How Do Bed Bug Protectors 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.

Do Dust Mite Covers Really Work?

The simplest answer to that question isYES!

The effectiveness of using dust mite covers in reducing dust mite allergens is one of the few things most of the doctors we deal with to agree on. A well-constructed dust mite cover installed on the mattress and pillows will stop the majority of the allergens.

Dust mites are tiny cousins to the spider. You cannot see them. They exist on a diet of shed skin cells. They do not bite. A mattress can have anywhere from a few hundred thousand dust mites to several million living in it. They just dig in and set up house.

Dust mites like dark, warm, and humid environments with a large quantity of shed skin cells. This is a perfect description of your mattress, pillow and other bedding.

The highest concentration of mites in your home will always be in your bedroom.

As you move about during the night, you disturb these tiny microscopic dust mites, their shed shells, and their feces. These particles become airborne. Once airborne, they can be easily inhaled. Each small movement results in an allergen-laden microscopic cloud being formed that rains these allergy-causing particles down on the sleeper.

Keep in mind, a live dust mite is just as bad as a dead one. The dust mite allergens are composed of its feces and body parts. Live one’s poop and dead ones fall apart.

If you are not familiar with the term, “dust mite covers” this can be confusing because most people already have some sort of cover on their mattress for protection. A dust mite cover will have the following characteristics:

  • A dust mite cover is zippered.
  • It will cover the top, bottom and sides of your mattress, box spring, or pillow.
  • It will be made of specially designed allergy-blocking fabric.

Also, some times they will be referred to as a “mattress encasement” or “dust mite encasement” or “allergy bed cover”. All dust mite covers and allergy covers are also mattress covers or pillow protectors. Not all mattress covers and pillow protectors are dust mite covers. The fabric, zipper, and construction differentiate the two.

Dust Mite Covers Serve Three Purposes

First:A mattress or pillow that is covered with the specialized dust mite covers keeps the dust mite away from their food source, our dead skin and pet dander. No food means they will end up starving to death. We have had some customers who think this is cruel but I think it’s better they starve than me waking up feeling all stuffed up.

Second:Dust mite covers keep the dust mite allergens, feces and body parts already in the mattress out of the air. Imagine a cloud of microscopic dust mite allergens bursting into the air every time you roll around or sit on the bed. You can’t see this cloud but it is there. Now think about every breath you take and all the dust mite allergens that come with it. Keep the allergens out of the air and you won’t have that problem.

Third:Last but not least, the third purpose is to just keep the mattress and pillows clean. We all sweat and have oils on our skin and that will soak in at some point. Pulling a cover and putting it in the wash is a lot easier and cheaper than buying new stuff.

What Type of Dust Mite Covers are Available?

Allergy covers fall into two major categories: coated fabrics and microfiber fabric. Each type of cover has benefits and weaknesses. The best cover for you depends on your personal needs, preferences, and budget.

Coated Fabrics:Coated fabrics are the oldest type of dust mite covers. Originally, they were just heavy-duty plastic or vinyl. Then, technology advanced and the vinyl was fused with heat to a fabric.

Many of these vinyl-coated covers had heavy vinyl on one side and terry cloth on the other. The terry cloth was sturdy and added some cushioning, but it was just another collector of dust mite allergen. These covers were hot and because they were heavy, it was not easy to get them on and off mattresses.

Improvements in coated fabrics have been tremendous. These days, instead of vinyl the fabrics are coated with thin layers of urethane. The use of urethane in lieu of vinyl makes the covers much more lightweight.

In addition, urethane is water vapor transmissive. This means that moisture does not build up under the sleeper, so they stay cool and comfortable during the night. Coated fabrics are waterproof and tend to be less expensive than the microfiber fabric.

Microfiber Fabrics:Microfiber fabrics get their name from the way the fabric is constructed. Fibers are woven so tightly that the fabric itself creates a barrier cloth. This barrier prevents dust mite allergens from escaping and becoming airborne.

To be an effective dust mite barrier, the space between the woven fibers (referred to as “pore size”) must be 8 microns or less. The most tightly woven fabrics are made from all polyester fibers. The next most tightly woven will be blends of synthetic and natural fibers, such as cotton.

