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Bed Bug Mattress Covers: Do they Work? Complete Guide


Reading Time: 14 minutes

Sometimes, avoiding bed bugs is a challenge. They are witty and good at hiding. The worst part is, you seldom know where you get them from. If you are the kind of person who fancies a good night’s sleep, living with bed bugs can be unsettling.

But how do you get rid of them? It is not easy, but it’s doable.

In today’s guide, we will be looking at an exciting way to keep bed bugs at bay while you sleep at night. If you hate using bed bug sprays on your bed, we are going to reveal a super easy and harmless way to get rid of bed bugs without using any chemicals – the use of bed bug mattress covers.

We will try to cover everything you need to know about using bed bug proof mattress encasements so, read up to the end. Keep in mind that this is not a foolproof way to entirely rid your home of bed bugs. It will only protect you around the bed, but if you want to secure your entire house, you will need to employ other treatment methods.

Bed Bug Mattress Cover Overview

Since you are here, you probably already know what you are looking for. However, just to ensure that we are on the same page, let us have a little refresher. Shall we?

So, what exactly are bed bug mattress covers and how do they work? These are encasements that are used to minimize bed bug infestation on your bed. They differ from the regular mattress covers, which are designed to keep the mattress clean by protecting it from spills, dirt, and stains.

Unlike your everyday covers, bed bug mattress covers are designed to be pest-proof. This means that pests such as bed bugs and fleas cannot go through them. Most are made from cotton and usually have a zip going around the entire mattress.

When a bed bug mattress cover is installed, it does two things:

  • Trapping bed bugs that are already in your mattress so that they can’t escape. These eventually dies from starvation after some time.
  • Keeping bed bugs outside the encasement from infesting your mattress. This way, they can easily be spotted and removed since they have nowhere to hide.

Apart from these two critical tasks, mattress encasements can also protect your mattress from water damage and other nuisances like food droppings, blood, and fecal spots. They are particularly helpful if you live in a rented apartment and don’t feel secure sleeping on a bare mattress.

If you want to protect the whole bed, you can use mattress encasements in combination with box spring bed bug covers. Protecting both the mattress and box spring is important, but you should do so separately. Using the same bed bug cover for the mattress and box spring will lessen its efficacy.

Do Bed Bug Mattress Covers Work?

One of the most commonly asked questions is, do bed bug mattress covers work? We get it. You are probably tired of trial and error methods and want a sure-fire way to eliminate bed bugs once and for all.

The good news is, yes bed bug mattress covers do work. The bad news is, they are not the ultimate solution to keeping your entire house bed bug-free. But assuming that you are only interested in securing your bed, we can guarantee that mattress encasements will finally give you a break from sleepless nights and skin irritations.

But wait, there’s a catch!

Not everything marketed as bed bug mattress covers work. It has to be of good quality. In fact, we recommend that you go for those that are specifically designed for bed bug control.

If you don’t know how to choose the best bed bug mattress cover, don’t worry. Later in this guide, we will be revealing important features to look for when buying a mattress encasement that actually works. So keep reading!

In the meantime, here are four reasons why we think bed bug mattress covers are awesome:

They ensure the protection of your bed

Once the encasements are installed, bed bugs that are outside your mattress and box spring cannot get inside. This makes it easy to spot and kill.

They protect replacement beds from infestations

If you live in an infested home and you buy a new mattress or bed, you will need bed bug-proof encasements to protect them from being inhabited by bed bugs.

They are cost-effective

Sometimes, if you are running on a tight budget, getting a new mattress or bed can be a tough hassle. Fortunately, with bed bug mattress covers, you can keep your old mattress without worrying about being bitten. The best thing about this is that you will not only have avoided spreading bed bugs, but also saved some money for more urgent needs.

They make bug-control a piece of cake

Let’s face it, getting rid of bed bugs is a real pain. But bed encasements make everything so easy. You won’t have to go through the tedious and time-consuming inspection to smoke out bed bugs from all the invisible places. All you have to do is slip your mattress into the encasement and wait for the trapped bed bugs to starve while you get your revenge on the ones left outside.

Can You Wash Bed Bug Mattress Covers?

Yes. In fact, professionals recommend that bed bug covers be washed before the first use. This will help remove any harmful residues from the manufacturing and packaging process. Use a piece of cloth and cool water, but avoid bleaches.

If you are not sure what to do, you can check out the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean the encasement.

Otherwise, here are some general guidelines that you should adhere to when washing your bed bug mattress cover:

Use a washing machine – this will help you stick to the washing temperature recommend for your specific mattress encasements. Alternatively, you can air dry, though this may cause the cover to turn yellow when exposed to the sun. This will, however, affect neither the effectiveness nor durability of the cover.

