The Inevitable Bed Bug Post – Are Thrift Stores Safe?

"When I said you could eat crackers in my bed..."

I really don’t want to write this post.  It’s the ugly, horrible thing that nobody in New York can talk about longer than 5 seconds before our collective skin begins to crawl.  Yes, New York, along with several other major U.S. Cities, is in the middle of a bed bug outbreak, and at the urging of several delightful women in Housing Works today, I’ve decided I’m not going to take this issue lying down. (nyuknyuk)  People are hungry for information on how to prevent the nasties from getting into our homes, and it’s my duty to pass on my information to our loyal TSC comrades.

To begin with, I REFUSE to buy into the mass hysteria by posting “bug porn” photos and graphic horror stories.  Instead, this is all about how to protect yourself and still do good and save money by frequenting your friendly neighborhood thrift store.

To begin:  Yes, thrift stores sell second hand items that have been in other homes, and are thus susceptible to housing the little nasties.  However, even the offices of ELLE Magazine had to be shut down and fumigated, and reports of major retailers, including Abercrombie, are experiencing outbreaks.  Think about it – when you try on a pair of jeans at the Gap or Macy’s, who else’s butt has been in there?  They’re everywhere, and thrift stores are not exempt.  I visit at least six thrift stores a week, and I am, knock wood, bug free.

How?  Well, use common sense, thusly:

TSC Sleep Tight Strategies

1.  Get a can of bed bug spray (Sprayway Good Night has very good reviews); it’s like having window spray or bug killer; keep it under your cabinet just in case.

2. Wherever you may roam, don’t set your bag on the floor of the dressing room, and don’t throw your own clothes on the floor.  Use the hooks.

3.  Inspect the items you’re trying on – you don’t have to get all scientific about it, but look for small spots (you can do your own research as to what they look like. I’m not going to ugly up my blog!).  If an item is suspect, alert a store employee and move on.

4.  If you’re in a bed bug prone area, whatever clothing items you buy at any store, (retail, thrift or otherwise) should be placed in sealed plastic bag and kept there, away from your other clothes, until it’s time to do laundry.  Wash the washables on the highest temperature the fabric will allow, and take the dry clean only items straight to the cleaner’s.

5.  Furniture buyers – though I do hate to advise against any thrift store purchases (except wigs, false teeth (!), or underwear), soft items like cushioned sofas might be avoided for the time being.  The beasties can hide deep in the fabric and it’s nearly impossible to kill them.

However, wooden items such as dressers, tables, chairs and yes, even bed frames, as well as things made from other solid materials can be bed bug proofed very simply.  Bring a can of bed bug spray with you; do a quick check of the joints and cracks; if the item is suspect, alert an employee and move on.

After you’ve purchased your lovely home addition, before you load it for moving, spray the living hell out of it.  Spray once again inside the house, and you’re pretty well good to go.  Of course, nothing is ever 100% effective, but you’re making best efforts.

The bottom line is that bed bugs will be anywhere there are people.  Movie theaters, office lunchrooms, public transportation, your favorite seat at your local café, and high-end retailers and thrift stores alike.  We’re human and they like us, so they hang out where we do.  Take sensible precautions wherever you are, especially in cities with known problems.  Here’s a link to another great article from the folks at Apartment Therapy.

I can’t be more emphatic about this one – please don’t use these nippy nasties as an excuse to go to the mall instead of your local thrift store.  You’re just as vulnerable to exposure, and you’ll pay through the nose for the privilege.

I’m going to end this post and go take a Silkwood-esque shower to wash away the heebie jeebies.  But for all of our sake’s, I’ll sign off with something happy to look at.

kitteh needz maitai

The next post will be all about fashion and fun things.
All best and sleep tight!
Nicole & the TSC Team!

One Response to “The Inevitable Bed Bug Post – Are Thrift Stores Safe?”
  1. ian says:

    thanks for the cat photo.

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