How Do Bed Bug Mattress Encasements Work

What Good Is a Bed Bug Mattress Cover?

Eve Mattress/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Bed bugs are a pervasive pest that can find their way into any home by unwitting hosts. They can do this simply by hitching a ride in suitcases if you visit a hotel with an infestation, transferring onto your clothes from a movie theater seat, or traveling on visitors who come into your home. These bugs are erroneously associated with pests that only live in filthy living conditions. In fact, they can live and breed anywhere, including inside clean, uncluttered homes.

To protect your mattress from an infestation or to curb a mattress infestation that may have occurred, you can purchase a bed bug mattress encasement to trap the bugs inside the encasement or discourage bugs from making a permanent home in your bed. While mattress covers can provide some protection, however, you need to do much more to guarantee a bed-bug-free environment.

What Is a Bed Bug?

The common parasitic bed bug, from the cimicid family, feeds on human blood usually during the nighttime hours when humans are sleeping. Bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye and are roughly the size of a lentil. They have round brown or red bodies and are easy to spot on white surfaces. They prefer to live close to their human food source and make their homes in beds. Between 85 and 90 percent of the bed bugs in an infested home are typically found on or within 15 feet of the bed.

Bed bugs do bite; they actually saw into their host’s body and feed off their blood. While bed bugs don’t carry disease, their bites can cause blisters and itching, particularly for people with allergies. Bed bugs are very hard to control. Once they’ve infested a home, getting rid of them can be a challenge.

The Benefits of Mattress Covers

Most people are familiar with mattress covers. They are usually designed like a bottom sheet and provide protection for the top of a mattress. Ordinary mattress covers do little or nothing to stop bed bugs. Mattress encasements, however, can help minimize an infestation.

A mattress encasement is a tightly-woven fabric case that surrounds your mattress and box spring. Once it is installed, bed bugs already in the mattress cannot escape or breed, and will eventually die inside the encasement. Any bed bugs left outside the encasement will be easy to spot and remove. They will find no creases or hiding places where they can breed.

Mattress encasements not only repel and stifle bed bugs, but they can also provide a variety of other benefits. For example:

  • A good mattress encasement can protect against dust mites and other pests as well as bed bugs.
  • Most mattress encasements are waterproof, meaning that they will protect your mattress and box spring from spills and leaks.
  • Mattress encasements can eliminate the risk of infestation if used with a new mattress and box spring.

Buying Mattress Encasements

Bed bug mattress encasements can be purchased for as little as $20, though you may wish to explore the more expensive options, as they are more likely to be reliable, sturdy, and bug-proof. It’s possible to purchase a pesticide-treated encasement, but the potential health hazards outweigh the slight increase in protection from insects.

Many pest control supply companies sell mattress encasements online. If you plan to purchase a bed bug mattress protector, make sure you choose one that is specifically designed for bed bugs. There are special features, such as bugproof zippers, different materials, and chemically-treated covers, that you can consider at the time of purchase. Do check the reviews to be sure you’re purchasing a product that is reliable and well-made. Another consideration is noise, as some encasements are made of fabric that crinkles as you move in bed. This could interfere with your sleep.

Even after you install your encasement, remember that adult bed bugs can live for well over a year without a blood meal. Leave the encasement on for at least that long or for the life of your mattress to be sure all resident bed bugs are dead and there are no new infestations of your mattress occur. Meanwhile, if your home is infested, you need to hire a pest management company to completely eradicate the bed bugs.

Mattress and Box Spring Encasements

Richard Cooper’s Mattress Encasement Evaluation – In the fall of 2007, Richard Cooper conducted research into the leading bed bug mattress encasements. The research was presented to his fellow entomologists from around the United States at the Entomological Society of America’s annual meeting in December of 2007. Watch Video

The use of encasements is discussed throughout this web page due to the important role that they play in a bed bug management program. BugLock® encasements, manufactured by Protect-A-Bed of Chicago were the first encasements to become commercially available that were specifically designed for bed bugs. The BugLock® encasements were also the first encasement to be backed by scientific data, proving their effectiveness against bed bugs. Scientifically proven encasements can be used as an early detection tool as well as a reactionary measure for trapping bed bugs and preventing the future re-infestation of beds.

