Does a Mattress Protector Prevent Bed Bugs?

Does a Mattress Protector Prevent Bed Bugs
Heloise R
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While a mattress protector can have a number of important benefits, one of its most important is in preventing bed bug infestations.

After all, none us want to sleep in a bed that is also home to these nasty little insects, do we?

Their droppings are highly unhygienic, they can create an unpleasant musty odor and, worst of all, they leave behind irritating and very itchy bites. These pesky bugs are nothing but a pain, but how do we prevent them moving in and infesting our homes and bedding?A good mattress protector can be a great place to start, but just as with anything the answer to the question does a mattress protector prevent bed bugs is actually more complicated than it might seem.

good mattress protector

The Short Answer

The short answer is that yes, mattress protectors can indeed help to protect against bed bugs. Why is that? Well, as the name suggests these bugs really like to make their home in your mattress so that they can be nice and close to their preferred food.A bed bug’s favorite food, by the way, is you – hence why they want to live in your mattress and feed on your blood when you’re asleep.So if you can keep them out of your mattress to begin with, then you are going a long way to actually stopping any potential infestation in its tracks – and stopping yourself from becoming an all-night buffet for bugs.However, this is the short answer because, as we alluded to above, there is more to this than meets the eye.

The Long Answer

The longer answer is that yes, while a mattress protector can help to prevent a bed bug infestation, it really depends on both the type of protector you use and also the material it is made from. Lets break that down a little.By type, we mean the overall design of the protector itself. Broadly speaking there are three types available, and each one brings a different level of protection. The three types are:

  • Elastic strap – This is probably the most basic type of protector on the market. It is a sheet that covers the mattress and is held in place at each corner by an elastic strap. Because the sides are unsecured and often uncovered though, this type can be the least effective at protecting against bed bugs because even with the protector in place the bugs can still get easy access to the mattress
  • Fitted – The most widely found type of protector is the fitted type. They are very similar in appearance to the fitted sheets with whom they share their name. They are built to cover the top and sides of the mattress, tucking down on each corner and gripping with elastic that is built into each corner and often in the vertical seams too. Because of this, they cover more of the mattress and are also more able to stay in place, making them a more effective method of protection than the elastic-strap style above
  • Zippered – Finally, the zippered type is best thought of as a complete covering for a mattress that seals at the bottom with a zipper. By completely encasing the mattress, it therefore provides the very best protection against bed bugs. With the mattress sealed away, there is simply no way for the bugs to access and infest it.

bugs getting to your mattress

In addition, and to be fair we did say this was the longer answer, there is also the factor of materials. A plain, basic mattress protector may only be made of cotton alone, and that is simply not going to be able to protect against bed bugs. Instead, you need to look for a protector that contains materials like vinyl or polypropylene.

  • Vinyl – A vinyl protector is often marketed as being particularly well suited as a waterproof protector because the thick sheet of vinyl is essentially impervious to water or other liquids passing through. At the same time however they are also great at protecting against bed bug infestations. This is because the bug simply cannot penetrate the vinyl material with their teeth, therefore protecting your mattress from the infestation starting
  • Polypropylene – Protectors that include polypropylene are often specifically marketed as being anti-bed bug products. As such, you will often find them in zippered types because, as we discussed above, these are the most effective types at protecting against infestation. Like the vinyl types, polypropylene is a tough but flexible plastic that will either be woven through the protector, or will actually form its body, often with cotton coverings for added comfort. When combined with the zipper, it essentially forms an impenetrable shell that, again, the bed bugs simply cannot get through to infest the mattress.


So as we have discussed, a mattress protector can be an excellent way to protect your mattress from an infestation by bed bugs. However, the protection is only going to be in place if you purchase the right kind of protector product made with the right materials and of the correct fixing type to prevent the bugs getting to your mattress.