You can wet sterilize at 250°F / 120°C but make sure not to use chemicals when doing this.

Tumble-dry with either towels or lines.

To prevent damage, make sure NOT TO:

  • Put bed bug mattress covers on their own in the dryer. Do not combine with towels or linen materials
  • Dry clean the bed bug mattress covers
  • Iron them
  • Bleach them

Where To Buy Bed Bug Mattress Covers

You have two options when it comes to buying a bed bug mattress cover:

  • Online
  • Offline in a store near you

Either way, you should make sure that the retailer you are buying from is trustworthy and has some credibility both online and offline.

Finding the best bed bug mattress covers stores near you is not going to be hard. But if you can’t find any, you can efficiently buy it online. Here are some credible online retailers that sell the best bed bug mattress covers:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Home Depot
  • Ali Express
  • eBay

Whichever online store you choose, observe safe online shopping practices. Also, check customer reviews and product descriptions to ensure that you are getting the right mattress protection.

How Much Do Bed Bug Mattress Covers Cost?

Well, this is a question that we can neither avoid nor give a comprehensive answer to. The cost of bed bug mattress covers varies widely depending on several factors. Two of the most important are size and quality.

How much you are going to spend on the cover comes down to your budget and preferences. We cannot give any standard figures, but for the sake of your budgeting, here are some estimates you can work with based on the size of the mattress cover.

  • Twin bed bug mattress covers cost between $10.99 to $549.00
  • Full bed bug mattress covers sell for about $11.99 to $500.00
  • Queen bed bug covers will cost you between $15.99 to $420.00
  • For king-size bed bug mattress covers, you may have to part with about $17.99 to $495.00

These estimates are subject to inaccuracies, especially since the prices keep changing from time to time. We recommend that you visit a store near you to check the prices of your preferred mattress cover or do a quick online search.

Generally, affordable vinyl bed bug mattress covers cost about $10.99 to $17.99. They do a great job of protecting not only against bed bugs, but also dust mites and a variety of other allergens. These less expensive covers usually have zipper enclosures and most of them are chemical-free. They are easy to wash and can either hang out to dry or tumble dry.

However, if you are willing to spend on better quality covers, you should be armed with about $537.00 to $549.00. These are a bit pricier, but come with premium benefits. They are more durable and more effective at controlling bed bugs.

Expensive mattress protectors are breathable and sealed from the inside to provide better protection. The covers are also waterproof and quickly absorb liquid spills to protect your mattress from damage.

Can Bed Bugs Go Through a Plastic Mattress Cover?

It depends on the quality of the cover. There’s a bit of confusion as to what exactly entails a good bed bug mattress cover. Some people tend to think that any other cover can do the job, but the truth is, bed bugs don’t even need to chew through plastic mattress covers. Why?

Well, here is the thing. Plastic covers are waterproof and more effective at protecting your mattress from water damage than bed bugs. Mostly, these covers don’t encase the whole mattress, which gives the bed bugs room to crawl around and underneath the cover.

Here is the solution. You should only buy mattress encasements that are specifically labeled ‘for bed bug protection.’ Otherwise, any other cover you buy may not be able to protect you.

Unlike plastic covers, bed bug encasements cover the whole mattress, giving bed bugs no room to enter or leave the mattress.

Can Bed Bugs Live in a Mattress Covered With Plastic?

When put in an airtight space, bed bugs can live for up to 5 days without oxygen. That is assuming there is not even a single tiny hole to provide air, which is why plastic covers are not recommended for bed bug protection. It is hard not to damage them.

On the other hand, ideal bed bug-proof mattress encasements are breathable. This means that even when bed bugs are trapped inside, they can still breathe. But unlike plastics, these are good at encasing the whole mattress and even box springs. So, when bed bugs are trapped inside, they won’t suffocate per se but they will starve. Encasements are uniquely designed to keep bed bugs from escaping.

Although they eventually die, bed bugs can survive for a long time without feeding. It’s like they go into some kind of a dormant state when they can’t find blood to feed on. Several studies have shown that they can live for 4 – 18 months without any blood.

That is why it is recommended that you leave the encasement on for at least two years. This will ensure that all the eggs and bed bugs trapped inside dies.

Do Regular Mattress Protectors Work for Bed Bugs?

Bed bug Mattress encasements are expensive and so the question of whether regular covers can do the job is inevitable. Unfortunately, they can’t.

Here is why. Bed bug mattress covers are specifically made to encase the entire mattress. They have a strong zip, which ensures that bed bugs cannot get in or out. And although they are breathable, bed bugs cannot chew through them.