Mattress Covers vs Mattress Encasements:

Difference between Mattress Encasements & Chemically Impregnated Covers
Chemically impregnated covers are often confused with mattress encasements. It is important to realize that the chemically impregnated covers are radically different than bed bug encasements both in concept and function. For this reason it is important to understand the differences between encasements and chemically impregnated covers as well as the concerns that we have regarding efficacy claims.

Take Home Points Regarding Impregnated Mattress Covers

  • The covers are not likely to be repellent enough to prevent hungry bed bugs from feeding on the person sleeping in a bed that has one of these covers on it.
  • The covers are not likely to control bed bugs by killing them as they come in contact with the treated fabric. Bed bugs typically require exposure to pesticide residues for many hours or days before morality occurs. Bugs are not likely to spend very much time in contact with the cover.
  • The concepts of repelling bugs and killing bugs are contradictory. The reality is that the covers probably do a little of both, but not a lot of either.
  • The covers don’t prevent bed bugs from infesting and living inside the box spring under the mattress and in the bed frame.
  • It is unnecessary to introduce a chemical into the sleeping environment when non chemical options exist (encasements) that have been proven to be effective and are recommended almost universally by bed bug experts around the world.

There is a significant difference between Mattress Covers and Mattress Encasements. For a detailed explanation, please see our section titled Pesticide Impregnated Mattress Covers

Proactive Use of Encasements:
As discussed in other sections of this web page, encasements can be used in a proactive manner before a bed bug infestation ever begins. Encasement of mattresses and box springs will greatly aid in the early detection of bed bugs and can prevent the infestation of beds in the event that bed bugs are somehow introduced. Once encased, bed bugs are unable to get inside of the encased mattresses and box springs. With their movement restricted to the smooth outer surface of the encasement, they are exposed and can be readily detected during a visual inspection. In addition, while they may be able to rest on the outer surface of the encasement they are unable to infest the interior of the mattress or the box spring.

Reactive Use of Encasements
Encasements also play a very important role in helping to eliminate bed bug infestations. The majority of bed bugs are typically associated with the mattresses and box springs. Eliminating them from these areas is very time consuming as well as challenging not to mention that in most cases the beds simply becomes re-infested as bugs migrate from other parts of the structure to the bed in search of a blood meal. Encasements are a very simple and highly effective method for dealing with the bed bugs that are associated with beds by trapping bugs inside and preventing migrating bugs from re-infesting the mattresses and box springs. The use of encasements also increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the follow up visits by taking the complexity of the bed out of the equation. Follow up visits simply involve inspection of the smooth surface of the encasements rather than having to carefully examine the wooden framework, coils, padding, or piping associated with the mattress and box spring.

It is difficult and time consuming to inspect & deal with bugs and eggs inside of box springs and the edges of mattresses
An effective Encasesment takes the complexity of the mattress and box spring out of play, restricting the movement of bed bugs to the smooth exterior of the encasement where they can be easily detected and dealt with.

Protection of Replacement Beds
Despite the fact that it is not necessary to dispose of infested beds, there are some people that simply cannot deal with the thought of sleeping on an infested bed that has been encased and are intent on disposing of the infested beds and replacing them with new mattresses and box springs. In the event that infested beds are going to be discarded it is critical that steps be taken 1) to avoid spreading bed bugs during the disposal process and 2) to protect the newly purchased mattresses and box springs from becoming infested.

    Proper Disposal of Infested Beds

Infested mattresses and box springs should be completely encased and sealed tightly before discarding them from an infested dwelling. Failure to do this often results in the spread of bed bugs as bugs and eggs fall off during the disposal process. In addition, bed bugs are often dispersed along the travel route, infesting hallways, stairwells and other parts of the building in settings like hotels, apartment buildings, college dormitories. Care should be taken when prepping an infested mattress or box spring for disposal to be sure that they are sealed tightly enough to prevent further spread of the infestation. Heavy polyvinyl sheeting or shrink wrap can be used to seal infested beds. Disposal bags specifically designed for beds can also be purchased for the proper removal and disposal of beds. It is also advisable to label infested items with a prominent message indicating that these are in fact infested items (i.e.“BED BUG INFESTED ITEM – DO NOT TAKE”) so others are alerted that these items are infested.

