How To Get Bed Bugs Out Of Your Clothes
Bed bugs used to be a part of everyone’s daily life before the Second World War – or should that be ‘a part of everyone’s nocturnal life’? For hundreds of years, people merely grinned and bore it; they had to because there were no effective ways of getting rid of them.
They lived in the stored clothes, the furniture, the bedding and the houses of the rich and poor alike and because houses were built so close together, families were larger and individuals were in and out of each others houses, you could not eradicate a bed bug infestation for long.
Then came the bombing of European cities in the Second World War 1939-1945 and many inner cities were unsafe, so the authorities decided to take the opportunity to level the inner city slums and start again. An equivalent programme was started in America, but not because of bombing.
The authorities pulled down hundreds of millions of houses and made billions of rats, mice, bed bugs, fleas and other nasties homeless. In fact, rat poison and a new miracle pesticide, DDT, were used extensively in the clean up. By the end of the Forties or during the Fifties, bedbugs were practically eradicated from the Western World.
The Baby Boomer generation was the first one never to have been troubled by bedbugs. This happy situation lasted until the mid-Nineties, when increased long haul travel and increased immigration allowed bed bugs to hitch lifts back to the West. These undesirable hitch hikers usually returned on clothing that had been packed away in suitcases.
And so here we are today, in a situation where the West’s major inner cities have a bed bug problem of epidemic proportions. Bed bugs are being passed around from person to person on all types of public transport but especially buses, trains and taxis and anywhere where individuals gather together, but especially hotels, cinemas and waiting rooms.
So, here are a few tips on how to avoid infesting your home with bed bugs. If you stop in hotels a few nights or one night at a time, merely unpack what you need to at any one time. In other words, live out of your suitcase.
If you are on a longer holiday, by all means, take out everything, but keep your suitcase closed and have all your clothes boil washed, dry cleaned or tumble-dried on ‘HOT’ before you repack them to go home.
If this cannot be done because of the type of fabric, examine all the seams, hems, pockets, cuffs and collars and blow them with the hair-dryer on ‘HOT’. The hair-dryer is not anywhere near as effective, but all stages of a bedbug’s life cycle are killed by seven minutes exposure to temperatures above 45C or 115F.
If you cannot heat-treat your clothes before you leave the hotel, seal them up in plastic bags and treat them when you get home – preferably in a laundrette or dry cleaners.
What do you do about your overcoat, if you mingle with people every day on the bus or at work? This is a difficult one. Bed bugs are resistant to all forms of insect killer, which is why we are having this epidemic, so you will literally have to examine your overcoat each time you come home or get one that you can put in the tumble-dryer each night.
One bed bug can lay 300 eggs and live for a year without feeding, so you cannot know that you have not got bed bugs, you can just say that you have not seen any – yet.