Does Finding Bed Bugs In Your Mattress Mean You Have To Throw it Out?
An intruder in the home that can cause you to have a miserable time sleeping are bed bugs. These bloodsucking parasites commonly invade homes, hitchhiking onto clothing or belongings of people that have recently traveled, stayed at a motel, or had people from out of town visit and sleep over.
It is because of a bed bug’s tendency to infest mattresses that many people who suffer from infestations erroneously believe that the way to get rid of a bed bug problem is to throw out their mattress. Perhaps they were due for a new one anyway. No matter the case, throwing out your mattress (or your box spring ) for that matter and starting fresh will not bring a sudden end to a bed bug infestation.
In this article we will cover why it’s a bad idea to get rid of your mattress after discovering you have bed bugs and what you should do instead.
Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?
Among the most common household insect infestations in recent years, beside cockroaches and ants, are bed bug invasions. Bed bugs are a parasitic insect that needs blood to survive. The bad news is, the blood they prefer is human blood. Over the past few decades, bed bugs infestations in residential and commercial buildings have exploded, especially in heavily populated cities.
Bed bugs were originally a cave dwelling insect and would feed on the blood of bats that slept in caves. When our cavemen ancestors started living in caves, bed bugs switched to selecting them as a host. When humans became civilized and started to leave caves and build their own homes, bed bugs followed along, wanting to stay close to their preferred host.
The main reason bed bugs infest homes is through their hitchhiking abilities. They are sneaky opportunists in that they go into hiding until the right moment presents itself and they crawl onto a suitcase or bag or even a jacket that has been laid in a place where there is a lot of human transfer (ie: airports, buses, trains, theaters, hotels and motels etc.) It should come as no surprise that as international travel and vacations have risen, so too has the spread of bed bugs.
Bed bugs have flat bodies and are the size of an apple seed and they like to reside in areas that are in close proximity to humans so they can easily get a blood meal undisturbed. Unfortunately, this happens to be when our guard is down in the middle of a deep slumber at night. Bed bugs hide during the day and wait until we are dozing to come out and feed, using the ample amount of hiding spots that mattresses provide to go undetected.
Why Getting Rid of Your Infested Mattress is a Bad Idea
No matter what you have heard or what any other source may tell you, throwing out your bed is not a cure-all when it comes to eliminating a home bed bug infestation. While there may be some benefits to tossing out an infested bed, if your sole purpose is the belief that your bed bug troubles will be over after you do discard your bed, you will be sadly mistaken. We’ll discuss a few of the reasons why below:
Your Bed Is Not The Only Infested Item. While it is true that most home bed bug infestations are going to be mainly concentrated in your mattress and box spring, the fact is that most bed bug infestations are hardly confined to just the bed. For example, heavy infestations of bed bugs may be in the tufts and folds of your mattress, but when the population is big enough, bed bugs may move out to areas away from the bed like an adjacent night stand or dresser. There’s even cases where bed bugs may be found in a picture frame because they like the tight space and seclusion.
If you realize that bed bugs are biting you in your bed, you try to avoid your bed and go sleep on the couch. Chances are, if you do, that bed bugs will follow you there and infest your furniture as well. Again, they want to be where you are resting so they can stay close and feed on you when the opportunity presents itself.
Even if throwing out your mattress gets rid of the majority of an infestation, even just a single pregnant female bed bug can be enough to repopulate your home with another full blown infestation. Female adult bed bugs can lay 200-250 bed bugs in their 6 to 12 month lifespan so in very little time, bed bugs will once again infest your home making your tossing out your mattress largely a waste.
It’s Expensive To Replace. The average cost to replace a mattress and box spring, depending on the material can cost between 900 to 2000 dollars. Unless you already had money set aside or were planning to get a new bed anyway, it’s highly unlikely that you will have the funds to make a replacement for your bed bug-infested mattress. If your mattress is replaced, and you can afford it, it is almost certain that your new bed will become infested with bed bugs as well if the infestation isn’t properly addressed (since you just learned in the previous reason that they will infest other parts of the home and not just the bed).
Would you be willing to throw a brand new bed away due to an infestation of bed bugs? Probably not.