Microfiber covers are not waterproof unless they have received some sort of chemical treatment. They are very thin and lightweight. Because it takes a large amount of raw material to make, these fabrics are more expensive than coated fabrics.

Once the mattress, pillows and box springs have been covered you have eliminated 98% of the problem. The remaining dust mite allergens are controlled by washing the sheets and other bedding regularly in hot water or with products like the DeMite or Allersearch Allergen Wash laundry care products.

The Allergy Store carries a wide selection of dust mite covers for mattresses, box springs, pillow, duvets, comforters, and feather beds. If you have more questions or need help selecting the best cover for your situation, be sure to call Customer Service at 1-800-771-2246 for expert advice.

Wishing you the best of health

The Allergy Store

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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.

Finding the Best Bed Bug Mattress Cover for Your Home

When it comes to defending your home, nothing but the best will do. Take a look at the best mattress covers for bed bugs and keep those pesky pests at bay.

Bed Bug Mattress Covers

Sleeping without a bed bug mattress cover is like leaving your front door wide open. You wouldn’t allow intruders to enter your home at night and harm your family, so why let pests do the same? A bed bug mattress protector prevents bed bugs from using the mattress — one of their favorite places — as a harborage area and locks existing pests inside, causing them to starve and die.

Up to 90 percent of bed bugs in an infested home occur on or near mattresses and box springs. Bed bug covers can prevent the infestation of your mattress and destroy existing bed bugs that may be hiding deep within it. Here’s everything you should know about how to find the best bed bug mattress protectors for your home.

What is a Bed Bug Mattress Protector?

A bed bug mattress protector is a large, removable sheet of fabric that fits tightly around your mattress, fully encasing the mattress. Each protector includes a zipper that locks particles — and pests — inside. Once locked inside, bed bugs have no way of escaping from the encasement to reach their blood supply host. As so, mattress protectors can cause bed bugs to starve and die. According to the University of Minnesota, bed bugs can die within just two weeks when trapped inside. Likewise, bed bug encasements are key in keeping additional bed bugs from infesting the mattress, as new bed bugs have no way of penetrating the mattress protector.

How to Pick Mattress Covers for Bed Bugs

So, what should you look for in a bed bug mattress cover? Consider the questions below:

Is it a Full Encasement?

An effective mattress cover should cover the entire mattress. Some covers market themselves as “bed bug proof” but only target certain areas of a mattress. Look for covers that each fully encase the mattress or box spring.

Is it Properly Sealed?

A mattress cover can kill existing bed bugs by sealing them within and keeping them from feeding on you at night. Bed bugs are very small, though. Their flat shape allows them to sneak through crevices. Be sure to purchase a mattress cover with a zipper and reinforced seams. Many higher-quality covers also contain strip seals that protect the zipper and ensure a tight seal. Be aware of any tears or holes that may appear on bed bug mattress covers over time.

Has it Been Tested?

Bed bug covers sold by trusted pest control experts often undergo additional testing to ensure a quality product. Be sure to check if the mattress cover you are considering has been lab certified or tested by qualified entomologists.

Is it Toxin-Free?

Some covers for bed bugs contain chemical treatments that assist in killing existing bed bugs. Harsh chemicals can be dangerous and unnecessary, though. Therefore, you should take caution when considering these options.

Do Bed Bug Mattress Encasements Work?

While bed bug mattress encasements can be helpful, they can be faulty if improperly placed on the bed. Not to mention, any holes or tears can give trapped bed bugs an easy escape. It’s important to remember that there may be other bed bugs lurking nearby, too. Only trapping those on your mattress may not help to eliminate the entire infestation. With the help of a pest management professional, multiple solutions can be applied to help increase the likelihood of treatment success.

Want to be proactive against these nocturnal attackers? It may be time to invest in a bed bug mattress protector. Purchasing mattress covers for bed bugs can be a safe and effective way to protect your family. While these covers won’t completely eliminate the risk of a bed bug outbreak, using them can prevent major infestations and make identifying bed bugs far simpler. If you’re looking for a whole-home, effective solution, schedule an appointment with Terminix ® . This means less time sleeping with the enemy and more time sleeping soundly.

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What is a bed bug interceptor?