On the other hand, regular mattress covers only cover the top of the mattress. They leave plenty of space for bed bugs to move around and feast on your blood. These covers can only protect the mattress from spills, dirt, and stains but not bed bugs.

How Do I Put on a Bed Bug Mattress Cover?

Putting on a bed bug mattress cover is easy, but you will need some help. Ensure that there are two of you to make the process easier and faster. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Make sure the encasement is unzipped, then locate the end corners
  • The corners of the mattress and that of the encasement have to be in line
  • Lift the mattress by the corners and then carefully slide the encasement into it, beginning from the head. While sliding, avoid putting stress on the zipper
  • Once the mattress is entirely inside, zip the encasement making sure to go all the way round. Some zippers come with a hook that you can lock in place
  • If you are also covering a box spring, just follow these same instructions

Which Bed Bug Mattress Cover is the Best?

The first step towards protecting yourself from bed bugs is buying the best encasement. Bed bug mattress covers are not the same. There is a bewildering number of brands making bed bug encasements and choosing the right one may be difficult.

And that is why when shopping, you need to be careful and ensure that you are getting the right product.

Here are a few things to look out for when buying the best bed bug mattress covers:

  • The cover has to enclose the entire mattress. Don’t mistake a bed cover or protector with a bed bug-proof encasement. If it only covers the top and sides, keep looking.
  • Make sure that the encasement is specifically made for bed bug protection. In fact, it should have words such as “bed bug proof”, ‘bite-proof’ or ‘escape-proof’ printed on the package.
  • If the encasement is for general pest protection, it may not be wise to buy it. Bed bugs may squeeze through the zippers and bite you. There are also mattress covers that were insipiently designed for allergic protection, but are now marketed as being bed bug-proof. While some of these are actually effective, most of them are just as good as regular mattress protectors.
  • The encasement has to be at least endorsed by a credible pest control agency
  • Do some background research on the brand. It should have a good reputation both with their products and customer service. Check online customer reviews and see what people who have already bought the products are saying. If you have friends or family members who have bought the encasements, you can talk to them and get their opinions.
  • The encasement should have undergone some sort of scientific testing to prove its efficacy. Major brands back their products with solid scientific testing.
  • Also, see to it that the bed bug mattress cover you buy is the right size for your mattress. You don’t want it too big or too small for your mattress to fit into. If you are covering both the mattress and box spring, do so separately since they have different sizes.
  • Consider the price. Cheap bed bug mattress covers are often poor quality and may not provide the protection you are expecting. This does not, however, mean that you should stretch your budget and spend a huge chunk of your savings on a mattress encasement. We recommend shopping around just in case some other retailer is selling the same product at a cheaper price.
  • If your skin is sensitive, you should go with a hypoallergenic encasement just to be on the safe side. There is no point in trying to avoid bed bugs only to end up with an allergic reaction.

Do Mattress Encasements Get Rid of Bed Bugs Completely?

Unfortunately, no. Bed bug mattress covers are for protecting you on your bed only. If you have infestations in other areas of the house, you will need to use other treatment options.

The fact that bed bugs can live anywhere in the house and survive for a long time without feeding makes it difficult to completely get rid of them. This is unlike other pests such as lice and fleas which need to be in constant contact with the host to survive.

Although the bed is the first choice of habitat for bed bugs, they can live in other areas of the house such as:

  • Wall cracks
  • Wardrobes
  • Cupboards
  • Curtains
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Bookcases
  • Coaches and chairs

While they will mostly bite you when you are sleeping in your bed, they can also take advantage when sitting down in infested places such as your office chair or a home coach.

Does this make mattress encasements useless? No. Most of the bed bugs in the house are probably living in your bed because they like feeding when you are asleep. For this reason, mattress encasements are vital in trapping and preventing the bugs from biting you while you sleep.

Other than that, they also keep your mattresses ever neat and free from stains. We recommend that you hire a professional exterminator to help you get rid of large infestation or you can use do-it-yourself bed bug control methods to do the job on your own.

Related Questions

Does Lysol kill bed bugs?

Yes, they do. Lysol has been shown to kill bed bugs instantly, but you will need to spray them with a large amount of the chemical. For instant kill, spray directly on the bed bugs and ensure the surface is moist.

However, you should not use Lysol as the sole treatment option. Bed bugs are among the most pesticide-resistant pests and the spray may not work that effectively. If the chemicals are not effective, you can use other pesticide options that the bed bugs aren’t resistant to.

Can bed bugs live in a carpet?