Moving Your Bed Potentially Causes More Bed Bug Problems. Not just for you, but potentially for your close neighbors (if you live in close quarters such as an apartment.) If your mind is made up and you want the infested mattress gone, you have to do so carefully. Usually, taking your mattress out of the home is at least a two person job. When you discard it, it’s important to be clear on where is it going to go. Will it sit outside next to a dumpster, will it be burned or will you do something else with it?
Even when moving the mattress from the bedroom to out of your front door, you risk potentially dispersing the bed bugs to other parts of your home.
If it lingers outdoors to long, the bed bugs can move off the mattress and go to a neighbors home through a point of entry.
Then you will be to blame for the bed bug infestation spreading. This is why, if you do get rid of your mattress, you first wrap it in plastic or shrink wrap before moving it out of the home.
Trust us when we say it would be less of a headache to just salvage the mattress and treat it than get rid of it, unless the mattress is truly very old, as mattresses typically should be replaced every 7 to 10 years.
How To Make an Infested Mattress Bed Bug-Free
When you have weighed your options and realized that it would be better to just keep your mattress, the next question would be, how do you get rid of the bed bugs then? The answer is simpler than you think, but it will take some effort and energy expended on your end. Here is the process we have laid out to follow:
Recommended Read: 4 Easy Steps to Be Bed Bug Free
Start with Vacuuming
Before you invest in any chemical means of bed bug control, you can tackle a great deal of the bed bug population with a thorough, detailed vacuuming of your mattress and the rest of your home.
To reduce the chances of your everyday vacuum cleaner being infested with bed bugs, it would be wise to use or purchase a vacuum purely for bed bug removal.
There are vacuums out there that are specifically made for addressing bed bugs that have HEPA filters to ensure bed bugs don’t crawl out once they have been vacuumed up.
These vacuums also have special accessories and attachments to really zone in and target bed bugs in those folds and turfs of the mattress that the average vacuum will not be able to penetrate.
No matter what type of vacuum you use, you will need to vacuum regularly, not just once, if you want to get rid of the bed bug problem. Vacuum the mattress (with bedding stripped off), the box spring, the bed frame, the adjacent furniture and the carpeting daily.
After every vacuuming, remove and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately. If your vacuum comes with a removable, reusable canister, dump the contents outside of the home in a sealed bag and then rinse out the canister with hot water and soap to kill any bed bugs lingering around.
An added measure of can be steam treating your mattress and carpeting with a steamer. Bed bugs die immediately from high temperatures of 120 degrees F or more so if you have a steamer or can rent one or have a steam cleaning service come and perform a treatment of your entire home, you may potentially eliminate all the bed bugs without enlisting any chemicals.
Using Pesticides On Your Mattress
After vacuuming is done, there may potentially still be bed bugs around, whether on your mattress or elsewhere, you application of an effective bed bug killing pesticide is recommended. It is important to select a pesticide where it is safe to apply on a mattress. It is also best to choose a bed bug killer that has a residual, meaning the pesticide remains effective and kills after the product has dried for a number of days or weeks.
From our experience, it’s best to use a combination of pesticides (aerosols, insecticide concentrates, dusts etc.) as opposed to just one just for the sake of ensuring the highest possible rate of success.
Apply the pesticides to your mattress, box spring, bed frames, the baseboards where the carpet meets the wall, wall voids (behind electrical outlets) and other prime areas where bed bugs have been active. Just like with vacuuming, this should not be a one-time treatment and should be repeated at least every two weeks to address any new generations or hatched bed bug eggs that survived all your efforts.
Use A Bed Bug Encasement
After your mattress has been vacuumed and treated, ensure bed bugs never infest your mattress again by wrapping it in a bed bug encasement or bed bug cover. These products are great, easy to use and cover your entire mattress, taking away all the little cracks and crevices that bed bugs love to hide in, making it highly unlikely that they’ll be able to re-infest it.
An added bonus is that any bed bugs that happen to be on your mattress when installing the encasement will be trapped inside the cover with no escape and will soon die from starvation. Keep the bed bug encasement around your mattress for the duration of you owning the mattress. You can drape bed sheets and covers over it without a problem as it is non-invasive.
If you were thinking about getting rid of your mattress upon discovering the bed bugs are living on it, we hope that this article helped you to reconsider. Mattresses are a big investment and shouldn’t be discarded just because of an infestation. You can salvage your mattress and eliminate the bed bug infestation by implementing the steps we laid out above.
Recommend Read: How to Confirm Bed Bugs Are Gone After an Infestation