Can Bed Bugs Live in Pillows? | Knowing the Facts to Stay Safe

Written by Thomas Matthews

Seeing tons of bed bugs underneath or inside your mattress is already terrifying enough. Seeing bed bugs in your pillow… well, that’s a story of its own. It’s difficult to come across something as gross as this.

You’ll probably ask yourself if bed bugs can somehow get inside your ears, which is already a grotesque thing to imagine and behold. Thankfully, this situation isn’t nearly as unpleasant as it sounds. Why? Well, let’s find out!

Can bed bugs live in pillows? Bed bugs usually won’t live in pillows but will occasionally stay there. Sure, you might see bed bugs in your pillow when you manage your bedding, but the chances of them hiding there instead of your mattress are pretty low. However, the place underneath your pillow is something that bed bugs love – the darkness and the close distance to the host, e.g., you.

We won’t lie and say that bed bugs can’t spend some time underneath your pillow. It may be an hour or perhaps a whole night but when it comes to laying eggs, they will most likely do it in your mattress.

For those who saw bed bugs underneath the pillow and can’t get this image out of their head, we need to devote a special article to help you get rid of those stubborn pests.

For that reason, we suggest that you stick with us until the end. So, let us start right away!

Can Bed Bugs Live in a Memory Foam Pillow?

Can Bed Bugs Live in a Memory Foam Pillow

Let’s begin with memory foam pillows. The reason people love them is that they manage to embrace their body shape and give them some great sleep during the night. It’s not the same as a classic pillow which makes your neck bend during certain sleeping poses.

Instead, memory foam is great for adapting to your body shape and let you sleep like a baby. But, since the weight of your head is spread evenly, it’s great for bed bugs in terms of hiding underneath it.

They can get underneath it but can bed bugs live in a memory foam pillow? No, they can’t. Chances of them getting inside your memory foam pillow are equal to zero. The bed bugs can’t burrow and they must use other tools at their disposal, with one being amazing hiding abilities. As mentioned, memory foam will distribute your head’s weight evenly, making it almost impossible to crush the bed bugs underneath the pillow.

Furthermore, if you use your sheets to wrap up your memory foam pillow, bed bugs can also get inside and get in direct contact with the pillow, unless you use pillow encasement, which zips up completely.

That being said, bed bugs can hide underneath the pillow but not in the pillow itself. Remember, they can HIDE but not LIVE underneath your pillow, unless it’s a severe infestation.

Can Bed Bugs Live in Feather Pillows?

Can Bed Bugs Live in Feather Pillows

As a kid, my grandpa used to tell me how comfortable feather pillows are. To be frank, they are, especially on a pleasant day in the countryside, where I could lay down and watch the animals outside. But, as much as we love feather pillows they are also a possible pray for bed bugs and other pests.

So, can bed bugs live in feather pillows? Bed bugs can hide under this pillow and if there’s a tiny crack, they can also get inside, although there’s nothing special that attracts them to feathers.

The worst thing about feather pillows is that you can’t see bed bugs. Since feathers inside the pillow are intertwined, bed bugs can be everywhere without you even noticing them.

Talking about the countryside, this is where bed bugs have the most chances of getting inside or underneath such a pillow. Because of that, we don’t recommend going for a pillow like this because if it gets infested, the only rational thing to do is throw it away, unless you want to spend a whole day searching for individual bed bugs.

Can Bed Bugs Live in Throw Pillows?

Can Bed Bugs Live in Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are something we all have at our homes. We often use it in our living rooms but they can also serve as great pillows at our bedrooms. These pillows are meant for decoration, rather for being used for sleep, although they can be useful for a quick power nap in the afternoon.

Being made out of cotton, microfibre, velvet, silk or linen, these pillows represent a solid place for bed bugs to hide under or walk across it.

Bed bug can’t live in throw pillows if there are no cracks or tears because they can’t burrow inside the throw pillow. Sadly, these cute little pillows can quickly be infested with bed bugs in case of a severe infestation of your home. Bed bugs don’t have anything against throw pillows and they’ll occasionally get under them and use it as a harborage.

Can Bed Bugs Live in Down Pillows?

