Battling bedbugs: Local nonprofit helps people in need find clean furniture

They are only a quarter-inch in size but bedbugs are truly a nightmare.

A local pest expert says the tiny creatures are spreading around Spokane, in many cases, inside used furniture. However, bedbugs can hide just about anywhere.

“Backpacks, suitcases, duffel bags, purses, computer cases, I mean there’s almost nothing that I haven’t seen a bed bug crawl out of,” said Raymond VandrLouw, Board President of Bedbug Free Furnishings and a pest expert with more than two decades worth of experience. “About 70 percent of the people that were getting bedbugs were getting bedbugs through used furniture.”

For people transitioning out of homelessness or those who just got out of jail, a brand new furniture set is out of the budget.

“You’ve got to be super careful because a lot of these places where you buy second-hand furniture, there is no system in place to be able to inspect those items or treat those items prior to being sold,” VanderLouw said.

He and several other people saw a need and formed a nonprofit called Bedbug Free Furnishings .

Hotels and other local businesses have started donating gently used furniture which BFF heat treats in a small room to ensure no bedbugs are hitching a ride.

“Bedbugs are very sensitive to high temperatures. They start dying about 120 to 122 degrees,” VanderLouw said.

The treatment can take up to 6 hours. The clean furniture is then sold at a reasonable price to those who need it the most.

“We’re working with property managers wh do low-income housing,” VanderLouw said. “Even college students where they’re transitioning out of mom and dad’s house — we’re wanting to help them, too.”

BFF is still looking for a permanent location to set up. For more information, click here.