Improper disposal of bedsDisposal bags for proper disposal

Finding an Effective Encasement:
There are many encasements available in the marketplace, but many are prone to failure and may not work effectively against bed bugs. The first truly effective bed bug encasement on the marketplace is the BugLock® encasement, manufactured by Protect-A-Bed of Chicago which has been shown through rigorous scientific tests to be completely escape proof and bite proof (see executive summary of research). It is strongly suggested that you only use encasements that have strong scientific data backing the claims for use with bed bugs. It is our opinion that using an unproven encasement may be worse than not encasing the bed at all. Unproven encasements may provide a false sense of security and can actually protect or promote the survival of the bed bugs.

In order for an encasement to be effective it must be both bite proof, meaning that the bugs cannot feed through the material, and escape proof, meaning that the bugs cannot get in or out of the encasement after it has been installed. However, unless the encasements have been specifically designed for bed bugs it is very unlikely that they will be both bite proof and escape proof. ( see article: Just Encase)

We have worked very closely with Protect-A-Bed of Chicago setting out to design the first effective encasement for bed bugs. During the development, different types of materials were examined and it was determined that there are some fabrics that bed bugs could actually feed through.

Testing of a fabric that bed bugs can feed through

We also learned that the type of zipper used to manufacture the encasement is critical. In tests, immature bed bugs were able to escape the confines of the encasement by weaving their way through the teeth of a closed zipper (when larger zippers were used).

An effective encasement must have a zipper that bugs cannot escape through.
Some zippers have teeth large enough for bugs to simply weave their way through as
indicated by the first stage nymph coming through the teeth of this zipper.

The area where encasements are most prone to failure is at the zipper end stop (area where the zipper comes to its final resting position when fully closed). Most zipper end stops that were examined left large gaps when the zipper was pulled closed.

An effective encasement should seal completely at the zipper end stop. Not all end stops have a complete seal that is escape proof.Close up shows that there is a gap at the very end of zipper that will enable bed bugs to escape even when the zipper is pulled closed

Some of the zippers examined closed tightly enough to prevent the entry or escape of bed bugs when pulled completely shut, but if the zipper backed off even a tooth or two, an opening large enough for bugs to get in and out of the encasement was created.

This particular encasement is escape proof when the zipper is pulled completely shutIf the zipper pulls back, a large enough gap is created to allow bed bugs to enter and exit the encasement

A secure end stop is the area where the BugLock® encasement is superior to any of the other encasements that we have examined. The Bug Lock® feature secures the zipper end stop, making it impossible for bed bugs to enter or escape. A foam pad beneath the zipper end stop completely secures this area. In fact, the seal is so complete that during the efficacy testing of the encasement the zipper had to be pulled back beyond the end of the BugLock® feature to enable bugs to escape.

Example of BugLock ® Zipper End Stop
Sealed BugLock ® EncasementEven with zipper pulled back an escape proof seal still existsIn order for bugs to escape the zipper has to be pulled all the way back beyond the BugLock ® patch

Secure Seal® is another recent modification to the Bug Lock® encasement that provides an added level of security. This new feature “locks” the encasement in the fully closed position using an electrical zip tie that secures the zipper end stop to a fabric loop that is woven into the encasement material. Not only does the Secure Seal feature prevent the zipper from backing off, but it also provides a “tamper resistant” mechanism by preventing the zipper from being opened without first cutting the electrical tie.

Do Bed Bug Mattress Covers Work?

If you’ve been dealing with a bed bug problem, you’ve likely heard of mattress encasements. These are large, zippered covers that completely enclose your mattress. They’re designed to trap pre-existing bed bugs, and prevent new ones from reaching your mattress.

Mattress covers trap bed bugs inside your mattress, so they can’t bite you. Eventually, the trapped bugs starve and die. Encasements are also flat, so you can easily spot new bed bugs. However, mattress encasements won’t prevent bugs from living elsewhere in your home.

Let’s take a look at what bed bug mattress encasements are, and how they work. You’ll find out how they kill bed bugs, and whether they can stop you from being bitten. We’ll also look at the difference between mattress encasements and regular mattress protectors.

Table of Contents:

What Are Bed Bug Mattress Encasements?

Mattress encasements are a cover for your mattress that bed bugs can’t get through. They’re usually made of a material like cotton, and they have a zip that goes around the whole mattress.

Encasements offer many benefits, and can be used in three distinct ways.

