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Please help a newbie! Shoes, sleeping in apartment, isolation

(9 posts)
  1. jhuang47

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Jun 11 2009 9:55:09
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    Hi, everyone! I'm Jackie -- a newbie here (unfortunately, haha).

    I moved from my old dorm (I'm a college student) into an apartment at the end of May. I got the bed and all my belongings in then, and then I went home (to CA) for about ten days to visit friends and family. When I got back, I got some more furniture and settled in.. and then right when I finally finished unpacking everything I started getting bitten. I had my first treatment (out of 3) yesterday, and the PCO said that he couldn't find any in the apartment (thankfully!)

    So here are my questions --
    1. SHOES. I have well over 20 pairs of heels (leather, suede, espadrilles, with crystals, etc..).. what do I do with them?! I'm not sure they're infected (they were in the closet next to the bedroom, and I believe the bedbugs were concentrated in the bed itself) but I don't want to take any chances. PCO suggested dry cleaning, dryer (eek -- I'm scared my shoes will melt!), or freezing for 3 days (but that doesn't seem to be too effective from FAQs). Will rubbing alcohol work? Failing that, how about a steamer?

    2. I read in the FAQs that I'm supposed to sleep in my apartment to "bait" the bugs (ugh).. I asked the PCO about this and they recommended not putting my new mattress in yet. I don't want to buy an air mattress (the money I've spent so far is ridiculous!) so would it work if I just spent a couple hours every night in the apartment before going somewhere else to sleep?

    3. When I do bring in my new mattress, how do I isolate/protect it? From what I understand, I put Vaseline on the legs and then tape surrounding it..? I was a little confused here.

    Thanks in advance for the help -- it was sooo reassuring to find this community and know that others out there were feeling the same as me. It's been such an ordeal and I can only hope it will be over soon!

    Jackie

  2. Empress

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Jun 11 2009 17:06:25
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    Sorry to hear this is happening to you. It's the worst.

    If you bought a new mattress, I wouldn't move it in until you're totally sure they're gone. Mattresses are expensive, you don't want to risk infecting a new one. Alternatively, you could invest in a bed protector. That's probably good idea anyway, when you do move your stuff in, just to be on the very safe side. They sell cheap ones for about $10, but they rip really easy. Protect-A-Bed is supposed to be really good. Expensive, but cheaper than a new mattress.

    Dry-cleaning is probably your best bet with the shoes. If they're expensive, I wouldn't risk the dryer, but that is your best bet. Otherwise, put them in plastic bags in storage for 18-24 months. Don't know if you can part with your shoes that long.

    I'm no expert, but I felt bad that no one had answered you, so I told you what I could. I sincerely wish you the best of luck.

  3. bedbugsbad

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Jun 11 2009 17:17:40
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    Though it does cost a little, the packtite has been used by members on this forum to effectively treat shoes. Additionally it can be used for other hard to treat items like books and papers. And not to be a pessimist but having one to use in the future to treat your bags after traveling may make it a good long term investment.

    BBBad

  4. jhuang47

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Jun 11 2009 22:00:29
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    Thanks so much for the replies -- I really appreciate it!

    I would encase them for 18 months, or invest in something like a Packtite or a dry steamer.. but I'm only going to be here for 11 more months before I move cross-country, so that kind of stuff is really not an option for me. :/

    I'm investing in a garment steamer and then blow-drying everything thereafter -- will that be good or should I run it over with alcohol too?

  5. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Fri Jun 12 2009 0:44:31
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    1. Shoes are a problem. If you can't heat the shoes or dry clean them, maybe you can put some of them into storage for 18 months?

    If you use rubbing alcohol, it has to be 91% not 70%. Keep in mind that it will only kill live bugs and does not have a residual effect. It is only a contact killer. Take it from me--91% rubbing alcohol can have a nasty effect on some items. It did a job on the non-leather liner inside my leather airline ticket/passport holder. So that's not a great solution either.

    While I was dealing with an active infestation, I really limited the shoes that I wore to just a couple of pairs. I didn't bring the rest out until I was sure I was clear.

    Freezing is absolutely not a reliable way to kill any bugs on the eggs. I kept the ziplock of my samples in my freezer for several days, and the buggers were alive and kicking. Really, really cold temps for long periods of time can kill bed bugs, but those temps are lower than most peoples' freezers reach, and remember, every time you open the freezer the temp inside rises. I wouldn't go the freezer route unless you've got access to a super cold industrial freezer in a lab at school somewhere. And even then, I'd leave anything bagged and in there for at least two weeks.

    If you trust your ability to inspect the shoes, you can carefully inspect each pair for nymphs and eggs, but you need to be pretty confident in your ability to see and recognize nymphs and eggs.

    2. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but probably not. Bed bugs prefer to come out to feed in the early morning hours just before dawn. This is because usually that's when we're most deeply asleep and thus least likely to disturb the bugs.

    If you only hung out for a few hours, it's possible that the bugs wouldn't come out at all. We've also heard plenty of stories of people who get infestations in their apartments because neighbors moved out and the bugs went to find a new food source.

