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Scared to make the problem worse yet need to kill these bugs!

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  1. scaredtomakeproblemworse

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 13:07:41
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    Hello, I'm a "newbite." Just discovered bed bugs in both of my sons' rooms on 7/28/18. I've found no sign of infestation in my room (all 3 bedrooms located upstairs in a single family 2 level home plus basement) After doing a couple hours research I went out and bought DE powder, 91 % isoprophy alcohol and some glue traps. I put a thick layer of DE on the carpet across the threshold of each of our rooms, trying to keep the buggers in place and out of my room until I could figure out how best to erradicate them completely. (I've since read they can easily move under walls so I guess that defense was futile.) My twins moved to a tent in our yard and my older son moved to living room couch until we could attempt to isolate their beds. I figured this might draw the bugs to my husband and me since we were the only humans sleeping upstairs but what could I do? We used 91% isopropyl alcohol to contact kill the bugs and eggs around beds, mattresses and boxsprings before encasing them in inexpensive bedbug mattress covers. We sprinkled DE powder all around and under the beds (too heavily, I've learned) and then put a thick layer of DE powder around bed legs, etc. to isolate the bed. We also powdered inside the mattress and boxsprings covers. I thickly powdered all around my bed legs also just in case. So now I've likely forced them to move downstairs to our living space, although I've seen no signs of them there. Sigh. My older son found about 20 live adults while cleaning his room and bed. The twins found about 8-10. In hindsight we suspect we've had the problem since the end of May but we have no idea where we got it. We have lots of kids sleeping over so maybe from that? Forgot to mention we have 3 Vizsla dogs who sleep in our beds (mostly mine but they do move around some).

    I'm afraid to use a PCO for chemical treatment for fear it will only force the bugs into other parts of the house. I planned to pay the higher cost for heat treatment (around $1,500 I think) because I thought that would get them all...but now I'm reading heat treatment forces them into walls, etc, to escape the heat and can't get them all. I live in a small town and there's only one PCO who can do heat treatment here. They're coming this Thursday for an inspection so hopefully they'll be up to snuff since they're my only option. Any ideas on questions to ask them?

    The prep for heat treatment seems like it will take me months to complete! How do I dry every piece of clothing for 5 people who have too many clothes?!? My closet alone is impossible to consider. I'm thinking about using my car as a heat source (like a pack-tite) during this weekend's predicted hot sunny weather but I'll ask that question in a different forum.

    So Hello! Sorry to have to meet you all under these awful circumstances and I would appreciate any and all advice. I feel sort of paralyzed by the fear of spreading the bugs to the further reaches of house yet am overcome by the need to DO something! I wish I could find a definitive source that would outline all the steps to take upon first discovering you have bed bugs through treatment options, etc. "What to do first" would have been eminently helpful as there is just so much info in this forum! Thanks!

  2. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 14:03:33
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    Do NOT use your car as a means of heat treating anything. You could potentially infest your car that way and it likely wouldn't work depending on the actual temperature and the density of the packed items etc. So please don't do that lol. As far as drying everything some PCOs don't require that and some do, if they do you just go at your own pace, clean clothes from closets or dressers don't need to be washed, only dried on high heat (I do an hour). It sounds like you have a decent infestation going on so you should hire a PCO (my opinion). Chemical treatment should not spread the issue around, and even so your whole house is treated. I had my whole house sprayed, even the basement. So if anything does move around it's coming in contact with the spray and dying. When your kids moved to the tent and couch did they take blankets, pillows, etc? Were they dried on high heat first? I really wouldn't be surprised if there isn't already some activity in your living area just going by the amount of bugs already found. You mention your kids having sleepovers, you should contact any parents you can so they can inspect their own homes. Heat treatment is usually a combo of heat and chemical so that if any bugs don't die from the heat they will later die from the chemical. Just make sure to tell the PCO everything you've done so far, some advise for encasing mattresses and some don't, some require loads of prep, some don't. Good Luck and if you haven't already click the link at the top of the page that says "bed bug faqs". Once again this is all just my opinion, I am not an expert.

  3. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 14:10:06
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    Also forgot to mention that if their bedrooms remain empty then yes there is a decent chance they will find their way to your room as well.

  4. scaredtomakeproblemworse

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 14:57:18
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    BuggeddOutt, thank you SO much for your advise! I already put a couple empty suitcases in one of our seldom-used cars but I sealed them in black contractor bags first (twisting the end of the bag and then taping it down). This weekend the forecast is for 89 degrees and sunshine. I've placed a remote wireless thermometer in the car to be sure the temps reached are over 130 for a minimum of 60 minutes. If I can achieve those temps wouldn't it kill the bugs? Otherwise I'll just remove the bagged items and keep them bagged.

