Bed Bugs in Clothes

Step #2: Kill Bed Bugs in Your Personal Belongings

Bed bugs are so small they can hide in just about anything. In this step you’ll go through the process of ensuring that everything in your home his bed bug free.

Transcript

We are going to look at several options for bed bug proof storage. After you heat treat your items you’re going to want to store them in bed bug proof bags or containers until you finish treating the rest of your belonging. If you have any items you can’t heat treat storing them in bed bug proof container for a year and a half will kill any bed bugs in them and prevent them from escaping and re-infesting your home. We highly recommend giant Ziploc. They come in an assortment of sizes and are great to store your heat treated clothing. You can easily unseal them, access your clothing and re-seal them for an impermeable bed bug barrier.

Plastic garbage bags are also bed bug proof. They are a great inexpensive option. We suggest getting clear bags because you will be able to see the contents from the outside. They’ll be much less likely to tare and let the bed bugs escape. Simply tie off the bag or use a metal binder clip. They are available at any office supply store and are easy to remove to access your stuff.

Plastic storage bins are also a good option.  This bin has a gasket, a rubber seal that goes around the edges of the lid. When you put the lid down and clamp it shut the seal forms a barrier and makes this bin bed bug proof.

No bed bugs will be able to get through that barrier. Clear bins are great because you can easily see the contents inside. It is possible to use to use plastic bins without gaskets although these bins are prone to letting bed bugs escaped when bumped or moved.

Avoid using cardboard. Cardboard is porous. Making it is easy for bed bugs to crawl out and work their way into the corrugations. These void are ideal hiding places. Our advice is to get rid of all the cardboard in your home.

Bag All Your Personal/Household Items

The first step is to put all of your personal belongings that you can into sealed plastic bags or tubs.  By sealing everything closed any non-infested items remain free of bugs, and any items that are infested are quarantined so that the bugs can’t spread further. We’ve found that large clear plastic garbage bags are really helpful because they allow you to easily see the contents.

Be cautious when bagging up objects that have sharp edges or corners that can easily poke through. You may want to be double bag these items just to be safe since you don’t want any bed bugs to escape. Also, remember to seal the bag shut tightly. Tying the bag shut works just fine or you can twist the top of the bag closed and clamp on a large binder clip or zip ties.

3 Options For Your Belongings

Once you have your belongings bagged up, you have 3 options as to how to deal with them: Heat Treatment,Long-term Storage or Disposal. We explore each option in detail below:

Option 1: Heat Treatment

Heat treatment is what you will likely do with most of your belongings.  Heat treatment is extremely effective and properly done will kill 100% of bed bugs in all life stages (including eggs, nymphs and adults.) Home dryers on high heat reach bed bug killing temperatures so this is a great option for clothes, pillows, cushions, towels and any other items that you can put in a dryer. Make sure to run your dryer on high heat for at least 45 minutes. We highly recommend using the dryer when possible as it is usually faster than heat treating them another way, although the dryer does have limitations in what you can put inside.

  • For belongings that are not safe to treat in your dryer like dry-clean only clothing, suitcases, books, shoes, etc. you can heat treat in the ZappBug. We offer three sizes of units so take a look and see what best suits your needs: ZappBug Heater, ZappBug Oven 2, ZappBug Room.
  • Check out this video showing how to heat treat with your dryer (be cautious because not all dryers reach high enough temperatures to kill bed bugs).
  • Debagging Your Items For Heat Treatment
  • When you are removing your belongings from bags to heat treat them, it is very important to remember to follow proper protocol. We talked about this in Step 1 Establish a Safe Zone, but it is so important we repeat it here.
  • The wrong method of debagging is to place your bagged belongings on the floor and then lift out the items for placement in ZappBug or the dryer.  As you are lifting items out of the bag, bed bugs can fall off and spread.
  • If you are using ZappBug, place the entire bag in ZappBug, before removing any items from it. This way if any bed bugs fall off your items as you are lifting them out of the bag, they will fall into ZappBug and be killed when you start the heat treatment.
  • If you are using a dryer, be sure to upend the entire bag, into the dryer.
  • After Heat Treatment: Storing Your Belongings
  • Remember that after you heat treat your items you will want to store most of them in a sealed bed bug proof bag or container to prevent bed bugs from re-infesting them.  This is especially true for your clothes, but it is also a good idea for other belongings.
  • For this purpose, we love Ziploc Jumbo Big Bags. These are not the Ziploc bags used for food storage. These are much larger and are designed for storing personal items. They work extremely well because you can easily seal and unseal them to quickly access your belongings.
  • You can also store your items in plastic bins, provided you take into account several factors. We explain everything you need to know about plastic storage bins in Bed Bug Proof Storage video above.

Option 2: Store for 1.5 Years

If you don’t want to or can’t heat treat some of your belongings, another option is to store them until all the bed bugs that might be in them have died. As incredible as it sounds bed bugs can live up to 1.5 years (18 months) without feeding. You’ll want to store your untreated belongings for that long to ensure that any bugs that were in them are definitely dead. This can be a good option for things you want to keep but don’t need to access for a very long time, such as records, files, photos, books, etc.

If you are using this option, be sure to store your items in bed bug proof bags or containers. If there are bed bugs in your items, you don’t want them escaping and re-infesting your home. See more information in the Bed Bug Proof Storage Video

A Note on Cardboard: Avoid It
It’s very important to not store your belongings in cardboard.  The surface of cardboard is not slick so it’s easy for bed bugs to climb. As well, bed bugs particularly like hiding in the corrugation of cardboard which provides good harborages for them. We recommend disposing of all cardboard in your home.

Option 3: Disposal

As you go through your belongings, you will probably find things that you no longer want or need.  Now is a great time to get rid of the clutter in your home.  Think of it as a bed bug inspired spring cleaning.  When you find something that you want to get rid of, simply seal it in a plastic bag and then throw it away.  Make sure to seal it in a plastic bag before you throw it away because you don’t want to inadvertently spread bed bugs.
Many people automatically assume that they should throw out all infested objects, including mattresses and bedding. If at all possible we recommend heat treating instead as the cost of heat treating your items is often much lower than replacing everything that was infested. However there are some objects that may be best to throw out, and you’ll have to determine for yourself what you want to get rid of and what’s worth saving. We do recommend disposing of all of the cardboard in your home as bed bugs love to hide in the corrugation.

Disclaimer: Some of the procedures outlined in this guide may be dangerous and should be undertaken at the readers own risk. Readers should consult all material safety data sheets for any products they use in their own attempts at pest control and consult with the manufacturers of all products regarding best usage practices. This guide should be construed as theoretical advice. ZappBug and its employees will not be held responsible for any injury due to the advice offered herein. This guide cannot be construed as formal advice and ZappBug will not be held liable in any instance of an action resulting from this story. This disclaimer assigns the readers all responsibility for their own decisions.