TikTok video raises concerns on the risk of bedbugs from second-hand furniture


June 27, 2023

A TikTok user found a used couch on a New York City curb and had intentions of putting it in her apartment. Commenters noted that she should be cautious of potential bedbugs.

Photo: ©istock.com/John-Reynolds

Photo: ©istock.com/John-Reynolds

The user, yafavv.mandaa, posted footage of her and her family cleaning the couch (video here). In a follow-up video, she stated that it sat at her father’s workplace for two weeks before she took it home. “If there were bed bugs, we would have seen it!” she said.

If a piece of second-hand furniture has bed bugs, a thorough cleaning and time may not be enough to completely get rid of them. “In my mind, it may not be worth the risk,” Dr. Jim Fredericks, BCE, senior vice president at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), told NPR.

“At low levels, bed bugs are sometimes hard to detect, and so you may not even realize that you have a bed bug problem until the bed bugs that you’ve brought in with that couch have kind of blossomed into a full-blown infestation, maybe even in multiple rooms,” he said.

Dr. Fredericks also said it’s possible to get bed bugs out of second-hand furniture with vacuuming, steaming and thorough cleaning. But if you miss even a few, they can become a bigger problem. “If there are 100 bed bugs on this couch and you kill 90 percent, you still have 10 bed bugs, and that’s enough to start a new infestation.”

Forgetting about the piece of furniture for a while to try to wait them out won’t work, since bed bugs — which Dr. Fredericks referred to as “little, six-legged vampires” — go into a state of dormancy in the absence of food.

“Bed bugs are known to be able to live for more than six months without a bloodmeal,” he said. “So by trying to just starve the bed bugs, what you wind up with are just really hungry bed bugs when you return to that spot.”

Dr. Fredericks told NPR listeners that it may be best to avoid second-hand furniture — but if they “must” have it, exercise extreme caution and call a pest management professional.

So now it’s your turn: Have you seen a connection at accounts with bed bugs and recently brought-in furniture? Sound off below.

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