Shopping for secondhand items helps you furnish your home inexpensively, but if these items came from a bed bug-infested home, you could get more than you bargained for. While you probably already know that a secondhand mattress could be infested with bed bugs, you may not know that many other items can also be a hiding place for bed bugs. Here are four secondhand items that you didn’t know could harbor bed bugs.
Paintings, framed photographs and other pieces of artwork can contain bed bugs, so be sure to inspect them carefully before you buy them. This may seem unbelievable, but since bed bugs can fit into a gap as small as the thickness of a credit card, it’s easy for them to get underneath backing paper or inside a frame
Before you buy any artwork, take it out of the frame to make sure that no bed bugs are lurking inside. Pay extra attention to cracks and seams in the frame since bed bugs could hide in these areas. Check the backs of paintings to make sure that the backing paper isn’t torn or loose, and if it is, peek underneath and look for bed bugs.
Secondhand lamps can also introduce bed bugs to your home. When someone has a bed bug infestation, the bugs don’t just remain in their bed; they also infest nearby items in the room before spreading to the rest of the house. You have no way of knowing if the lamp came from a bed bug infested bedroom, so you need to inspect it closely.
Lampshades provide a great place for bed bugs to hide, especially if they’re made of fabric. Fabric lampshades have seams that bed bugs can crawl inside, and any pleats or wrinkles in the fabric also provide a hiding place. Bed bugs can also hide around the cord of the lamp or inside screwholes on the base of the lamp, so be sure to inspect these areas closely.
High-end curtains can cost as much as $1,500 per panel when you buy them new, so buying your curtains from a secondhand store is a frugal choice. However, curtains are yet another place where bed bugs could be hiding. When a home is heavily infested with bed bugs, there isn’t enough room around the bed for all of the bugs, and they need to move to nearby areas like the curtains.
Before you buy secondhand curtains, take them out of the packaging and inspect every inch of the fabric. Check the seams of the curtains as well as the pleats of the fabric for the presence of bed bugs. Bed bug eggs are tiny (1 mm) and white, while adult bed bugs look similar to apple seeds.
Surprisingly, bed bugs can even hitchhike in electronics! Electronic items like computers and televisions need to be inspected before they’re purchased secondhand. While it may seem strange that bed bugs would want to live in a television, remember that they like to hide in out-of-place areas that are close to the sleeping people they want to feed on. The ports on the back of a television or computer are a cozy place for bed bugs to hide.
Before you buy any secondhand electronics, inspect all of the ports with a flashlight and a magnifying glass. Check underneath the keys of keyboards and inside the battery compartments of remote controls, as well.
Mattresses aren’t the only secondhand items that could be harboring bed bugs, so be sure to carefully inspect every used item you want to bring home.