Zen and the Art of Bed Bug Prep? And positive thinking and bed bugs.

by nobugsonme on December 14, 2008 · 4 comments

in bed bug prep, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, pest control, vikane

Well, okay, not Zen exactly.

I enjoyed reading some of New 2 The City’s blog entries about bed bugs.  In this post, she describes going through her books over the bathtub, before bagging them and placing them in sealed containers:

Upon confirming that my apartment was infested with BBs, I was instructed to put everything in my apartment into heavy-duty, black contractor bags. Currently I am fanning books over the white tub to determine whether or not the book hosts a fat bedbug. After fanning, I put the book stacks into plastic bags, suck out the air, repeat the process with a second bag–first spaying pesticide– then putting the bags into plastic containers.

Warning: Since people often rush to “do something” when they notice bed bugs, I want to note, for other readers’ benefit, that no one should be bagging anything (or spraying pesticides!) without the explicit instructions of their pest professional (preferably one they believe to have extensive experience getting rid of bed bugs).  PCOs each have their own ideas about prep and you should never do anything until someone has confirmed the presence of bed bugs (and, hopefully, gotten some idea of their harborages) and then told you what to do.  “Bagging” is not a given, and in fact, can mean wildly different things as this FAQ explains.

Anyway, back to the story.  In the course of this book inspection and bagging procedure, New 2 The City encounters her copy of Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization, and contemplates the glass-half-full side of having bed bugs:

As much as this experience with bedbugs has created a overwhelming amount of stress in my world, I am grateful for the opportunity for contemplation that is at hand.

Similar sentiments tonight from fedupwithbb in the forums (that’s the woman featured on the Today show this week whose home had four vikane gas fumigation treatments (four!), and who still has bed bugs, and no idea where they’re coming from); she writes:

I suppose this kind of slow house fire (as I like to call it) does have one advantage… It gives you a new perspective on the idea that “it’s just stuff.” 🙂 It has been sad to let go of a few things, but somewhat liberating to realize that I don’t need a lot of what I have in my house, you know? I mean, it creates a terrible carbon footprint because I can’t re-use, I can’t continue my cloth diapering, I use crazy amounts of water, energy for heat, plastic bags, disposable diapers, etc., etc. But it does paint a very clear picture of the few things I have that *really* matter. The rest, I am learning, I can live without. That’s a good thing to be reminded of.

What an amazing attitude!

Make no mistake, bed bugs are a nightmare in many respects.  But we have to do what we have to do, and bravo to these ladies for seeing the other side of the coin.

Creative visualization.  Let’s all go visualize bed bugs disappearing.

Can’t hurt, right?

Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life (Gawain, Shakti)

1 JC December 14, 2008 at 4:00 am

Thanks for the well wishes, and for including me in your post. Regarding the bagging of books– my PCO did recommend this procedure. It is sad to say good-bye to my books for the next year or more… However, it will be a sweet day when they are unwrapped, and placed in a case free of bed bugs!

2 nobugsonme December 14, 2008 at 4:05 am

Thanks, JC! I was pretty sure your PCO gave you these instructions but wanted to make sure others did not rush to follow them, since they might work with someone with a vastly different protocol.

Some PCOs do recommend bagging non-washables for 18 months, some until the first treatment has been done, and some never.

3 Janet June 3, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I have been working on preparing people’s homes for bedbug treatment for about 6 months now. (I’m actually a professional organizer who fell into this line of work because of the demand for this type of help.) I have worked with several different exterminators with different protocols. The big question seems to be about clothing and linens. I have heard anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes in a hot dryer. Only one said the clothing had to be washed first. What’s the current thought out there on this subject?

4 nobugsonme June 4, 2009 at 12:34 pm

HI Janet,

I assume you are interested in times for drying already-dry items. (Items need only be dried on hot, but if they are washed, obviously, they must be thoroughly dried and then I would add additional time.)

The problem with this is that there is no easy answer. It takes a lot longer to thoroughly heat a pair of thick jeans, than a nylon sock. And then pillows and comforters? Very long time. The thickness of the item is a factor, so is the temperature of the dryer.

Entomologist Dr. Michael Potter has tested dry cotton socks, and found that a hot dryer killed bed bugs and eggs in a sock in 5 minutes (at 175 F; note, Potter says a hot dryer is typically 180 F in the US, but I believe temperatures can vary a lot). The Dryer FAQ gives more details on drying times at various temperatures, with references to studies we’re aware of.

Given that some things may be thicker than a cotton sock, I would guess that a normal load of dry laundry should be kept at this temp in 20 minutes, just to be safe. If you are trying to kill bed bugs and eggs in a dry comforter or pillow or stuffed animals, I honestly am not sure how long you’d have to dry it for.

A Packtite would be a good option esp. for thicker items like stuffed animals; to be absolutely sure, you could insert the temperature probe into the center of the item (eg through a seam). It can also be used on non-washable clothing.

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