Hints from Bed Bug Helloise: more bed bug fighting design solutions, and some serious questions about clothing

by nobugsonme on December 21, 2006 · 7 comments

in bed bugs, consumers, furnishing bedbug-free homes, tools and weapons

from (Bed Bug) Helloise:

Contributor Parakeets wrote in response to our last furnishing post,

I am buying disposable furniture, in preparation for when I hopefully will move (once I figure out how to move without taking bedbugs with me, or how I might be able to afford a single family house.)

For example, I bought stackable plastic utility shelves at BJ’s (similar ones available at Home Depot) that you might normally use in a workshop, basement or garage. They come in black and white. I use them instead of bookcases. They are inexpensive, sturdy, and don’t look too bad when you put things on them. Sort of “student decorating” in style, but I feel very comfortable knowing they are just for the time being. I can take them apart, look inside of them; they have no screws or wooden parts, just all smooth plastic. Best of all, I know I can toss them when I move. Utilitarian is the word.

And she added,

I forgot to say that regarding furniture, I also threw out my bed and matching nightstand–furniture that was in our family for 60 years–and replaced them with a simple metal bed. My previous wooden bed had a mahogany veneer over hardwood, and a man I know who was very knowledgeable about bedbugs visited my apartment and told me the bedbugs could be living between the veneer and the wood on my type of bed, they are that thin.

So my new furniture so far:

  • inexpensive plastic utility shelves as bookcases
  • a metal bed
  • bridge chairs, replacing a stuffed chair and love seat that I had to toss.

It is beginning to look like “police headquarters” around here, if you ask me.

Oh dear, I am completely sympathetic on the police station decor. (Remember when Brooklyn’s finest had bed bugs? Now we know why their furnishings are so sparse.)

Parakeets suggests white plastic (book)shelves for ease of spotting and cleaning up the little b@$^%*&s.

For those ready for something more permanent, I am fixed on the whole glass and metal genre. Bugalina has tried the cb2 trig desk I am considering, and is enjoying it.

Here’s cb2’s trig bookshelf, to match the desk I suggested the other day. The trig series is described like so:

White frosted and tempered 8mm glass and titanium-finished square steel work the office with a clean efficiency. Team up with our white trig desk for another cool factor.

1″ square tube is machined then powder-coated in a soft, warm silver finish

Five tempered-glass shelves are back-painted white

Clean with glass cleaner; soft cloth


Understand, we are not married to cb2. (In fact, we’re married to Bed Bug ‘Elmer.) To be fair, here’s a similar get-up from equally trendy westelm. The 3-piece L-shaped desk is $439 and the keyboard shelf is extra. The two-piece ensemble from cb2 (trig desk and trig console) comes in at $318, though it may be smaller.

I also sought less expensive options, being quite the bargain-hunter. Office Depot and Staples had some kind of glass computer desks. But I did not find anything as nice or any less expensive than the simple trig desk. remember, you want something that’s not fussy. Bed Bug Helloise is delighted by the thought of “clean efficiency” and metal tubes that appear to be fully sealed. What we do not want is cracks or other hiding places. And remember, for safety’s sake, tempered glass is a must.

Bed Bug Helloise has received some readers’ queries. She is humbled by the following questions — because she does not have a good and ready answer. But she knows the creativity of Bedbuggers is astounding, and she hopes you will share your advice.

First, what to do about wear and tear on clothing and bedding:

I’ve been actively fighting an infestation for many months now and repeatedly washing and drying my clothes (hot water, colorfast bleach, dryer for 2 hours on as hot as possible) has beaten my clothes to a pulp. They are pale and ravelling, literally. Clothes that couldn’t be washed were mostly tossed. I am starting to look poor, but I don’t know what kind of new clothes to buy that will withstand this bedbug treatment. Also, I can now see through my sheets, they are wearing so thin.

We skip the colorsafe bleach (since it’s our understanding that the heat of the dryer is the real bed bug killer). I wonder if an hour in the dryer (not a stuffed dryer, mind you) might be sufficient? It is what we do. However, this depends on the type of dryer–industrial ones may get hotter and need less time than a home dryer (and some building or laundromat dryers are the weaker kind too). At the end of the day, washing and drying for an hour on hot does enough damage. But perhaps not as much or as fast.

