Friends, I’ve been working on this post for about a week. It’s really long, but I encourage you to read it.
I’d like to think that I woke up one morning and there was a tiny red bug flexing its muscles at me, telling me it had decided to move in and “tough, deal with it, girlie!” Think those Muscinex commercials, but worse.
No, that didn’t happen.
This, friends, is the only picture I have of the bed frame that ruined my life.
Okay, okay. I’m being a little melodramatic. But it did make life very difficult for awhile.
I bought this bed frame second-hand. I also used bleach cleaner to wipe it down and a vacuum to get rid of all the dust bunnies. I thought that would be a good enough cleaning. I’d always heard of bugs and mites living in soft surfaces, such as mattresses, but never in wooden bed frames.
Boy, was I wrong.
One afternoon, about a week after purchasing the bed frame, I started noticing an itchy rash on my arm. Then on my neck. Now, I have sensitive skin, so it’s not that surprising. I get rashes all the time, I wash them and put cortisone cream on, and then they seem to clear up. No, really. I should buy stock in cortisone so every time I buy it, I’m paying myself. But this just didn’t feel the same. These bumps were large welts, and they itched like CRAZY. Couldn’t be mosquitos in January, right? Well, it has been kind of warm… Let me Google.
This bed frame gave me bed bugs.
But the thing about bed bugs is that you don’t always know they’re there. They’re small, flat bugs that can squeeze into just about any crevice. They can also “lie in wait” for months at a time, waiting for a meal. Sidenote, they drink your blood, like mosquitos. If you ever want to keep yourself up at night, read about how bed bugs feed. It will gross you out. But they are like mosquitos in that they secrete a numbing thing while they feed, so you won’t feel them bite you. And it can take up to two weeks for a bite to even show up…
Since I noticed the bites about a week after buying the bed frame, I can only figure that there were hatched “nymphs” in one of the cracks in the bed frame. It’s an old, wooden bed frame, so there are a lot of little crevices and holes for a bug to hide in during the day, as bed bugs are nocturnal. I found a bug crawling across the sheets. Just one, in the middle of the day. Otherwise, I probably would have never known.
Here’s a few pointers if you ever get bed bugs:
1. DO NOT immediately start crying, like I did. I had to go to the front office and report the whole thing, with a few bugs in a tiny tupper ware container. They were very understanding, laid out the plan, and sent me home with a bunch of work sheets to prep my apartment. But I looked a hot mess in the mean time, all puffy faced and covered in tears.
2. Also, DO NOT feel alone. I was so embarrassed by the whole thing. I felt like we had done something awful. But I Googled around, because that’s what I do when I don’t already know everything about a topic, and found out that… No, bed bugs are just a problem that can happen to anyone. Trust me, D keeps the apartment spotless, with the exception of the occasional stacks of books. Bed bugs are also one of those things that you can just never know if you bring home. Though rare, you can pick up an egg off of someone else and bring it home. It’s more likely that you pick up an egg or a bug from bringing something into your home, or on a suitcase from an extended stay at a hotel.
3. DO NOT freak out and find every bug in your bed frame and murder it by dunking it in bleach… As I totally didn’t do, I swear. You can’t prove it.
4. DO Google around to find pictures of bed bug infestations. Some people don’t have a reaction to bed bugs, and may not know they even have them. However, bed bugs, like all animals, have to … use the bathroom… somewhere. And since they tend to congregate, you can find clusters of their… bathrooms… in the creases and around seams of mattresses, box springs, etc.
5. Make sure you have a credit card, or an awesome savings account, because it gets expensive. Here’s the cost scenario: The bed frame cost $35.
- We bought an air mattress to sleep on, bed bug bags for the mattress and bed frame, and tubs for our clothes during the two weeks we have to wait between sprays ($145)
- We also had to launder ALL of our soft surfaces (clothes, pillows, etc), and since we live in an apartment complex, we had to go to a laundromat ($70)
- We had to get the apartment sprayed, twice, though they recommend three times ($125 per treatment)
- We had to get a storage unit, to store our soft surfaces that we didn’t absolutely need between sprays, so we didn’t have to launder everything AGAIN after the second spray ($20 for January, $50 for February).
- I had to take two days off work, which cost me some valuable vacation time.
- We were also constantly on the move, which meant we had little precious time at home to eat. We went out a lot, which cost, over a week, probably about $60.
- You have to be careful where you dispose of furniture infested with bed bugs. They’re considered a public health risk, like roaches are. I had to take my bed frame to the landfill, which around here has a minimum fee for a weighted load… that weight is a ton ($38).
- So where are we? 145 + 70 + 250 + 60 + 38 = $563.
- A $35 bed frame cost me a $563 problem.
6. DO TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY. Bed bugs, once established, can be EXTREMELY hard to get rid of. I got lucky. We think we caught it early enough, but only time will tell.
Now, I want to post a point of clarification. I found this in all my Googling, and it was confirmed by the pest guy. Bed bugs do not just hitch a ride on used furniture. No, sir. You can get them from retail stores that sell you brand spankin’ new furniture. You have to ask specific questions, like, do you ever haul old furniture in the same truck that delivers the furniture, is your furniture wrapped in plastic, etc. You also have to do a thorough search of the item BEFORE you bring it into your house. Google. Figure out what it looks like. Even then, it’s not a guarantee though.
I also really want to extend the biggest thank you to my parents, who listened to me cry and whine about this problem for over a week. I was pretty torn up about it.
Anyway, I hope my experience can help someone out in the future. That’s the main reason I posted this. I wanted to let everyone know that yes, it can happen, and no, it doesn’t mean that you’re a dirty person. It just happens. And you will be broke afterward.
After disposing of the bed frame, thoroughly cleaning the apartment, and having it sprayed the first time, we haven’t found any new bites in over a week. The pest guy comes again today for a follow-up spray. At least this time, laundry should only cost the standard $20 or less. That doesn’t mean I haven’t already thought about bugs falling out of my bagged bed frame as soon as I unzip that cover…. Shudder.