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Do you have to ditch your appliances when moving out of a bed bug-infested apartment?

By Virginia K. Smith | August 8, 2016 - 11:59AM 

My elderly mother is moving out of a highly infested apartment complex. Her apartment was heat-treated, but the bed bugs came back with a vengeance. Should she throw away her washing machine, TV, phone, kitchenware, etc.? Or is there a way to guarantee they won't carry over any infestation into her new apartment?


Your mother may not need to to toss everything in the trash. While it's unlikely that bed bugs will have taken up residence in her appliances, there are certain precautions she can take to ensure that these horrible, persistent creatures won't travel with her to her next apartment, say our experts.

"Discarding items is a last resort for severely infected things that cannot otherwise be treated cost-effectively," says Gil Bloom, president of Standard Pest Management. Bloom also notes that bed bugs generally seek temporary shelter (rather than long-term residence) in the kind of appliances you mention, as opposed to higher-risk pieces like the mattress and bed frame, so they may not be as worrisome as other items.

"Kitchen items are not normally involved in bed bug issues, unless someone is sleeping in the kitchen," Bloom adds. "A properly performed heat treatment should have addressed these items, unless there has been a re-introduction." 

For her mattress and box spring, Bloom recommends encasement, which entails placing a protective cover over an item in order to more easily detect the presence of bed bugs and prevent them from spreading. (A guide on that can be found here.)

And if your mother is concerned about the rest of her possessions, Bloom suggests two potential options. The first is a canine inspection, which generally costs $300 to $400 for a typical one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment. 

The second, more heavy-duty option is to have her belongings fumigated in the Uhaul between her current and future apartments, which Bloom says will cost around $1,000 for a standard small Uhaul, though prices vary depending on truck size.

And to stave off future pest problems once she moves into the new apartment, your mother may want to place preventative products like bed bug-killing dust and sealent around the new apartment and install bed bug traps to help prevent future problems, and/or nip them in the bud immediately (more on that here).

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