Bed bugs represent a fairly common problem for all people. If you sleep in an old bed, chances are that you share your bed and mattress with bed bugs. I don’t want to frighten you but that’s how it usually is. Bed bugs are a very common problem and there are many ways to get rid of them so do not worry you are at the right place. In this article, we are going to explore the possibility of bed bugs living in a different type of mattresses.
Can bed bugs live in mattresses? Bed bugs can live in mattresses. However, bed bugs are so small, that sometimes, we can’t see them with the naked eye. Other times, bed bugs can create an infestation so alarming, that you can see as they slowly crawl under or inside your mattress.
Unfortunately, our beds aren’t the only objects that can have this problem. These bugs will often infest buses, airplanes, and trains. Furthermore, they can infest your clothes and luggage, in case there are bed bugs on a particular train, airplane or a bus. This is one of the ways of bringing them to your home.
Clean House Means Nothing to Bed Bugs!
Don’t fall into that trap of thinking that clean house means that you won’t have any bed bugs. Nah, that’s not true. Bed bugs don’t care if your house is shiny and clean or dirty and stinky. They will and they CAN infest your mattresses even though you just picked them up from the nearest deep cleaning store.
I know this all sounds frightening to you and I completely understand you. After all, who wants to share their bed with these dangerous pests? Even when you think about or dream about it, it’s enough frightening and gut-wrenching. But, seeing it with your own eyes, that’s disgusting.
Some of you will immediately change the mattress but for some, buying a new mattress might seem like an expensive solution. Luckily for you, in this article, we’re going to talk about a few excellent solutions for this problem. But, before we do that, let’s educate you a bit more on bed bugs. You need to know everything about your enemy before you start fighting it!
Why Have Bed Bugs Infested Your Mattress?
If you like horror movies, you might want to read this section. Bed bugs are gross, small, oval, and brown insects that feed on your blood or blood of your pets. Yes, they’re so dangerous that they can hop onto your dog while it’s sleeping and suck some blood from him. Without a shadow of a doubt, they will do the same to you while you’re sleeping. Adult bed bugs will have a flat body, which can be compared to the size of the apple seed. When they’re fed enough, their bodies become swollen and resemble a red color, thanks to all the blood they’ve drunk.
Thankfully, bed bugs don’t fly but they’re very fast and can move swiftly over walls, floors, and ceilings. But, there are female bed bugs that will create a lot of problems for you. In their modest lifetime, they lay hundreds of eggs which then produce a few hundreds of bed bugs. Now, imagine every female bed bug that’s part of the infestation doing that. In a short period, you get thousands of bed bugs infesting your bed, your sofa, your carpet, etc. Although this sounds gross, experts say that they don’t transmit diseases, so this condition isn’t life-threatening.
How Did Bed Bugs Infest Your Mattress?
Bed bugs will easily infest your mattress as they enter your home undetected. They can enter your home through luggage, old beds, and couches or simply through clothing. The worst thing is that they don’t stop at mattresses but continue to voyage through your house. Thanks to their flattened bodies, they can easily fit into tiny spaces, even those places that seem impossible to fit. On the contrary to bees or ants, bed bugs don’t have nests. Their “nests” are, simply put, hiding spaces or groups. That’s why they’re called bed bugs because beds, mattresses and headboards are their primary hiding spaces.
Over time, bed bugs will spread their existence to any place they find suitable. It can either be another room in your house or in case of a building, it can be another apartment. Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood, which implicates that they are NOT the sign of dirtiness (unsanitary conditions) in your home. You can find bed bugs in clean and tidy places but also in some low-end hotels and apartments.
When Do Bed Bugs Bite?
Bed bugs are nocturnal insects and are most active at night. We can comfortably say that they’re almost always active exclusively at night. That’s when you’ll get numerous bites from bed bugs and when you wake up in the morning, your skin will feel itchy. Bed bugs drink blood in almost the same way as mosquitos – by piercing the skin and drinking the blood via an elongated beak. The scary thing is that they drink your blood anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes and when they become swollen, they leave unnoticed.
