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How I beat bed bugs in a duplex

(5 posts)
  1. scuzzo

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Thu Oct 20 2016 16:19:45
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    About a year and a half ago several of us living here noticed we were getting weird rashes after a night of sleep. Figured out we had bed bugs and started looking for treatment options. We struggle to keep ahead on our bills and the social shame my wife felt meant that we couldn't have an exterminator showing up at our house to treat, possibly alerting the landlord (which in our area will get your lease revoked), or basically seek any outside help. After doing what most people do and buying several products that are designed to kill bed bugs that really do nothing, I spent several weeks consuming as much information as I could find on how to get rid of the problem. Knowing that bed bugs have adapted to live through most everything human made we decided to play the long game. Our strategy was to attack the problem in two ways. First we isolated every article of furniture in the house that we could. There are plenty of guides online that will give you detailed information but the short of it is that every leg of furniture that touched the ground was isolated using cheap plastic bowls from Walmart, the bowls were lightly dusted with diatomaceous earth. We caught just a few of the offenders this way but ultimately they just sequestered each object so that when a problem arose we could further treat the problem. After we had the furniture isolated we decided that being able to sleep was the most important thing to focus on for us. Now it was time to go our second route and start killing the stupid things.
    To remedy the problem I went to work further isolating the bed. The problem with treating a bed is that there are too many cracks and crevices for a nymph to hide in. Spraying products will do some of the work, but I personally felt that having my kids sleeping on bedding covered in poison wasn't a good solution. So I continued with the plan for isolation. I went to Lowes and bought two products we didn't have yet
    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Frost-King-5-Pack-Plastic-Drop-Cloths-Common-9-ft-x-12-ft-Actual-9-ft-x-12-ft/50290531
    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Trimaco-2-Pack-Paper-Plastic-Drop-Cloths-Common-9-ft-x-12-ft-Actual-9-ft-x-12-ft/50280749
    The box spring was dusted with diatomaceous earth, using a bellows duster ($12 shipped to our door) and covered with the pure plastic drop cloth. Since bed bugs cannot climb smooth plastic the plastic drop cloth went between the mattress and box springs. I had to make several cuts to the plastic so that the drop cloth would drape to the floor. This ensured that anything living in the box spring would stay in the box spring and die or drop to the floor and die. Either way they couldn't get to us or our kids. The mattress was then sprayed with a generous helping of 91% isopropyl alcohol and allowed a few hours to dry. After the mattress had dried both sides were dusted with diatomaceous earth. Then the paper backed plastic was draped over the mattress. Again isolating the bed bugs was our goal. The paper backed plastic proved to be light to medium durable. It would stretch quite a bit before it tore, but it would tear if the kids were too active (ie. jumping on the bed or racing each other to get into bed). Each night we would inspect the paper backed plastic and if it got too bad being tore up we would simply dispose of it and put the new on one. (Words of advice here. We tried just plastic but it's too uncomfortable. You get too hot, every move on it makes so much noise, and although it is tougher it will also tear. The paper side of the plastic dampens all the bad things about sleeping on plastic and makes for a pretty comfortable night although you will get hot sometimes.) After a few months of sleeping like this we did inspections of the mattress weekly and found nothing but dead stuff. We stripped the mattress of plastic, leaving the isolating sheet on the box spring and slept for over a month before the bed got reinfected and we had to put the plastic back on top of the mattress. What we hadn't figured out yet was how to kill the bed bugs living in our couches and chairs.
    To do that we tried so many things. Alcohol, diatomaceous earth, Raid, Harris, etc. Again our problem was that we couldn't hit the bed bugs everywhere and a few eggs or something would live through treatments and come back to bite us (get it? How's that for a pun?). Everything I read online talked about how moderate heat was what really killed these things but we couldn't afford to pay to have someone else come in an heat our entire house. So instead I figured out how we could treat each piece of furniture. Using this:
    https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kingspan-Insulation-R4-Unfaced-Polystyrene-Foam-Board-Insulation-Common-0-75-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-Actual-0-75-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft/999973072 and some tape I was able to build a box that I could slide over my couches. Then I put two hair dryers running off different circuits through the side of the box. Here's some pictures:<Images deleted, if anyone can tell me how to do a direct upload I'll be happy to post them>
    As one of those pictures show the temp will reach 170 degree Fahrenheit at the top of the box. More than enough to kill anything inside. I leave it like that for two hours and then tear the box down or treat other pieces of furniture.
    After treating the couches with heat and retreating the bed one more time since one of us carried a few bed bugs from the couch to the bed we have been bed bug free for 6 months now. We have a total of 6 people living here and there has been no complaints. Our neighbors on either side of us have bed bugs. One just found out she had them 8 months ago when she was complaining about a rash and I told her what it looked like. The other neighbor has talked to me about it when we first noticed the problem. As of a few months ago he was still complaining. I've told him how we handled it but I guess they don't believe us. I've put plenty of diatomaceous earth along the baseboards and power outlets along our shared wall and one time several months ago my wife complained of getting bug bites while on the couch along the shared wall. Now we also have cats that will sneak into our house so it could have been fleas, but I didn't care. I just set up the box over the furniture and treated everything on my day off. We still haven't had any issues. I hope this helps everyone.

  2. frightened

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    Joined: Feb '16
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    Posted 1 year ago
    Thu Oct 20 2016 16:53:51
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    Hi. Very novel approach to killing bedbugs! Here is a link on how to post photos
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/test-13

  3. basementdweller

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Thu Oct 20 2016 17:26:42
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    Using hair driers along with homemade bed bug oven sounds pretty dangerous to me. Do you use special driers? Would it be better to use a hot steamer and pour as much hot steam into it as possible or would it not created the temperatures needed to kill bed bugs?

  4. scuzzo

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Thu Oct 20 2016 20:16:39
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    Temperature of combustion for cotton is about 250 degree Fahrenheit and for synthetics it only goes up from there. This isn't getting any where near the temperatures you would need to start a fire unless you had the driers directly on a pretty flammable source and even then for the standards modern home furnishings are held to I personally don't have a fear. I just use regular hair dryers to get the temperature above 140. I thought about steam but the problem there is you are putting water into an environment that will not dry easily. My worry would then be mold and mildew. Keeping it dry keeps the temperatures low enough to forgo any extra worry. I've used the setup across two couches a total of about 3 times as well as loaning it out to a buddy that had the same problem across town. He used it for couches, recliners, coffee tables, kitchen chairs, etc. He kind of went nuts with it and also has claimed it worked for him. He's been bed bug free for a little over four months.

  5. BBNL

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Thu Oct 27 2016 8:44:33
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    The hair dryer+box idea sounds awesome!


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