As soon as I take a sweater or something off, I seal it back up in a ziplock bag. This is preventing me from being bitten during the day (hooray!) but, I’m embarrassed to admit, my clothes are starting to smell from not being aired out. These particular items don’t need to be washed, they just need to be aired, but I don’t know how to do that when I have bedbugs. Today I had to spray myself with Febreeze before I left

Yes, I stopped sealing my shoes in a ziploc after a day or two, for the same reasons. Goodness me! You’d think they were Bed Bug ‘Elmer’s by the smell of them!

My solution is a messy one: air it out, then bag it and freeze it for a week. (I cannot guarantee this works, of course.) Another idea would be perhaps leaving items like sweaters at work, if that’s where you usually need them (and assuming your workplace is not infested!) A few jackets and sweaters left at work, in neutral tones, might save some trouble.

Perhaps someone has a better solution. A good designer might be able to create a kind of free-standing clothing rack / closet from really small mesh (over metal bars). We could hang our stuff in there and it would be safe until it was re-used.

Remember, Bed Bug Helloise is neither a licensed therapist nor an experienced home decorator. She is open to your suggestions and questions.

Finally, thanks to the Pamunkey Regional Library in Hanover, VA, for declaring Bedbugger “Blog of the Week.” I told Bed Bug ‘Elmer, and he wondered how they’d gotten Pa Monkey to learn to read. (‘Elmer’s hearing, and frankly, his thinking, isn’t that great.) We could not be more pleased, since we’re very fond of libraries and books in general.  And we much prefer being thought of as “Blog of the Week” to being considered “those crazy paranoid people in New York City.” 🙂

1 Bugalina December 21, 2006 at 9:55 am

Target has some wire shelving items that are in a decent price range. I purchased a unit advertised as a microwave stand. It is a wire shelving unit with a “wooden” top and a pull out wire drawer. I am using it as a nite stand next to our beds. This wire shelf items have metal pole legs, making it easy to smear them with vaseline or oil ..

2 JaneBug December 22, 2006 at 1:02 am

I wonder if you might also be able to buy one of those clothes racks (the ones on wheels but you could remove the wheels) and put the legs in mineral oil dishes. Then could you put your hanging clothes (and maybe shoes?) there and prevent them from being reinfested? Maybe you could also surround that with a ring of DE? This way you might be able to avoid the bags and laundering.

3 nobugsonme December 22, 2006 at 1:46 am

Yes– this seems plausible, JaneBug!

I think isolating a clothes storage system is easier than isolating a bed: some people have found that isolating their beds (ie bed on risers, risers full of mineral oil / water / tea tree oil, whatever) works until the bed bug paratroopers get to work. This is no joke, bed bugs are so desperate to feed on you that they may find a way to walk up your wall, over the ceiling above your bed, and drop down.

I think that’s likely with a bed, but not so likely with a clothes rack, however– the attraction in the bed scenario is you, in the bed, breathing out C02.

4 August 31, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Caught this in the most recent issue of Blueprint magazine and while not normally a huge Martha fan, I think it’s genius!!

5 nyjammin August 31, 2007 at 9:40 pm

I dunno. I mean, c’mon. Martha Stewart takes something as simple as a glass cylinder and makes a table outta it! Do you think she is trying to come up with ways for people w/bbs to decorate their houses w/bb proof furniture and the such. This woman started w/nothing and is now a millionare or billionare. She is not stupid and I think she is trying to cash in on this bb thing. Can’t wait for the glass couch to come out.

6 ehcomps April 24, 2008 at 8:52 am

Laptops? Modems? Hard drives? Digital cameras? Handhelds? We have no access to sunshine right now. Can we remove the batteries and put them in the oven, heating to 140F? Can someone give us some good advice?

7 nobugsonme April 24, 2008 at 8:58 am


That’s a good question, but off topic in this thread. Please post your message on a FAQ dealing with getting bed bugs out of your stuff (there is one) or on the forums (click blue forum button above). Thanks!

I would not personally put electronics in the oven, and obviously, no one can promise it would be safe for you or the item. The FAQ I just mentioned may help, and there have been discussions along these lines in the forums.

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