Do Mattress Protectors Work for Bed Bugs?
Mattress protectors provide a range of very useful features. They can protect the mattress against spills and general wear and tear, prolonging the overall lifespan of the mattress itself.
They can also provide a more comfortable sleeping experience by adding extra padding and – most importantly for what we’re discussing today – they can be an invaluable tool if you are fighting a bed bug infestation.
Just What are Bed Bugs?
While most of us may have heard of “bed bugs,” at the same time we may not know exactly what they are. For example, many people assume that bed bugs are fleas. While they share many characteristics, they are in fact very different species of insect. One of the biggest differences is in where they choose to make their home, with fleas (and lice) often living directly on a person in their hair.
Bed bugs, as the name suggests, choose to live in bedding instead – specifically in your mattress – which is why a protector can really help in stopping and even preventing a bed bug infestation.
Signs of Bed Bugs
The main sign of an infestation will be the bugs themselves. In appearance they are quite small, the adults having a body length of just 5mm. They are flat, brown and oval shaped and very much resemble apple pips.
In addition to the bugs themselves there are a few other signs that you can keep an eye out for such as:
- Eggs – The bugs will lay small white eggs that can be seen on the mattress itself. If you have any furnishings like chairs or beanbags in the room, the bugs will often lay eggs here too, especially deep into crevices and folds of material
- Bites – Bites will cause red bumps to rise on the skin that can be extremely itchy. They will almost always be found on exposed skin such as hands, arms, the neck and face
- Waste – As horrible as it is to sound, the bugs will often leave small droppings behind in your bedding. These will be tiny, black spots that especially show against a light background like a white sheet
- Blood spots – If a bug has fed on your blood and then you roll over in your sleep and squash it, it will pop and leave behind a small blood stain on your bedding
- Musty smell – An infestation will usually lead to a musty smell building up in your bedroom over time.
Risk Factors for a Bed Bug Infestation
Who is at risk of an infestation? Well, whilst many people assume that an infestation is a sign of a dirty home, in reality that is simply not true. In fact, anyone can suffer a bed bug infestation, irrespective of how clean they keep their home.
Some people are at a slightly higher risk however, and they are people who live in apartments. Because an infestation can move very quickly, when it starts in a high-density living area (like apartments) they will unfortunately spread rapidly.
How a Mattress Protector Can Help
Bed bugs will happily live in soft furnishings and carpets, however their preference, as the name suggests, is to live in a bed. That way they can be close to their preferred food source – which unfortunately is you.
This is though why a mattress protector can be a great way to tackle an infestation, and also to prevent one in the first place.
The best kind of protector to get if you are worried about bed bugs is a version that contains vinyl or polypropylene. Both types are also waterproof, so may be marketed as such.
However, simply by being constructed with tough plastics, they will also help you to protect against bed bugs, as the little insects won’t be able to get through the plastic to feed on you. Without their food supply, they will naturally start to die off.
It’s also important to buy the size of protector that is going to fit the mattress snugly and also to buy the right type. By type, we mean how the protector will be secured to the mattress.
Of the three types widely available – fitted, elastic strap and zippered – it is the later type, zippered, which provides the most protection against bugs. This is because it completely encases and seals the mattress. This protects it from being infested and if bugs are already in place, they won’t be able to escape and will quickly die off.
An elastic strap, as it is held in place at each corner, provides the least protection, as the bugs will still be able to access the sides of the mattress.
Finally, a fitted type is a good middle ground between the two, and can provide effective protection whilst usually costing less to buy than a full zippered type.
A mattress protector can indeed provide an effective defense against bed bugs and can also help you when you are fighting to eradicate an existing infestation. Just be sure to buy the right type that has been made of the appropriate materials.