Steps for safely shopping second hand
by Tommy Underhill
March 25, 2021
We’ve written about the pitfalls that you can encounter when finding that second-hand treasure. Knowing what to look for when it comes to bed bugs (and other insects!), odors, allergens, molds, and bacteria can make all the difference between scoring a find and inviting a nightmare into your home. My wife sent me a WebMD article about second-hand items, and I’d like to share a few relevant points with you.
Whereas the article specifically focuses on thrift store, I want to expand the concept to furniture, electronics, or clothing from friends, “free” items found on the curb, second-hand computers and electronics, and garage sale treasures.
Do: Sniff out thirdhand smoke
This is what smoking leaves behind in clothes, furniture, curtains, and pretty much everything else. It builds up over time and can last for weeks. Stay away from items you know came from the home of someone who smoked. Since you don’t always know for sure, it’s best to give everything you buy used a thorough cleaning.
A heat treatment eliminates odors in all items. When you get a heat treatment, the treatment temperatures will denature the chemical basis of cigarette smoke, and the aggressive airflow will help drive the particles out of the items.
Do: Eliminate urine smells
Urine from pets or children can deeply penetrate an otherwise beautiful piece of furniture. It’s not a situation solely unique to second-hand items— I’ve had to deal with this reality in my own furniture and rugs while raising my own children and owning cats and dogs!
Do: Wash and dry clothes and linens
Concerned about bedbugs? You probably should be. Your best defense against bringing bed bugs into your home with thrift store clothes is to stick them straight into the dryer. Washing alone won’t kill bed bugs or their eggs. Run everything through on high heat for at least 30 minutes.
Do: Look for bedbugs in furniture
Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and can crawl into the tiniest seam or crack and go several months. They can be in most types of used furniture, but you’re more likely to find them in mattresses or items with soft fabrics and deep crevasses, like sofas and overstuffed chairs. Looking for bugs, eggs, and fecal spots, which look like tiny black dots.
Do: Know your allergies
If you’re allergic to dogs or cats, it’s probably the dried skin flakes, known as dander, that affect you. It easily clings to clothes and other fabrics. Look for hair or fur as a warning sign. Washing clothes and linens will help eliminate the allergy. And furniture made of wood is a lot easier to clean than an upholstered sofa or chair.
Do: Leave electronics and purses in a heat treatment
Our Technical Director told me a story of a gal who needed a repeat heat treatment because the bed bugs came back. As our Director set up the repeat treatment, he watched her take her purse from the house. He politely asked if he could take a peek inside... low and behold, he found hundreds of bed bugs and eggs! Don’t assume bed bugs infest only your furniture. Do assume they’re everywhere and in everything. Leave those things they might infest in the heat treatment for a 100% kill.
GreenTech Heat technology is 100% effective for bed bugs, cockroaches, and all other insects. Heat kills microbes, viruses, and bacteria that can cause allergies and odors. GreenTech Heat equipment allows you to self-treat with heat on your schedule and as your needs demand. Our certified training lets you do it right and do it safely the first time. Heat safely kills insects and microbes everywhere they may be found in a single one-day treatment. Call us at 888-699-3944. We have bed bug heaters for sale to get started with heat today.