isopropyl alcohol and some other questions(14 posts)
Hi - I'm new to this forum and just recently found bedbugs in my apartment. I have a few questions - hope I'm posting in the right place.
1. I read that alcohol kills bugs and eggs on contact, so I sprayed isopropyl alcohol into cracks and then mopped the entire floor with two quarts. Is this a good idea?
2. Is a landlord required to inform tenants of a bedbug infestation in an apartment? My apartment was infested one month after my upstairs neighbor was treated, but when I discovered the infestation, my landlord suggested I change laundromats. The exterminator accidentally let the secret slip.
3. After my apartment was fumigated with sterifab and delta dust (deltamethrin), both of which are supposed to be low odor, my apartment smelled like a sweetish chemical for 5 days. Is this normal?
4. The exterminator began spraying and dusting before I had left the apartment. Is this normal?
5. Should I move to a new apartment?
1. Many of us use 91% alcohol as a contact killer. Be aware that alcohol is not only very flammable, in the purest forms it will burn with an invisible flame. Be very very careful to ensure there is no possible ignition source around when using it and have an ABC fire extinguisher available nearby.
2. Every state has different law as what a landlord is supposed to do in terms of treating/informing a tenant of a bb infestation. And unfortunately, most times they know very little about bb's and provide misinformation.
3.Cannot comment on these chemicals, never had them used in my house. My exterminators used Phantom and Demon, which are supposed to have no odor. Perhaps someone else can weigh in on the chemicals you mentioned.
4. They really aren't supposed to spray and dust while you're still there- breathing in carcinogens and the dust is a dangerous inhalant. Was the exterminator wearing a respirator mask?That being said, it doesn't mean they won't start the job, maybe in hopes of getting out of there faster. :/
5. You can move- but not without taking extreme precautions to not bring them with you to your next residence.
Hi Bed Bug Epidemic,
Thanks a lot for your reply. To follow-up:
1. I think I used 70% pharmacy grade Isopropyl Alcohol. Where would you pick up 90% and are the fumes dangerous at all? Also, would it be advisable to mop with alcohol each weekend?
2. I live in Queens, NY - if you or anyone knows the specifics of whether a landlord is required to inform tenants of an infestation.
3. still stands... the original question was, do sterifab and/or delta dust leave a residual odor?
4. The exterminator was a budget exterminator that didn't give a receipt. He wore a paper dust mask, not a respirator.
5. I am taking precautions such as laundering all my clothes in hot water and then sealing them in airtight plastic storage boxes. Mainly I'm trying to decide if it would be smarter to move to a new place or if it's doable to defeat them in my current residence without exposing myself to all kinds of hazardous chemicals. Any advice is most appreciated.
Well, I'm not of much help in the alcohol area- I'm not sure where to get the 90%- I've looked briefly but never was hell bent on finding it. all I know is Alcohol is flammable & dries up quickly.... I don't know if it will damage a floor finish
Some people swear by Murphy's Oil Soap as a home remedy for bed bugs harboring under a wood floor. It makes the wood shine too
R u sure the bins are air/water tight? I had a hard time finding those and found that the XL ziploc bags were great.
oh and try this link
for landlord/tenant help.
Hope it helps!
To get higher concentration of alcohol, you can try specifically asking for it at the pharmacy counter. Apparently here (in Winnipeg, Canada) they put the rubbing alcohol behind the counter. I don't know whether they do that where you are. I got mine at my local supermarket pharmacy (but 99%, not 90, they didn't stock it).
> 1. I think I used 70% pharmacy grade Isopropyl Alcohol. Where would you pick up 90% and are the fumes dangerous at all? Also, would it be advisable to mop with alcohol each weekend?
People on the board generally recommend 91%. It may be next to the 70% but local practices vary. In NYC, it seems to be getting harder to find (people probably buying it up. Other day, I see guy with baket piled with them, plus bottle of Caladryl. I thought I know why.).
As noted, alcohol is flammable and may damage finished surfaces. It's good for a shot at bugs on fabrics to prevent smushes. But for floors, you can use Murphy's or other detergents (many will kill on contact. In fact, some of the pricey "designer, herbal" BB remedies are spiced detergents).
I've used 91% on fabrics and wood floors - so far, no damage done (but shortly after I spray, I do wipe down with water on the wood floors). I bought mine at the local CVS and Rite Aid, next to the 70%. But, they don't always have them readily available so when they're available, I buy lots of bottles. As noted by others, it's flammable so be careful. Regarding clothes, I, too, recommend the XL ziplock bags - from what I read on other posts, if you don't secure your storage boxes with something like duck tape, there's a chance the bed bugs will still make their way into those. Good luck!!!
Unfortunately landlords are not forced by law to disclose previous infestations (well at least not in Canada). To an extent I can understand that, because as someone that has had them I wouldn't want to disclose that to future landlords, because they might refuse to rent me an apartment.
However if you are a tenant and one of your neighbours has an infestation, the management should let you know so that you may get your apartment sprayed at the same time. That way the BBs won't infest the entire floor. It's again up to your landlord / building management.
A professional exterminator would spray a liquid chemical that has a very pungent odour (for days after). They also wear a respirator and will not spray in the apartment while you are there. In Canada they use something that is non-toxic.
With regards to staying it really depends on your circumstances. You might want to wait it out for 6 months or so to make sure they are dead and then vacuum all your belongings and move to a new place. Or if the situation doesn't improve then move out but discard anything made of wood.
As of today, it seems, in NYC landlords are required by law to inform tenants of bedbug infestations in the past year! Don't think it works retroactively, though...
Found the article here: http://gothamist.com/2010/08/30/paterson_signs_bedbug_disclosure_ac.php
As for 91% Isopropyl, I found mine at a Duane Reade in Manhattan.
