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What I've Learned...

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  1. Battleofthebugs

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 18 2008 18:32:40
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    It has been six months since I have found any signs of BBs, though mentally I am hesitant to give myself and our home the all clear (i.e., not yet ready to post as a success story for fear of jinxing us!). But, I thought this might be a good place to share my experiences, of what worked and did not work, in the hopes that it might help anyone. I live in a single family home, so some of my experiences may not help those of you in apartments or attached homes. They are, in no particular order of importance:

    (1) I wish I had found this site before hiring a PCO. This site has a wealth of information from knowledgeable individuals. I think I would have made a better, more informed decision about who to hire and who not to hire if I had found this site first. So If you've stumbled to this site first, you're already on the right track!

    (2) Really do bag every thing asap. Double bag any thing that you won't be able to treat for days, weeks or months. The advice on these forums concerning zip lock type bags of various sizes is VERY helpful. It helps to organize stuff after treatment, that you need to access regularly.

    (3) Preventing BB's from making their way to friend's and family's homes can be done. We were meticulous about only wearing one set of clothing around the house. I only changed "outfits" into something clean (already treated) immediately prior to leaving the house. Immediately upon returning, I changed again back into my house "outfit" and bagged the "clean" outfit. Each morning, I immediately changed from PJ's (which were sealed in a zip lock for the day) into my house "outfit." It was tedious, and a pain, to change so often every day, but worth the extra ounce of prevention. I quickly taught all our family and friends about BB's, and we were successful in preventing any from spreading to others' homes. We did not allow any one into our house for a loooooong time.

    (4) Treat your whole house if you can. We were told to treat only the rooms people slept in or in which we spent any significant time. When those rooms were treated, the BB's "escaped" to untreated rooms where no signs of them had existed previously. They "moved" right back into our bedroom when the chemicals began to wear down.

    (5)Check your vinyl encasements frequently for any rips. We bought a nice cloth encasement for our mattress, and a vinyl one for our box spring. the vinyl encasement would "stick" to our metal frame due to the frequent chemical applications. We would inspect our frame, lifting the box spring to do so, not realizing that in some cases we were causing small tears. Spring for a cloth encasement for your box spring for added peace of mind.

    (6) CAULK every thing. I spent an entire weekend caulking our small bedroom. Be thorough. Baseboards, door frames, floor cracks, window frames, wall cracks--every thing. Our headboard was perfect for BB's, because it was "slatted" with long pieces of wood, with about a quarter inch of space between each. I even filled that with caulk to prevent a future BB high rise infestation from reforming. If you can, dust with DE or Drione dust in accessible cracks/crevices before sealing up.

    (7) Invest in a solid steam cleaner, or rent one. We decided to buy one. Long story, but I opted out any further treatments from our PCO. I do not advocate doing that, especially where you have found a solid PCO. However, in our situation it became apparent that we could not continue with our PCO, and continued with self treatment. The steam treatments helped not only clean up layers of residual chemicals, but also had the added benefit of treating our home at the same time. Expect to spend several hours thoroughly applying steam to floors, frames, personal items, and furniture. And, test on an inconspicuous area first to make sure you don't ruin any thing. Also, be careful with steam where you've caulked, because it can actually strip the caulking away or thin it out.

    (8) Be careful with chemical treatments, they may stain. (Even if you are told they do not).

    (9) Take pictures! I wish I had, but I didn't. I had found BB's in various stages of development and eggs. I wish I had taken photos to post on here for the benefit of others. Plus it can help prove to your PCO that you are not making things up.

    (10) I have two dogs and two cats. I was so afraid they were going to have reactions to the toxic chemicals. Our bedroom was the one room in the house I would not let them stay in, because it had been treated the most heavily. I tried to bathe them frequently just to keep their fur clean. I threw out old bedding, which was the "stuffed" pillow type of dog beds. I bought an egg crate encased dog bed, which I vacuumed every day. I dusted the egg crate within the encasing, and only used a contact killer with out residual (inside as well).

    (11) Continue your regimen daily, even after you've stopped being bitten. I was last bitten in early February. I found my last live BB a week after that. But, for the next month, I continued to occasionally find dead BB's. I figured that for every one I found, that perhaps there were several more that I had unknowingly vacuumed up. We waited over 55 days before moving any belongings back into rooms (some clothing made their way back into closets in late June). I've actually kept the majority of my belongings stored still.

