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An Important Warning for Thrifters!

I recently read an excellent, but sad, post from my good friend, Beth (of The Stories of A to Z) about bedbugs.  Gross, right?  I know, but if there’s one thing I’ve always loved about her, it’s her commitment to being open and honest on her blog.  I’ve been meaning to share it here because I wanted to get the word out about something that could really happen to any of us! She shared that her home has undergone an infestation of bed bugs, that she suspects came in from one of the many items she brings home thrifting—furniture, clothes, do-das, and thingamagigs.

Even if you don’t buy clothes and/or blankets from the thrift store (or any second-hand shops, like consignment shops, for that matter), don’t think you’re out of the woods!  All it takes is hauling that one must-have item into your house before those little pests take over, and from what she’s detailed here and here, it’s quite expensive (and painful!) to get rid of them.  Beth has had so much going on this year, I hate for this to be another thing added to her plate, but she’s definitely been proactive about getting them eradicated.  She actually had to throw away her mattress and purchase a new one, and while she says her mattress was old anyway, I’m sure she would’ve liked the purchase to be on her (and her husband’s) own time.

You have to read all of the details and see her photos, but let me serve as a second warning to protect yourself when buying second hand items for your home.  I leave most of my things in my garage when I bring them home, but from time to time I’ve been known to haul in some lamps or a stool to see how it looks–not anymore.  These things will have to be thoroughly cleaned before they enter the house.

For those of you in apartments I would recommend having all upholstered furniture immediately steam cleaned if you plan on using it right away, because all it takes is one culprit to leave your wallet (and your body) in pain.  If you love second-hand furniture (and items) like I do, you really need to read this.  


22 Comments on An Important Warning for Thrifters!

  1. Terry
    July 8, 2010 at 8:55 am (8 years ago)

    Ack. Reminds me of our head lice battles. Yuck. Fleas too which bite the wife but not me. Serious business.

  2. Tonia @Chic Modern Vintage
    July 8, 2010 at 9:31 am (8 years ago)

    I’ve read about those infestations, but as of late I really believe that they are coming from clothing and furniture that is manufactured in other countries. And bed bugs have nothing to do with being clean or not. That is why when I by old furniture, I let it set a couple of weeks and inspect it prior to painting or anything else, along with a good cleaning

  3. KMP
    July 8, 2010 at 9:38 am (8 years ago)

    This definitely changes my mind on thrifting…which makes me sad because it has become one of my favorite things to do!! I guess the main thing we need to remember is to CLEAN everything before bringing in the house!

  4. Irene @OurUglyHome
    July 8, 2010 at 9:46 am (8 years ago)

    This is a great warning and something to keep in mind. Thank you!

  5. Kelly @ Much To Do With Nothing
    July 8, 2010 at 10:16 am (8 years ago)

    Ewww Ewwww! I do think about this. I bring home upholstered furniture ALL THE TIME. I finally went and got a Shark Steamer. I hold the big pad on the furniture and move slowly across every inch of it, over and over again. I also use my bug spray undreneath and inside the bottom the best I can. I need to be MORE cautious from now on. Now I feel like steaming my whole house!!

  6. autumn
    July 8, 2010 at 10:19 am (8 years ago)

    i would have never, ever thought about bed bugs being in thrift store items. thanks for the warning!

  7. Full House
    July 8, 2010 at 10:53 am (8 years ago)

    I am totally freaked out. Just praying tjat all of the items I have hauled home are free of any sick bugs. I need to get on that steam cleaning:-) Thanks for posting.

  8. Mrs. Chic
    July 8, 2010 at 11:22 am (8 years ago)

    I’m so gald you psoted this! when I think of bed bugs I usally think of old matteress ( which thrift sotres in CA are not allowed to sell ) But i didn’t think about furniture etc etc….

    I will make sure to clean all items before I let them enter my house – they will be out on our patio! Thanks Chica! 🙂

  9. alison (semi-fab lane)
    July 8, 2010 at 11:48 am (8 years ago)

    good warning! just when i was about to start thrifting more often. it’s crazy that they can come in through electronics as well and just plain old wood! i feel itchy

  10. Design Esquire
    July 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm (8 years ago)

    Thanks for the reminder! I feel like I get so excited for the bargain, I don’t take the proper care before bringing things in.

  11. Averill
    July 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm (8 years ago)

    It’s always a good idea to thoroughly clean any vintage/second-hand item before bringing it home. Bed bugs — and even termites in wood furniture — can be a big pest.

  12. Michelle
    July 8, 2010 at 7:20 pm (8 years ago)

    Bed bugs seem to be everywhere, just thinking about it makes my skin itch. I’m going to be extra careful when I buy someone second hand.

  13. Sharstin
    July 9, 2010 at 1:23 am (8 years ago)

    oh dear! that is really good to know–thanks girly~

  14. Beth@The Stories of A to Z
    July 9, 2010 at 7:59 am (8 years ago)

    Yes! Clean, clean, clean and be especially cautious when buying vintage suitcases and all bedroom items (i.e. nightstands, dressers, even lamps!). I wish this experience on NO ONE. (Thanks for spreading the word Dayka.)

  15. Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle
    July 9, 2010 at 9:04 am (8 years ago)

    Yikes! What do you use to clean your items? Say, for instance, a wood dresser. Would you vacuum them?

  16. LindsB
    July 9, 2010 at 9:43 am (8 years ago)

    yuck!! just the thought of those creepy crawlies is enough for me to think again before I bring something new into my home.

  17. Dayka (Life +Style)
    July 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm (8 years ago)

    i’m glad all of you found this informative. my methods for cleaning wood items (as karen asked) is disinfectant & murphy’s oil soap. most of the stuff is so dirty that it has to be cleaned before you make use of it anyway, so that shouldn’t be too hard. when i use spray disinfectant on plastic/ceramic/nonporous items, i always give it a heavy spray, and then let it air dry.

    if any of you have other tips, please share!

  18. charm home
    July 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm (8 years ago)

    I have never thought about getting bed bugs from a thrift shop because I don’t ever buy bedding. I didn’t even think about those pesty little things coming in on something like a lamp shade or bench. I’ll definitely be more aware now. Thanks for spreading the word. -c

  19. Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog
    July 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm (8 years ago)

    Whoa! Thanks for the reminder to be extra careful about thrifting… I would have never thought about bedbugs!!

  20. Stephanie Sabbe
    July 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm (8 years ago)

    I have been hearing about the ole bed bugs a lot lately. We actually threw the old chair we found out because we didn’t have time to strip it and it was starting to freak me out:(


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