  5. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 15:10:51
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    Empty suitcases *should* be okay, I'd be more concerned if they were packed. Good job of sealing them up. Since they're already in the car I'd just leave them for now and monitor the temp. When you bring them back in I would just keep them sealed and then when you begin treatment the PCO can either inspect them for you or possibly spray them. The big concern with using a car as a heat source is if you put in a bag of items the center of the bag may not reach lethal temps. The temperature of the air in the car is not indicative of the temperature of the actual items and there is a risk of the bag tearing and allowing bugs to escape into the car. I've been there with trying to do anything and everything to *treat* items while waiting for treatment. If you have a steamer that is something that will truly be effective and can be used on furniture and other items not suitable for the dryer.

  6. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 15:14:22
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    I should also mention, If you do any vacuuming be sure to empty the canister or remove the bag and put it in a ziplock and throw it away preferably outside in case you vacuum any up.

  7. scaredtomakeproblemworse

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 16:34:22
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    Okay it makes sense that the temperature of the air isn't the same as the temperature of whatever is inside the middle of the bags. My PCO says I also have to put shoes in the dryer but that just isn't feasible for some of my shoes really. Maybe I'll try putting the wireless thermometer temperature monitor in the middle of a well-sealed bag of shoes, put it in the hot car and see what temps I reach. But then I'll likely just infect my temp monitor! LOL! Maybe I should just take your advise! Thanks again By the way, if my entire house is possibly affected where am I supposed to fold the clothes that come out of the dryer before I place them into the bags? I usually sit on the couch and fold on my lap but maybe I'm just reinfecting everything! And I might need to re-dry everything I've already done because I started out putting the dried clothes in laundry baskets set on the floor (after spraying them with alcohol) while waiting to fold and bag them. Now I dump dryer contents straight into garbage bags and pull the plastic cord thingy to mostly close them but i still fold on my lap while sitting on couch. Ugh. This whole thing just seems impossible and entirely overwhelming!

  8. scaredtomakeproblemworse

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 16:36:27
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    I guess I was thinking the downstairs wasn't infested yet... but I can't count on that it seems!

  9. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 17:54:43
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    Shoes can be inspected and sprayed with alcohol. I ruined a few pairs in the dryer and it's not good for your dryer either. I understand the frustration with the laundry, before my recent bedbug debacle (I've had them twice) I always folded clothes on my bed. This is my system and it might not work for you but maybe give you some ideas. So anything that's out of season just dry it, bag it, and leave it. Then I have storage totes, one for me, my husband, and my son. I have enough clothes for each of us for a week in each tote and that's what we wear lol. It gets annoying wearing the same clothes but makes the whole process easier. When I do dirty laundry I wash with Persil laundry detergent, it hasn't been extensively tested but there's some strong evidence that this particular detergent kills bedbugs bc it contains silicates. So just take that for what it's worth, it makes me feel better so that's what I use lol. Also works well and smells good. I then dry the clothes for 2 cycles, once to actually dry them, and then again to heat treat them. This works well bc you can dry them the first time on the usual setting suggestion (usually tumble dry low) and then again on high. If you dry wet clothes on high they will shrink. I honestly just run it on low twice, but my dryer is super hot. Clean clothes can just be dried one hour on high. Then I use a trash bag to transport from the dryer to my folding area. My folding area is actually where I keep my totes, I flip the lid over and that's my folding station. I also don't let the clean clothes touch my body while I fold them, which makes it a work out and is probably a little unnecessary but that's just what I do. You could probably use your kitchen table or counter. Your downstairs could still be okay, I'm just assuming bc of the timeline that it's possible. The clothes you already did are probably okay, bedbugs are attracted to dirty clothes bc they smell like us. Even in a larger infestations bedbugs don't always spread to closets and dressers and such, it does happen but usually they stay close to the bed. I really understand what you are going through, but it will get better, you'll find your routine and it will just become normal.

  10. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 18:05:16
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    Forgot to add, I always use a new trash bag for transporting the clothes but I do save them to be used in the garbage can. Once again I'm no expert and these are just my personal opinions and experiences. I hope some of this info is useful.

  11. scaredtomakeproblemworse

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 21:59:59
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    Bless you , BuggeddOutt, everything you've said is super useful, especially your drying/laundry process!!! I think to stay sane I'll need to figure out a way to continue to fold clothes while sitting on my couch because I can watch TV while I do it and not wig out. And there is SOOO much initial laundry to deal with. Maybe I can cover the ottoman with plastic or something and just fold on top of that. I love the idea of storage totes and have plenty of them but they're not actually water proof. They have a lid that snaps on though. Do you think that may be good enough? I've been struggling with how "sealed" the bags need to actually be. The XL ziplock bags are kind of expensive for ALL our clothes so I've just been putting the ones we use most in them (plus they're actually a pain to keep sealing so the totes would be wonderful if they don't need to be actually water proof with a rubber gasket at the seal). The rest I've been putting in garbage bags (I just ordered some 1.2 mm clear ones also) but I'm not sure how best to seal them, especially if we might need to retrieve an item out of them.