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not purely nocturnal. There is a common misconception that they have to live in your bed and other untidy places. The confusion mostly stems from the word ‘bed’ which leads most people to think these pests solely inhabit the sleeping area and are only active at night. But that is not the case. The carpet, for instance, is another common hiding place for these bugs.

If they end up living in your carpet, they will lay eggs there, which means a growing infestation. Bed bugs on a carpet may be difficult to discover since you are not actively looking out for them. That is why regular inspection is important. In case, you discover a possible infestation on your carpet, there are a few things you can do to get rid of the bed bugs. These include, but not limited to:

  • Vacuuming
  • Steaming
  • Use of Diatomaceous Earth
  • Heat treatment

Using all or most of these methods will help get rid of the infestation in its entirety.

Is a mattress cover necessary?

Absolutely. Here are four reasons why we think you need a mattress cover:

Ensures the mattress is always tidy

A clean mattress is a major recipe for peaceful night’s sleep. But you already know keeping your mattress clean is challenging. In as much as we try to clean our bodies, they are still pretty gross. There is night perspiration to start with. Then the oils and the makeup that we use, plus the skin cells we shed daily. All these make it difficult to maintain a clean mattress. But when you have a bed cover on, everything becomes super-easy. All you have to do is wash the cover while your mattress stays clean and fresh.

Makes the mattress more durable

When you sleep directly on your mattress that is without a cover, you will wear it out faster than you think. Moisture from our sweat and other liquid spills are highly damaging to the mattress and will exhaust its foams in a short time. This will have a huge effect on your budget since you will need to buy a new one now and then. But using a mattress cover changes everything. Your mattress will not only be ever new but also last for a longer time.

Prevents allergies from dust mites

Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and are, therefore, common in our bedrooms. They are highly allergenic and most people are allergic to them. They cause allergies that lead to such discomfort as shortness of breath, running nose, persistent coughing and wheezing.

Not using a mattress protector or cover will lead to the accumulation of dead skin cells which will attract dust mites.

It helps protect the warranty

Did you know that a stained or ruined mattress will nullify the warranty? By keeping your mattress clean and new using a cover, you will not only be sleeping in a healthier environment but also protecting the warranty.

How often should you change your mattress cover?

Bed bug mattress covers should be left on for at least two years. But if you are using a mattress pad, we recommend that you wash it after every two months. Changing other linens regularly will help keep the pad clean all the time.

Usually, the pads can be cleaned using a washing machine and lukewarm water, then tumble-tried, unless there are specific instructions from the manufacturer.

Regular bed covers and sheets should be washed more often. We recommend at least once a week. This will keep your mattress looking clean, fresh and comfy to sleep on.

Is it bad to leave the plastic on a mattress?

If your mattress comes with a plastic film, we recommend that you remove it. Sleeping on a mattress with plastic is unhealthy, untidy and unsafe, especially when you sleep directly on the plastic. Since it is not breathable, the plastic will interfere with air circulation between the mattress and your body which causes you to sweat and make your mattress wet, hence making it uncomfortable to sleep on.

Do hotels use mattress protectors?

They should. Since a lot of people sleep on the same mattress, it is recommended that a protector be installed. With traveling being one of the major causes of pest spread, it would be imprudent for a hotel not to use protectors or bed bugs mattress covers.

Apart from bed bugs, fleas, and lice, there are also other things such as body fluids, dirt, and stains to worry about. No one wants to sleep on a mattress that has stains or visible sweat spots. The covers should be regularly washed and changed for each visitor.

Can you smother bed bugs?

Yes, it is possible to suffocate bed bugs when placed in airtight environments. When they don’t get oxygen supply, bed bugs will die after about 5 days.

But there is a small problem. Creating a truly air-free vacuum with home equipment is not easy. Most bed bug mattress covers can’t even achieve that. Most of them just trap the bed bugs inside where they eventually starve to death after some time.

Getting rid of bed bugs is challenging but still possible. These bugs can live in different areas of your house, but the bed is their favorite place. For this reason, protecting the bed should be your first course of action. As you look to implement other treatment options, you must have a good sleep in the meantime.

That is why bed bug mattress covers, as we have seen in the guide, are very important. They are easy to use and provide a quick solution for your bed bug problems. Remember to always choose a good quality encasement.

Don’t forget that while they are effective in your bed, bed bug mattress covers cannot protect the entire house. You need other treatment options to eradicate infestations in your carpet, couches, bookshelves, cupboards and other hiding places.

Otherwise, we hope that this guide has helped you learn more about bed bug mattress covers and how to pick the best. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, suggestions or simply want to share your experiences.