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Monday, March 12, 2012

Bed Bugs and Parquet

We only knew we had bed bugs when we turned over The Helper's mattress and found them clustering along the mattress seams like round drops of dried blood. Some roused themselves sufficiently to crawl sluggishly away from the daylight. I suspected that the bugs might have come from the agency's lodgings when The Helper transited through there. I immediately worried for my own bed. The Helper had the habit of spreading out our clothes on HER bed to fold. Once the stack of clothes came upstairs, she would place them on MY bed before distributing to all the wardrobes.

It was a nightmare. The Husband's frequent itchy spots began to make sense. We had initially thought they were part of an eczema. So I swung into bed bug control. The mattress went... even though there was no infestation obvious to the naked eye. The Husband underestimated the enemy. He wouldn't throw away the bedframe. It was an expensive King-sized wooden bedframe with a Queen bed pull out. We loved it. The whole family bunked in together and it cost us $2000, which may not be a lot to some people but I think it was at that time, the most expensive piece of furniture in the house.

So, I sprayed cans and cans of insecticide on the bed, with the predictable result that the bed bugs picked up their legs and ran. Where did they run to? Into the cracks of my parquet floor. And there they stayed coming out to bite us in the night even after we threw away the bed frame and bought a new metallic one. I was using so many cans of insecticide that I felt sick. The room was always smelling and we would STILL get bitten!! Every week, I had to drag the metal bedframe out to the garden and pour hot boiling water all over it. And the bedbugs still came for us.

Eventually, I poured boiling water onto the parquet. I made sure the hot water seeped into every crack. Too bad if that was going to damage the wood. I didn't care anymore. I was half-crazed by the unremitting stress caused by these tiny creatures of the night who creep up for their dose of haemoglobin. They lay thousands of eggs so small you can't see them. Their young are born with a taste for blood and they're little transparent whitish specks of dust. You can't see them but they can smell you.

The new house has NO PARQUET and NO CARPET. The bedrooms have floor tiles. The bedframe is cheap. The mattress is of foam and therefore a fraction of what a spring mattress costs (and it offers far more support for my lower back than any other mattress I've had before). We have set all up for easy bed bug riddance IF EVER it happens again. The whole bed and mattress will go. The bedding will be washed and heated in the dryer to temperatures that'll kill any bug or bug egg. Then, I will use my trusty steamer and I will steam the floor and walls. Nothing kills bed bugs better than heat.

In USA, there is a bedbug treatment consisting of pumping hot air quickly into an infested room. This raises the temperature of the room FAST before bedbugs have a chance to go snuggle somewhere deep and cool. Both eggs and bugs die. We don't have that treatment here but I have my trusty steamer and my kettles of boiling hot water.

Since then too, I make sure I do spot checks on The Helper's bedroom, bed, wall and floor. I require that she turns everything out on a regular basis, irons her mattress and steams the floor of her room. I also want the room to smell nice... and I supply The Helper with a store of perfumed talc so that she will get used to being clean and smelling good.

At every hotel room, I do a visual check of the mattress. Suitcases stay downstairs till all the contents have been washed. I don't care whether clean or dirty. Everything is washed and tossed into the dryer. No suitcases are allowed in the bedroom. They stay under the stairs and when we pack them, we BRING our belongings downstairs TO the suitcases.

Bedbugs are a nightmare. I don't ever want to have them again.

11 comments:

Wen-ai said...

O yes.. My previous place also had a bedbug episode. It was a total nightmare, I was steam-ironing my mattress and pillows and bedsheets ... etc. Hub laughed at me and called the Pest Control company. Best thing ever, the Pest guys came over and fumigate twice and then all the bugs died. No more bedbugs after that! And yah, we follow your regime of washing everything at 60 deg after our travels too.

Theanne said...

so happy you are rid of the bedbugs...I have a very bad feeling I may have them in this love seat recliner that I bought back in 2006 (it was not cheap, costing more than most sofas I've had)! the sofa is RED how easy is it going to be to find a red bedbug? and how easy is it going to be to find a way to get rid of the sofa, if I do find bedbugs? I don't like insecticides and pesticides, they're toxic, to me and Baron! and I can't pour boiling water on this sofa and I can't pitch it in the dryer (too bad)! sometimes I feel as though I'm being eaten alive when I sit on this thing! maybe I'm just allergic to the sofa ;-) I'm going to get my magnifying glass and check!

Blur Ting said...

Wow, traumatic. I must be careful with my luggage in future.

petunialee said...

Wen-Ai : Hah... so effective? Gee... someone told me that the bugs come back after a while... so I didn't call them.

petunialee said...

Theanne - Ooooooooooh! I feel stressed already!!

petunialee said...

Ting - Yeah... good to be careful!!

Open Kitchen Concept said...

Oh wah now I'm so scared... and also a bit itchy reading this post. I'd do what Wen-ai did - call Pest control and get the experts! AND SUCH a good point about the travel part - I'd note that as well. This is so scary....~~

Malar said...

My parents home had this bug too! Very annoying! My mum use to wash, dry in hot sun,put some herb, etc. Many many work to get rid of them! Now it's all gone!
The luggage bag tips is good!

petunialee said...

Malar - I agree. It is an AWFUL experience!!

kristy said...

Your story sounded chillingly like mine...I could feel goose bumps breaking out just reading it. I am allergy to bed bugs bites and get really bad swelling spots that stays on for weeks every time I get bitten. But yes, after throwing out the bed frame and mattresses and going through all the insecticide and hot water and dryer actions, all the bed bugs are gone..
I am also practicing the wash everything in the luggage part and sunning the luggage bag as well. Don't ever want to go through it again...

petunialee said...

Kristy - Thanks for dropping by. I think all bed bug stories have the same main plot. Aaaaaaargh!