    Oh and my teenage boys just don't seem to get the gravity of the situation at all! I came home from work today to find all my decontaminated and clothes-filled XL ziplock bags (on the floor around my folding couch downstairs) open and the garbage bags that were only sealed by the pull tie thingy but sitting in laundry baskets on the floor) pulled open as well!!! My son was late for work and couldn't find his work shirt apparently. Said he didn't have time to reseal them all. I cried. This was several days of work undone. Although maybe, given what you said said about them preferring dirty laundry, I don't actually have to redo everything? I think they were open for at least 3 hours and a couple of them were actually sitting on the couch.

    Also thanks for the shoe advice! We've been using alcohol and bagging them but since my PCO says dryer I'm afraid to go against their "prep sheet." I think any reasonable way should be considered though. Screw it.

    I can't tell you how much I appreciate your input! Just being able to talk to someone about this nightmare helps. I'm afraid to tell my friends...tho usually I can tell them anything! Tomorrow I'm supposed to go out on a friend's boat and I'm nervous about spreading them. I'm putting my swimsuit, towel and cover-up in the dryer tonight and sealing them up but I won't have time to shower before I leave. It should be fine though, right? Also since I'm so focused on the boys' rooms because that's where the infestation seems to be, I haven't actually done the drying process on my clothes. I hope I'm not taking the buggers to work with me! I work in the same office room as my sister though and she's found no signs of bed bugs in her house (I had her look thoroughly) even though our boys have slept over at each other's houses and we've traveled together numerous times.

    Anyway, sorry about the novel. You've been awesome to respond. Can't thank you enough! Oh...do you mind telling me, you've been through it twice? Do you know how you got them originally? (I don't) What treatments have you used and do you think they worked? (Or maybe that's why you've had them twice... original treatment didn't eradicate them completely). Thanks again!

  12. mcsmcs

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 22:23:47
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    Packtite or zapp bugs are pricey but wonderful.

  13. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 3 2018 23:45:57
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    This reply might get a bit jumbled but here we go lol. If you click my name you can actually read all of my past posts, lots of novels there though Haha. The first time I got bedbugs was from an infested chair that someone knowingly gave us. We brought the chair into our bedroom so I'd have a comfortable spot to nurse our son at night. This was over 4 years ago. It only took me a month to figure it out thankfully and we successfully just moved house, other family members didn't want to deal with it so we left. Not much of a success story except that we didn't bring any to our new home. But we gave up a lot of our belongings, only brought dried clothes and electronics. Bought all new furniture and anything sentimental was in storage for 2 years. I'll be referencing back to this story to answer some of your questions later in this reply. The second time was just this past winter and I honestly have no idea how it happened. I caught on quickly and we had a chemical treatment, but honestly we only ever found one bug. But I have anxiety so I am very thorough with everything. I always err on the side of caution when dealing with bedbugs bc you just never know.
    You could cover your ottoman or if you have a coffee table in that room that would work well. If you use the tote method you can fold right into the tote if that makes sense, using the clothes already stacked in it as a surface. My totes are not waterproof, I washed them all out first, lids included and just made sure they weren't super cracked or anything. You would want a super sealed tote if you were dealing dirty items or treating with pest strips or something but for this purpose I personally don't believe it's necessary bc you are only putting clean clothes in. I also keep all of our totes in what I considered a safe room, the computer room in my case and that is where we all get dressed. I just wouldn't keep them upstairs or especially not in the bedrooms, bc they aren't completely air tight. I also wash everything every day even if I only tried on a shirt and changed my mind about wearing it, i still wash it. Like I wouldn't put it back in with the clean items.
    Keeping all the extra clothes in garbage bags worked pretty well for me, I would tie the actual bag into a knot, not the handles but actually squeeze out all the air and then tie it off in a knot. I have inevitably had to search for something I bagged up, I just ripped it open and then just put the whole thing in a new bag.
    I think totes would be easier for your kids as well. As far as the stuff opened today I'm not sure, would I dry it again? Yes but I'm not the best person to ask. I try to be more reasonable when giving advice but I do have OCD and anxiety so for me personally I'd rather do it again and not have to worry. Maybe your kids can help out with the prep? Even just drying and bagging what they know they don't need to wear right now.
    It's okay if you can't shower right before you leave the house, bugs generally do not hang around on your clothes and they definitely won't be crawling on your skin all day. Just change clothes before you leave the house, have an outfit dried and ready for yourself.
    You say you're worried about possibly spreading them at work and such, going back to my first bedbug encounter I was not very educated at first. I didn't want to believe I actually had bedbugs to begin with, and I had to just deal with it for the time being until we could move bc no one else believed me or wanted to cooperate with a PCO so I didn't do much research until I was actually planning to move (we lived with bedbugs for 4 months). This forum was my education and how I did manage to move without them btw. But anyway I didn't know much except they bite you when you're sleeping (usually). Everything was in our bedroom, the ground zero chair, our bed, baby's bassinet, our clothes, baby's clothes, literally everything. I kept my purse on the floor right next to my bed, kept diapers on the side of the bed. Would change and dress my son on the bed, kept all our clothes in dressers and closets until the day we moved. Basically took no precautions in regards to clothing and somehow we never infested our car or any of our family. And this was not a minimal infestation, there were different life stages and I was bitten every night. So I'd say the chances of you spreading anything is low, especially now that you are aware and being careful.
    I'm very happy to respond, and I hope my experiences are helpful

