Bed bugs are something you may come into contact anywhere these days. Home office limits your exposure to bedbugs by rejecting these types of orders and excluding it from our list of services. This however, is not our best defense to this pesky problem. Our best defense is with you, our Providers, and it starts with things you do to limit your exposure.
We reached out to a Pest Control company to get guidance to share with you on how you as the Provider can protect yourself while doing the laundry. They included some general information, detection, treatment options and steps you can take to prevent them from coming to your home. They’ve also offered to sell traps or other things you might be interested in at a discounted rate to you.
Becoming educated and being aware are your best lines of defense!
In a Laundry operation you and your clients may likely be exposed to many Bed Bug risks. Some specific laundry industry concerns are listed below:
Spread of Bed Bugs to clients or laundry operators.
Transportation of dirty and clean laundry in the same transport vehicle.
Spread to vehicle and your laundry facility (possibly your home!).
Bites from handling laundry.
Bed Bug eggs on or in the laundry transferring to your personal items, shoes or clothing. Also, transport materials used to tote laundry.
Picking up live Bed Bugs on shoes or clothing while in an infested environment.
Knowing what to do after exposure to an environment with infestation suspicion of Bed Bug infestation.
Adult bed bugs description male and female, in general, are:
About the size of an apple seed (5-7mm or 3/16-¼” long)
Long & brown, with a flat, oval-shaped body (if not fed recently)
Balloon-like, reddish-brown, and more elongated (if fed recently)
Smelly, with a “musty-sweetish” odor produced through glands on the lower side of the body. (Only in severe infestations is this noticeable)
Young bed bugs (also called nymphs), in general, are:
Smaller, translucent or whitish-yellow in color
Can be nearly invisible to the naked eye because of coloring & size (if not recently fed)
Bed bugs, in general, are:
Tiny, the size of a pinhead
Pearl-white in color
Marked by an eye spot if more than five days old.
Keep laundry items in your vehicle until you are ready to process them. Bed bugs die in high temperatures. Your vehicle will easily come to a temperature of 125 degrees or higher which will kill any bed bugs that could have traveled in.
Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and easily transfer from one site to another through infested belongings like clothes, suitcases, second-hand furniture, beds, and bedding. Bed bugs have jointed appendages and spikey hook like feet that allow them to lock onto clothing, luggage, laundry, and furniture etc. They cannot climb up very smooth hard surfaces such as glass.
Bed bugs tend to locate in cracks and crevices, such as behind baseboards, wall outlets, wallpaper, between bed joints, slats, dresser drawers, along mattress seams and clothing. Most bed bug infestations of late occur in the home but also in hotels, dormitories, cruise ships, doctors’ offices, movie theaters, friends’ homes, etc. Anywhere the public tends to sit for longer periods of time are higher risk areas. Common hotspots in the home include bedrooms, sitting areas, favorite chairs, couches, bathrooms, laundry rooms and 5 to 10 feet away from these areas.
Adult bed bugs can survive on average 6-7 months without feeding, and have been known to survive in abandoned houses for up to 1 year. They often go undetected for a long period of time from 90 days to 6 months when the biting and fecal spotting becomes more evident. This, combined with the fact that females lay 2-5 eggs a day (and 200-500 eggs in her lifetime), make Bed Bug infestations a formidable opponent even for a Pest Control Professional.
It is important to inspect common areas (especially around the bed) for actual bugs, feces or cast skins monthly. Using a flashlight be sure to look in cracks, crevices, and folds of fabric. Most often Bed Bugs will harbor close to the same side of the bed that you lay your head. This is due to their attraction to the carbon dioxide you breath out when you exhale.
We utilize Bed Bug Monitors that draw Bed Bugs in with co2 or scent packets. These monitors catch the Bed Bug in a trap and have a slippery surface they cannot climb out of. Bed Bug monitors must be inspected and serviced on a regular basis. These monitors will not control or get rid of Bed Bugs but serve as an early alert system. Inspection and monitoring should be done by a professional, especially if you suspect you have an issue. They will notice small clues that the novice inspector often misses.
Canine inspections are an optional tool in Bed Bug detection and in my experience about 50% reliable. They are a great additional tool coupled with human inspection and other monitoring products. Two dogs are best to check and balance them against each other!
