If you are on a tight budget, then purchasing used furniture or even getting some for free from your family or friends sounds like a pretty good idea. There’s only one catch though: bed bugs! Bed bugs can enter into your home by any number of different means – but one of the most common by far is used furniture that you bring into your home. Given that the cost of hiring a professional pest control service to treat your property for bed bugs can in the worst cases exceed several thousand dollars, what seemed like an economic decision at the time can end up being anything but – if you don’t take proper steps to inspect beforehand any used furniture that you intend to bring into your home. Avoid a headache by following our expert advice on how to check your used furniture for bed bugs. Read on to find out more.

About bed bugs

First, though, a primer on bed bugs. These small, flightless, reddish-brown colored creatures have as one of their favorite source of food-use, and our blood. That is why they have from time immemorial been drawn to human habitations. Nocturnal insects, they prefer to come out after-dark, biting the individual’s exposed skin as they sleep, unaware and defenseless. Found all over the world, bed bugs for many years seemed to be on the retreat in the United States, due largely to the introduction of synthetic pesticides after the war. In recent years, however, they have been making somewhat of a comeback, due to the removal of many of the barriers that previously impeded the movement of people and goods between countries.

Bedbugs can be found anywhere within your home – and in any place where humans live and go to sleep, such as hotels, airports and the like – but as their name implies you are most likely to find them in your bed, especially the mattress, the frame, and the springs (contrary to a popular myth, bed bugs DON’T dwell within your sheets and bed linens). They lurk also within cracks and other small, narrow spaces within your home – under the carpets, behind the curtains and the wallpaper, and so on. Another place they can be found – is within furniture.

And because they hide and lay their eggs within furniture, a previously bed bug-free home can soon become infested if contaminated items of furniture are brought into it. That is why it is so important to properly inspect for bed bugs any used couches, chairs before you bring them into your home. Here is how to do just that.

Get your equipment ready

To do a proper visual inspection of your used furniture for bed bugs, you will need to get all of your equipment ready. The things you will need include a torch or flashlight, a magnifying glass, white latex gloves, and a clean white sheet.

Place the furniture on the sheet

Spread your white sheet upon the floor, and place the items of used furniture upon it. The reason for having the white sheet there is that it will better enable you to spot bed bugs – or traces of bed bugs – as they fall onto the ground while you are inspecting the furniture.

Use your credit card …

You can also run your fingers over the surface of your items of furniture, but a credit card is a lot better. Run it through any cracks, crevices, creases or grooves in the surface of the furniture – as this is where bed bugs are most likely to be hiding. Closely watch for any signs of bed bugs that appear on the white sheet – or on your gloves. Signs include not just the bed bugs themselves, but also eggs, and bed bug feces – which will take the appearance of brown or red stains. Use your magnifying glass to get a closer look at anything that appears questionable.

Illuminate dark and hidden areas

Using your torch or flashlight, illuminate any dark spots or other nooks and crannies within your furniture. Once again, these are the places where bed bugs are most likely to be found hiding. You don’t often see bed bugs roaming around out in the open where they can easily be spotted, do you?

Other tips

Aside from a thorough visual inspection, another means of ascertaining whether or not used furniture is likely to contain bed bugs is simply to ask the current owners of it – do they currently, or have they previously, had an infestation of bed bugs? If their answer is yes, then it may well be wise to steer clear of those particular items of furniture. Even if their home has been treated for bed bugs and all the living insects have been removed, some of the eggs might still remain – and that is all that’s required for a future infestation to occur. In fact, you should always try to determine why exactly someone is getting rid of furniture that is still in reasonable shape – often the reason will be bed bugs! This is especially true of furniture that is left by the roadside or taken to the tip.

Another good tip for determining whether or not bed bugs are present in used furniture is to look at where the furniture is coming from. Certain areas of the country are higher risk areas for bed bugs than others – New York and other overcrowded cities, come to mind. Minimize the possibility of bringing bed bugs into your home by avoiding used furniture that comes from those places. Used mattresses and box springs – whatever the source – should also be avoided altogether – they simply are not worth taking the risk over!

What next?

If you notice any signs of bed bugs in your used furniture then don’t bring it into your home – at least until it as been properly treated. How you do that is the subject of a whole different article; all that needs to be said for now is that you should be very wary about bringing any used items of furniture into your home. It may seem like an easy way to save some money – but bed bug infested furniture could give you a little more than you bargained for!