  14. scaredtomakeproblemworse

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 10 2018 16:18:19
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    I can't believe someone would give you a chair for rocking your baby that they knew was bed bug infested!!! I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy!!! ( Not sure who that would be anyway! haha) I met with my PCO finally yesterday and whole house heat treatment combined with chemical and powder will run me $2,500. More than I was originally quoted but less than I've heard many have to pay (presumably in bigger cities). I wish there was some guarantee they will totally eradicate them though. He says "We'll get 'em all" but there's nothing on paper to guarantee that. I guess because a lot really depends on how well I do my prep. I told him I thought it would take me about a month to get totally ready. It's a TON of work!!! I took your tote advice and just went and bought them for the family. That should simplify things a little for me. My boys can't seem to figure out how to completely reseal the XL ziplocks! Well, I hope you remain bug free and thanks again for telling me your story. It gives me hope!

  15. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 10 2018 17:14:58
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    Yes! The worst part about the whole chair thing is that it was my sister in law's boyfriend at the time who gave it to us. He had it in the truck and said he was going to burn it, my husband was like why it looks brand new? And instead of saying it was infested with bedbugs he offered it to us...my poor husband thought he was doing something nice for me and it ended up costing us thousands of dollars. Ugh lol. I wouldn't wish them upon anyone either, it's so exhausting in so many ways. The cost for your treatment sounds about right, heat and chemical combined has a very high success rate especially in an unattached home. It's also much easier to do during the summer months when the weather is warm. Just ask that they spray everywhere, basement, attic, garage, etc. Prepping for heat is way more intense and I'm sure you already have the fact sheet on that. Just keep on trucking and you'll be bedbug free soon! I hope the tote method works well for your family, I wish you nothing but success! Keep us posted after your treatment, not many people come back with their success stories. I personally hope to never see another bedbug as long as I live! And I hope the same for you after treatment.

  16. scaredtomakeproblemworse

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Aug 10 2018 20:37:52
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    Why oh why would he not have told your husband why he was burning the chair?!? It's beyond understanding!!! Wow! And he was a "friend"!

    I have several areas of my house that can't be treated by heat: the back area where we spend most of our time has the kitchen, family room couch, main TV, computer area, and informal dining table (all open concept) BUT also a laminate floor which apparently can't be exposed to heat. They will chemical treat this area. Also my semi-finished basement has a cement floor so they can't heat treat that. Chemicals and powder for that area too. I think they'll use powder in the outlets and around the rooms after they're done with the heat. Not sure if they're planning to use chemicals in the heated areas. They don't intend to do the garage I think....our stuff will be stored there. They'll put Nuvan strips in the bagged stuff out there that can't take heat (like shoes, albums, dvds, artwork, photos, etc.) No one mentioned the attic!!! But it's not easily accessible really and we had it re-insulated with the blow in stuff a number of years ago. Maybe I should ask them about that. I'm glad you came back to the forum to help us folks who are in the thick of it. I will try to do the same...hopefully with my own success story!!! On the not-so-bright side, I'm pretty sure I'm now getting bites. I have the kids beds powdered and mattress covered and the rooms overly-powdered so the bugs have likely run, according to my PCO. I think they've run to my room, which wasn't unexpected I guess. I tried to protect my bed with DE powder around the feet but... ugh. Maybe it'll just motivate me to get the prep done faster! Altho sleeping without being creeped out would be lovely. Have a great weekend!

  17. BuggeddOutt

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Sun Aug 12 2018 9:55:24
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    Treatment plan sounds good! I'm sorry you're getting bitten now as well
    At least you were going to have to treat your room as well anyway. I could never isolate the bed with the way my room is situated, so I just had to remind myself they are only bugs, like a flightless mosquito. Treatment is coming and it will be over soon! Good luck to you and remember to take some time for yourself now and then.


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