Queries from Bed Bug Helloise: hanging clothes storage?

by nobugsonme on September 30, 2007 · 14 comments

in bed bugs, clothing, consumers

A reader on the forums asked a question about those zippered clothes closets being used to store clothing during a bed bug infestation. Nobugs and Doug both answered (so far). But Nobugs ceded this to my hands, since I am the person responsible for helpful hints.

I have not a hint, however, but a query:

Reader sojo wanted to know about this item, Skubb, as a way of storing clothing during a siege of bed bugs. It looks to be made of nylon, and is zippered clothing storage which hangs directly on a closet rod.

Nobugs pointed out that it was not fully sealed (since we know bed bugs can get through zippers, for example, in suitcases). Nobugs suggested it might not be a great idea, also, that it was nylon, and probably had seams which bed bugs might nest in. Doug pointed out that, unlike mattress protectors, bed bugs won’t be attracted to food inside the hanging bag. So why would they go into it?

Since the Skubb’s seams are still a concern, and something a bit more sealed up and without cloth seams might work better, Nobugs tentatively suggested considering instead this item from the Container Store, Clear Vinyl Garment Bags, which are vinyl, and also fully enclosed except for the zipper, assuming it does not have gaps where the hanging rod enters at top, or anywhere else for that matter.

Since it is essential that you inspect an item like this for any obvious gaps or hiding places on the outside, I would absolutely advise not purchasing it online without a close in-person inspection. Since Bed Bug Helloise and Bed Bug ‘Elmer do not live near a Container Store (and frankly, we don’t even like leaving our Retirement Compound), perhaps a Bedbugger delegation could be dispatched, with the relevant product number (to be sure of a correct match) to inspect one of these in person.

clear vinyl garment bags

What do you think, experienced bed bug sufferers and bed bug professionals?

I also stress that I would not even consider something like this for use during the day of treatment, if the PCO tells you to “seal everything in bags” first. “Sealing” means “airtight.”

However, I think clean / certified bed bug-free clothing (ie that washed and dried on hot) stored in the vinyl version (assuming no gaps) might make sense.

Bed Bug Helloise is decidedly not recommending this solution yet. She is also very skeptical about the polyester Skubb. But she solicits your reactions on the vinyl Container Store item. Helloise tries to look her best, and understands the concerns of people trying to live with bed bugs.

Bed Bug Helloise writes an occasional advice column on products to make life during and after bed bugs more bearable. She does not fully understand this technology, however, Nobugs transcribes her jottings, and can also pass on any comments left below.

1 Anonymous September 30, 2007 at 11:13 pm



product description & measurements:
Fabric: 100 % polypropylene, Polypropylene
Zipper/ touch and close fastening tape, white: Polyamide
insert, top/ Insert, bottom: Polypropylene
Rivets: Steel, Galvanized
Reinforcement: Polyethylene
Sewing thread: 100 % nylon

The Container store item really appeals to me (desperate for an organized closet!) but it is expensive. I am inspecting the Dimpa, and I guess what I see is that there is a little space at the top of the zipper and the seams om the edges maybe has holes… Maybe with some tape reinforcements?

2 Anonymous September 30, 2007 at 11:17 pm

Oh, my goodness, my html really sucks! This is the item I am bringing forward. Sorry for the mess.

Dimpa ClothesTidy (7.99)

3 nobugsonme September 30, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Hello Anonymous,

Like I said, any seams or gaps would mean this is not a good idea. So it is essential that you inspect the item in person.

I would personally avoid any options with holes or needing tape. Tape bunches up and comes off too easily. Frankly, “Airtight” is ideal, and none of these other options are, but of all of them, the container store one seems closest to airtight.

4 Jennifer October 1, 2007 at 12:16 am

I don’t know about the Container Store item, but the hanging Space Bag appears to be airtight:


I’m currently experiencing an infestation of bed bugs in my Queens apt. My husband and I are following the preparation instruction sheet provided by our PCO (Metro Pest) and currently inspecting, laundering and bagging our belongings. However, one of our cats loves to chew plastic so we’re taking the extra step of sealing our belongings in clear plastic bags and then placing the bags in clear plastic bins.

5 nobugsonme October 1, 2007 at 3:41 am

Hi Jenny,

The bags in bins and the hanging space bags are all things we have recommended in the past, and still do. Like your PCO, we tell people to seal in ziploc bags. Ziplocs in storage bins are my gold standard of bed bug storage. (Yes, we have the same cat.)

I don’t think the space bags are a bad idea, but I am no longer personally into them, after one broke on its first day of use (!) But for long-term storage, or even day-to-day–without vacuuming, just zipping–they can be useful.

If a zippered bag were secure, it would be easier for me, since it is fairly tricky to zip a hanging space bag, in my opinion, even unvacuumed.

6 Winston O. Buggy October 1, 2007 at 2:14 pm

As stated bed bugs have a reason( food) to get through the mattress cover
but none to go into the clothing bag. You could simply tale the zipper but the
weak point may be the hanger area. Clear is better.

7 Jenny October 1, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Nobugs, thanks for the reply. That’s too funny about our plastic-chewing cats.

