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How to Check & Avoid Bed Bugs in Used Furniture Bought or Found as Rubbish.

In recent years, more and more people turn to small and big charity shops to get some nice and affordable home accessories, clothes and even garden furniture.

No matter what you’re looking for, charity shops are full of items, perfectly described by the popular saying: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. 

So much so that many up-cyclers and craft enthusiasts will even resort to buying empty bottles and boxes on eBay. If people will pay good money for these sorts of things, there’s no reason why buying second-hand furniture shouldn’t be an option for an affordable way to revamp your home

With the many good sides of second-hand furniture, though, comes the concern whether you brought some unwanted guests along with your new sofa. Now we will look at all the risks of bed bugs in used furniture and of how you can prevent it.

Second-hand Furniture – is it Really Worth the Risk?

Just as many people find it normal to bring second-hand furniture home, still, most of us have doubts about it and would always buy new furnishings. 

At Rubbish Please we have seen a range furnishing sent to rubbish – patio sets, pop up gazebos, entire garden sheds, tables, chairs, cantilever parasols, drawers, mirrors, and also wardrobes, mattresses, bed frames, and divan beds, especially furnishing infested with various pests, but most prominently.. bed bugs.

That’s why you have to proceed with extreme caution next time you find something laying on the street.

And for those who would shop, we understand the reasons for doing so. Buying old furniture is:

  • Cheap – It’s very cheap. You buy tons of clothes, a quirky carpet, 3 flower pots, a hoodie for your cat, and all of this for £70 only, because somebody does a fast and hassle-free loft, garage, garden, or house clearance. Check our tips on house clearance, just in case.
  • The hidden treasures – Many leave furniture perfectly good for sale. Many are just moving away and cannot bring everything to the new location. So, if you have enough patience to look for the right piece, you will be rewarded accordingly.
  • Eco-fashion – In the world of today, we have to be more and more cautious about our surroundings and what exactly we do to our home planet. Having used furniture contributes to your unique sense of style and gives you the opportunity to recycle and thus take part in the sustainable way of life.
  • Raise awareness – Most of those shops have a parent charity. This means that when you go to a shop associated with a stated organisation, you are supporting the cause. These charity shops are a great way to let people know about various nonprofit organisations and how they make our world better.

So, as you can see, there are many reasons to fill your car boot with second-hand furnishing found on landfill or your local dumpster, but it’s time to look at the reasons to always keep an eye open for potential pest infestations!

Can Bed Bugs Live in Used Furniture?

Absolutely yes. Bed bugs are excellent travellers and can survive over 20 weeks without food.

Nobody wants to go home and say: “Honey, I think maybe there is a small possibility that I brought furniture with bedbugs in it. That phrase would make any spouse shiver.

So, be aware that most of the time, you know little about the couch you’re buying blindly or got off the street, and can never be too sure about where it’s been, and where it comes from. 

There are many cases of people bringing an infestation along with a great-looking sofa left on the street. Some got it by walking close by an infested mattress.  

Even though bed bugs are not the only pests lurking in used furniture and your home, they are the most common ones, and in recent years there have been more and more complaints about these pesky little bugs.   

How to Check for Bed Bugs in Used Furniture?

In order to keep your home pest-free and still benefit from some excellent-quality used furniture, know how to do pest control thoroughly. Unfortunately, scientists have not invented a bug radar yet, but there is always a way, so don’t worry.

Here is a proven method on spotting bed bugs in the couch, sofa, chair or whatever piece of furniture it is that you chose:

  • Get latex gloves for protection, a white sheet and a flashlight.
  • Shake the furniture on the sheet. This way, if any bed bugs fall, you could see them.
  • Take credit, debit, or just any card that is just as hard and run it through all the edges, creases or cracks on the surface. Look carefully for any insects that might have fallen onto the sheet. It’s even better to take a magnifying glass and examine thoroughly. 
  • Watch out not only for the actual bugs but for their faeces, as well. They would appear similar to dark red stains.
  • Use the flashlight to inspect the dark corners of the used furniture and every place where the bed bugs might be hiding.

What are the Signs of Bed Bugs on Furniture?

As mentioned earlier, there are specific signs of bed bugs that you have to look out for when checking your newly bought used furniture.

  • Adult bed bugs – they are usually not very hard to spot. Their colour is similar to rust and they are about the size of an apple seed. The bed bugs need to hide and spread everywhere, so often they become entirely flat. You can find these almost anywhere like on toys, electronics, on the back of framed pictures, in shoes, on rags and in various other places.
  • Markings – Bed bugs leave blood markings after they feed. The leftovers look like black dots and if you moisten them, they will smudge.
  • Eggs – The eggs of the bed bugs are really tiny and most of the time, you can only see them on the dark parts of surfaces.

What to do When You Find Bed Bugs?

If you found any of the above-mentioned signs of an infestation, you need to take some serious action. According to the bed bug specialists, the cost of bed bug control, here is how you should clean used furniture to prevent a bed bugs infestation:

  • First, make sure your cleaning method includes hot water or steam. The high temperature of a handheld steamer can eradicate adult bed bugs but not microscopic eggs. Second, go carefully through all the cracks and tiny spaces, as they are the most common hiding place. If you do this correctly, you will effectively eliminate the chances of spreading.
  • Knowing what not to do is equally important as knowing the right steps. It’s vital to understand that bed bugs can develop resistance to a lot of chemicals, so natural ingredients are not useful when fighting an infestation. You may find a lot of DIY solutions and methods when dealing with bedbugs, but most prove to be ineffective.
  • With that in mind: Do not use bed bug bombs! They can only spread the pests all over the place, but they do not get you rid.
  • What you can do is to take all the cushion covers and all other removable parts from the chair, sofa, couch etc. and put them in separate plastic bags. Go to your dryer and place all items inside. Run them on high heat for at least 30 minutes and meanwhile, throw the plastic bags in a bin outside. Vacuum the furniture throughout, paying special attention to hidden areas and dispose of the vacuum bag when done.

It is crucial to remember that all of this would not be helpful if you have an actual infestation and the only course of action would be to call a professional.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs in Second-hand Furniture?

If you wish not to be one of those “lucky” people with a bed bug infestation, then you need to know how to avoid it.  

Prior to purchasing second-hand furniture:

Always ask a lot of questions. 

It’s normal for you to be curious as this is not a new piece of furniture and it could have come from anywhere. 

  • Ask the retailer about its origins. 
  • Ask where and how it was stored. 
  • Ask if the piece has undergone any anti-pest treatment such as pesticides or heat treatment prior to the sale. 
  • Ask about the exact materials used and anything else you can think of. 

If some answers concern you or you don’t get ones at all, then just shop elsewhere. Everything needs to be clear.

Remember the golden rule of buying from second-hand shops. 

Do not buy or pick up used upholstered furniture left on the street. 

Most merchants vacuum and steam clean everything before putting it up for sale, and by doing so, they remove most of the evidence of bed bugs issues, making it impossible to detect those straight away. 

So, try to avoid buying mattresses, headboards, bed frames and beddings from second-hand retailers.

Simply buy new furniture. 

Yes, you might save some money if you decide to go with the second-hand one, but if by any chance you bring an infestation with the couch, you will spend 3 times more money trying to get rid of the pesky insects. In the long run, buying second-hand furniture might not be the best solution.

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