Fleas Navidad
December 19, 2016 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I accepted a gift of two hand-me-down throw pillows from a friend who recently had a bad flea infestation. How do I ensure that a flea infestation doesn't come along with the gift?

After I took the pillows, but before they went into the house, I realized it might be a bad idea. I double-bagged them and left them in a corner to figure out what to do with them. They've been sitting there for perhaps two weeks. For lice, that would be all I'd need to make them safe, but flea eggs apparently can survive months. Today it dawned on me that there are freezing temps in the garage, so I moved the double bagged pillows to the garage. The internet tells me that freezing "kills fleas", but it's not clear that ALL forms of the flea, egg, larva, pupa, and adult are killed. I do have a dog. If I leave the pillows in the garage for a week, will that be enough to ensure that fleas at any point in the life cycle are dead? (I'd rather not treat the pillows with chemicals if I can help it.)
posted by molasses to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Theoretically 10 days treatment with sub-37 degrees temperatures will kill the eggs.

Unless they're exceptionally nice or sentimental pillows, I'm not sure it's worth the risk and hassle of trying to kill them off. Can you be certain that the temperature will never get above 37 degrees for an extended period?
posted by Candleman at 6:13 PM on December 19, 2016 [7 favorites]

Are the pillows washable? I'd do that. I'd wash them in warm soapy water and then put them through the dryer.

And as Candleman says, this is quite a risk unless you really need these pillows and can't get others for some reason. You could just chuck them, and if the friend ever asks about them ... I dunno, the dog tore into them or something.
posted by bunderful at 6:14 PM on December 19, 2016

How about putting them in a tied up plastic bag with (dog) flea powder -leave it
outdoors, for as long as it takes for the powder to work?
posted by donaken at 6:58 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Give them back or throw them away. It's not worth it.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:18 PM on December 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

Simply run them through the high heat dryer for 70 minutes .
posted by hortense at 8:00 PM on December 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nuke them from orbit.
posted by spitbull at 8:23 PM on December 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

First of all, I love the title of this post.

Second of all, I cannot imagine two hand me down throw pillows that would be worth the possibility of fleas in my home.

Toss the pillows. Even if they're amazing, you can still replace them fairly cheaply.
posted by ejs at 8:42 PM on December 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

I have never heard of people throwing out household goods apropos of fleas, just bed bugs. (Is there a nice way to ask your friend what worked for him/her so you can use it on the pillows?) I've also never had a modern pillow that didn't come out of the other end of the washer and dryer just fine; use clean old sneakers or tennis balls to re-fluff if needed. (If they're huge, try a laundromat with a double/triple-size washer.) I personally would poison-bomb them in the bag and then wash them, but I am the sort of poison-loving bug-hating jerk who thrills to bug death, and hot water is probably more than enough.
posted by kmennie at 8:56 PM on December 19, 2016

Are these pillows hand-embroidered of golden fleece or similar? If so, I would remove the stuffing and coat shells in flea powder and stick them in double zip lock. After that, I'd wash in hot water and dry on high heat, then refill the pillows. I don't want fleas. Therefore, I wouldn't want to plop something full of flea/larvae/eggs on my upholstery so that fleas can set up housekeeping. You can certainly get rid of fleas but it's a bother.

If these pillows are any less special than that, I'd toss them.
posted by 26.2 at 9:00 PM on December 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, the idea of throwing out / giving back the pillows has been stated and restated and re-restated. Going forward, let's stick to the question. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:14 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

What we did that time I was pregnant and overdue and our mattress got fleas.

I don't happen to think this is as big of a deal as others have said --- as in, you're likely not pregnant and overdue and you're not talking about the fleas being in your mattress. If you're really concerned, a good wash and two or three rounds in a dryer before the pillows touch anything else in your house should be fine.
posted by zizzle at 3:51 AM on December 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

When you open the bag, do you see brown/black dust or dead fleas on the pillows or in the bottom of the bag? If so, move them to a new bag pending whatever treatment you choose. If not, there probably aren't any fleas in the pillows.

Fleas aren't that hard to get rid of. In my parents house, they used to live in the yard and our indoor/outdoor cat brought them in regularly. This is what happens when a certain parent doesn't belief in chemicals and would rather treat the cat with the stinky "natural" flea and tick treatment instead of frontline. When the fleas inevitably got into the carpet/couch, she would sprinkle diatemacious earth everywhere (this is basically the ground up carcasses of silica-based seafaring microorganisms), let it sit a few hours, and vaccuum it up, then repeat daily for a few days. For the couches, she covers them in three blankets and would just rub them through the washer and dryer. Interestingly, they never really made it to the couch or throw pillows, so there's a good chance you acquired the pillows before the fleas made it there.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:29 AM on December 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Diatomaceous earth or boric acid are non-toxic flea killers.
posted by Skwirl at 9:20 AM on December 20, 2016

posted by IndigoJones at 2:47 PM on December 20, 2016

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