Will you be staying with a friend or relative in an urban apartment or condo?
Returning from college?
Bedbugs are terrible creatures, you absolutely don't want them in your home, and if you have them you shouldn't spread them to others.
So how can you be certain not to bring bedbugs back to your own home after spending time away from home?
Fortunately heat is a pretty good way of killing bedbugs. I built this device with the following objectives in mind:
- Safety - no pesticides; minimal fire risk
- Ability to kill bedbugs by heating the luggage to an internal temperature of 125F
- Low-cost, easily available parts
- Basic electrical skills (someone who knows how to install a new light fixture or outlet in their home safely).
- Only using basic tools (drill, knife, screwdriver)
- No soldering, no programming an arduino, etc.
- Usable as a prophylaxis (you should be able to use it every time you travel, whether you have encountered bedbugs or not)
Step 1: Why I built this device
I recently had the misfortune to stay in a hotel - a good quality hotel that I had stayed in multiple times before - and had my first bedbug encounter.
I knew a bit about bedbugs because my Mom's apartment had bedbugs several years ago (they had crawled in from a neighbor's apartment). It took her almost a year to get rid of them - several whole-apartment pesticide sprays, repeated laundering of all her clothes and bedding, replacing the bed, etc. I did not want to have them in my home!
When I travel, I normally check my hotel room pretty thoroughly when I arrive (see http://bedbugger.com/2006/10/19/faq-how-can-i-avoid-bedbugs-while-traveling/ for tips) but this time I missed their little hiding place and woke up in the morning with bloodstains on the sheets (yuk! and it was my own blood!).
So now I had my luggage that's been in a hotel room with bedbugs for several says and I needed to be certain that I wouldn't be carrying them back to my home.
I bought some large trash bags on the way to the airport. When I got home, I unpacked in an empty bathtub (so I could see if any bedbugs had escaped), all my washable items went straight into a hot wash and dry, I stripped off and washed all the clothing I was wearing, and then I sealed my suitcase in two knotted trashbags and had a shower.
Bedbugs can live without feeding for up to 18 months. So now I had a suitcase with various non-launderable items including my favorite leather jacket inside that I won't be able to use for 18 months until the bedbugs inside starve to death.
What to do now?
I found a device called a "Packtite" for sale on the 'net: http://www.usbedbugs.com/PackTite-Portable-Heating-Unit_p_6.html which looks like it would do a reasonable job - but it's over $300, and I didn't want to spend that kind of cash on this problem.
Various sources around the 'net state that you can kill bedbugs and their eggs with a temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
This instructable is my attempt to produce a heater for luggage that could be built simply and easily to raise the internal temperature to 125 without destroying the luggage itself. Read on for the rest!