Billy Joel might be think being in a "New York state of mind" is a good thing, but the state of mind of most New Yorkers I know right now (myself included) is one more akin to paranoia and fear... and it's all about bed bugs. You may have heard that bed bugs are invading New York City, and recently The New York Times wrote an article on the potential dangers of picking up these critters from secondhand stores and flea markets. This is sad news for thrifters. So what to do?
If you don't want to give up your thrifting ways entirely (and who does?), here are a few things you can do, according to the article:
1 Ask the store owner what precautions they take. Ask if they've ever had an infestation, if they have a system down for thoroughly examining the furniture and clothing they bring into the store, and if they work with an exterminator regularly.
2 After purchasing clothing, immediately wash and dry it in hot water. Bed bugs may be ubiquitous little creatures, but they're surprisingly easy to kill. Bed bugs respond to extreme temperatures, either hot or cold. High heat kills bed bugs and their eggs, so wash your clothes in hot water and/or dry them on high eat for at least 30 minutes. You can also put the clothing in a plastic bag in your freezer for 3 days. After it thaws out, wash it.
For New York City thrift stores, Housing Works has apparently fumigated its stores and its processing and distribution center in Long Island City, and inspects all its furniture at the prospective donor's apartment before agreeing to take it.