Bedbug scare
September 20, 2009 7:02 AM   Subscribe

How do I avoid bringing the bedbugs into my apartment?

I was just on a five hour plane ride and as I was getting up, saw what may have been a bedbug on the leg of the passenger next to me. What do I do to make sure I don't bring those critters in my house? Stripping before I enter my apartment and a shower are already planned. Will washing the clothes I'm wearing do the trick?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Those suckers are practically fire-proof, so a normal wash cycle might not kill them off. When you get home, strip and immediately ball your clothes into a sealed plastic bag. Take it to your dry cleaners and tell them the clothes might have bedbugs so they don't contaminate other people's dry cleaning. I'm hesitant to assume it was a bedbug you saw, as they're nocturnal creatures who live in nooks and crannies, but then again they got over here via international travelers who picked them up in other countries and brought them home in their suitcases. I'd half-believe an account of a bedbug digging into the passenger's suitcase with an ax pick and a helmet light because those fuckers are so awful and conniving.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:12 AM on September 20, 2009

What zoomorphic said. But if you don't normally dry clean your clothes, you can take care of them yourself. A hot wash and a dash of bleach (if it won't ruin your clothing).

I've heard airlines get regular infestations of bed bugs & lice. Not too surprising, really. I wonder how often they have to treat their cabins for this...

Check your carry on as well. A steam wand or other such contraption will take care of any eggs in the seams. Crank it up as hot as you can and go to town.
posted by comiddle at 7:42 AM on September 20, 2009

Can you have someone meet you at a restaurant with a change of clothes? Toss your old clothes in a plastic bag, wash yourself as best you can in the bathroom, go home and take a shower?
posted by sully75 at 8:10 AM on September 20, 2009

Related recent thread.
posted by WCityMike at 9:51 AM on September 20, 2009

This site has some really good tips.

(1) Take off clothes and seal in plastic bag before entering apartment.
(2) Wash in hot water and dry on high heat (running dryer for an extra 10 mins or so after clothes are bone dry is also recommended); or dry clean.
(3) To be extra extra safe, seal in a plastic bag or two and freeze for 2 weeks.

If you're worried about your luggage being infested as well, I've heard that leaving it in your car trunk in hot weather for a day or two should help (assuming you have access to a car and it's still warm where you are).

You want to either bake them (above 125 degrees) or freeze them (below 23 degrees).
posted by melissasaurus at 11:59 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know people with bedbugs - 20-30 minutes in a regular heat drier is enough to kill them in clothing, bedding or stuffed animals. (Yes, they do all three, regularly).
posted by jb at 8:09 PM on September 20, 2009

Bedbugs die at 120F, and most laundry dryers achieve 140F-180F depending on the setting.

So a machine washing and drying will work out fine.

I doubt that the bug you saw on the dude's leg was a bedbug. They don't generally hang out on people during the day, and rarely hop from person to person.

However, they do hitch rides in bags, and that's one way they're transmitted. So if I were concerned about anything, it would be whatever carry-on luggage I had. But honestly, you're probably fine. How close did you get to this bug anyway, that you're so sure it's a bedbug?

Anyway, this site (and their faq) is probably the best place to go on the net for bedbug info, advice, and community.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:04 PM on September 20, 2009

So a machine washing and drying will work out fine.

And the washing bit is superfluous, which is good to know should you have something like a stuffed animal that is hard to wash but can easily be dried.
posted by jb at 6:21 PM on September 21, 2009

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