  1. For pre-existing bed bug infestations. Mattress encasements trap and kill bed bugs that are already living inside your mattress. The bugs can’t get out to feed, so they eventually die.
  2. To help prevent new infestations from taking hold. While they can’tprevent bugs from entering your home, they can stop them from hiding inside folds of your mattress. Mattress encasements make bed bugs easier to see. The sooner you see the signs of an infestation, the easier it is to deal with.
  3. To protect a new mattress from being stained with blood or fecal spots from bed bugs. Many people use them as a precaution when they’re living in a furnished rented apartment.

A bed bug mattress encasement can be used alongside a bed bug box spring cover, to protect the whole bed.

Do Bed Bug Mattress Encasements Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs can survive for a long time without oxygen. When inside a completely airtight container, they can live for up to 5 days. And of course, if there’s even the smallest hole in the container, this will provide them with enough air to live on.

Mattress encasements are not airtight. They’re usually made of a breathable material such as cotton. So, inside a mattress encasement, bed bugs won’t suffocate.

They will, however, starve. Mattress encasements are specifically designed so that bed bugs cannot escape them. They fasten with a zip, so that there are no gaps for them to get through.

When trapped inside a mattress encasement, the bugs can’t feed, so they will die. However, it won’t be instant, as bed bugs can survive for a long time without food.

How Long Does It Take for Bed Bugs to Starve to Death?

Bed bugs need to drink human bloodto survive. It’s where they get 100% of their nutrients, including water. They feed more often in warmer weather, and less frequently during the winter.

On average, a bed bug will try to feed at least once a week. Nymphs (juveniles) may need to feed more often than this.

However, they can last for an impressive amount of time without a meal if the need arises. It’s not known exactly how. Theirbodies go into a dormant state, a bit like hibernation.

In some studies, bed bugs have been documented to live for up to 18 months without feeding. In other studies, they’ve lasted only 4-6 months.

Once you put the mattress encasement on, you should never take it off. This will ensure that all the bugs trapped inside will eventually die.

As a minimum, leave the encasement on for at least two years. If you need to transfer it to a new mattress, wash it and dry it at 140 degrees Fahrenheit beforehand. This will kill the remaining bugs and eggs inside.

Do Mattress Encasements Stop Bed Bugs Biting You?

If your mattress is infested with bed bugs, encasing it will stop the bed bugs inside from biting you.

As we’ve discussed, mattress encasements don’t have any gaps large enough for bed bugs to fit through. Once they’re inside, they’re trapped.

Because they don’t have teeth, they can’t chew holes in the encasement. And theirproboscises can’t penetrate the fabric, so they can’t bite you while they’re inside. The only fabric that they can penetrate is thin mesh, like tulle used for bridal veils.

So, in one way, mattress encasements can stop bed bugs from biting you. However, if bed bugs are living in another area of your home, you might still get bitten.

Mattress encasements cannot preventnewbed bugs from climbing into your bed and biting you. If a bed bug is living in your headboard, for example, it could still crawl into your sheets and bite you.

That being said, mattress encasements do make it much easier to see bed bugs. If you see one early enough, you can get rid of it before it bites you.

Do Mattress Encasements Prevent Bed Bugs?

Many people choose mattress encasements to protect their new, clean mattresses from bed bugs.

Encasements are great for this. They prevent bed bugs from coming into direct contact with the mattress. Bed bugs can’t access the folds and crevices where they typically love to hide.

For example, the piping around the edges of the mattress. The encasement also protects the mattress from fecal spots and blood stains.

However, the idea that mattress encasements will completely prevent bed bugs from infesting your home is untrue.

With an encasement, bed bugs may not be able to get into your mattress, but they can still live on top.

The advantage of using mattress encasements is that they do not contain any folds or crevices for bed bugs to hide in. Bed bugs will be much easier to see when they’re on top of the encasement. You’ll be able to spot and kill them before they get a chance to breed.

To prevent bed bugs from reaching your bed altogether, you can use bed bug interceptor traps in conjunction with mattress encasements.

How Do Bed Bug Interceptors Work?

Bed bug interceptors are small dishes that are designed to fit underneath your bed legs.

The outside of the trap is textured and slanted, so bed bugs can easily climb up into it. However, the inside is made of a slippery plastic that bed bugs can’t climb. They get stuck inside, and remain there until you find them.

If you put one bed bug interceptor underneath each bed leg, they won’t be able to reach your bed.

