Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Microwave furniture steriliser

Pop pop pop!
(+2, -2)
  [vote for,

Linked is some fine reading about bedbugs. Bedbug infestation of furniture is apparently a difficult problem because it is hard to adequately poison a whole sofa and rid it of bedbugs. Likewise clothing. Fleans and flea eggs pose a similar problem.

I propose that a device like a handheld microwave oven could be used to irradiate cloth and metal items, ridding them of vermin within. This would be for professional use. The items themselves would not get hit (unless there was metal in there, which could spark) but the little bloodbags hiding would get very hot, which hurts them. Heh!

I could have sworn I saw a handheld microwave on the HB before but maybe it was deleted.

bungston, Jul 04 2005

Bedbugs - NewYorker http://www.newyorke...50404ta_talk_singer
[bungston, Jul 04 2005]

Crazy bedbug blog http://apictureofme...004/07/bite-me.html
Once you get past the cussing preface, this story really brings home the bedbug horror. [bungston, Jul 04 2005]

...and yet, they DO pop. http://aic.stanford...aic21-02-001_1.html
Microwave de-infestation of textiles. Both the insects and the idea are baked. [Basepair, Jul 04 2005]


       Freezing is recommended for eradicating house dust mites - would this work for bed-bugs? Liquid nitrogen, or a bed-sized freezer - it would have the advantage of nice cool sheets.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jul 04 2005

       Neat idea. My only concern would be whether small insects can be killed easily with microwaves. I'm not sure here, but I think it's difficult to heat (with microwaves) something which is very much smaller than the wavelength of the microwave.

We need an un-hygienic sadist here, who is prepare to try microwaving a small bug in the cause of science. Alternatively, try microwaving a half-a-grain of cooked rice.
Basepair, Jul 04 2005

       Aha! I stand corrected:
"Reagan, Chio-Cheng, and Streit demonstrated that 2450 MHz microwave radiation will disinfest wool textiles without significantly changing the color of various acid dyes and natural dyes commonly used on wool or without causing a significant loss in fabric strength."
This, by the way, is allegedly the wavelength of a domestic microwave oven. (Linky)
Basepair, Jul 04 2005

       Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that in a microwave, it only heats what's INSIDE it, to stop microwaves getting to humans. What kind of handheld microwave fits a sofa?
CloakedBeauty, Jul 04 2005

       What would the couch smell like afterwards? +
sartep, Jul 04 2005

       This would not work: Microwaves can only penetrate something to about half a wavelength, which effectively means that you can't microwave anything larger than a chicken. Also, most mattresses, sofas, etc. contain a lot of metal in the form of springs, which will heat up very rapidly and set fire to the mattress or sofa - which would sterilise it I suppose but not in a good way.
hippo, Jul 04 2005

       [Hippo], half a wavelength is still about 6cm (2.5 inches, for the imperially benighted) - if you got at it from both sides, that'd be ok.
coprocephalous, Jul 04 2005

       //Microwaves can only penetrate something to about half a wavelength// Well, they can penetrate air for an effectively unlimited distance (hence radar). So presumably they could penetrate fluffy items (which are mostly air) for a considerable distance.

I agree about the springs, though. Nevertheless, [+]
Basepair, Jul 04 2005

       Hmm. It looks like gamma would be the way to go. That is a fine link, [Basepair]. I wonder if a museum might acquire an obsolete medical irradiation machine and use it for sterilization?
bungston, Jul 05 2005

       I read somewhere that the current plague of bed bugs is due to the effectiveness of roach motels. (It wasn't explained whether it's because the roaches are no longer eating the bed bugs, or because hotels, etc., are no longer using such powerful insecticides.)   

       However, when we have stayed in hotels in lands where bed bugs are endemic (besides the US, that is), we have always found a can of Raid to be entirely adequate. Upon arriving, spray the bedding and room at large, then go out for dinner or whatever while the hazardous chemicals settle.   

       Oh and yeah, I think the handheld microwave was one of mine.
DrCurry, Jul 05 2005

       I don't think you'd find it easy to make a safe hand-held gamma source. Ours is the size of a small safe and weighs considerably more, though most of that is shielding. I'm not sure if it is possible to generate a directional beam of gamma (as it is for microwaves), so you'd need shielding somewhere, I think.

Plus, you might be free of bedbugs but your neighbour's hair would fall out.
Basepair, Jul 05 2005


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