Removing Bed Bugs in a Mattress

When most people discover that they have bed bugs, their first priority is usually the bed they sleep in. Nothing is as revolting as bed bugs in a mattress: dozens of tiny bugs feeding on you every night, hiding by day. You want to get to them, but their minute size makes it nearly impossible to spot them with the naked eye, especially early on in an infestation.

If you think you’re at the mercy of bed bugs and that you’ll have to spend restless nights thinking about them crawling over you as soon as you shut your eyes, don’t panic. Desperate times call for strategic measures. With a few bed bug products, you can reduce the number of bed bugs residing in your bed and make your nights that much more comfortable before hiring a professional exterminator.

Mattress covers are a thrifty and essential first move if you’re not planning to hire an exterminator the same day and you know you’ll be sleeping on your infested bed the same night. A mattress cover works by encasing your mattress, trapping any residing bed bugs under an impenetrable cloth and cutting them off from their host – you. Note that this will not kill them any time soon; bed bugs have been shown to last over a year without feeding. Also, a mattress cover by no means wards off any bed bugs that may come from the surrounding area. This is where other products come into play.

Insect interception devices go under the legs of a bed frame. An interception device resembles a large bowl with a slightly smaller bowl inside it. It works by trapping ascending bed bugs in either of the device’s two traps, which are coated with a slippery, sticky substance. Interception devices are a great match with a mattress cover and provide decent fortification against bed bug bites, but this combination is still not a complete solution: Bed bugs can hide in headboards and other parts of the bed frame, and if you don’t have a frame with legs, you’ll have to resort to sticky traps, which are not as effective.

This is where a more active solution comes in, namely, diatomaceous earth, or DE. DE is a fine white powder that’s harmless to humans but deadly to bed bugs since the tiny grains of powder are as sharp as razor blades for a bed bug. Using a powder duster to spread DE under a mattress cover and around the bed frame can help eventually reduce bed bug numbers in and around your mattress. The laceration process, however, can take up to several weeks. Also note that you should consult a professional when attempting to spread DE around your bed; food-grade DE may be relatively harmless to breathe in, but it can still cause problems if too much powder is inhaled.

Using just a mattress cover and insect interception devices is sufficient to reduce the number of bed bugs in a mattress, and using DE can help even further, but all three products should be thought of only as temporary solutions solely for your nightly comfort. Bed bugs don’t just hide in beds – any small, dark crack or opening will do. Professional intervention is necessary to eliminate all bed bugs in your home. For a list of how to prepare for professional bed bug treatments, consult Sniff K9’s preparation page.

Photo: Flickr

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