As for your alcohol question, regular, over-the-counter isopropyl rubbbing alcohol will kill bedbugs on contact. The problem with alcohol is that it has no residual effect. You can saturate your bed or furniture with it and mop your floors with it, but, unless the bedbug is visible, they will just hide and continue to lay eggs. I was told by my exterminator, Orkin, to vacuum all of the edges of the floors/walls, furniture, and crevices then throw the vacuum bag or contents away before treatment. This gets rid of many of the bugs and eggs immediately. I was told that bedbugs typically do not live in the middle of the carpet or floor. They hide in the edges or corners, of rooms, in baseboards, behind loose wallpaper, in light switch covers, behind picture frames,in DVD boxes, in dresser drawers, etc, etc. The exterminator even treats electronics as they sometimes hide in speakers and in tiny holes in electronics. I was told to spray all of my DVD cases and all of the kids' toys with alcohol inside and out with rubbing alcohol then bag them up in the center of each room. I was surprised to find a couple of bedbugs in my son's football helmet and in a toy that was near the wall as I sprayed them with alcohol. We also disassembled my son's bed and found several on the wooden baseboards which we also sprayed with alcohol. We had to caulk any small holes or gaps in the walls and crown molding. As you can see, mopping your floors with alcohol will not fix your problem. We had to empty every drawer in the house and clean/bag the contents. We had to wash and dry every linen in the house on high heat and bag it all up. Anything that could not be washed had to be dried on high heat for at least 15-20 min. After all of this was done, the exterminator came. He used several products: Phantom & Onslaught (insectisides with a residual effect), Bedlam, Steri-fab, and Gentrol (a growth restrictor that messes up an adult bedbug's reproductive system so that it cannot lay eggs). I would not reccommend using only Steri-fab as it is an alcohol-based insecticide with no residual effect that does not always kill the eggs. It does have a strong odor similar to alcohol that can last several days. This is supposedly normal and harmless. Just make sure to keep the house well-ventillated. I would not reccommend treating the bedbugs yourself. I am also a renter and my landlord kindly agreed to split the $750 cost of extermination with me as I am pretty sure that they were here when I moved in. I tried treating them myself and a small problem quickly became a large one. The process is hard work and it requires several different products and at least one follow-up treatment 2 weeks from the first, maybe more. I chose Orkin to exterminate because they guarantee that they will rid your home of bedbugs and will continue to retreat at no additional cost until they are gone. I just had treatment #1 today and he was very thorough. The house still has a mild odor, but I don't care! Spray anything and everything! I just want them gone. As for your landlord, in most states landlords are not required to treat bedbugs. Many states are initiating legislation to require them to treat though. I called the health department and was told that bedbugs are only considered a nuissance such as a mosquito, not a public health concern, as they do not spread diseases (What a joke!). Landlords are not required to inform a tenant of a prior infestation either. Many landlords are completely unaware of the problem anyway as the eggs are microscopic and the bugs rarely come out during the day. My landlord really was unaware and he was kind enough to help me out. Yours sounds like a complete jerk and an idiot because, even if you move, they will still be there and they will infest the next tenant. I don't believe that he can evict you because you have bedbugs though. If your rent is paid and you are a good tenant otherwise, he has no legal recourse to evict you. Bedbugs infest both dirty and clean people and changing laundry facilities will not fix your problem. Your landlord sounds like he needs some serious bedbug education. Maybe you can send him some info. Terminix has a good informational site. If he proceeds with eviction, you may want to contact the Legal Aid Society to protect your rights as a tenant, but you will most likely have to eat the cost of extermination on your own or wait for the laws to change. Good luck!
Thanks for all the replies! One more follow-up:
5. I'm not at all worried about eviction. My main concern is that my neighbors might not be as vigilant, and I may end up getting re-infested despite me fully exterminating the bugs from my apartment. If you were in my situation, would you move to a new apartment?
The bedbug disclosure act is excellent if landlords actually follow through - thanks for the link.
I haven't gotten bitten for the last week and a half and have mopped twice with alcohol. I plan to continue to do so, but am considering trying Murphy's oil soap and using diatomaceous earth around the baseboards and floor cracks to keep them gone.
Use the Murphy's Oil if it keeps your floor looking nice. Can't do anyharm and we deserve beauty in our homes don't we? But it has almost no residual effect.
The DE in the baseboards is a good idea to at least slow any infestations from the neighbours. As to the cracks in the floor, a lot folks recommend sealing them instead. But I didn't inherit the handyman gene like my brother did, so can't comment on that.
But as to moving apartments. Me, I like the devil I know until I find a much better situation. I'm even indignant about giving up my huge futon frame and huger futon but I convince myself that being able to vacuum the floor will make up for it. So I wouldn't be moving.
You, however, get to make that choice for yourself. Not fearing eviction in the face of the plague is a good thing.
> A professional exterminator would spray a liquid chemical that has a very pungent odour (for days after).
Many treatments are powders (which researchers find has mire residual value, as BB can pick it up when they walk over it) and us often of low or no odor.
There are a growing array of options for treating objects, from packtite and pest strips to fumigation or baking of container or truck loads.
I would not recommend applying anything to electronics. Many pros believe that in a properly treated home, any bugs that are in them (rare) will cross poison when they emerge to feed. Alcohol can damage plastic or painted surfaces and there is often a gentler alternative. Example: DVD. Take it apart. Wash the disc in warm water with dishwash liquid, while you inspect it s surface. Take the label out of the cover and wipe down with your hand under bright light, feeling for bumps. Inspect the clamshell under bright light (you can see through the clear cover now), can also warm wash. If you have a stapled booklet, seal up til you feel more confident inspecting, past max BB life (new research hints that it's much shorter than the oft cited 18 months) or have a good treatment option available (see above). Hope this helps.
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