    (12) You can travel and not bring BB's home. I was paranoid to stay in a hotel. In March, I had two weddings to attend out-of-state. I almost did not go. But, I took the precautions I'd read about on this site, and through links provided on this site, and they paid off. I actually went beyond the basic inspection and tore the rooms apart! Again, it added peace of mind to know that my room was most likely safe. When I packed, I packed in zip lock bags, which I placed in my suit case. Still, upon returning, suitcases were treated (sprayed with contact killers and vacuumed), and all clothing was immediately washed/dried.

    (13)Keep a BB Journal. Write down dates of treatment. Document dates when you find BB's, or signs of BB's, and be descriptive. I would keep track of where in the house I found a BB, and it's condition.

    (14) Come to this site to vent, feel better, sometimes feel worse, and continue on your battle. I came on here to vent about some of my experiences, and it definitely helped.

    ***************

    I am sure there is a lot more I could add, but off the top of my head that's really what comes to mind. I'd be happy to clarify any thing that didn't make sense, or seemed incomplete (I'm battling a cold right now, so my head isn't as clear as it could be!)

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 18 2008 19:20:23
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    Thanks for your update!

    I am skeptical about this suggestion, at least without further elaboration:

    (2) Really do bag every thing asap. Double bag any thing that you won't be able to treat for days, weeks or months. The advice on these forums concerning zip lock type bags of various sizes is VERY helpful. It helps to organize stuff after treatment, that you need to access regularly.

    I agree with bagging cleaned, de-bugged items. I also agree in following your PCO's protocol (assuming you found one who knows their stuff).

    I am not sure I agree with bagging everything, though. Is that really what you mean?

    I think in some cases, people don't get rid of bed bugs because they bagged stuff up which had bed bugs in it. Later they can pull something out and voila-- it all starts again.

    And some folks bag and store for 18 months, when they could have de-bugged the stuff or opened bags while treatment was going on for the bugs to come out in search of food, and cross poison, and die.

    In many respects, not bagging may allow you to get rid of bed bugs faster.

    It's complex.

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

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 18 2008 19:27:03
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    ps How long did it take to get rid of and did your PCO finally come through?

  4. Battleofthebugs

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 18 2008 21:02:37
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    yes, every thing is broad, which I didn't mean to mean every single thing. I bagged all clothing, shoes, purses, and a lot of other incidental items that probably didn't need to be "ziplocked" but did anyway in order to de-clutter. Mainly, I bagged clothing, purses and shoes. I vacuumed out purses and shoes, and used a contact killer before bagging them. After I bagged all my clothes, I began the tedious task of laundering everything on hot, then drying and redrying the dried clothing to be safe. We have a large basement, so once "treated," I kept my clothing in big zip lock bags in storage bins. Like I said, we probably bagged a lot of stuff we didn't have to. We bagged all clothing etc. prior to our first treatment, which I think was key. At that time, the infestation was concentrated in our bed room. It wasn't until after we treated that we started finding them in other places around our house. So i think that *maybe* a lot of what we bagged was BB free any way.

    In about six weeks time, beginning early January, we had three treatments by our PCO--the last was in February. We opted out of the final treatment and started self treatment in late February. Honestly, I think we were more thorough inspecting and treating and weren't satisfied with the PCO's treatments. The last physical evidence I found, was a dead BB in mid March. I last sprayed any chemicals in June, which was preceded with a steam treatment, and followed by a steam treatment. All total, we spent about six months vigorously treating, and stopped finding signs after about two and a half/three months.

  5. busy with my kids

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 18 2008 21:19:46
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    It's so nice to hear how you are doing. I bought a steamer and I'm questioning how effective it is on upholstered furniture. Do you have any comment on that?

    Mine also kind of spits cold water with the hot steam. Is that standard or is mine defective?

    Also, do you have any idea how long you had your infestation before you discovered it?

    What chemicals did you use?

    Thanks for your feedback.

  6. Battleofthebugs

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 18 2008 22:46:14
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    The only upholstered furniture we have are the seats to our dining room chairs, and two stools--not very thick. I also used it on my dog's bed (again only about 2 inches thick). Our couch is leather, so we can't use the steamer on it. If the steam is hot enough, I would think repeated applications to a couch could be somewhat effective. My steamer spits hot water (not cold), but usually only when I crank up the pressure output. The brand/model I bought takes about 15 min to heat up. It has a temperature gauge and signal light to let you know when optimal pressure/heat has been reached. I believe the internal boiler temp gets to be about 290 degrees give or take.

