I have made a new friend in Theresa Braine. She’s a journalist and blogger from NYC, and you can find her blog here. Theresa has blogged about bed bugs for the last three years, in a series which began when her own home was invaded. She knows what it’s like to deal with this issue first-hand, and her blog is a fantastic resource of support and information (including some very honest “what not to do”s, based on her own experiences.)
We’ve taken some great strides forward. Beginning on Thursday night, we began to go on the offensive. We ran out to buy some triage supplies: bed bug grade mattress, pillow, and box spring covers, diatomaceous earth, Space Bags and Ziplocks, turtle masks, rubber gloves, and coffee. Not gonna lie, as of tonight, we’ve spent close to $400. Ouch. (And yet, still better than the $1200 quote I got from a very popular pest control company.)
Some wonderful friends volunteered their time (and their money in the form of pizza!) to help us dust and cover the bed, and then we started treating everything else. To date, I’ve only counted 10 bedbugs total (including one I saw on a wall from a distance and can’t be 100% sure was actually a bed bug.) This is very, very good news.
To treat our fabric items, we took load after load down to the laundromat and used the industrial dryers. Killing bed bugs and eggs requires heating the infested items to around 120-122 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. We spent a lot of quarters that night.
When the items came out of the dryer, they were sorted and sent one of two places. Items we care enough about to continue treating in the future went into Space Bags which were sealed in the laundry center before being brought back inside. Items that weren’t worth the upkeep were taken directly to the dumpster. We rest easier knowing that we aren’t sharing our infection with anyone who feels the need to dumpster dive in our complex.
Possessions that can’t be put in the dryer can often be run through the dishwasher. I’m not sure how hot our dishwasher gets, but it feels pretty dang hot. Ours runs for about 30 minutes, so suspect items get run through twice consecutively, and left on the “heat dry” stage for as long as possible. It’s the best we can do there, since I’m not spending $300 on a Packtite.
And for everything else, in the bags they go. We bought some really heavy-duty pest control strips to zip into bags with books, the sewing machine, and other un-treatables. There they’ll stay for the next sixty days. If there are any bugs in with them, hopefully the pest strips will take care of that situation.
Now that everything (more or less) is treated and bagged, we have laid down a line of diatomaceous earth around our baseboards. If the suckers are coming from the walls (which they probably are), this’ll kill off many of them as they emerge each night.
It’s amazing how exhausting this whole process is. I still haven’t slept at night, but I can get a little in the morning (dozed off around 7 am for about four hours, which is a new record and definitely something to celebrate!)
Emotionally and mentally, I’m stressed. But I just keep taking Theresa’s sage advice, and repeating the mantras: “I do not have bed bugs. My apartment has bed bugs.” “They do not spread disease.” “Knowledge is power.”
Maybe tonight I’ll try melatonin (or something stronger? 😉 ) to get more sleep.