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Pest control expert weighs in on viral blue sofa debate: ‘Perfect couch for hosting bed bugs’

Viral debate centres around woman’s decision to pick up blue couch from New York City street

Amber Raiken
New York
Thursday 25 May 2023 04:30 BST
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Related: How to Survive Bed Bugs

A pest control specialist has weighed in on the now-viral debate over a woman’s decision to bring home a couch that she found on the streets of New York City.

Earlier this week, a woman named Amanda, who goes by the username @yafavv.mandaa, shared a video on TikTok about finding her “dream couch” on the street. In her video, Amanda described how she’d asked her father to come help her move the sofa, which appears to be from interior designer Sacha Lakic’s Bubble collection for Roche Bobois and which retails for $7,460.

Amanda then proceeded to show her and her family’s process of cleaning the couch after it had been taken off the street and moved to her father’s office. The footage showed the TikToker, her boyfriend, father, and sister thoroughly scrubbing the coach with soap and water, in addition to vacuuming it. She then showed her father and boyfriend bringing the couch into her apartment, where she swapped out the couch she’d previously had in her living room.

The video quickly went viral on TikTok, where it has been viewed more than 57m times, and where it has sparked a debate among viewers, with many claiming that the couch could be infested with bed bugs.

In a follow-up video, Amanda clarified that the couch was outside for less than 24 hours before she got it, and that it was in her father’s office for two weeks. She also said that she “only recorded five minutes” of the entire process she went through to clean the sofa.

However, viewers have continued to express their concern over the couch and its possible infestations, with many claiming only hard-surface furniture should be taken from the street.

Kevin Carrillo, a pest control specialist and the Director of Operations at MMPC, a pest control service in New York City, has since weighed in on the debate about whether it was safe to pick the discarded couch up off of the street. Speaking to The Independent, he explained that the bubble sofa design, specifically, could be an easy spot for bed bugs to hide in.

“That is the PERFECT couch for hosting bed bugs,” he said. “They love to cluster in the tufts of a couch like that. I’ve seen it a hundred times in similarly styled headboards - bed bugs, eggs, and nymphs clustered by the dozen. The tufts are like little bed bug hotels.”

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), bed bugs can hide in a variety of spaces. When a room is heavily infested, they can be found in “the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains”.

While Amanda said that the couch was thoroughly cleaned and kept in her dad’s office for two weeks, bed bugs could still end up appearing down the line. “I’d be curious to have her report back on it after four weeks if she’s had any issues,”  Carrillo added. “Bed bug eggs can withstand temperatures of up to 117F so while steam hits that temperature you’d have to blast every inch of the couch for several minutes.”

Carrillo also offered another recommendation to Amanda: Off-site fumigation, which is when a vapour or gas is sprayed on the couch to destroy pests on it. He said that this option, which typically costs “around $1,000,” would have “100 per cent kill anything infesting”. The specialist also said that the TikToker could reach out to “a certified canine to inspect the couch for bed bug scent”.

He added that, along with bed bugs, other pests could have been living in the couch, which is why it may have been thrown out in the first place. “Clothes moths, body lice, bird mites - some of the insects are so small you can barely see them with the naked eye,” Carrillo added. “Or if there is even a small tear in the fabric - then they’re inside the couch and avoiding all of your attention.”

And, despite how thoroughly Amanda said she cleaned the couch, Carrillo said he’d still be a little concerned, adding that “there’s still absolutely a chance she missed something in all those deeper seams and crevices”.

“No matter what you do to sanitise used furniture - you still run a potential risk of bringing home unwanted guests,” he said.

As noted by the US EPA, low-level bed bug infestations can be “much more challenging to find and correctly identify”. So, it’s important to catch them early and keep a lookout for signs, including bites on one’s arms. Some other signs can include rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets due to a bed bug being crushed.

In her follow-up video on TikTok, Amanda shared that she found the now-viral blue couch on the street outside of a “very rich building” in New York.

“Rich people throw out all their furniture all the time because they get new furniture every other year,” she continued. “So I saw the opportunity and took it.”

On social media, some people agreed with Amanda and claimed that wealthy residents in New York often leave designer furniture items on the street for others to pick up. However, other TikTok users still noted that soft furnishings, like couches, carry a much higher risk of bringing infestations into the home.

The Independent has contacted Amanda and Sacha Lakic for comment.

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