What Good Is a Bed Bug Mattress Cover?

How to save a mattress with bed bugs

Head of boxspring to bed infested with bed bugs.
Lauren cuttlefish/ Flickr CC

Bed bugs are a pervasive pest that can find its way into any home by unwitting hosts— simply by hitching a ride in suitcases if you visit a hotel with an infestation, transferring onto your clothes from a movie theater seat or traveling on visitors who come into your home. These bugs are erroneously associated with pests that only live in filthy living conditions, they can live and breed anywhere, including clean, uncluttered homes.

To protect your mattress from an infestation or to curb a mattress infestation that may have occurred, you can purchase a bed bug mattress cover or encasement to trap the bugs inside the encasement or discourage bugs from making a permanent home in your bed.

What is a Bed Bug?

The common, parasitic bed bug, from the cimicid family, feeds on human blood usually during the nighttime hours when humans are sleeping. They prefer to live close to their human food source and make their homes in beds. Between 85 and 90 percent of the bed bugs in an infested home will be found on or within 15 feet of the bed.

They can be seen with the naked eye and are roughly the size of a lentil. They have round brown or red bodies and are easy to spot on white surfaces.

The Benefits of a Mattress Cover

Using a bed bug mattress cover can help minimize an infestation. A mattress cover is not a guarantee that a bed bug problem will entirely go away, but it may alleviate or trap offending bugs from making a meal out of you.

A bed bug mattress cover also called a mattress encasement, is a tightly woven case that keeps bed bugs from infesting your mattress or box spring. Once it is installed, bed bugs already in the mattress cannot escape, and will eventually die inside the encasement. Adult bed bugs can live for well over a year without a blood meal.

Leave the mattress covers on for at least that long or for the duration of your mattress to be sure all resident bed bugs are dead and no new infestations of your mattress occur.

Bed bugs on the outside of the mattress cover will not be able to live and breed in the mattress since they will not be able to penetrate the barrier of the encasement. Bed bugs are easier to spot on a mattress cover because there are no deep seams or crevices where bed bugs can hide.

Bed bug mattress covers can be purchased for as little as $20. Many pest control supply companies sell them on online. If you plan to purchase a bed bug mattress protector, make sure you choose one that is specifically designed for bed bugs. There are special features, such as bugproof zippers, different materials, and chemically treated covers, that you can consider at the time of purchase.

If you have both a mattress and a box spring, you'll need to purchase two mattress covers, one for each.

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Your Citation
Hadley, Debbie. "What Good Is a Bed Bug Mattress Cover?" ThoughtCo, Oct. 16, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-to-use-bed-bug-mattress-cover-1968434. Hadley, Debbie. (2017, October 16). What Good Is a Bed Bug Mattress Cover? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-bed-bug-mattress-cover-1968434 Hadley, Debbie. "What Good Is a Bed Bug Mattress Cover?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-bed-bug-mattress-cover-1968434 (accessed February 23, 2018).