those pesky little bugs.
How to Check for Bed Bugs in Used Furniture?
In order to keep your home pest free and still benefit from some good quality used furniture, you have to know how to do pest control thoroughly. Unfortunately, scientists have not invented a bug radar yet, but there is always a way, so don’t worry.
Here is a proven method, based on comments from Fantastic Pest Control Company of how to spot bed bugs in the couch, sofa, chair or whatever piece of furniture it is that you chose:
- Get latex gloves for protection, a white sheet and a flashlight.
- Place the furniture on the sheet. This way, if any bed bugs fall, you would be able to see them.
- Take a credit, debit, or just any card that is just as hard and run it through all the edges, creases or cracks on the surface. Look carefully for any insects that might have fallen onto the sheet. It’s even better to take a magnifying glass and thoroughly check everything. You should watch out not only for the actual bugs but for their faeces, as well. They would appear similar to dark red stains.
- Use the flashlight to inspect the dark corners of the used furniture and every place where the bed bugs might be hiding.
What are the Signs of Bed Bugs on Furniture?
As mentioned earlier, there are specific signs you have to look out for when checking your newly bought used furniture.
- Adult bed bugs – they are usually not very hard to spot. Their colour is similar to rust and they are about the size of an apple seed. The bed bugs need to be able to hide and spread everywhere, so often they become entirely flat. They can be found almost anywhere like on toys, electronics, on the back of framed pictures, in shoes, on rags and in various other places.
- Markings – Bed bugs leave blood markings after they feed. The leftovers look like black dots and if you moisten them, they will smudge.
- Eggs – The eggs of the bed bugs are really tiny and most of the time, you can only see them on the dark parts of surfaces.
What do You do When You Find Bed Bugs?
If you found any of the above-mentioned signs, you need to take some serious action. According to the bed bug specialists from Fantastic Pest Control, here is how you should clean used furniture to prevent a bed bugs infestation:
- First, make sure your cleaning method includes hot water or steam. The high temperature will eradicate the adult bed bugs along with their microscopic eggs. Second, go carefully through all the cracks and tiny spaces, as they are the most common hiding place. If you do this correctly, you will effectively eliminate the chances of spreading.
- Knowing what not to do is equally important as knowing the right steps. It’s vital to understand that bed bugs are capable of developing resistance to a lot of chemicals, so natural ingredients are not useful when fighting an infestation. You may find a lot of DIY solutions and methods when dealing with bed bugs, but most of them are proven to be ineffective.
- With that in mind: Do not use bed bug bombs! They are only capable of spreading the pests all over the surface but they do not get rid of them.
- What you can do is to take all the cushion covers and all other removable parts from the chair, sofa, couch etc. and put them in separate plastic bags. Go to your dryer and place all of the items inside. Run them on high heat for at least 30 minutes and meanwhile, throw the plastic bags in a bin outside. Vacuum the furniture throughout, paying special attention to all the hidden areas and dispose of the vacuum bag when you’re done.
Still, it’s important to remember that all of this would not be helpful if you have an actual infestation and the only course of action would be to call an.
How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Second-hand Furniture?
If you wish not to be one of those “lucky” people with a bed bug infestation, then, you need to know how to avoid it. Here are a few more suggestions for the experts at Fantastic Pest Control on what to do prior to purchasing second-hand furniture.
- Always ask a lot of questions. It’s normal for you to be curious as this is not a new piece of furniture and it could have come from anywhere. Ask the retailer about its origins, when it was put up for sale, where it was stored meanwhile if the piece has undergone any anti-pest treatment such as pesticides or heat treatment prior to the sale, ask about the exact material it is made of and anything else you can think of. If some of the answers concern you or you don’t get ones at all, then, just shop elsewhere. Everything needs to be clear.
- Remember the golden rule of buying from second-hand shops – Do not buy upholstered furniture! Most merchants vacuum and steam clean everything before putting it up for sale and by doing so, they remove most of the evidence of bed bugs issues, making it impossible to detect those straight away. So, try to avoid buying mattresses, headboards, bed frames and beddings from second-hand retailers.
Simply buy new furniture. Yes, you might save some money if you decide to go with the second hand one, but if by any chance you bring an infestation with the couch, you will spend 3 times more money trying to get rid of the pesky insects. In the long run, buying second-hand furniture might not be the best solution.