How risky is buying a used office chair (an Aeron), with regard to bedbugs?
October 10, 2010 10:41 AM   Subscribe

How risky is buying a used office chair (an Aeron), with regard to bedbugs?

I see Aerons going for around $500 on craigslist and would love to buy one, but like everyone else in NYC, I am TERRIFIED of bedbugs. I know to avoid fabric and wood when it comes to used furniture, but what about plastic and metal?

Some of the listings are clearly from offices selling off multiple chairs. If I bought a chair that has never seen the inside of someone's home AND I used my steam cleaner to thoroughly clean it before taking it into my apartment, will I be "safe"?
posted by cosmic osmo to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
I don't know my Aeron models very well, but if the Aerons we have at the lab are standard, there's basically nothing for bedbugs to get into. The seat is just a taut mesh surface with zero volume to it. I guess maybe they could be buried in the mechanisms somehow, but I really doubt it. I don't think you have much to worry about. Maybe rub it down with a washcloth when you get it to be sure (which you'd probably want to do anyway) but I don't think there's much risk here.
posted by heresiarch at 10:45 AM on October 10, 2010

I have one at work, and I can't see how bedbugs could thrive in an Aeron -- there isn't really any "fabric" for them to nest or eat in. Just give it a good wipe-down when you get it.
posted by vickyverky at 10:59 AM on October 10, 2010

Offices aren't immune to bedbug infestation. People bring bedbugs (and their eggs) from infested homes into their offices, and the bugs feed quite happily off of people sitting for hours immobile in chairs.

Live steam kills bedbugs and their eggs, but only if the hot steam hits them. I wouldn't have a lot of confidence in being able to apply steam to every crevice that could be hiding a bedbug or bedbug egg. Though the Aeron chair's fabric may not be a good place for bedbugs to hide, all of the various mechanical parts provide plenty of the dark crevices bedbugs love. And tiny bedbug eggs could end up anywhere on/in an infested room's furniture.

Having said that, the small residual risk of a bedbug infestation in a steam-cleaned Aeron chair is probably far smaller than the risk of bringing home bedbug eggs after sitting on the bus, subway, coffee shop, or office.

If you want to be absolutely safe, find a way to heat the chair to an internal temperature of 120 F for a while -- that'll kill all the bedbugs and their eggs. Failing that, thoroughly steam-cleaning the chair will probably drop your risk to the point where the chair represents a much smaller infestation threat than many of your other daily activities.
posted by Dimpy at 11:05 AM on October 10, 2010

Hmm... Put the chair in a big garbage bag, poke a few small holes in it, inflate the bag with a blow dryer, use a remote thermometer to monitor the temp, hold the bag above 120 for an hour or two. Don't try to use the blow dryer continuously, it will automatically shut off if it gets too warm.
posted by Marky at 11:35 AM on October 10, 2010

If a used Aeron really floats your boat, I think there is probably little danger in buying one. Bedbugs like fabric and like to be feel pressure on both the top and bottom of their bodies, little chance for that pleasure if you're a bedbug on an Aeron and really no place for the eggs to really latch on.

OTOH, I have two leather desk chairs with plastic arms at home(I think both purchased for less than $150 each, one at Costco, one at Ikea) and an Aeron in my office at work and I can't say that I favor any one of them over the other (and I followed all the Aeron fitting instructions at work, too).

posted by Rafaelloello at 4:30 PM on October 10, 2010

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