Summer is just about upon us, and with it comes the hustle and bustle of preparing for camp and family getaways. This is such a wonderful time, full of new experiences and memory building for the whole family. One memory the summer shouldn’t create, however, is that of the house being infested with bedbugs.
Bedbugs are a difficult topic to talk about, one that tends to induce feelings of disgust and horror. Yet, ignorance is not bliss. In a recent article in The Jewish Press, it was mentioned that according to a 2011 study, the occurrence of bedbugs has gone up four percent since 2010. While in the past bedbugs were an almost exclusive problem of those living in poverty, nowadays those pesky little bugs don’t discriminate, and can be found in the most lavish of homes and hotels, as well as theaters, nursing homes and even libraries.
Getting rid of bedbugs is an expensive, exhausting, and emotionally devastating process. Putting in some basic preventive procedures that everyone in your home follows is well worth the couple of extra minutes. This way, even if you do G-d forbid, come into contact with bedbugs, you will avoid infestation.
1. Anytime you are staying overnight at either a hotel or someone’s home, regardless of who’s home it may be, never put your suitcase and clothes on the bed. Don’t assume if you can’t see the bugs they aren’t there. Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to spot. Leave your suitcase and clothes on a chair, or if you’re in a hotel, on a suitcase stand in the bathroom. All pajamas and worn clothes should be placed in a sealed bag, and washed immediately upon your return home. I like to put the clothes that weren’t worn in a sealed bag as well, to limit any possible cross-contamination.
2. When you have overnight guests in your home, be it your mother, sister or best friend, wash all linen immediately upon their departure and vacuum thoroughly around their room.
3. Consider buying mattress protectors. Although they will not prevent bedbugs from living on top of the protectors, they make the bugs easier to spot and remove. 4. As a general rule, bedbugs are found predominantly on and around the bed, so avoid walking around the house in pajamas to minimize the risk from spreading. Wash all linen, blankets, teddy bears, etc. at least once a week.
5. Avoid the temptation to put clothes that were worn only for a short time back in the drawer or closet. This limits the spread of potential infestation to the others clothes in those places.
6. It’s easy to excuse bedbug bites as a rash or misquotes bites. However, if you notice a group of bites, or if only one person in the home is getting bitten, or it’s not the season for mosquitoes, don’t wait. Call an exterminator immediately. Have him spray down the bed, the dressers, behind the walls especially all the moldings, and couches. Schedule a follow up in two weeks to ensure there aren’t any remaining bugs. Don’t despair if you need a few follow up visits; this is normal. It is very difficult to completely eradicate all the bugs in one shot.
Meanwhile, with the help of a cleaning lady, vacuum and wipe down all the bedrooms and any other room in which the bugs were spotted by the exterminator. If all the above preventive procedures were followed, only the laundry in the hamper and the linens on the beds need to be washed. However, if you were not careful, everything, and I mean everything, must be washed or dry-cleaned. This is not the time for martyrdom. Use the nearest full service Laundromat. For sixty cents per pound, they will wash and fold the laundry for you. Quilts and pillows can be put in the dryer for a minimum of twenty minutes. After vacuuming, be careful to empty out the vacuum bag outside the house. Don’t think that you can eliminate all this work by throwing out the beds because the bugs do not live exclusively on them and they will more then likely just hop onto your new beds. However, if you do decide to throw out the beds, a New York City law stipulates that the sanitation department will not remove them if the mattresses are not wrapped in plastic. Remember to put mattress protectors on your new beds.
All these procedures can be followed for the prevention and removal of head lice as well.
Finding your personal sanctuary invaded by bedbugs is a horrible experience. If, G-d forbid, you find yourself fighting this scourge, you have all my sympathies and blessings for a successful extermination. However, it’s important to put this experience in perspective. This isn’t a debilitating disease or a life changing event. This is an inconvenience, albeit an extremely annoying inconvenience. With perseverance, you will prevail over these little buggies. I promise you that much. Happy hunting!
Pnina Baim holds a B.S. in Health and Nutrition from Brooklyn College and a MS.edu from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Program. She works as a nutritionist and a freelance writer. Contact Pnina at firstname.lastname@example.org.Pnina Baim
About the Author: Pnina Baim is the author of the Young Adult novels, “Choices,” “A Life Worth Living,” and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, “Sing While You Work.” The books are available at amazon.com.
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