In the beginning, these bites will be painless. But, after numerous bites, you can notice red, itchy welts. Comparing it to mosquito bites, these bites are somewhat less severe in their looks. For example, mosquitos love biting near your ankles, while bed bugs don’t have a particular place where they bite. It’s any part of your skin that’s exposed to them. While mosquitoes bite itches more, in the end, there isn’t a big difference, as you won’t get bitten by a single bed bug. In most cases, dozens of bed bugs will feed on your skin.
If you see numerous red welts on your skin, that’s a sign of bed bugs. Numerous red welts one after another on a particular body part will tell you all you need to know. But, in many cases, you must confirm that you have bed bugs. Sometimes, it may be mosquitos so it’s better to check your mattress and see it for yourself.
Main Signs of Bed Bugs Infestation in Mattress
As mentioned earlier, the main sign of the bed bugs infestation is the itchy skin after you wake up. If your skin wasn’t itchy before, it’s a sign that something is happening – either a mosquito or bed bugs are in play. Let’s assume that the issue is regarding bed bugs, for the sake of the article. One pretty common sign is that you get itchy and red skin after you change the bed or other furniture. Other tangible and visible signs include:
- Bloodstains on your pillow or sheets
- Dark spots on your mattress, bedclothes, walls, and sheets (bed bug excrement)
- Visible fecal spots and eggshells on spots where bed bugs hide
- A strong, musty odor emitted from the scent glands
If you suspect that there’s an infestation, you must take rational steps that are, unfortunately, going to take a while to complete. First, you’ll need to remove all bedding and check if there are any signs. If not, remove the dust cover from the box springs and check for signs in the wood framing. Finally, you’ll need to peel the fabric of the wood frame, as they can hide under this fabric.
Sometimes, bed bugs won’t hide directly in your mattress but around the bed, so you’ll need to check that area as well. This includes the carpet near your bed, books, radios and in severe cases, electrical outlets. Since bed bugs can be attracted to clothing, you should also check your closets. If you can’t find any signs and you’re still suspecting, then it’s time to call an exterminator. He’s a professional and he will most likely remove any doubts.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Different Types of Mattresses?
In this section, we’ll take a look at four different types of mattresses and see if bed bugs can infest some of them.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Foam Mattresses?
One of the most common misconceptions is that foam mattresses can’t be infested with bed bugs. Unfortunately, this is not true as bed bugs can live in foam mattresses. The memory foam is lightweight and there’s nothing to prevent bed bugs from getting their hands on it. Bed bugs don’t care whether it’s a foam or an ordinary mattress with only one exception.
The problem for bed bugs is that they have difficulty walking on the surface of a regular mattress. Given their shape, it’s very difficult for them to walk through hair. Bed bugs don’t have claws so they can’t grip onto things and on top of that, they’re very wide, meaning that they move harder.
When it comes to the foam mattresses, these problems do not exist. Walking is easy as there’s no hair and the only difference is that the foam mattress has been treated with a pesticide by the manufacturer.
- Can Bed Bugs Burrow into Foam of the Mattress?
Another important thing to mention is that bed bugs don’t burrow into the foam. Bed bugs can’t borrow because they don’t have claws, so let’s get that misconception out of the way. Bed bugs always live on the surface of your mattress and if they get into your mattress, that’s because they found a crack. Other than that, bed bugs aren’t able to borrow into the mattress because they lack those body parts. To burrow, they would need claws and teeth, which they don’t have.
Instead, bed bugs have a small scratcher, which is used to make a tiny hole in the skin. This is used only when they get on your skin. This is why bed bugs can’t stay for long in a foam mattress.
Can Bed Bugs Live on Air Mattresses?
So, what about air mattresses? Air mattresses are very expensive and very comfortable but they aren’t bug-resistant. However, there’s a catch.
