I found some things that kill them(5 posts)
I just joined this site. I have been reading it for months while I have been battling the bugs here in Boston. I found some things that kill them. One is Spic and Span antibacterial cleaner which comes in a spray bottle. It is a green liquid and I got mine at the dollar store although it is sold everywhere. I found it kills them on contact pretty quickly. I also found that Orange Glo foam cleaner in an aerosol can does it too although it is much more expensive. I am not a chemist, I have just been trying all kinds of different things to kill them, searching for something at least fairly benign. I just caught a few more and I am drying a couple sheets of paper towels which I have sprayed with each cleaner. I will put a bug on the dried sheet to see if there is any residual effect of the chemicals in either cleaner. My thinking it that orange oil can be pretty caustic in concentration and perhaps any cleaner with a lot of it or maybe even a little of it will kill them too. They have orange powered cleaners at the dollar stores too.
I also have another idea I have been using and would like feedback from the pros here. That idea is that I use the microwave oven to kill them. I put an item of clothes or a pillow or whatever in a plastic bag to keep it clean in case there is oil or grease in the micro and then I nuke em. At first I thought any degree of it would kill them or any living thing but the damn things can even crawl around after a good 10 seconds or so. If you try it, keep in mind that items can catch fire so you don't want to over do it. I find I start with around 25 seconds and more time is added as the mass of the item increases. Just now writing this , it occurs to me that I could use a light mist of water on most things to generate some steam heat to kill them more effectively possibly while simultaneously making things less combustible. Also be aware of any hardware or trims on the textiles you put in there. Try to put them so they are covered by the rest of the item. Metal buttons and zippers can get hot and melt adjoining areas. Soft plastics like vinyls can melt.
Another idea is about those flimsy plastic cups they sell to stop them from climbing up bedlegs and tell which direction they are going. First I have my doubts about the accuracy of the info from them regarding telling the traveling direction of the bugs. Mainly because in my experiments with them I have put bb in a bathroom sink and witnessed them climb all the way up its slick surface to my great surprise. I was also shocked when I put one in a toilet expecting it to drown but instead it swam around or just struggled around but when it got to the side of the bowl, it actually was strong enough to break the surface tension and climb up the bowl. I didn't have the patience to see if it could negotiate the rim and escape so I just flushed it away. So back to the cups......I got slick stainless steel pet food dishes at the dollar store and put one under each bed leg. I put DE in them and we don't have to worry about accidentaly stepping on them and breaking them. If you try this be sure how many legs the bed has as lot them have a fifth leg in the center.
The place I am trying to eradicate them from is not where I live but I have to be there a lot so I am very stressed about taking them home with me some day. I used to go home and get undressed in my hallway and then microwave my clothes but I just can't do it anymore. I put a beach lounge chair there for me to have a place to sit. One of those zero gravity deals so at least I have some comfort but mainly cuz it has tall metal legs that I hope they can not climb. I also am very careful about where I put anything. So far I have stayed bb free at my home.
After seeing how hardy they are I realize that if you vacuum them you have to toss the bag but I also now realize that they can get caught and survive in the HEPA filters too and I would wager some will still be in the hose and/or attachments too. One can't really spray wet poison in a vacuum cleaner not designed to pick up wet soil so I am pretty baffled by this one now. I used a hepa one and then realized they were in the hose and filters etc so I just put the whole thing in a big black garbage bag and put it on the porch and it has been there for months. It was a pretty new machine too. I still vacuum there but I use my old Rainbow machine which is basically a vacuum that traps all the dirt, and now the bugs, in a base full of water which is then flushed away. It can pick up DE too which is not good for regular bag or bagless vacs. Of course I still have concerns about them staying the hose and wands etc . They can not be nuked so I guess I could put them in a freezer but I don't have one with the room for them so I am open to your ideas on that too.
The place that has them is my mothers and I am her primary caregiver too. One would think that with all the time I have to spend there that I would have some bites by now . I know bites are an allergic reaction so maybe I am one of the fortunate few that is not allergic to them. I know I have often picked them up and killed them by just squashing between my fingers and also picked them up and carried them to place in a container to experiment with, and no bites yet. Also of note, she has so much stuff, and clutter and textiles and books etc etc in her place that she can't even have a PCO come in because it would be such a major project to do the prep work that is required to make the work effective. It kills me that her final years have to be about dealing with this problem. She can barely walk as it is. We are pretty sure they came from her former tenant in the apartment under hers who had frequent visits from family from India and Pakistan but there is no way we can ever know for sure.
That's my story and I am sticking to it.
