How To Inspect Second Hand Furniture for Bed Bugs

Nothing quite beats the thrill of finding bargain-priced furniture at the charity shop.

However, before getting too comfortable on that second-hand sofa, have you checked for signs of bed bugs before bringing it home?

There are indications of bed beg infestation when, if spotted, could save you the stress and cost of getting them removed later on. So, here’s advice on what to look out for, and what not to do before making a purchase.

1. Check the internal and external areas.

Don’t take anything at face value, as the most common hiding areas for bed bugs are within the internal and joining sections of the furniture. Pay close attention to the crevasses, cracks, and chips where bed bugs like to burrow and lay eggs. If the furniture was cleaned or vacuumed then there may be no immediate signs of infestation.

However, keep in mind that bed bugs can be so tiny that you may not notice them. They are oval in shape and brown in colour. So take into consideration other signs such as eggshells that are small and white, or shedded skin. Are there any unpleasant musty smells? Or do you notice dark or reddish-brown stains? If yes, then it’s likely there are bed bugs about.

Ensure you’re prepared with a torch and latex clothes.

2. Where was the furniture previously stored?

If the second-hand furniture was once stored in a storage unit, be sure the environment was kept clean. And if an upholstered piece has not been kept sealed and airtight, this can allow bed bug infestations. There may be other upholstered furniture, or mattresses already infested that could cause bed bugs to spread from one place to another. Bed bugs can live up to a year without food, so even if the furniture has been stored for a long time does not mean there’s no infestation.

Alternatively, you could simply buy furniture kept inside a home, or buy directly from a seller’s house.

How can you remove bed bugs in upholstered furniture?

If you’re unsure whether a piece of furniture has bed bugs, or there are small signs of infestations then there are measures you can take before seeking professional advice.

Remember, that bed bugs can’t survive in temperatures above 50°C for longer than two minutes. Therefore, you can remove parts of a chair or sofa and cushion covers to run them under a dryer for approximately 30 minutes to ensure that bed bugs of all life stages are removed.

Alternatively, you can vacuum clean the furniture, but you must ensure that all sides and corners are thoroughly cleaned. Also, use a disposable vacuum bag to avoid reinfestation.

If you prefer a thorough method to get into the cracks and crevices of the furniture then use diatomaceous earth which is known to destroy the exoskeleton of bed bugs and kill them.

What about steam cleaning?

Steam cleaning can kill bed bugs; however, you should use a commercial steamer with a larger capacity and adjustable steam to penetrate between the fibres. These steam cleaners can reach the high temperatures needed to kill the bed bugs. However, it’s best to hire a professional as most steam cleaners aren’t reliable at getting into cracks and crevices.

What not to do when you have a bed bug infestation?

Bed bugs can develop a resistance to chemicals and natural ingredients. Therefore, avoid using pesticides or chemicals typically used for agricultural or garden purposes. These can be harmful to you more than the bed bugs themselves. Alcohol or petroleum products won’t work either. Furthermore, avoid throwing away infested furniture as this will only help spread the bugs.

If the simple DIY methods mentioned here don’t work to solve the problem then it’s time to seek the help of a professional bed bug exterminator.

This article was written in conjunction with Zest Wasp Removal who provide domestic and commercial pest control services throughout Central Scotland.