The ClimbUp® interceptor includes a light dusting of talc that must be replenished every time the trap is cleaned. The outside of the the cup is covered with fabric tape to help bed bugs climb to enter the trap.

One of the most useful devices that has been invented for bed bug monitoring and management is the bed bug interceptor. These are simple devices based on the principle that bed bugs are not very good at climbing slippery, vertical surfaces. Interceptor cups usually consist of a plastic dish large enough to contain a bed post, with an outer “moat” designed to catch and retain bed bugs. Sometimes these traps are referred to as pitfall traps for bed bugs.

The moat on an interceptor cup will have vertical, or near vertical, sides. Sometimes a light coating of talcum powder is added to the inside of the cup to make it more difficult for the bed bug to escape the moat (Note that talc itself is not toxic for bed bugs, and only a very fine film is needed–too much will make it difficult to see bed bugs in the trap).

Uses for interceptor cups include:

  • Protecting bed occupants from bed bugs not already on the bed.
  • To see whether bed bugs are present, and in what numbers.
  • To assess the effectiveness of bed bug treatments.
  • As an early detection system for bed bugs in hotels, apartments, homes.
  • As part of a do-it-yourself bed bug management effort.

How to Use

The Blackout™ Bed Bug Detector does not require talc. Roughened plastic on the outside facilitates bed bug entry.

Interceptor cups should be placed under the posts of beds needing protection from bed bugs. To maximize protection it is important that beds not touch walls or any nearby furniture. Dust ruffles or any bedding that touches the floor will also keep the interceptors from serving as protection from bed bugs. Formonitoringpurposes, interceptors can be placed under bed posts, or anywhere under the bed. Interceptor cups will be most effective when used on bed where someone is sleeping, with the person serving as an attraction for the bugs. Interceptors can also be placed under sofas or upholstered or wicker furniture where bed bugs may hide. Recent research shows that bed bugs are highly mobile and may be found throughout homes, even in areas where you might not expect to find them. Interceptors may be placed in bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, or anywhere desired.

A ClimbUp® trap from a heavily infested apartment contains many bed bugs of all life stages.

To fully monitor a typical two bedroom apartment, a minimum of 12 interceptors is best (assuming four cups per bed, and two cups per sofa and recliner chair). If protection of the beds is less important than early detection or monitoring, two cups per bed is OK. Dust and debris will accumulate in traps and must be cleaned periodically, usually at least once a month. When checking interceptor cups, it may be easiest to dump them in a smooth-sided plastic tub to help you inspect the contents of the trap. By using a tub with vertical sides, you can minimize the chance of bed bugs escaping before they can be dispensed with. Dump live bugs into soapy water or place in a plastic bag and dispose in an outdoor trash receptacle.

A thermos or even styrofoam cup filled with dry ice and placed in the center of an interceptor can enhance the effectiveness of the trap for detecting bed bugs.

The effectiveness of an interceptor trap for bed bugs can be enhanced if coupled with a carbon dioxide source or pheromone attractant. This can be especially useful for pest management companies or building managers who wish to determine whether bed bugs might be present in empty apartments, empty school classrooms, work places or other locations where bed bugs may be difficult to detect. It is best to use CO2 traps over weekends or holidays in school or work sites. Take caution when using dry ice in areas where children might be present. In small rooms, CO2 can be toxic; and dry ice may cause burns if handled without gloves. In occupied rooms, or locations children might encounter the traps with dry ice, traps should be used with lure only, or without additional attractant. Traps without a lure can still serve as effective bed bug detectors.

Where to Purchase Interceptors

Bed bug interceptors or monitors are not generally available in stores, but can be purchased online. Two popular manufacturers include ClimbUp ® and Blackout™ bed bug interceptors. You may also want to search online for terms “bed bug monitors” or “bed bug interceptors”. There is also now a newer trap design that is smaller and designed to place in discreet locations around the home. Called the Volcano™ bed bug detector, it is designed to hold a lure to enhance trap effectiveness. Because of its small size, the Volcano™ will not provide bed protection, but is designed purely as a monitor. All of these traps can be found online via a search engine.

If you can’t afford commercial traps or need to get interceptors installed immediately, you can also make your own bed bug interceptor traps with a few simple household items. For a video on how to do this from the University of Florida, please click here.

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