Importantly, you should also move your bed at least two feet away from the wall on all sides. Bed bugs can climb walls, so if any part of your bed is touching the wall, they could get in that way.

According to theJournal of Economic Entomology, bed bug interceptor traps are sufficient on their own for eradicating low-level infestations. Combined with a mattress encasement, this could be a great option if you can’t afford professional treatment.

Do Regular Mattress Protectors Work for Bed Bugs?

Mattress encasements that are specifically designed for bed bugs can be expensive. You might pay up to $100 for a good quality encasement, especially if you have a king-size bed.

This is a lot of money, so you may be wondering: would a regular mattress protector work?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Mattress protectors are different from mattress encasements, and they won’t keep bed bugs out.

As their name suggests, mattress encasements cover the entire mattress. They’re basically like putting your entire mattress into a huge Ziploc bag. Bed bugs can’t get in or out, as they’re too big to crawl through the zipper.

Mattress protectors, on the other hand, only cover the top and sides of the mattress, like a bedsheet. They are designed to protect your mattress from dirt and stains, not bed bugs.

As they don’t wrap all the way around the mattress, bed bugs can crawl underneath them. Even the small gap between the mattress protector and the mattress is big enough for a bed bug to slip into. Bed bugs are only about as thick as a credit card.

Can Bed Bugs Go Through a Plastic Mattress Cover?

Plastic mattress covers, or waterproof mattress protectors, are designed to protect your mattress from liquid spills.

Even though bed bugs can’t chew through plastic, they don’t need to. Waterproof mattress protectors don’t encase the whole mattress, so bed bugs can crawl underneath.

To protect your mattress from bed bugs, you need a mattress encasement that is labeled bed-bug-proof. There’s no such thing as an anti-bed bug mattress protector – look for the word “encasement” specifically.

How to Choose a Bed Bug Proof Mattress Encasement

Not all mattress encasements are the same. Some are better at keeping out bed bugs than others. When shopping for a suitable mattress encasement, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration:

  1. Make sure that the encasement fully encloses the mattress, rather than just covering the top and sides. Make sure you’re buying an encasement, not a mattress cover or protector.
  2. Search for the words “bed bug proof” on the label. Some mattress encasements are designed to be waterproof, but won’t keep out bed bugs.
  3. Look for a mattress encasement that is sponsored by, or certified by, a reputable pest control company.
  4. Research the brand name on the internet. See if studies have been conducted on the efficacy of that encasement.
  5. Check online reviews and testimonials. If the encasement is sold on a large and respected website, you can read about others’ experiences before you buy.
  6. Watch out for the price. Cheaper mattress encasements often haven’t been lab tested, or are made with poor quality materials. You don’t want the zipper to break, for example.

If you have sensitive skin, choose an encasement that is made from hypoallergenic material.

Do Mattress Encasements Get Rid of Bed Bugs Completely?

Unfortunately, mattress encasements won’t get rid of an infestation if there are other places in your home that the bugs could bite you.

Bed bugs, compared with other parasites, are extremely hardy. Fleas and lice, for example, quickly die if not in permanent contact with their host. Bed bugs can live practically anywhere, as long as they can reach you when they’re hungry.

The bed is obviously a bed bug’s first choice of habitat. However, if they can’t get to your bed, they may choose:

Bed bugs prefer to bite humans while they’re sleeping. But if they can’t reach your bed, they’ll settle for biting you when you’re sat down. They could feed while you’re relaxing on your couch, or sitting in your home office.

This isn’t to say that mattress encasements are pointless. They’re useful for trapping and starving bugs that are already living in your mattress.

They make bed bugs easier to spot if they do reach the bed. And of course, they’re great for keeping new mattresses clean and free from blood stains.

However, if you want to eradicate a large infestation, you’ll need to hire a professional exterminator. They’ll useheat treatmentand pesticides to kill all the bugs and eggs in your home.

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Lou Carter

Hi, I’m Lou. I’ve long been fascinated by bed bugs, ever since a friend’s life was turned upside down. That’s why I’ve put together this specialist site. You’ll find detailed answers to all of your questions on how to get rid of a bed bug infestation. I hope you find it useful!

Top 7 Bed Bug Mattress Covers: How to Save Your Bed and Sanity

Y ou can save your bed from these parasites easily by investing in a bed bug mattress encasement protector. Bed bugs in infested homes usually live in or near mattresses and box springs. Learn how these covers can help you sleep peacefully.

