A bed is meant to be a comfortable sanctuary for restful sleep, so we understand the frustration and panic of dealing with a bed bug infestation. Those bloodsuckers may be tiny, but they’re quite clever and resilient. They can stay in hiding for months without feeding and reproduce quickly.

Luckily, you can reclaim your bed and eliminate the annoying insects. Our guide on how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress highlights the most effective methods with a simple step-by-step process.

Step 1: Inspect the Mattress and Make Sure You’re Up Against Bed Bugs

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just apply an insecticide and call it a day. Getting rid of bed bugs is an elaborate process that requires planning and preparation.

The first step in this process is to closely examine the infested spots in your mattress and confirm that the culprit is bed bugs.

Remove all the bedding so you can directly access the mattress. Look for identifying signs of a bed bug infestation, such as:

  • Clusters of tiny insects with flat reddish or brownish bodies. A Google search of bed bug images can help you recognise them.
  • Yellow shed skins of young bed bugs.
  • Bed bug egg shells or eggs, typically pale yellow specks.
  • Bed bug droppings, which appear as tiny dark spots.
  • Traces of crushed bed bugs, represented by scattered minute blood stains.

Be thorough with your inspection and focus on grooves, crevices, and folds across the mattress. Bed bugs like to stay cooped up in tight corners and seams. In the case of a heavier infestation, the insects’ pheromones may also cause you to catch a whiff of a musty odour.

In addition to the mattress, you should also check the bed frame and the floor surrounding the mattress.

If you find these bloodsuckers in your mattress, they will also be present at these places. In this case, you’ll need to include them in your treatment plan to ensure that the bed bugs don’t come back to invade your mattress.

Step 2: Wash and Vacuum

Once you’re done inspecting the mattress and confirming that you’re facing bed bugs, you should act fast. Getting rid of these stubborn insects is easier when their numbers are low.

Wear rubber gloves to grab all the bedding (sheets, pillowcases, blankets and so on) you’ve removed from the mattress in the previous step and place them in a plastic bag with a tight seal. This will keep the bed bugs from escaping and spreading before you reach the washing machine.

Transfer the bedding to the washing machine and set it to the hot water cycle at the highest temperature (118 degrees F minimum). Keep the cycle going for at least 90 minutes to ensure the bed bugs and their eggs are dead.

After that, you’ll start addressing the infestation in your mattress. Your first move is to run a vacuum cleaner across the entire mattress, targeting all the nooks and crannies where bed bugs love to hide.

Also, use the vacuum cleaner on the surrounding hard surfaces and floors/carpets. Pay extra attention to any narrow gaps and the bed frame’s top, sides, and bottom. We even recommend taking it apart to reach all the problematic spots properly.

After you finish vacuuming, empty the vacuum cleaner’s contents into a separate trash bag, seal it immediately, and place it outside your home.

Step 3: Ready the Action Zone

Next, you need to prep the area around the mattress for the upcoming treatment. Here’s a checklist to help you easily and effectively complete the preparation stage:

  • Remove any clothes in the area and store them in a sealed plastic bag until you wash them.
    • If it’s safe for the fabric, wash it in hot water. If not, place it in the freezer for a few days.
  • Get rid of trash or clutter, but don’t move items from the infested area to another room before ensuring they’re bug-free.
  • Seal any cracks or gaps in the floor or walls.
  • Move the mattress with the bed away from the wall.

Step 4: Treat to Eliminate the Bed Bugs

The following are the most effective methods for killing bed bugs in a mattress:

Non-chemical Options

If chemical treatments are your last resort, then you can try non-chemical solutions such as:

An Encasement

This type of trap encases the whole mattress and closes with a zipper. The material is impenetrable for bed bugs, so they can’t chew their way out.

Cutting off their access to the outside world will take about 10 to 20 days for the bed bugs to starve and die. Some folks don’t take the encasement off the mattress for a whole year to avoid any survival risks.

A Steamer

We’ve talked about extreme temperatures killing bed bugs. Since you can’t throw your mattress in the washing machine, use a steamer to the same effect, provided it reaches at least 47 degrees C.

Chemical Treatments

The chemical route can be inevitable in some cases. Such treatments include:

  • Spraying the mattress and its surroundings with a suitable insecticide (pyrethroids and pyrethrins are common compounds). Make sure it’s EPA-approved.
  • Spread diatomaceous earth powder (or another desiccant) onto the mattress and vacuum it after at least 10 days.
  • Placing interceptor cups containing insecticides under the bed.

Step 5: Check for Survivors and Repeat if Necessary

The last step is to inspect the mattress and the area around it again for bed bugs. Getting rid of these critters can be lengthy, and you’ll often need to combine multiple killing approaches or even repeat them.

Wrapping Up

A bed bug infestation demands serious attention. However, getting rid of the unwanted guests on your mattress doesn’t necessarily require chemical treatments, although sometimes they’re the only solution.

Remember, not everyone is up for handling and eliminating bed bugs independently. So, if you’re not confident you can get the job done or if the infestation seems too severe, calling a professional cleaning service is always an option.