Bed bugs can be anywhere. This story proves that. We like sharing stories like this to simply make people aware of how easy it could be to be in a situation like this. It is not meant to scare people; just to remind you to only go to businesses you trust and know well for goods and services. The likelihood of something like this happening to you is rare, but this story is still an interesting read. Check it out below:
A Man Says A Shirt He Rented Wound Up Being Totally Infested With Bed Bugs
Health | August 29, 2016 | By Korin Miller
But experts say this is pretty rare. Here, they explain what you need to know—and how to minimize the already small risk that this could happen to you.
File this under “terrifying”: A man is suing Men’s Wearhouse because he allegedly got bed bugs from a shirt he rented from the company. Anthony Elam of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says he rented the shirt for his wedding two years ago, noticed it was infested with the blood-sucking parasites after he put it on but wore it anyway—and they “tormented” him during and after the ceremony, according to TMZ.
Elam says he suffered from bites, infection, injuries to his ligaments and blood vessels, and permanent shock to his nervous system, among other issues (which, to be fair, were probably exacerbated by the length of time he wore the shirt).
It’s freaky to think that you can get bed bugs from clothes you rent, but it can happen—and experts say it can also happen with the clothes you buy. “Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers and are primarily transported on clothing and human’s belongings,” Tom Jeffords, technical specialist at Terminix, tells SELF. “They can easily hide along seams and hems and catch a ride from one customer’s home into a clothing store or retailer. If you pick up the item they happened to be clinging to, your house may become their new home.”
That sounds scary, but it’s important to note that encountering the bugs because of clothing you rent or buy isn’t common. Michael Potter, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at University of Kentucky, tells SELF that this is “rare at clothing stores,” but he also says it is technically possible. For example, several clothing stores in New York City temporarily closed in 2010 after they were infested with bed bugs.
With brand new clothes, the danger is usually from people who return things, bed bug expert Jeffrey White, technical director for BedBug Central, tells SELF. “It’s unlikely that someone would transfer bed bugs to brand new clothes in the store, but it’s a possibility if someone brought clothes home to a place that was infested and then returned them.” While White says some stores clean or throw out returned clothes before placing them back on shelves (which would usually then get rid of the bed bug risk), many don’t.
Buying something from a street vendor or at a thrift store increases the likelihood of bed bugs because the clothes often aren’t cleaned properly before you buy them, he says. But in general, the chances are still pretty low. The risk is probably even less with rented clothes since companies usually dry clean them between customers. “Dry cleaning would kill bed bugs,” White says. “There shouldn’t be a huge risk unless they’re not cleaning between rentals.”
Even if bed bugs did end up in a store, they likely wouldn’t last for long, Ron Harrison, Ph.D., Orkin entomologist, tells SELF. “A clothing store is not an ideal setting for bed bugs because no one is sleeping in the store, and bed bugs normally feed on blood while people are sleeping at night,” he explains. So, keeping your eyes peeled for bed bugs every time you go shopping definitely isn’t necessary. (If you did want to look out for signs of a bed bug infestation, these are the most common ones, per Jeffords: Small brown blood spots, small translucent eggs, or the critters themselves, which are oval-shaped, brown, and about a quarter-inch in size—similar to an appleseed.)
If you’re still nervous, experts say there’s a simple solution: Put clothes in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes after you buy them. “It will kill everything,” Potter says. You can wash them as well, but Potter says you really only need heat from the dryer to get the job done.
Overall, experts say your risk is greater with used couches and beds than new clothes. “People shouldn’t freak out,” Potter says. “This can happen, but it’s rare.”