Scabies mites are tiny microscopic creatures that burrow into and feed on human skin. The thought may be repulsive, but scabies are harmless aside from a mild rash that can make you itch like crazy. Unfortunately, the immunocompromised and elderly may experience a condition called crusted, or Norwegian, scabies. This condition is still relatively harmless but a bit more unpleasant, potentially causing thick, crusty rashes. This form of scabies is more contagious.
Whatever form of scabies has invaded your home, you'll want to get rid of the little buggers as quickly as possible. Your doctor will give you a cream to relieve your itching and kill the scabies mites on your body. To make sure they're gone, however, you'll want to do a little housekeeping to kill any mites hiding in the couch or carpet.
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The Good News
Your first reaction to a scabies problem may be to kill them with fire and start over, but you can safely step away from the matches. A diagnosis of scabies can feel uncomfortable, but you're not dealing with a major problem here. Unlike bed bugs and other insects that can live away from their hosts for a long time, scabies live only 48 to 72 hours if they're not on a person.
This means that the simplest solution to a scabies problem is to just go away. If you remove all of the people from your home for a long three-day weekend, any scabies present in the home should die on their own. Of course, it's smart to clean couches and other surfaces in the home just to be sure, and cleaning is necessary in cases of crusted scabies. Still, there is no need to fumigate the house or do anything extreme to fix a scabies issue.
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Cleaning a Couch for Scabies and Mites
Step 1: Vacuum and Steam Clean
The first step to getting rid of scabies is to vacuum, but you don't want to use a bagless vacuum to do it. For this project, you'll want a good old-fashioned vacuum cleaner with a bag that you can throw away when you're done. If you only have a bagless vacuum, you can use it, but change the filter and wash the collection container in hot soapy water when you're done.
- Remove any blankets or slipcovers on the couch. Machine wash them in hot water and dry them on the highest heat setting you safely can.
- Vacuum the couch and any throw pillows thoroughly as well as the carpet around the couch. Remove the vacuum cleaner bag and seal it inside a plastic garbage bag. Dispose of it outside immediately.
- Steam clean the couch if desired. If you do opt to steam clean, set the unit to a temperature of about 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
When steaming and vacuuming, start with the carpet around the couch and work your way from the bottom of the couch up. This prevents scabies in the couch from running into the carpet to hide.
Step 2: Disinfect and Cover
After cleaning and disinfecting the couch, it should be safe to use. If desired, however, you can wrap the couch in plastic and keep it covered for about three days. This will ensure the death of any scabies you may miss while cleaning, but it's generally not necessary. It is a good precaution in the event of a Norwegian scabies infection, however.
- Spray the couch with Lysol or another surface disinfectant.
- Wrap the couch completely in plastic, if desired. to kill off any remaining mites you fear may be lingering.