Can Bed Bugs Live in Down Pillows

If you want a good, long-lasting, and natural pillow, down pillows represent great value for your cash. It’s very similar to a memory foam pillow, as it can easily adapt to your body shape but when it comes to bed bugs, it’s almost the same.

They can still hide underneath the pillow and if you have it wrapped, they can get inside and be in direct contact with it.

For people, the presence of natural animal products might cause some allergies but bed bugs don’t see this as an obstacle. They aren’t choosing their harborages based on the type of pillow but rather based on the comfort and ease of use.

If they can easily climb on top of it or if they have somewhere dark to hide, they will do it, regardless of the type of your pillow.

Can You Put Your Pillow in a Dryer to Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, if you set the temperature to 122°F or below in a dryer, you can kill every bed bug in a matter of minutes, as this temperature successfully kills both bed bugs and their eggs. The dryer is one of the worst enemies for bed bugs.

Once you finish your laundry, move your pillow to the dryer. Now, you need to use high heat to kill every single bed bug. Using low heat will not kill every bed bug or might not kill bed bugs at all. The trick is to make sure that your pillow is already dry, and then put it inside for the extra round.

If you don’t have a dryer in your home, laundering your pillows can also kill bed bugs but you need to do it with hot water and repeat the process several times. After laundering, it’s a good idea to use a dryer, though. It will ensure that every bug is destroyed.

Signs of Bed Bugs on Pillows – Bed Bug Stains on the Pillow

Signs of Bed Bugs on Pillows - Bed Bug Stains on the Pillow

Searching for bed bugs on pillows is as easy as walking in the park. Since they’re visible to the naked eye, you don’t need to buy a high-end microscope to see them… thank God!

The first thing you need to look for are bed bugs, you know, those tiny brown bugs that closely resemble an apple seed – both by color and shape. If you don’t see them, you can look for fecal stains.

The stains on your pillow may indicate that there are bed bugs inside or underneath your pillow because they’re fluid, the fecal stains will soak into your pillow, having sort of a black color, as if you sprinkled some black ink there.

Old eggshells are also a common sign. Eggs get bigger while growing and when they do, they have to shed their shells, which can be seen on your pillow for an infinite amount of time since they don’t deteriorate.

If you have bed bug bites on your body, you could also see the bloodstains on your pillow. This isn’t always the sign of bed bugs but it can be a great indicator. Other signs include dead bed bugs and their specific scent, that smells like a mixture of cilantro and rotting wood.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Pillows- Step by Step Instruction

Method 1- Use Sealable Bags

Step 1 – Before putting your pillow in the sealable bag, carefully inspect if there are bed bugs underneath or inside it.

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Step 2 – If there are bed bugs, wash your pillows or dry them first.

Step 3 – When they’re dry, put the pillow in the sealable bag.

Step 4 – Seal the bag completely and see if there are cracks and tears on the bag.

Step 5 – If there are cracks, use another sealable bag and pack it inside, rather than replacing the bag that’s already used. This will prevent bed bugs from escaping, as they will be disturbed when doing this.

Step 6 – With the sealed pillow, bed bugs inside will die because they don’t have access to the host and all entry points for new bed bugs will also be closed.

Step 7 – Leave your pillow like this for 2 weeks and try to keep it in a warmer environment. The warmer the location the less time it will take for bed bugs to die.

Method 2 – Wash the Pillows

Step 1 – Use a sealable bag to transfer your pillow from your room to the washing machine.

Step 2 – Carefully extract the pillow, not to disturb bed bugs, which can cause them to scatter around your house once again.

Step 3 – Use hot water on your machine and initiate the process of laundering.

Step 4 – After it’s finished, use your dryer to finish the process. We’ve explained how to dry up your pillows in one of the previous paragraphs.

Step 5 – Alternatively, if you don’t have a dryer, repeat the process of laundering until you’re sure that every bed bug is dead.

Step 6 – Let your pillow dry at a place where bed bugs can’t reach it.

Step 7 – After it’s dried, you can now use it as it is or pack it in a sealable bag again, to make sure that no bed bug gets inside.

Method 3 – Use Pesticides

Disclaimer: A little disclaimer before we give the steps. Using pesticides on your pillow can be dangerous because you’ll need a good couple of weeks to use the pillow again. Don’t ever use pillow the same moment you applied pesticides!