Bed bugs can’t live on an air mattress. Air mattress consists of air inside it and the outside material. Bed bugs can only crawl on the air mattress but not survive there, meaning that you won’t be lying on a pile of bed bugs every night. The great thing about this is that the bed bugs are visible on your air mattress and can be removed pretty easy. Even a vacuum cleaner will do the job here, as air mattresses’ material isn’t the most bug-friendly.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get bed bugs in your home. Since they can’t hide in the air mattress, bed bugs will find another place and hide there, which is also a cause for an alarm. The main thing is that your air mattress will be completely safe since bed bugs can’t pierce it but just crawl on it.
Can Bed Bugs Live on Plastic/Vinyl Mattresses?
Bed bugs can’t live on plastic/vinyl mattresses. Mattresses protected with plastic or vinyl are perhaps the best way to protect yourself from bed bugs.
That’s why your mother taught you to always prepare your bed before you sleep. Put on some sheets, wrap your pillow and your blanket to protect yourself from the mattress. In this sense, this is the first line of defense against these pests. The reason for this is that bed bugs have a hard time navigating through the vinyl of plastic, which results in their death.
We know that some of you are turned off by this idea. You think that plastic or vinyl covers aren’t comfortable and look ugly. Well, think about it again. If you manage to buy a quality cover, it will be comfortable, soft, and on top of that, it will also be beautiful. Think of it like decoration and not the necessary evil. It can make your bed or mattress more beautiful and it serves as excellent protection.
This way, you’ll not only evade the bites but also kill them and get rid of them completely. However, be sure to purchase the vinyl cover from a respectable company. Do your research and see what works best for you. If you buy a low-quality vinyl, it may come off as uncomfortable and might offer no protection against bed bugs.
To put it simply, vinyl/plastic mattresses are the most efficient way of protection against bed bugs.
Can Bed Bugs Live in New Mattresses?
We’ve talked about this before but let’s reinforce what we said earlier.
A new mattress can get infested with bed bugs easily. Just think about your last mattress. Was it infested with bed bugs? If so, did you get rid of it properly? If you answered the second question negatively, chances are that your new mattress could become the next victim. There is nothing that will prevent your old bed bugs from attacking the new mattress, regardless of its type.
We’ve said that every type of mattress can be attacked by bed bugs but it’s hardest to locate them if you have an ordinary mattress. Some types of mattresses will repel this attack better, such as air and mattresses with plastic/vinyl covers. The main thing is that even your brand new mattress, just bought in the store, can get infested!
Can Bed Bugs Eggs Live in Mattresses?
Yes, bed bugs eggs can live in mattresses. Bed bugs love hiding their eggs in your mattress, as long as there’s a hole through which they can get in and out.
Bed bugs love hiding their eggs in seams, edges, and harborages of your mattress. But, inside the mattress, their eggs can survive and produce more bed bugs over time. This is why it’s essential to kill the bugs both on the inside and on the outside of your mattress.
If I Have Bed Bugs, Do I Have to Throw Away My Mattress?
When people see that they have bed bugs in their mattresses, they immediately think about throwing it away. While this solution seems the most rational, there are some downsides to it. This is the discussion of its own, so we’ll need to delve deeper and see why this solution is good and why it sometimes isn’t.
You see, discarding your mattress and the box springs can barely solve your problem if bed bugs are scattered throughout your home. When you buy a new bed or mattress and bring it to your home, guess what will happen – the bed bugs that now enjoy the comfort of your home will have a new place to live! Then, you’ll throw away this mattress and buy a new one. This becomes obnoxious, pointless, and cost-inducing vicious cycle that many people fall into.
This begs the question in your head – is every mattress you buy so low-quality that bed bugs will infest it? The answer is negative. It’s not about the mattress you buy. You can buy the most expensive mattress in the store and still get bed bugs. It’s about your HOME. If you’ve read our article carefully, you’ve probably seen this coming. We’ll now discuss if discarding your mattress is an effective solution.