Here I suggest the best products with different brands for your consideration. If you require additional information, just look at the links provided next to each product’s title:

Best 7 Bed Bug Mattress Encasements Comparison Chart

ProductTop cover material type
Our #1 Rated
HOSPITOLOGY PRODUCTS Sleep Defense System Premium Zippered Mattress Encasement & Hypoallergenic Protector
Extra-soft Polyester Knit Fabric
Linenspa Zippered Encasement Hypoallergenic Breathable Mattress Protector100% PolyesterLUCID Mattress Encasement Protector100% PolyesterSureGuard Mattress Encasement Hypoallergenic Premium Zippered Six-Sided Cover100% Cotton TerrySafeRest Premium Zippered Mattress Encasement – Breathable, Noiseless and Vinyl FreeHypo-allergenic Soft Cotton TerryHygea Natural Luxurious Bed Bug Mattress Cover100% Polyester Stretch KnitJT Eaton Lock-Up Premium Total Encasement Bed Bug Protection for MattressCotton Terry Cloth

Top 7 Bed Bug Mattress Covers Reviewed

The huge number of mattress covers can be overwhelming, so it helps to know some of the best products out there. After doing extensive research, we’ve compiled the best encasements in the industry.

Our picks boast a host of beneficial features that ensure you sleep all night peacefully.

Bedbug bites can cause sleep deprivation, anxiety, and other complications. Take a look at what a bed bug sleeping bag can do for you to improve your situation.

You can buy mattress covers from many online stores. You’ll have the added advantage of seeing how their users have reviewed them.

One of the most recommended stores to shop these covers from is Amazon. Here are some of the best bed bug covers that you’ll find there:

1. HOSPITOLOGY PRODUCTS Sleep Defense System – Best Bed Bug Proof Mattress Encasement (Editor’s Choice)

The Sleep Defense System has been proven to be bedbug proof by independent lab tests. It’s zippered and can stretch over almost any size of a mattress. It has tiny zipper teeth and 100% waterproof sides. The encasement comes with a 5-year warranty.

2. Linenspa

With small zipper teeth, the encasement doesn’t allow any bedbugs to go through it. The soft and breathable fabric lets you sleep comfortably without getting too hot. This product offers you a 10-year warranty. It’s machine washable and dryable.

3. LUCID – Best Budget Bed Bug Mattress Encasement Protector

This encasement comes with an unmatched 15-year warranty. Its zippered enclosure protects against bedbugs, dust mites, and other allergens. It won’t rustle at night, and its smooth and breathable surface makes it comfortable to sleep on.

4. SureGuard Premium

With SureSeal technology and a super fine zipper, the SureGuard Mattress Encasement won’t let bed bugs pass through. It’s Greenguard Gold certified and independently lab tested. It also blocks bacteria, dust mites, mold, mildew, and allergens. SureGuard offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Additionally, you get a 10-year warranty.

5. SafeRest Premium

Having undergone independent lab testing and certification, the encasement is proven completely bedbug proof. Its patented zipper design protects your mattress from all its 6 sides. The exclusive Micro-zipper technology prevents bedbugs of all life stages from going through the teeth. It’s waterproof, machine-washable, and has a 10-year warranty.

6. Hygea Natural Luxurious

This product is scientifically proven to be effective against bed bugs. It’s waterproof and machine washable. It comes with a 10-year limited warranty.

7. JT Eaton Lock-Up

The bed bug certified cover is breathable and quiet. It has a double zipper to facilitate easy installation and removal. It’s waterproof and machine washable.

What is the Best Bed Bug Mattress Encasement Protector in April, 2020? – Buyer’s Guide

Y our mattress and box spring provide ideal sites for bed bugs to inhabit and quickly breed. Just a single pregnant female can bring forth all the bugs needed to infest your entire home within a couple of weeks. Therefore, it makes sense to make protecting your mattress a priority.

The right mattress encasement protector can help you discourage these pesky pests from taking up residence in your bed and destroy the existing ones. Do bed bug mattress covers really work? What should you do to get a bed bug mattress encasement that’s right for you?

Get all the answers to your burning questions about bedbug mattress covers here.

Table of Contents

Do Bed Bug Mattress Encasements Really Work?