Step 1 – If you’re using a piece of sheet to wrap your pillow, remove it and place it in the washing machine.

Step 2 – Run the washing machine by using hot water and let it wash the sheet completely.

Step 3 – During this period, spray the pesticide directly on your pillow, underneath the pillow, and in every place you deem suspicious.

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Step 4 – If you’ve washed the sheets, use the dryer to dry it up.

Step 5 – Now, pack your pillow in the sealable bag and leave it for a couple of days or weeks, to make sure that every bed bug is dead.

Step 6 – You can now wash your pillow and dry it. This, in combination with pesticides, should be enough to kill every bed bug in your pillow.

Method 4 – Use Diatomaceous Earth

Step 1 – Buy food-grade diatomaceous earth.

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Step 2 – Scatter around the powder directly on your pillow and underneath it.

Step 3 – The reason we’ve mentioned food-grade diatomaceous earth is that it’s not dangerous and you can use your pillow very quickly after the treatment. But, before that, repeat the process once more.

Step 4 – Now that you’ve finished the treatment, you can either launder or use a dryer to finish up the job.

Step 5 – The pillow is now ready to use. Watch for signs of bed bugs a few days after that. If they persist, the infestation is at other places in your house.

Body Pillow Bed Bug Protector/Covers: The Best Products

1. Smooth SureGuard Pillow Protectors

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If you want premium pillow protectors for keeping bed bugs out, look no further than these. For an affordable price, you get two 100% waterproof protectors with a 10-year quality guarantee.

Thanks to the super-fine zipper on the outside of the protector, your pillow will remain safe and bug-free, regardless of the type of bug.

Although it’s great for down feather pillows, the manufacturer guarantees that these covers are of the amazing quality for all types of pillows. A smooth cotton surface will ensure that you sleep like a newborn baby, thanks to its softness and comfort.

Check out the current price for Smooth SureGuard Pillow Protectors on Amazon.

2. UltraPlush Premium Waterproof Pillow Protectors

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This product comes in a pack of two and for its price, it’s one of the best bed bug protectors out there. Because of its subtle, yet elegant look, you won’t even notice that it’s wrapped around your pillow.

Despite that, it serves as excellent protection against bed bugs, moisture or any type of bugs that you encounter. Since there’s no PVC, vinyl, and phthalates, there aren’t toxic chemicals that would make your allergic, making it great for you and your whole family.

With 20 years of warranty, UltraBlock made sure that you can return and change the pillow whenever it’s necessary. Thanks to different dimensions the manufacturer offers, you can now adapt it to any size of the pillow.

Check out the current price for UltraPlush Premium Waterproof Pillow Protectors on Amazon.

How to Clean Pillows from Bed Bugs

When it comes to cleaning bed bugs from pillows, we always recommend one method – laundering. Laundering is a great way of not only cleaning up the bed bugs but also killing them, which makes this process so special.

Other things we said about killing bed bugs can also be applied to clean up the pillows. You can either dry up your pillows or launder them. If the infestation isn’t severe, doing both of these can help you clean your pillows from bed bugs.


Let’s summarize what we said in the article. Bed bugs love using pillows as a harborage but prefer to live in your mattress. That being said, they won’t LIVE in your pillows and will use it only to temporarily hide.

Still, when you use the pillow, you aren’t safe, as they will emerge from the hideout and feed on your blood. This is why bed bugs infest the pillows that you use the most.

The reason why you might have bed bugs in your pillows is that the infestation has already progressed and that it’s severe. In that case, you can call the professionals to clean your pillows and your house. In the case of moderate infestation, the methods we mentioned above can be of great help.

And no, bed bugs won’t get inside your ears while you’re sleeping. Just to get that out of the way and let you sleep peacefully.

List of Sources

Laundering Items To Kill Bed Bugs, University of Minnesota

Bedbug Infestation, UCSD Wellness

EPA. (May 2010). Controlling Bed Bugs. Pesticides: Controlling Pests. (26 April 2017)

Krueger L. 2000. Don’t get bitten by the resurgence of bed bugs. Pest Control 68: 58-64.

Thomas Matthews
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