Home from buggy hotel, how do I clean things I can't heat?(4 posts)
We just spent 5 nights at a hotel with a group of friends. On the last day, another person in our group found bed bugs on his bed and luggage when he rose very early to catch a plane home. Of course, those of us who were left (not many by the time we got the call) all searched our rooms for signs of infestation. We found nothing in our room, but mostly searched the mattresses (didn't know as much then about where and how to look). Got another call from our friend, he'd gotten the sample bugs he'd caught ID'ed and they were definitely bed bug nymphs.
When we got home, we bagged everything without bringing anything into the house (and I mean *nothing* was brought in...we even undressed in the back yard and came in naked!). We then ran our clothes through a hot dryer for 30 minutes in medium-sized batches, then washed and dried them all. Used the dryer rack for things that couldn't handle tumbling, like duffle bags, shoes and purse, and used an oven thermometer to check that we were getting the temps high enough for long enough. Thank you to everyone who posted info here about using the dryer for this...so helpful and reassuring!
Now my question: how can I make sure that there are no eggs on things I can't heat? Stuff like lipsticks, perfume bottle, contact lens solution bottle, matchbox cars (plastic ones), camera, books, origami paper, magic markers, etc? I already destroyed a pair of sunglasses that I hoped could handle the heat, but it turned out they couldn't.
Is there anything I can wipe these things down with that would at least remove any eggs, if not kill them? Right now they are all bagged up in ziplocks while I try to figure out what to do. I've searched this site and many others, but didn't find any advice on this.
I am pretty freaked out by the whole thing, even though I have not seen any bugs. Just the likelihood that we picked up a few hitchhikers has me a little bit crazy!
Is there anything I can wipe these things down with that would at least remove any eggs, if not kill them?
Not with 100% reliability. Bed bugs kind of "glue" (for lack of a better term) their eggs down, some times, whey they are laid.
91% isopropyl alcohol is a contact killer of live bugs, and it's cheap. (It's also highly flammable, so don't use near an open flame. And it "melts" some plastics, so test a small area first.)
However, many of the items you're talking about--sunglasses, lipsticks, etc.--aren't super hospitable to bed bugs. I think you'd have to have had a really intense infestation for bed bugs to be harboring in contact lens solution bottles. Remember, they like to be in nice, comfortable hidey holes, very near their food source but in places unlikely to be disturbed. None of the items on your list really fits those criteria, esp. since many were likely stored in the hotel bathroom.
While it is true that a single impregnated female, or two eggs with opposite sex nymphs, or two adults or two nymphs that live long enough and feed enough to become adults, can start an infestation, I think it's important to remember the following point:
Even if you could decon every single item, you're likely going to spend the next few weeks on high alert afraid you missed a hitch hiker. I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but it's the truth, and coming to terms with that will likely save you a lot of grief about trying to decontaminate items that don't need decon and that are almost impossible to decon.
I think in our desire for a technological solution that will instantly kill all the bugs, we overlook a simple tool that is actually just as important if less glamorous: inspection.
If you travel regularly, it's a good idea to know how to do a thorough inspection of a room for bed bugs, and that means being confident in your ability to identify bed bugs in all stages and eggs.
Since you're just down to items that can't be heated up in a dryer with a rack, it sounds like you're down to a manageable number of items to inspect very carefully by hand. Some people like to inspect such items in a bathroom over the tub. Bathrooms often have good lighting, and you can run some very hot water into the tub to make sure anything you rush out during your inspection dies.
As for the origami paper, if you're not willing to trash it, you can carefully inspect it and/or seal it up in an airtight container for 18 months.
Thank you, this may be bad news but it is very helpful! I am pretty confident in my ability to inspect simple items like a plastic bottle for live bugs, but not for eggs. And right now every tiny white bit of dust looks like an egg to me.
I guess I need to shed the paranoia, accept that I've been as thorough as I reasonably can be, and hope for the best at this point. You're right about us (well, me anyway!) spending the next few weeks on high alert afraid we missed a hitch hiker. Sounds like that's part of the deal with these darn bugs.
Small consolation, we will need to have our house tented for termites within the next year or so, and if we turn out to have bed bugs we can pay the extra for the 3x greater application of Vikane to kill them as well. Yay, I guess?
Anyway, thanks very much, and thank you to everyone who posts here...I've been reading for days and have learned a LOT. Love this web site...wish it didn't need to exist, of course, but since it does I'm so glad it's available.
you sound like you handled it well. Maybe a small investment in climb ups or a passive monitor will ease your fears while time passes? They are fairly inexpensive and seem to work well. As for you other items - keep them in ziplocs and only take out when needed or after 18 months. I threw away so much stuff and I must say I don't miss it a bit!
Hope your friends were as vigilant as you!
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