If I come across any hanging storage options, I will post the info.

BTW, I can’t thank you enough for this site. The information is priceless. We realized we had an infestation a week ago. Initially, we were completely overwhlemed. After finding this site, we’re still overwhelmed (!!) but at least we have a plan of attack.

We’re now in the “preparing for treatment” stage. It should take us all week since we both work full-time and have only evenings and the up-coming weekend to prepare. I’m going to Target again for more L and XL Ziploc bags and storage bins. We’re hoping to have the PCO’s first treatment next week.

Thank you again for this site!!

8 nobugsonme October 1, 2007 at 7:12 pm

Thanks Winston!

And thanks Jenny– that’s why we’re here 🙂

Does your cat have claws too? Watch him or her with the mattress encasements. They can be fun to poke your claws into, and this means little tiny holes a nymph could get out of.

9 Jennifer October 1, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Nobugs, yes, both our cats still have their claws. I’m really worried about spending the money on good NA covers only to have the cats shred them. Especially because they ignore scratching posts and were ruining our sofa, so we TRAINED them to scratch on the box spring.

At the time the box spring was a fine alternative — we don’t care about its appearance and it kept them off the sofa. But that was pre-BB. Any tips for preserving mattress/box spring encasements from cat claws?

I don’t want to hijack this thread, so let me know if I should create a new post or perhaps PM you.

10 nobugsonme October 1, 2007 at 11:51 pm

Pet supply catalogs sell a sticky tape specifically aimed at making cats not want to scratch something vertical like the side of a sofa or box spring; I guess they get stuck (but not seriously so, as would happen with carpet tape). Any gentle double sided tape might work.

Trimming nails regularly will help. So will attempting to ban kitty from the bed. I know training cats is hard, but closing rooms when you’re not in them, and pushing him/her off when you’re in the bed are options. If it was not so cruel to declaw an adult cat, this is probably one reason I would consider it. (I don’t have the heart.)

If the cat is clawing on the top of the bed (which is all mine will do), then making sure he is never directly on the mattress/sheets/pillow might help.

I think this is also a good reason to replace mattresses. Most people do not need to, but if you know your cat is going to use your mattress for a pincushion, and you are sure the bugs outside the mattress are gone, it might be good. People in single family homes who have been bed bug free for 2 months post-treatment with no signs might be most comfortable in this regard. If you’re in a multi-family and the neighbors might have bed bugs, you might not want to do this.

Sorry I don’t have any good answers, but maybe someone else will. If there is more, I will cut and paste to a new thread. 🙂

11 hopelessnomo October 2, 2007 at 1:12 am

I’m not sure about those hanging closets. The IKEA one says it’s polyester.

The plastic one from the Container Store is slightly better. I get that bedbugs have no reason to breach it for food, but bedbugs are always looking for harborage and they do set up in unlikely and out of the way places sometimes. Also, I seem to remember someone (a PCO?) did mention bedbugs harboring in wire hangers. And people do find bedbugs in closets all the time.

So, the risks may not be great but they’re not non-existent. I’m not sure the anxiety that this would produce would be worth it. With clothes that you intend to wear, you really want to be as close to 100% certain as you can be.

But this could of course just be me. After all, I still keep my clothes in bags. So I couldn’t see myself using something like this during an active infestation. Yes, paragon of ‘moving on’ I’m not.

12 HardToLiveintheCity October 2, 2007 at 5:18 pm

During infestation #1 (ah yes, we brought them with us in the move. Live and learn.), I purchased the standing, plastic closet from Container Store. There are holes on the top and bottom where the plastic meets the metal bars that make it stand. To fix this, I caulked the holes with an extremely great amount of caulk. Then, for the zipper, I used heavy-duty masking tape. A pain, yes – but far less of a pain than digging through ziplocks or garbage bags for an outfit for work. Also used in infestation #1 and #2 were/are the hanging closet ones from Container Store referenced above. Caulk has been used on the holes the same way as it was on the standing closet.

An additional tip re: the use of caulk: in infestation #2, we got a new mattress. When we got the new mattress, and covered it with multiple zippered covers, I caulked along the entire zipper. The zipper is completely sealed and covered in caulk. I thought it was a bright idea, thought I’d pass it along.

PS: things seem to be going well in situation #2. I hope to post on your ‘Success Stories’ section soon (in a very skeptical, wary, cautious, superstitious, and jaded sort of way). I have a lot of advice and many stories to share eventually; this is my first post, even though I have been reading and living with bedbugs in NYC for a year. Unfortunately, I never quite know where to begin…..

13 Bugged September 30, 2008 at 8:19 am

Cincinnati’s infested. Why aren’t we using Therma-pure heat treatments? My understanding is that the company has developed a process that will superheat your structure and kill all bugs and their eggs in a single treatment without having to pack and wash everything.

14 nobugsonme September 30, 2008 at 8:54 pm


Thermal treatments are very promising.

I suspect, however, that many cash-strapped landlords and homeowners are using traditional methods because they are cheaper. Even if, in the long run, they end up costing as much, because they go on indefinitely, it can be hard for people to choose a more expensive option.

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