People at garage sale outside with sign up front

The Bargain You Weren’t Looking For At a Garage Sale

Garage sales can be great places to find hidden treasures for cheap. When people clear out their houses, they sometimes get rid of some pretty nice things, which you can then scoop up and take home. Who knows, you could even end up on Antiques Roadshow with something you picked up at a garage sale that, unbeknownst to you, is worth quite a lot! However, if you’re not careful, you could end up with something much less valuable and much more problematic: bed bugs.

What Items Should I Watch Out For?

Chances are, when you think of items that carry a risk of bed bugs, your mind jumps to furniture. This is definitely one of the items at garage sales you should be very careful with. Bed bugs like to hang out in bedrooms and come out at night while you’re sleeping, so be extra careful with items such as nightstands, mattresses, and upholstered chairs. Bed bugs can hide in the fabric of the upholstery and before you know it, they’re everywhere. The same rule applies to sheets and blankets. Be cautious picking up clothes and shoes as well. If bed bugs are hiding in that cute shirt you found for 25 cents and you take it home and put it straight into your drawer, the bed bugs will want to crawl around and explore. Soon, they’re hiding in your dresser or closet and you’ve got a huge problem. 

How Can I Tell if I’m Taking Home Bed Bugs?

If you know the person having the garage sale, it’s relatively simple to go up and ask if they’ve ever had a bed bug issue. If they say no, you should still check for signs of bed bugs on the items you’re buying. It’s possible that they’ve have bed bugs and didn’t know about it. However, if you don’t know the person, it might be a little awkward to go up and ask if they’ve had bed bugs in their home. There are a few ways to tell where bed bugs are hiding. The main thing you’ll want to look for is little black spots on your garage sale finds. The black spots can be bed bug feces, and they’re the easiest identifier of the sneaky pests. Also, watch the surface of the item for a minute. If you see anything moving, put it back!

How Do I Minimize the Risk?

If you’ve thoroughly checked your great finds and feel confident bringing them home, that’s great. However, if you’re still worried about a sneaky bug finding its way home with you, there are some things you can do to eliminate any stray bed bugs and put your mind at ease. If you’ve brought home any fabric, such as sheets, blankets, or clothing, wash and dry it immediately upon returning home. Not only will it be nice to have it clean and ready to use, bed bugs don’t do well in heat. 10 to 20 minutes in the dryer will kill any bed bugs who managed to get home with you. For items made of wood or plastic, it’s a little trickier to kill off any stowaways. Be sure to check in any cracks in the wood or plastic, as bed bugs love to hide in there. Unfortunately, if you find them in your furniture, there’s trouble. You can’t exactly throw a nightstand into the dryer. 

What if They Get Into My House?

Let’s say you do find evidence of bed bugs after bringing something home from a garage sale. What should you do? First, remove the furniture from your home right away. Put it out on the curb to be picked up by a trash removal service, and be sure to put some sort of note on it saying that it has bed bugs. This way, well-meaning trash pickers wandering by won’t pick it up and end up with bed bugs in their own home. Also check your car – the bugs could have jumped off of whatever item you brought home form the garage sale, and nestled themselves into the upholstery in your car.

Call for Help

If you get more than you bargained for at a garage sale, Bed Bug BBQ can help. We use heat treatment to get rid of bed bugs. This bed bug extermination process gets rid of bed bugs in just one day and won’t fill your home with chemicals! Contact Bed Bug BBQ in Cleveland, OH today for a FREE quote and inspection at (216) 221-1227 or through our website! Check out our other bed bug informational resources on identification, prevention, and eradication.

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