Do I need to throw away all my stuff if I have bed bugs?

This is a very tough question to answer. Exterminators will probably tell you a bunch of different things. Some people, including many government agencies, recommend that you just junk everything if you can afford to. You can see some examples of these recommendations here, here, here, and here. Others will recommend trying to save as much as possible. You can see an explanation of this here. The reality is most likely this: if you don't throw stuff away, there is a risk that you will have a recurrence of the problem because a bed bug will have hidden in a nightstand, a sofa, or some other random part of your house. However, it is also probably cheaper to just take that risk and keep your furniture. Many exterminators are willing to try to treat all of your furniture. It might not work, and it depends heavily on a lot of factors like what kind of furniture you have, whether you're in a single-family residence or an apartment (you could fumigate the entirety of a single-family home).

   

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But the big question is, what do you have to lose? Your furniture probably would cost you thousands of dollars to replace. If you have to bring the exterminator back, that would likely be in the hundreds. So if you have an exterminator who thinks they might be able to save the furniture, just look at it like you're paying a few hundred for a shot at saving a few thousand dollars. It might not work. You might get bed bugs back in your house again. But that is probably going to be a risk worth taking. In fact, many people have thrown away a lot of their stuff and bought a bunch of new furniture, only to be reinfested anyway either because they missed something or because they were coming in from the walls in another apartment or the treatment was imperfect.

My advice is to call around exterminators and ask them their philosophy on this - and if you can find one who wants to try to save your stuff, go with them first. Most will be more than willing to try, and with phased treatments, you have a very good shot at getting rid of them.

Two other important points though: first, don't throw away your mattress under any circumstances. There are mattress covers made that will seal in the bed bugs and make your mattress safe. Just get one of those - the cost is nearly always going to be less than a new mattress. 

Second, if you do decide to throw something away, do other people a favor and make it unusable. If you leave a sofa on the curb, there are a lot of people out there who will look at it and decide they want a free sofa. Do something to either make it unusable or clearly tell people it is infested - scratch "bed bugs" into the wood or paint it on the sofa cushions or anything you think will let people know that you put it in the trash for a reason.

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