There are many different covers on the market. Some are impregnated with pesticides that are meant to kill the bedbugs they come into contact with. The bugs need to be exposed to these pesticides for hours or even days before dying.

Because these bugs are unlikely to stay in contact with the treated fabric for a considerable length of time, these covers are highly unlikely to work. Another cause for concern is the fact that your skin comes into close contact with chemicals when using impregnated covers.

The good news is there’s another solution that has been proven effective: an encasement mattress cover often referred to simply as an encasement. It’s a tightly woven case that seals off your mattress.

It serves two primary functions:

  • Protecting against existing bed bugs.
  • Preventing new infestations.

How it protects against existing bed bugs: An encasement traps the bedbugs hiding inside your box spring or mattress, preventing them from feeding on you or migrating to somewhere else. Eventually, the newly hatched nymphs and adult bugs starve to death.

How it prevents new infestations: Bedbugs that are outside the mattress cover can’t penetrate its smooth covering and infest the interior of your mattress or box spring. The cover also makes it easier to spot these insects because it eliminates the deep seams and crevices where they typically hide.

When you find bedbugs in your mattress, you may want to throw it away. Don’t do that before going here to learn how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress.

How much Time do I Need to Eliminate the Bugs?

Bedbugs can survive for over a year without eating. The covers are expected to take the same period to kill the resident bed bugs. You should leave your encasement on for at least that long.

It’s best not to remove your encasement once it’s installed. Consider it to be the new exterior surface of your box spring or mattress.

I Need a Good Mattress Encasement

Not all mattress encasements are the same. An ordinary cover won’t be efficient in controlling bedbugs. That’s because the bugs will be able to escape or feed on you through its fibers. In fact, using an ineffective encasement that’s not designed to control bedbugs can be more harmful than not encasing your bed at all.

Bed bug encasements completely cover the object they protect, be it a mattress, box spring, or pillow. Their fabric has a coating that prevents bedbugs from sending their piercing mouthparts through and feasting on your blood.

A good bed bug encasement should:

  • Restrict new bedbug activity to the smooth exterior covering, allowing easy detection.
  • Keep the bedbugs already in your box spring or mattress away from you.

How to Choose the Best Bed Bug Mattress Cover?

With the many mattress covers available in the market, it may be difficult to establish the differences between them. Not all these covers will be effective against bedbugs.

To avoid wasting your time and money, it’s important to know the features that make mattress encasements capable of keeping your home bed bug free. Let’s take a closer look at the things you should consider when shopping for covers for bedbug control.

Mattress and Box Spring Cover

If you have both a box spring and a mattress, you’ll need to buy a mattress cover for each.

Here’s what you should pay attention when shopping for these covers:

  • Scientific backing. Reputable brands usually undergo additional tests to ensure the products are of high quality. Make sure the box spring and mattress covers you’re considering have been tested or certified by qualified entomologists. Unproven encasements may actually promote the survival of these bloodthirsty insects.
  • Bite-proof fabric. Can bed bugs bite through mattress encasements? Most of the covers on sale aren’t bite-proof. That means any bedbugs living inside your mattress may still be able to feed off you through the fabric. The cover you buy should be made of bite-proof material. The bugs in an infested mattress won’t manage to feed through this material.
  • Size. Encasements are effective when they fit your mattress or box spring tightly. They shouldn’t be too big or too small. Measure the mattress and box spring, then find covers that fit snugly over them.
  • Zipper teeth and location of end stop. The zipper teeth of your encasement should be tiny. Large teeth will allow the critters to enter and exit the cover easily. The end stop is the area where your zipper reaches its resting position when you’ve fully closed it. A gap between this position and the seam will allow the entry and exit of the insects from your cover. Make sure the encasement you’re considering completely seals at the end stop.
  • Full encasement. Some manufacturers market their covers as bed bug proof, but they just target specific parts of your mattress. An effective protector should cover your entire mattress. Purchase covers that encase your mattress and box spring fully.

Plastic Bed Bug Covers

Most plastic covers are made from polyurethane-lined and vinyl fabrics.

