Booklice- help me get rid of my uninvited bedroom guests
June 14, 2018 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Psocids in the bedroom: how do I make sure I remove as many of them as possible from clothes and stuffed animals?

This is a “sister question” to my previous ask about finding bugs in a handbag of mine- upon further inspection, I discovered some psocids/book lice on a few item of clothings and stuffed animals, prompting more doubts that I hope I’ll be able to clear up with your help.

-First things first, right now it’s summer where I live and the humidity level of the room is currently around 56%. Most of the research I read on psocids states that it should be kept under 50% in order to kill them- is it worth it to buy a humidifier in your opinion? Would a portable one suffice or would you pick a more expensive machine? Opening the window and the door at the same time, even for almost an hour at noon, doesn’t seem to reduce the level at all.

-Onto the items. Freezing them is not an option, because family does not appreciate the thought of bugs so close to food. I do not own a dryer, so that’s a no go as well.

My plan of action would be: placing them in the sun for a couple of days at least; vacuuming them thoroughly; putting them in the washing machine at 40°; letting them dry out in the sun again. Would this ensure I kill both adults AND eggs? Should I keep the items “quarantined” in plastic bags and repeat the whole process –or parts of it, if so which?- after a couple of weeks to kill insects that may have hatched afterwards? Another issue is the water- most of those things can only be washed at max 40 degrees Celsius and I don’t want to risk ruining them, but still wonder whether the water would be hot enough. What do you think? Any suggestion on which detergent to use, if any in particular? Lastly, should I run the self-cleaning cycle of the washing machine afterwards, to ensure I don’t have any live bugs/eggs in there?

I’m honestly concerned about this and, whilst I get no house can be 100% insect free, I’d love to get the situation under control as much as possible, so any help is highly, highly appreciated. Thank you so much.
posted by opalshards to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
I am linking the previous post here.

Sadly I have no concrete advice for you OP, just a pedantic correction- I do believe you mean "dehumidifier", not humidifier.
posted by seemoorglass at 5:54 PM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

You don't own a dryer but is there a nearby laundromat? Reading a book while your things gently roast isn't the worst way to spend a couple hours.

A dehumidifier will work very well if the room doesn't get a lot of ventilation, but will do nothing productive if the windows are open. Caveat: these machines are noisy, use a lot of electricity, and require emptying multiple times a week (or day if it's extremely humid).

It's summer now, but does it freeze hard (-10C) in the winter? If you can stage a holding action for six months, then put everything outside to freeze for a week or two, that will kill them for sure.

Finally, make sure your storage is well ventilated. If it's a wardrobe or other enclosed area, there are some chemical dehumidification products you can buy, plastic tubs with holes in the lid, usually called "mould eliminators" or "damp rid" or so on that are designed for this problem.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:46 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @seemoorglass: Thank you; yes, I definitely meant "dehumidifier"- I don't know how I did not notice that when I re-read the post!

@seanmpuckett: See, the issue is that dryers are just not a thing where I live- I don't know anyone who even owns one either. {I definitely do see the convenience and plan on buying one when I move out though}

Speaking of the place where I am- no, we don't get freezing winters. Which, come to think about it, is probably the reason why dryers are not all that common- we make do with central heating and line drying year round.

I am definitely considering the dehumidifier- I'm just torn on how much I can spend on it. I would surely use it with closed doors and windows, no worries. =] Considering that the bedroom is not terribly humid, I think once a day emptying would suffice- but of course, I can only be sure after the purchase itself.

Good idea, I will stock up on small silica pouches and those mini closet dehumidifiers for sure, to help prevent this in the future. Thank you!
posted by opalshards at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2018

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