It’s no secret that New York is a haven for bed bugs, and a serious pest infestation can wreak havoc on properties for years. Of course, it’s also no secret that Park Slope loves its hand-me-downs.
Having coveted many a chippy gilt frame on the street, we have often considered that someone must be cleaning out for less-than-savory reasons. Exterminators can cost hundreds, and packing the entire contents of your home into garbage bags is hardly the ideal use of a weekend. Whether you’re considering that bookshelf on 16th Street, or it’s time to throw out some unfortunately-buggy belongings, here are some tips for keeping yourself and your neighbors vermin-free:
1. Check the crevices and undersides of suspicious items before bringing them home. Bed bugs love cushion seams and book spines — so think twice before you pick up that novel you’re only slightly interested in. It may stay with you longer than you think.
2. Use heavy-duty garbage bags and seal all openings with duct tape when disposing of infested items. Attach signs stating the reason you’re putting them out. Wrap large furniture in plastic (note: the DSNY will not pick up unwrapped mattresses and box springs).
3. Spray your newly-acquired item or remaining furniture thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. This will kill eggs and prevent new ones from being laid.
4. Invest in a mattress protector.
5. Wash and dry your home linens. Crank the dryer up as hot as it can go. For an hour and a half. A shrunken sweater beats a body-full of bug bites any day.
6. If you suspect an infestation, contact your landlord. He or she is most likely responsible for extermination costs, and should be happy to have the issue taken care of (because as readers of the Bed Bug Registry will tell you, apartments in red-dotted buildings are not in high demand). Communicate clearly about your particular needs — for instance, an exterminator who uses organic cleaning materials that are kid- and pet-safe.
7. Put on clean clothes and go get a drink. You deserve it, and the exterminator will be in there for a while.
Bed bugs are a fact of life in NYC, but they don’t have to be in your biography. Good luck on the streets, and enjoy your mid-century rescues responsibly!
If you have dealt with bedbugs and can offer any tips — exterminator recommendations, for instance — please share in the comments.