How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in a Mattress

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There are several methods possible for getting rid of bed bugs in a mattress. However, if there are bed bugs in a mattress, chances are that they are other places as well--including the box spring, actual bed posts, headboard, baseboards, carpets, bed linens, clothing, and any other small spaces that a bed bug might be able to hide. Throwing out your mattress will not solve your problem. The bugs also live in the bed itself as well as cracks and crevices surrounding your bed. They can also hide in couches, chairs and anywhere else a bed bug might find an opportunity to feed. Moving to another apartment probably won't get rid of them, either, because they travel fairly well. However, take heart. These steps can help you to get rid of them.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Washer and dryer
  • Pesticides
  • Exterminator
  • Steam cleaner
  • Bed bug traps

Find the Bugs

Find and observe the bugs. You want to make sure that it is a bed bug and not some other affliction. See the link in our Resources section for a photograph of a bed bug to more closely compare it with what you find.

Remove all of your bedding. Examine every single crack, crevice or indent in and around your mattress. Do the same for your box spring, and check both the tops, bottoms and sides of both mattresses. Although you can look for the bugs during the day, they'll be much easier to locate at night because that's when their internal clocks tell them to wake up and start feeding. If you are looking during the night, use your flashlight and look for the critters crawling. They will be active at this time, so if you see any small insect movement, examine your find to see if it is a bed bug. If you're looking during the day, the bugs won't be moving, so your task will be a little more challenging.

Spray or squish the bugs on contact. This takes a lot of time and patience as it requires the person to locate every single bug. These bugs reproduce quickly and can produce up to three generations in just one year.

Wash all of your bed linen and any surrounding clothing on the hottest settings. Temperatures reaching at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit will definitely kill the bugs. If you don't wash your linens, carpets, rugs and clothes, the bugs might be hiding here and will quickly relocate to your mattress.

De-Bugging the Mattress

Sprinkling bed bug powder on your bed should eradicate your bed bug problem if it is small. You can also purchase a steam cleaner to combine high heat and the pesticide to kill the bugs. The powder is a good option because it is more likely to attach to the bugs than spray pesticides. If there is a serious infestation--and your bugs are visible during the day--the best way is to use as many methods as possible (with professional assistance).

Apply steam to all bugs and they will die. As previously stated, high temperatures will kill the bugs (at all stages of growth). You can purchase a steam cleaner from the Bed Bug Powder Website (see Resources). You can also opt to find another type of steam cleaner that would be safe on your mattress . If there is a serious infestation, contact your exterminator to find out what types of containerization they can offer for your bedding furniture.

Hire a professional. This can be extremely expensive. However, in many cases, this is a mandatory step because of the resilience of these bugs. The exterminator will treat your mattress and all other possibly infested areas of the house including your couch, chairs and all rooms. The exterminator will know how to get rid of the bed bugs and will use the proper chemicals.

Make sure that the exterminator uses any or all of the following chemicals: ULD BP-300 or BP-50 (Permethium), Pyrenone 50 (Pyrethium), Tempo (Cyfluthrin) and/or Suspend (Deltamethrin). All of these chemicals will kill the adult bugs, but some bugs have actually adjusted to pesticides and may be extremely resilient. Not all of these chemicals will kill bed bug eggs, so discuss your options with your exterminator. Complete fumigation of a home is also an option is the infestation is out of control.

Purchasing vinyl mattress and pillow cases at any bedding store is another option. Bed Bath & Beyond carries them for all sizes of mattresses. These covers will not necessarily kill the bugs on their own, but if used in conjunction with pesticides, the covers will trap the bugs and hopefully suffocate them with the poison. Regardless, the covers are a boundary between you and the bugs.

Purchase or rent bed bug traps. Some traps have been developed to both detect and eliminate bed bugs. This is also extremely expensive, and it will not work on extreme infestations. These traps will attract and kill the bugs. You can purchase a NightWatch bed bug trap, but the trap will not be totally effective without thorough extermination.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bed bugs are extremely resilient. Many methods may be required to get rid of a bed bug problem, but the most important thing is for the tenant to be aware, thorough and also resilient. You should also move your bed away from the wall to make it more difficult for any bugs to travel onto your bed.
  • Pesticides can be dangerous, considering that they are poison. Humans should not be exposed to these poisons for long periods of time. All pets must be removed from the house before extermination. Pesticides like Permethium and Pyrethium are initially extremely toxic to birds and cats. Bed bugs can also travel and feed on your pets, but they much rather prefer human blood. Nevertheless, make sure that your pets are receiving pest medication and maybe even take them to veterinarian if you are worried that your pet might be infested as well.

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