4 Pests You Can Bring Home In Secondhand Items

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Shopping at garage sales or at secondhand stores can save you money, but if you're not careful, it can also introduce pests into your home. A variety of household pests can infest furniture and other household goods, and when those items are brought into a new home, the infestation spreads. Here are four pests that you need to worry about if you plan on buying secondhand items.


It's common knowledge that termites feed on wood and can destroy the wooden structure of a home, but you may be surprised to learn that termites will also eat wooden furniture like chairs and tables. If you see a piece of wooden furniture that has small holes bored into its surface, or a pile of small wood-colored droppings beneath it, you should be concerned. These are signs of a termite infestation, and if you bring that item into your home, your home's structure could be their next meal.

Bed bugs

People who are concerned about bed bugs will probably avoid buying secondhand mattresses, but bed bugs can hide in any furniture. They can hide in cracks or seams of wooden dressers or desks, and they can hide deep inside upholstered furniture like armchairs. Bed bugs have even been found hiding inside lamps and clocks! Bed bugs leave evidence of their presence behind like dark droppings , and if you look closely, you may even see adult bed bugs.


Cockroaches are experts at hiding, just like bed bugs are, so they can hitch a ride on all types of furniture and household items. They can lay their eggs in the seams of upholstered furniture or mattresses, and these eggs will later hatch inside your house, giving you an unpleasant surprise. Cockroaches also lay their eggs in warm, out of the way places like inside DVD players and alarm clocks. Inspect any secondhand items thoroughly for signs of adult cockroaches, eggs, or feces before you make your purchase.

Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants don't get as much attention as termites do, but they're very similar. They don't eat wood, but they do burrow into it to make their nests, which causes serious structural damage to infested homes. Furniture that is infested with carpenter ants may have smooth holes across its surface, and you may notice a material that looks like sawdust on the ground beneath the item. Avoid purchasing any furniture that has these telltale signs of an infestation.

Secondhand shopping can save you money, but if you're not careful, you could spend those savings trying to get rid of pests. Inspect all secondhand purchases carefully, and if you see any signs of pest activity, avoid purchasing that item. If it's too late, and you think you've already brought an infested piece of furniture home with you, call a pest control service (such as Steve's Pest Management) right away.