Let’s see what each has to offer:

  • Vinyl covers
    Vinyl covers help prevent bugs from exiting or entering your mattress and box spring. However, they may not be favorable for some people due to the noise they make as you move around while sleeping. It isn’t breathable, so you can sweat while sleeping on it.
    Just like many other problems in life, it’s easier to prevent a bedbug problem than to cure it. Click this link to find out more about how to prevent bed bugs.
    If the price is a big concern, this cover may be ideal for you because it’s the least expensive cover. You can use it to cover your box spring, which you don’t sleep on directly. You can also use a plush mattress pad for ventilation purposes. It’s easy to clean a vinyl cover with a dampened cloth.
  • Polyurethane-lined covers
    These protective covers allow your skin to breathe, reducing your tendency to sweat while sleeping on them. They’re covered with soft fabric that doesn’t produce noise as you move in your sleep.
    Polyurethane-lined box spring and mattress encasements are considered premium covers hence are more costly than the vinyl type. They’re perfect for you if you want the additional comfort and don’t mind paying extra for it.

Couch and Sofa Covers

Bedbugs love infesting mattresses and box springs. However, you can also find them in other places where you spend lots of time such as sofas, couches, and chairs.

Sofa and couch covers trap bed bugs at all life stages within them, preventing them from eating. They eventually die. They also prevent new ones from settling in your furniture.

Here’s what you should look for when shopping for these furniture protectors:

  • Quality. Some of the features that set apart quality couch and sofa covers from the rest are breathabilities, fire retardation, hypoallergenic, and waterproofing.
  • Size. A cover that’s too big will make your couch uncomfortable to sit on whereas one that’s too small could easily rip and allow the nasty pests to escape. Get the full dimensions of your sofa or couch and ensure the size of the cover you buy matches them as closely as possible.


Bedbug mattress encasements safely and effectively protect your family. While they may not eliminate the risk of an outbreak, they’ll help you avoid major infestations and identify the bugs far easier. Once you purchase these covers, be sure to check them monthly for rips or tears that can prevent them from protecting your mattress and box spring adequately.

You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.

About Inga Cryton

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Do Mattress Encasements for Bed Bugs Really Work?

ByChris Williamson May 9, 2011.

Q. My daughter’s dorm had bed bugs in a couple of the other girls’ rooms and she’s freaked out! I’ve heard about these coverings that you can get for your mattress to keep bed bugs out. Do they really work?

A. They’re called mattress encasements and yes, they do work…IF you get the right kind of encasement and IF it’s properly installed. A properly designed encasement completely envelops and seals the mattress and box spring, trapping bed bugs inside. The bed bugs are then unable to feed and will eventually starve. In addition, once the bed is protected by an encasement, other bed bugs cannot get into the mattress or box spring. They can only get on the surface of the encasement where they are easy to spot and remove.

Mattress encasements offer four advantages for bed bug control:

  1. Encasements provide preventive protection of beds. When newly introduced bed bugs reach the bed, their movement is restricted to the outside of the encasement, preventing them from hiding in the mattress or box spring.
  2. Encasements protect replacement beds. In an infested home or dorm room, encasements can be used to protect new mattresses and box springs that have been brought in to replace infested beds.
  3. Encasements allow people to keep their infested beds. Many people are simply not in a financial position to discard bed bug infested mattresses and box springs. In fact, experts say that getting rid of infested mattresses and box springs is not only unnecessary but can actually spread bed bugs when people scavenge discarded mattresses.
  4. Encasements make bug bug control easier. Encasements eliminate the time-consuming inspection and treatment of mattresses and box springs since bugs will be trapped inside or restricted to the outside of the encasement where they can be more easily dealt with.

Not just any mattress encasement will work. Make sure you get an encasement that specifically mentions bed bugs. There are several different brands to choose from these days. Some are designed with special seams and zippers specifically to protect against bed bugs. Others were originally designed for allergy protection, but subsequent testing has shown some to be effective against bed bugs as well.

The encasement must be bed bug “bite proof” and “escape proof.” Bed bugs will squeeze their way through zippers and seams whenever possible in order to feed.

The zipper end stop is the number one place for escaping bed bugs. The encasement should enclose the zipper tab to eliminate any gaps. Be sure that any claim for protection against bed bugs is backed by scientific testing. Standard mattress covers designed to simply protect mattresses from dust and bodily fluids will be ineffective against bed bugs.

It’s very important that you get the right size encasement for the bed since encasements are only effective as long as they fit tightly. The encasement should match the size of the mattress or box spring. Be sure to measure the mattress and box spring separately since each will have different dimensions. You should put encasements on both.

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