Bed Bugs

While we were in the Andaman Islands, we got introduced to bed bugs.  Not something that I would wish for. I was the one being bitten, they didn’t seem to like Murray. The bites weren’t numerous, but 3 of the 7 nights I was nibbled on. ICK! ICK! ICK!

We were not convinced that the bites were from bed bugs until we got to Frankfurt and could do some real investigation on the web. Once we were convinced, we then researched what we should do when we got home so as to not infest our house. There are numerous websites that discuss bed bugs and what to do.  There is quite a bit of conflicting information out there. Hot water, dryer heat, freezing, dry cleaning, carbon dioxide – it is all suggested

When we got dropped off, we did not go into the house.  We headed for the garage and put our suitcases, purses/carry on bags and all the clothes we were wearing inside. I (the bashful one) ran into the house buck naked – hopefully none of our neighbours happened to be looking out the window just then.  Murray (the brave one) made me get him a housecoat.

After a visual inspection, we took money and credits cards in the house that night. Left everything else to be dealt with in the morning.

The next morning, we washed all the cotton fabrics in hot water and dried them in a hot dryer .

We visually inspected all the items that had hard surfaces looking for egg clusters.  Found none.  These items then went into the house.

We were left with our “technical” clothing, the shoes and all the bags.  We took wool shirts, nylon pants, fuzzies and gortex jackets.  We were not sure if washing in hot water and drying in a hot dryer would destroy the fabrics.  I talked to my faithful contact at Alberta Health Services and he assured me that 10 minutes of heat would kill any bed bugs or eggs as they cannot tolerate heat.  My contact said that 48 C is the temperature that will kill these critters in seconds (42 C is the temperature of a hot tub’s water). Heat or dry cleaning (chemicals) are the only ways to ensure bed bugs are killed.  Freezing does not kill eggs.  We decided to put the technical clothing in the dryer first and heat them up dry.  Then put them through a hot wash to clean them and then hang to dry, like we always do.  (I figure that even if we end up ruining a few shirts, it is still less costly than to get a bed bug infestation.)

My contact also said to put our bags through the dryer too.  They are fabric bags and will fit in our dryer, so that is the plan. I plan on putting our shoes through the dryer too, if they do not bang around too much.

Murray’s jacket and his courier bag were just washed in hot water and hung to dry, as they would not survive the hot dryer.  I am hoping this is good enough. I bought some cotton/silk material in Bhutan to make a table cloth, and am concerned about throwing it in the dryer, so I may send it to the dry cleaner.

If you are reading this because you have run into these critters, DO NOT take your luggage into your house, put them into the garage and deal with the clothes etc from there. Use either heat (hot hot dryer for 10 minutes) or chemicals (dry cleaning) on all the fabrics to ensure the bugs and the eggs are killed.  Visually inspect all hard surface items for signs of eggs. Of course, please do your own research and do what you are comfortable with.

I think we are handling this bed bug issue properly and my faithful contact agrees that we are doing all the right stuff.  This was not pleasant and I hope we do not encounter bed bugs on any of our future trips.

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2 Responses to Bed Bugs

  1. Jane & Randy Murchison says:

    And…… how did everything turn out? Any remaining evidence of bed bugs? I thought freezing killed the eggs!

    • debbie says:

      We have processed everything through the washer and then the dryer or first through the dryer and then the washer. It is all put away now. We have left our two umbrellas in the garage over the winter. We also have a plastic bag in the freezer with the large camera lens case, the Epson case and the wallets inside. We are not sure what to do with those items as we do not want to put them through the dryer, so they may stay in there for a number of months.

      It is now a waiting game and hopefully we will not find any bedbugs anywhere in our house. Fingers crossed.

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