    I can't say for sure what the bugs would do. We know, for example, that hungry bugs will rush a food source any time they can. And we also know that bed bugs will adjust their feeding schedule based on the schedule of their hosts (i.e., the person with bugs works the night shift. Bugs will start feeding during the day when the night shift worker is asleep).

    Just hanging out in the house for a few hours seems risky to me. The reason that you being there to bait them is so important is kind of gross, but it's important to understand, so I hope you'll forgive the gross description.

    Roaches are more easily killed by pesticides than bed bugs because roaches groom themselves. So if a PCO puts down a chemical that kills roaches, the roach walks across something icky and licks itself to get the icky off--like a dog or a cat.

    Bed bugs do not groom themselves. Their little mouth parts are a beak that they poke through our skin. The only thing they ingest is blood.

    Ants can be baited. That is to say, ants like grease or sugar, so many ant attacking chemicals are a sweet or greasy substance mixed with a poison to ants. The ants consume the sweet or greasy thing, and they also consume the poison, and, well, you can guess what happens nest. Dead ants.

    Bed bugs only consume the blood of warm-blooded creatures. (Actually for all I know they feed on cold blooded ones in a pinch, but you get the idea.) So we can't poison them without poisoning us, which also not so effective.

    In fact, between the way their exoskeletons are constructed and the way their little bed bug bodies are engineered, bed bugs generally come into very little contact with any surface.

    Baiting is important because after they drink your blood, their bellies are all engorged with it, and they drag those engorged bellies over the residual chemical pesticides your PCO has left behind. Many PCOs treat in a way that relies on that fact to be effective.

    Which is a looong way of saying that just spending a few hours in the place may reduce how effectively the treatment works. The best person to ask for specifics on that issue would be your PCO because he or she knows exactly what chemicals were positioned where and what their expectations about baiting are.

    3. I wouldn't get a new mattress until you're sure you're bed bug free. If you're concerned, you can get a new mattress and encase it in high quality encasements before you bring it into your place, but that's not a risk I would personally take.

    I know it sucks, but remember, you could be dealing with months before you're sure the bugs are gone, and that's a long time not to sleep in your place or sleep on a mattress. I know shelling out even more money is just depressing, and I'm the kind of person who wants to buy the whole album rather than buying a song on iTunes only to later decide to buy the whole album (seems like a waste of money to me to pay for one song twice, you know), but an air mattress would give you someplace to sleep relatively comfortably until you know you're clear.

  6. dreadinOhio

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Tue Jun 16 2009 18:05:23
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    I'm in a similar situation now. I just moved into my apartment from the dorms in May and they followed me. Unfortuanately I threw away all of my luggage and shoes and the clothes I could stand to lose. But they're still here. My landlord had PCOs come and put on a mattress cover but they're not in the mattress, they're living in the wood so I'm still getting bitten.

    Some people reccomend diatomecous Earth (don't know if I spelled it right) because it ruptures the bug shell or something like that. Others reccomment steri fab. I ordered both online but I'm still waiting for them to arrive.

    Be sure you're in the clear before you buy anything new though. Don't want the same problem on a new item.

  7. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Tue Jun 16 2009 23:20:18
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    1. Re: shoes: as others have noted, Packtite is an option. The Packtite FAQ should help. I think it would be easier to reliably remove bed bugs from shoes using this method than dry cleaning or steaming. Steaming inside shoes seems tricky.

    2. Unfortunately not. However, if sleeping and being bitten is very distressing, you may choose to isolate the bed (see the Protecting/Isolating) the Bed FAQ url=http://bedbugger.com/2006/11/02/faq-how-do-i-protect-my-bed-from-bed-bugs-part-i/]here.[/url]

    3. Well-designed encasements protect a mattress. Also see the FAQ on protecting or isolating the bed (two options), here.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  8. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Tue Jun 16 2009 23:20:18
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    1. Re: shoes: as others have noted, Packtite is an option. The Packtite FAQ should help. I think it would be easier to reliably remove bed bugs from shoes using this method than dry cleaning or steaming. Steaming inside shoes seems tricky.

    2. Unfortunately not. However, if sleeping and being bitten is very distressing, you may choose to isolate the bed (see the Protecting/Isolating) the Bed FAQ here.

    3. Well-designed encasements protect a mattress. Also see the FAQ on protecting or isolating the bed (two options), here.

  9. BuggedOutInCT

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Feb 8 2010 18:52:17
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    Like you, I am a Newbie. I've been researching almost every day though, and one thing I keep hearing about is sealing infected items in garbage bags and dropping in a Nuvan strip. The Nuvan is a like an air freshener in a cage, releasing toxic fumes. Supposed to kill everything (including people, that's why the bag) within 2 weeks. Some say there will be a residue on the items for 2 weeks after unpacking, so if you try this don't wear the shoes for at least 2 weeks, just to be safe.

    I have a PCO coming in a day or so: hoping I get the pests eliminated. But I will still have to salvage some of my own stuff with the Nuvan. The makers of the product actually recommend it for closets, but mine are all in my bedroom and I am reluctant to sleep that close to drafty nuvan-filled closets. They also recommend it for rooms occupied less than 4 hours per day, but I question spending 4 hours in a room full of such a potent vapor. Safety first.


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