New furniture is rarely on the list for most college kids. Yard sales, hand-me-downs and second-hand stores are the primary furniture sources for many college dorms and apartments. Inexpensive and affordable is good, but the pests that can ride along are not. Life in the dorm, or that first apartment, is not always what parents dream of for their kids — but with a few simple tips, college kids can avoid bugs and rodents with enough time to study and enjoy college life.
Before moving in
No matter how cool the place is, be sure to inspect all potential living spaces for signs of bug or rodent activity, and ask the building management about their pest control practices. Pests that commonly thrive in high-occupancy areas like hotels, schools, dorms and apartment buildings are bed bugs, fleas, cockroaches, rats and mice.
Some of the most general signs of potential rodent infestations are: droppings or fecal pellets, small tracks and tail trails in dusty areas and woodwork that has been gnawed (especially on baseboards and cabinets). Universal insect infestation tell-tales include: fecal marks from cockroaches or other insects, a persistent and strange odor, bugs scuttling about (especially at night if lights are turned on) and cast skins or cobwebs around the dwelling. A simple LED flashlight can be a valuable tool when evaluating a living space for pests such as bed bugs. Use the light to inspect areas around woodwork and baseboards, between mattresses or couch cushions and behind pictures on walls. Look for live bed bugs, eggs and droppings. Even the cleanest dorm room or apartment can be infested with bugs or rodents through shared walls, so a pest control plan is important in any living arrangement.
Any used furniture needs to be thoroughly inspected and, if possible, treated before entering the building. Look for signs of bed bugs, fleas, cockroaches and rodents. If bugs are detected, spray the piece of furniture with Ortho Home Defense Max Bed Bug Killer. In addition, steam clean, replace or re-upholster any cushions or mattresses and clean, refinish or paint all wooden surfaces. Remember to inspect and repair/replace the dust cover on the bottom of any upholstered furniture, such as couches and chairs.
Vintage clothes and borrowing from friends
Vintage clothing is trendy, unique and generally inexpensive — but can have hidden problems. When purchasing, or even borrowing, any previously owned clothing or textiles, it is extremely important to take precautions. First, inspect the items for any signs of pests such as fleas and bed bugs. Next, put the items in a plastic bag and head straight to the dry-cleaner or Laundromat before bringing the items into the home. Place these items in the dryer on high heat for 15 minutes. The high temperatures from a dryer will kill any live bed bugs and eggs that may be hiding in the clothing.
Most college kids have no intention of keeping a house clean and tidy like Mom does, but a few cleaning tips will help to ensure that their living space stays pest free. Teach kids to clean up crumbs from counters and floors. Send along some disinfectant wipes and a handheld vacuum to make this task easier. In addition, storing food in tightly sealed plastic, glass or metal containers is a must, so be sure to include these items as well. Teach kids to always eliminate standing water or other moisture sources (hang up wet towels to dry, immediately fix or report leaky pipes and periodically check the drainage pan under the fridge). Sealing cracks and openings around the home’s foundation, if possible, can also keep unwanted bugs and rodents out.
Garbage and recycling
A quick lesson in garbage will help prevent pest invasions, and keep dorm rooms or apartments smelling much better. Purchase garbage and recycling cans with snug lids. Rinse out cans that contained soda or food before discarding.