The most important area to search is on and around your mattress, sides and bottom of box springs and bed frame. Look for blackish Ink like blood spot drops or smears that are often left behind. Look carefully around areas people spend time resting or sitting idle such as recliners, couches, and computer chairs.
Check around perimeter of the room. Look at the edges of baseboards and carpet for any bedbug evidence. Look around electrical and other outlets.
Inspect nightstands and dressers inside and out, then tip over to inspect the wood beneath. Often, the bugs will be hiding in cracks, corners and crevices.
Behind picture frames, table lamps, under and in alarm clocks and other electronics.
Behind loose wallpaper and around the ceiling or in the corners of the room.
Around window frames and door frames.
On curtains or drapes.
Check spider webs.
Do it yourself treatments are not recommended and can be very dangerous to your family. Bed Bug treatment should be done by a licensed Pest Control Company. There have been a rash of poisonings and fires due to people self-treating. Bug Bombs do not work and cause the Bed Bugs to spread.
Heat Treatments can be effective but cost three times the cost of a chemical treatment and if you get Bed Bugs again you have to pay for it all over again. If choose to you use Heat treatment you should be treated chemically at least once. Heat treatment is a quick knockdown. Although it is not the silver bullet it is made out to be! Heat treatment has no long lasting effects once completed.
Chemical Treatments should be performed by a licensed exterminator. All areas should be treated once every two weeks for six weeks. Companies should use chemicals the Bed Bugs are not resistant to. You will need to follow a preparation sheet to prepare for treatment. An ongoing inspection and monitoring program is recommended after treatment. Chemical treatment does have a long lasting effect which becomes weaker over a short period of time. Vacuuming and steaming activity areas should be a part of this process as well. Take precautions not to breed them in your vacuum cleaner or bag by disposing of the bag quickly. Install actual Bed Bug Encasements on all mattresses and box springs that are bite, rip resistant and include a zipper lock.
Fumigation tenting of you house is also used and is very expensive. Must be done by a licensed company and has no lasting effects once completed. Can be an effective treatment option as well.
The best preventative measure is to inspect your home on a regular basis, familiarize with pictures above for the signs to look for when at a client’s house.
Some action steps are listed below that are specific to your industry:
Wear light colored clothing and inspect yourself once you leave an area that could be suspect.
Install Bed Bug Monitors in your laundry facility and other sitting/sleeping areas.
Use white sheets for ease of regular inspection on beds.
Install Encasements on all Mattresses and box springs for ease of inspection and to keep bugs out of innards.
A product called Sterifab (commonly used in heathcare industry) or 91% alcohol will contact kill a Bed Bug on items. Use only as product label recommends. (Read label carefully)
Vacuum car or vehicle at a car wash place on a regular basis or especially after a job you feel suspicious of.
Wear white shoe covers if entering clients house (dispose of immediately on site or into zip lock bag or similar closed bag)
Wear pants that don’t drag on the ground.
Don’t sit on furniture in client’s home.
Large items such as comforters etc. should be sealed in a bag large enough to completely seal all the way and or tie shut before putting into vehicle.
Laundry should be transported in clear totes every time from clients home and inspected afterwards. Especially after pick up is taken out of the totes to go in to the laundry facility.
Don’t use totes on delivery back to client.
All laundry should be isolated into a clear tote for inspection and not encounter any other surfaces besides the inside of wash and dryer until after processing.
Use separate area to fold and transfer clean laundry if possible.
Inspect areas used to sort soiled laundry after each occurrence.
If you suspect you have contracted a Bed Bug on your person. Take shoes off outside and bag (put in a pillow case or other suitable bag and run through dryer later). Take a trash bag into the bathtub and place clothing in a bag and seal it. Put your clothes in the bag and then seal it. Take a shower and inspect the bathtub for bugs. Place clothing in the dryer and dispose of the bag. Run dryer on highest setting allowed for the fabric for at least 30 minutes.
If you encounter Bed Bug in laundry room apply Sterifab according to label directions and vacuum, discard bag. Call exterminator!
Zander Pest control can provide Bed Bug Monitors, Mattress and Box spring Encasements and other products at reduced rates.