About your vacuum cleaner... I have a PackTite..you may want to invest in one since you could treat your mother's textiles with that and also you can put your whole vacuum cleaner inside of it and let it get to the proper BB killing temperatures for the requisite amount of time. I put the whole vacuum inside my PackTite after using it to kill whatever might be inside the bag and the hepafilter as well as the hose and suction parts i used. I think that's the best way because those bags are so expensive that i can't justify tossing one out every time i vacuum the crib. I hope that this is working..i don't see why it shouldn't.
i don't like the idea of roasting things in the microwave...or the oven. It just seems too dangerous to me.
See if you can work a PackTite into your budget. Sounds like you could get a lot of milage out of it.
please let us know if the experiments you're doing show any residual effect.
sorry about your mom's situation. It's what i fear the most for our old and disabled folks. She's lucky she has a good child like you to help her. Can you convince her to toss some of her clutter so that bbs have less places to hide?
hi Deedle and thanks for the info.....was thinking about the packtite but it is really too expensive for us although I never thought of using it for the vac.
I'd like to address both the original post, though it is somewhat old, as well as the new post suggesting powdered silica gel kitty litter.
It is likely that most detergents kill on contact. If you look at some of the $20+ USD bottles of "green" bed bug killer spray, you'll find the #1 ingredient being sodium lauryl sufate or sodium laureth sulfate. "SLS" is the basic building block for liquid soaps, detergents and shampoos. It doesn't hurt to spray the BB you see with your favorite cleaner or disinfectant and see what works. These are not likely to have "residual" value, i.e., to kill BB who walk over the treated surface later. this appears due to BB's very "conservative" lifestyle: Doesn't roam around unless necessary. Relatively small foot pads for absorbing things. High ground clearance. Doesn't "groom" itself like other insects. No mouth parts to ingest anything but blood.
It appears that BB can climb up relatively smooth surfaces, including shiny plastic. The "Climb-ups" are treated (and need to be periodically retreated) with talc - NOT DE - in order to prevent the bugs from getting traction. Climb-ups are designed to trap bugs without killing them, in order to prevent them from possibly secreting an "alarm pheromone" (which scientists believe BB do to warn their cohorts of a dangerous situation).
Heat kills bed bugs. A bed bug will die when exposed to heat between about 105-125F, depending on duration. The problem with micro-waves is that it's hard to determine how hot you're getting your item (and the bugs inside). Microwave ovens can be notoriously uneven in their heating. Adding water to the mix just provides another avenue for ruining your item. There are better approaches available. If an item is clean, you can skip the wash; a relatively short run through a warm chamber (like a dryer or packtite) should do the trick with minimal or no damage to the item.
If you are "working" in an infested or suspect location and you have little control over the BB situation there, it's probably best to set up a system where you have clothes that you only wear there and which are either left behind or you seal up, take home and launder. On arrival in your suspect location, seal your "home" things, change into your "there" things. Avoid exposing your things while there. On departure, change back (and remember to wipe yourself down, check yourself, perhaps shower).
Silica, be it as "gel" or diatomaceous earth is a very important element in BB control. It can, however, be a respiratory hazard. Also the fine powder can clog motors and the like. Making this yourself risks kicking up silica dust and hurting your food processor. Also, how do you know if you've gotten it to the right consistency? This has been discussed in the past on the forum, triggered by a YouTube video where a guy demonstrates grinding up the pellets that come packed with a lot of products to keep them dry. I think you're better off buying a ready made product and following the appropriate precautions. We have a FAQ on silica/DE that's helpful. I'm also concerned that people will not fully comprehend what you're suggesting and end up buying/grinding the wrong kind of kitty litter.
To re-iterate, we have a good FAQ here on bed bugs and an excellent Resource page, with fact sheets and guides from universities and public health authorities. These are inportant resources in the fight against BB, whether you do it yourself, or go with a pro. If you can read one guide, I'd recommend the "State of Michigan Guide". It's an easy read and has extensive resources regarding inspection and treatment.
Microwaving items is a definite fire hazard; no one I know on the boards recommends its use for that reason.
Heat, as cilecto points out, does work.
However, many fabrics cannot handle high heat; that's why the Packtite is such a useful tool. It can heat fabrics up that can't tolerate the dryer heat.
It's important to remember, however, that there are also some fabrics that cannot be washed and put into the dyer while wet, but that can be put dry into a dryer for twenty minutes on low heat. If you're smart about using an instant-read thermometer, and if you start by testing each fabric, in the absence of a packtite, that can be used to use heat to treat some fabrics. Unfortunately, you won't know which ones can handle it and which ones can't until you try.
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