    Chemicals we used ourselves were Bedlum and a permethrin based spray (sp? I have to actually get the labels to check the spelling on these). I used sterifab as a contact killer. Also, Drione dust. Our first two professional treatments involved Suspend and Gentrol. The third I believe was called Cy-Kick CS.

    We really have no idea how long the BB's were camping out before we found them. I would estimate at least 2-3 months given the number of BB's we found, and continued to find. Because they remained undisturbed for so long in our bedroom, they had no need to make their way elsewhere. Also, it wasn't until about three weeks before we found them, that we even started noticing signs. I started reacting to the bites then, and started finding blood stains on our sheets. then, we found our first live bug and the uphill battle.

  7. omisbliss

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Aug 21 2008 16:26:44
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    You certainly have alot of good advice and it sounds as if you worked vigorously to get rid of these pests.
    I have learned that you can not battle this alone and that you need a true professional. Looking back, due to my lack of knowledge and going on overdrive with fear, i did many things that i should not have done.

    1) Self treatment can make matters worse and spread your bed bugs to areas they were not (i purchased about $100 of pestisides all for bed bugs)

    2) If an exterminator tells you to bag and wash everything in that room before even coming to your home, he is not the person you want (if everything is washed and bagged he will be unable to go through your things with a professional eye)

    3) If treatment only means spraying chemicals with nothing else, he is not the person you want (from what i understand vacuuming, heat, caulking and chemicals works best)

    4) Do not throw out so much just because you're afraid bb will be in there (i threw out bags and bags of clothing just because it would have been overwhelming to wash it all since i could not do it myself and sent it all to the chinese laundry, another BIG expense)

    5) Do not purchase the plastic mattress encasements. They tear easily no matter what quality (I found tears after my PCO left and they were brand new)

    6) If you have to tell your PCO "it may be a good idea to look here or there" and they had not thought about it, that should be a red flag

    Between hiring the wrong PCO, chinese laundry, new pillow with encasings, pesticides etc. i have spent close to $1500. Now i am hiring someone else with an entire different approach and i pray this works.

    Good Luck to Each and Everyone of Us!

  8. Itchy-Scratchy

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Aug 21 2008 17:30:41
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    I think one of the most important things I have learned is that human beings are resiliant. For the new people on the board, who are just starting to deal with the problem, the first few weeks are usually the worst. You are stunned by the realization you have BBs, you feel hopeless as you learn about BBs on the board, you will cry to the Gods and ask "Why Me?" But humans are adaptable. Self-help books and anti-smoking campaigns claim that it takes 28 days to form new habits. After the first month, bagging your clothing will become natural to you. Vacuuming constantly will be normal. And you will start to reevaluate the importance of your "stuff".

    Yep, I definately think the most important lesson most of us have learned is that we will survive this.

    And could someone please remind me of this next time I suffer a setback or cry for 13 hours?

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 25 2008 0:55:58
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    Battle,
    Thanks for clarifying about the bagging.

    Sometimes people tell us they bagged everything, and they mean to leave it all in bags-- even things they won't wash. They're surprised later when they unpack and have bed bugs again.

    So I always try to clarify that only de-bugged stuff in clean bags should be "bagged," unless you want to store those bags for 18 months.

    Your plan-- bagging, de-bugging and re-bagging in clean bags, is certainly fine.

    It's the people who "just bag" that I am worried about.

  10. Itchy-Scratchy

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 25 2008 5:57:58
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    It's the people who "just bag" that I am worried about.

    I guess I am one of those people. The landlord gave us 48 hours notice for the 1st treatment and I was preparing for a business trip. As such, we had no choice but to bag everything in our rooms without cleaning or inspecting. We've been living with very limited clothing, shoes and personal items for 8 weeks.

    I am about to start unpacking some of those items this weekend.

    Does anybody have any advice on how best to approach this problem? I desperately want to avoid a reinfestation!!

  11. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Aug 25 2008 17:11:58
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    Itchy-Scratchy, I think the key is that you unpack WHILE still getting professional treatment, and you follow the pro's instructions on what to do and where. Do not just star unpacking. The pro should tell you what to do and have pesticides ready for those bed bugs to walk through.


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