Don't you love going to the thrift store or antique store and finding that tattered, old, piece of furniture that you know would be PERFECT for your next DIY project? Or, maybe you found some amazing vintage drapes, or a pile of gorgeous vintage lace? You snatch it up, put it in your vehicle, and bring it into your home, but did you know that you might be bringing home a lot more than you bargained for?
Yes folks, thrifting is not only about finding treasures at great prices, or amazing before-and-after furniture makeovers, oh no! It's also about one cold, hard, not-so-talked-about, ugly fact... and that is nasty little bed bugs! Despite being nearly eradicated in the 1940's, an increase in bed bugs in Canada and other areas around the world is back in the headlines. I thought I would spread the word for those who may not be aware, and who are happily bringing things home from second hand stores and garage sales having no idea what they could potentially be in for. Heck, I wasn't either until I started doing some reading online.
What exactly is a bed bug? There's heaps of info here on Wikipedia, but in a nutshell, they are a small little insect that prefers to feed on human blood... HUMAN blood (you read that right...). I told you they were disgusting! They are mainly nocturnal and active at night while feeding on their hosts (that's you!) usually unnoticed, until you see the welts on your skin to prove it the next morning. The exact cause for the increase in bed bugs is unclear, but Wikipedia states that among other reasons, one possible reason could be due to the exchange of second hand furniture among homes. While a bedbug's preferred habitat is houses and especially beds, or other areas where people sleep, that doesn't mean they cannot be found inside furniture, clothing, etc.
What can you do about it? Take the time to inspect the items you're planning on bringing into your vehicle and into your homes. Look for the bed bugs lodged into dark crevices, nooks and crannies of whatever it is you're buying, search any folds in the fabric for signs of bed bugs and eggs as well. Eggs can survive for a looong time. If they are in there, and you search hard enough, you should be able to see them (but not always). If you see them, say goodbye to that piece of furniture and do not buy it unless you want to risk spreading them into your home as well. In fact, if you ever see any at a particular store or garage sale... you'd be smart to just leave and not buy anything. It's not worth the risk.
What's the risk? Well besides having these gross little things crawling on you at night, and sucking your blood while you sleep, they are breeding machines and notoriously difficult to get rid of once they have infested your house. They can cause a number of health effects including skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms in some people.
Getting rid of them is the tricky part, and is mainly why you don't want them in the first place. Getting rid of them frequently requires a combination of pesticide and non-pesticide approaches. However, this isn't always an easy solution. For one, those with pets and children probably shouldn't use pesticides in their homes. Secondly, bed bugs have been developing a resistance to various pesticides increasingly over time. So there's no guarantee with pesticides. Another way to eradicate them is with heat. You can launder your sheets, clothes and blankets in hot water then put them in a very hot dryer for at least and hour, and hope and pray that gets rid of them. What you really want to do though is pinpoint the infestation at it's source (or multiple sources) and get rid of them there, otherwise you're wasting your time. They are crafty little buggers who are so good at hiding that it's going to be very hard for you to get rid of them once you have them, and they can spread throughout your entire house into any other bedrooms, couches, etc.
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I'm not a bed bug expert at all, I've learned all of this from reading articles about bed bugs. One thing I know for sure is that I don't want them, and neither do you. I hope I've opened some peoples eyes to this issue who may not have been previously aware. I'm not trying to scare anyone though, it's not like they are EVERYWHERE. More often than not when you bring something home from a thrift store or garage sale you're probably going to be fine, and there will be no bed bugs. The reason for this post is to hopefully make people aware of the issue who weren't before. I was not really aware of it up until a few weeks ago, and I consider myself lucky that I've never encountered any furniture or items with bed bugs so far, but at least now I can minimize the risk of acquiring them by checking items carefully before I bring them home, and so can you.
Sorry for the gross post, guys!
Handmade items by Billie Monster on Etsy.
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