Throwing Away Your Mattress
There are numerous benefits in throwing away your mattress. Bed bugs are mainly associated with every place containing fabric. Whether it’s your blanket, mattress or piece of clothing, bed bugs will enjoy every bit of it. In most situation, discarding your mattress and bed in whole will resolve the large percentage of the problem. This makes the most sense if your mattress is severely infested and isn’t usable and on top of that, it needs replacement because it is old. In that case, it’s perfectly fine to throw it away from your home.
But, this begs a new question. HOW should you get rid of your mattress so that you don’t create a bigger problem? Think about what will happen to a discarded mattress. Will it stand there and collect dust 5, 10 or 15 days in your dumpster? How long will it stay outside before someone comes and collects it?
Bed bugs might not necessarily return to your home but it may become someone else’s worry and you’ll feel guilty about that. In that case, you can tailor this operation with the trash collectors and their schedule. When you see them showing up, call them and let them help you discard your mattress. This will reduce the time it’s left outside to almost zero.
Before you get rid of the mattress, think about the ways of getting rid of it. If you need to carry the mattress through several rooms in your house, bed bugs can be dispersed and you just spoiled a large percent of the effort you’ve put in. So, before you do that, you can use your vacuum cleaner to remove the visible bugs but once again, you won’t be able to remove them all. Furthermore, your vacuum cleaner could get infested – I’m not kidding!
To avoid risking that, you can wrap the mattress in shrinkwrap or plastic before carrying it around. In that scenario, you should be very careful not to tear the wrap and avoid any jolts or bumps on your way to the outside. If you tear the plastic or wrap, chances are that the bed bugs are going to get out and infest a new piece of furniture.
Some people want to keep their mattress and they will resolve to the most obvious solution – a pesticide treatment. But, here’s the catch. Very few products are intended for such use. This means that you should NEVER use the pesticide that isn’t specifically labeled and intended for a particular use. Follow the product’s label consistently and see what it’s best used for if you’re not sure.
Once again, very few pesticides are allowed because there’s a great risk of endangering your health. This is why our recommended products are all safe for use. We will talk more about this is the section below. If you love your current mattress you don’t have to throw it away because it can be saved from the bed bugs.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Mattresses?
If you’re wondering how to get rid of bed bugs in your mattress, this is a completely new discussion and requires a thorough analysis. Some methods include using heat treatment, some pesticides or mattress encasements. However, this topic is discussed thoroughly in our second article about mattresses and bed bugs – How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in a Mattress – Easy Instructions
In that article, we went in-depth and we gave you the most efficient ways to get rid of the bed bugs. We strongly recommend that you read that article after you finish this one. These two articles will give you all the necessary knowledge to fight bed bugs in mattresses successfully.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Getting into Mattresses?
Preventing bed bugs from getting into mattresses is a piece of cake and if you read the article carefully, you already know what to do. One of the cheapest and simplest ways to protect the mattress is to use vinyl/plastic covers and mattress encasements. This way, you will gain full protection from bed bugs as these materials aren’t friendly to bed bugs.
Sure, you can schedule the exterminator to do the job preemptively but this is an expensive solution. Compared to vinyl cover and encasements, which are one-time purchases, everything else is obsolete.
Find the quality covers and encasements for your mattress and be sure to zip them correctly. Not zipping them correctly will still leave some space for bed bugs to enter, making these solutions impractical.
If you want to save some cash and give your mattresses 180-degree protection, this is the way to go.
To put things into perspective, bed bugs are pretty terrifying creatures but they’re not immortal. You can easily prevent them from getting into your mattress and if you fail at that, the methods we gave you are more than effective.
Now that you know how to deal with bed bugs, you can decide for yourself. Are you going to let the things go their own way or fight against bed bugs? Take drastic steps and forget your sleepless nights!
List of Sources
Dolling WR. 1991. The Hemiptera. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.
Frishman A. 2000. Bed Bug basics and control measures. Pest Control 68: 24.
Ghauri MSK. 1973. Hemiptera (bugs), pp. 373-393. In K.G.V. Smith [ed], Insects and Other Arthropods of Medical Importance. British Museum, London, England.
[USDA] U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1976. How to Control Bed Bugs. USDA. Washington D.C.