sleep tight and pleeeeaaase don't let the bedbugs bite.
September 16, 2008 7:49 PM   Subscribe

The upstairs neighbors have bedbugs. My roommate and I really really really don't want them! Are there any preventative measures we can take? Bonus points for non-chemical solutions.
posted by purplefiber to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you in a separated apartment or separate areas in a house? Do you share laundry facilities or common areas?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:06 PM on September 16, 2008

Some via the Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Reduce clutter.
  • Vacuum the floor very frequently.
  • Inspect crevices. Caulk them, if possible. If not, vacuum them and clean with a scrub brush.
  • Change your sheets frequently.
  • Use a mattress encasement.

posted by limon at 8:24 PM on September 16, 2008

Few more from
posted by limon at 8:29 PM on September 16, 2008

Best answer: turgid, bedbugs have come back in a big way and their presence has very little to do with overall cleanliness. They can come in by accident and even obsessively neat people can have a hard time getting rid of them. Inspector, they can travel long distances within a building as long as it's connected.

purple, you will want to go to a garden center and get diatomaceous earth. It's sold as a plant food, but the ground up shells of the millennia-dead diatoms are nasty knives for the chitin shells of bedbugs, and when the crawl past they get opened up and dessicate to death. It's a great non-chemical preventative measure. I wouldn't vacuum it up without a hazmat-level dust mask, although it's supposedly fairly safe for humans, because you don't want to risk your lungs.

You can also take the precaution of pre-bagging all your clothing and linen (big multi-gallon plastic bags are perfect, or you can use the vacuum-seal method for stuff you don't need for a while). This will reduce or eliminate potential harborages, although they also like furniture. Practicing bed isolation is also wise. Move it away from the wall, and raise it up on plastic bed lifts. You might also want to enclose the mattress and especially the box spring in hypo-allergenic covers and tape the zippers shut.

When I had them briefly last year I switched to all white sheets and a beige flannel blanket that theoretically would make them easy to see. I'm one of many sufferers who never found an actual bedbug, though. On the other hand, although I can attest that having a row of bedbug bites across your back can give you natural-disaster-level PTSD, I got rid of mine very quickly and had only one bite months later. Some people can never seem to get rid of them no matter how hard they try, so being proactive is smart.
posted by dhartung at 8:32 PM on September 16, 2008 [3 favorites]

Metal bedframes, situated away from walls, if possible. Also, I've heard putting vaseline on bed legs, or putting each in a dish of water.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:06 PM on September 16, 2008

Mod note: A few comments removed. Save the hypothetical sidebar about information-passing for elsewhere.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:18 PM on September 16, 2008

What I'd want right away is assurances from the landlord that he's making sure the upstairs neighbors' bugs are exterminated properly (for instance, no throwing furniture out on the curb and hoping that does the trick).
posted by lampoil at 4:47 AM on September 17, 2008

Best answer: I had bedbugs in a bad way... The problem with them is that the are TENACIOUS. Very few things kill them, and even if you zip up your bed they can live inside the plastic for about a year, just waiting for their chance to come out. Bugbombs and regular sprays are useless.

The thing that did the trick for me? 70% isopropyl alcohol. The exterminator recommended it, said it was the next best thing to the stuff you had be to licensed to buy. I'm not 100% if it was my caulking, the exterminator trip, or my constant suspicious-area-mistings-with-70% that did the trick, but I finally was bedbug free after a several-month-long infestation, and I'd found several dead larval bedbugs in my misted areas-- no bites though! Eventually you couldn't find a trace of bedbugs in my place. When I moved, I misted every single item before it went into the truck and as it came out.

Cons: Bit of a "hospital" smell for several hours after you mist. It's safe to use on clothes and fragile objects, though (at least, nothing of mine was harmed).

As a preventative measure I can't recommended 70% isopropyl enough. Buy ten bottles and a spray bottle, keep it on hand, spray areas where bedbugs come in. It's cheap, too (usually under a dollar a bottle).
posted by ®@ at 5:32 AM on September 17, 2008 [3 favorites]

Also, note that the special mattresses do nothing to keep you from being bitten, the bedbugs that live in your walls or floor can still walk over it... it just keeps them from living in the cloth nooks and crannies of your bed.

The problem is that once they're in your house, they'll find a way to get to you. Best to caulk before they get their and mist possible areas of entry to kill them and abort their eggs (again, hyping 70% isopropyl).
posted by ®@ at 5:35 AM on September 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all so much- these are great suggestions.
Inspector Gadget we live in separate units in the same 3 story house. We don't share laundry facilities unless the neighborhood laundromat counts.
posted by purplefiber at 8:02 AM on September 17, 2008

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