Recently a customer told me she heard that movers are responsible for the bed bug epidemic in California and she wanted to know what I was doing to mitigate this problem. She asked if I washed every moving pad after every move to which I explained that if I did that I would work 20 hours per day and moves would be twice as expensive. I told her that I sweep my trucks each morning, clean and inspect all my equipment often, and then I asked her about the source of her information.
She explained that a relative had seen something, either online or on TV, that claimed movers and movie theater seats were the 2 most common spreaders of bed bugs. This sounded to me like the beginning of a media-triggered hysteria that could turn out to be trouble for movers all over. I wanted to do some research on this topic in case it was going to become an industry-wide issue.
Though I was unable to identify the particular media source that raised concern for my customer, I was able to find an extraordinary amount of opinion-based blame for bed bugs all over the internet. If you search “Movers bed bugs” you may be overwhelmed with results, mostly blogs where people are speculating the origin of their bed bug problems. If you simply search “bed bugs” without the phrase “mover” you will find countless other fingers pointed at everything from hotels to thrift stores to you child’s very classmates. Ah, the information age indeed.
Here is a link to some information on Bed Bugs published by the Centers for Disease Control in the United States. This is what I consider to be quality information from a reputable source.
As for our fleet and our moving blankets, I have never seen any signs of any infestations of any kind, but I decided it was time for a thorough cleaning and inspection of everything the Moving Crew touches. It was time, anyway, after a busy summer to check and maintain everything and who doesn’t love a super clean workspace? I decided to document the process of detailing a moving truck to show not only what goes into it, but to let readers know that we keep our equipment clean and working properly so that we may keep the items we move clean and safe.
I began by taking everything out of the truck and setting it all aside.
As it turns out, we keep a lot of equipment on a truck.
Door jamb protector, tool kit, cordless screw gun, safety cones, straps, tape guns, bungee cords, door stoppers, and miscellaneous tools.
All together we keep about 3 cubic yards of pads and equipment on a truck.
I vacuumed dust from the tool box, I re-rolled and inspected all the straps and their working parts. I even took the protective pads off of the box dollies for washing. When I had everything out of the cargo box of the truck, I set to sweeping and washing it, clearing all the nooks and crannies of thumbtacks, paperclips, glitter, felt scraps, dust, fuzz, sticky notes, and all the other little things that escape from unsealed boxes and desk drawers.
Every time I clean a truck I am shocked at the amount of thumbtacks that end up in the back. I usually find a few of marbles, felt pads from furniture feet, and tiny fragments of artificial plants, too. This time I also found an “I Love NY” pencil. Not everyone empties their desk or packs everything in closed boxes every time, and plastic organizer drawers are known for spewing thumbtacks and paperclips as they travel down the road.
I washed out the cargo space with a hose, a mop, and some regular dish soap. I didn’t use any harsh chemicals or anything scented. Some good, cheap dish soap seems to do the trick quite well and rinses away thoroughly.
Squeaky clean cargo space.
I let the cargo box dry overnight and in the morning swept it out again for good measure. I also went through and tightened or replaced any loose or missing screws inside the cargo space to ensure they wont snag or scratch anyone’s belongings while in transit.
The sheer number of screws in the cargo box of a moving truck is astounding.
I detailed the cab of the truck and cleaned the mirrors and windows. Trucking regulations require that all commercial vehicles carry extra fuses, a fire extinguisher, and reflective emergency triangles so I verified that we had a full set of fuses, the triangles were still stowed, and I checked that the fire extinguisher was still pressurized. I also made sure the first-aid kit was stocked and that the registration and insurance papers were where they should be. Once the cab was sparkling I set to washing the outside of the entire truck.
You could spend a small fortune on industrial cleaning supplies but regular dish soap cleans a truck quite nicely I’ve found.
After going all the way around the giant truck and cleaning the road dirt from the underside, the time had finally come for me to take on the most tedious challenge of this project: inspecting and shaking out every single moving blanket and re-stacking them on the truck.
While I didn’t find any bugs or larvae of any sort, I did find a few slivers of wood or veneer stuck in the cotton.
We stock about 80 moving pads per truck and I inspected both the interior and exterior side of each, removing any debris as I went. I didn’t find any bugs or larvae but I did find a few slivers here and there that I removed to prevent any scratching of a customer’s belongings. Most of the items we wrap in pads are not missing veneer or falling apart, but every so often someone will have us move that 30 year old desk that is chipping on all 6 sides and our pads snag the slivers that are flaking off the rough edges. All in all I found debris in only 5 of the moving pads.
The inspection of pads is an ongoing process. While we are moving we are constantly unfolding and folding the pads. If we see one that is dirty or damaged we set it aside and replace it before the next move.
When all the pads were stacked and secured I brought everything else back into the cargo box and secured all tools and equipment. All told I spent almost 12 hours over 2 days detailing 1 truck thoroughly. This kind of time can be hard to come by when it is summer and the movers are very busy, but I think cleaning is an enormously important part of overall maintenance.
I wash our vehicles regularly and tend to do the complete detailing like this about 4-5 times per year.
Personally, I love to clean and organize but I know not everyone does and I know it is different because I’m one of the owners of all this equipment so my interest is vested in it’s longevity. The time it took me to complete this project was well spent in my opinion for the peace of mind I gained from inspecting every inch of my workspace and tending to all parts.
I can say confidently to any current or prospective customer that my trucks and equipment are clean and in proper working order, free of any bugs, properly insured and registered, and squeaky clean. I feel good about that.