A bed bug’s favorite hideout is a box spring, followed by a mattress, and a frame or headboard, according to a University of Kentucky study. But a standard mattress cover won’t keep bed bugs from entering the mattress and biting you because they don’t completely enclose the mattress. Entomologists recommend a bed bug proof encasement, which covers all six sides of a mattress or box spring with a tight-fitting zipper.
What you should look for in encasements
Entomologist Jody Green, PhD, an urban entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, isn’t just an academic. She has practical experience from the field as a university extension service educator, pesticide applicator, and pest consultant. “I recommend bed bug encasements that completely encases/envelopes/360-degree the mattress and has been tested against bed bugs. Usually, there will be some type of notification, marketing, or indication that the product has been evaluated against bed bugs,” says Green. Zippers should have tight teeth and a locking mechanism, like a Velcro protective flap at the end of the zippered side to prevent bed bugs from coming and going. Or look for an encasement with a locking mechanism to keep the zipper from accidentally opening. Bed bug mattress cover encasements are traditionally white, so bed bugs and fecal can be easily spotted. Finally, look for high-quality material because a flimsy encasement that has even the tiniest tear will allow bed begs in and out.
Measure twice, buy once
A poor fitting encasement is a waste of money and more importantly allows bed bugs to hide and bite. “Bed bug encasements need to be fitted to the appropriate size of the mattress, box spring, and pillow for it to be most effective,” says Green. Don’t purchase an encasement based solely on “queen” or “king” as some mattresses are thicker than a traditional size. Measure the length, width, and depth of each item that is to be encased. If the bed bug mattress cover encasement doesn’t fit correctly, it won’t be dependable. “The simple daily activity of getting in and out of bed can put wear and tear on an encasement and cause damage, especially if it is not the right size. Many people that purchase off-the-shelf encasements don’t buy the right size for their mattress or box spring, and encasements that do not fit properly are more prone to ripping and tearing, ” says Eric Braun, a board-certified entomologist and Bed Bug Line of Business Manager for Rentokil Steritech, a pest management company.
Encasements aren’t a guarantee
Your bed can become an island safe from bed bugs biting but a bed bug mattress cover encasement isn’t a guarantee you won’t get bed bugs elsewhere in your house, your bedroom, or even your bed frame. “The biggest limitation of mattress and box spring encasements is that they don’t actively work to control bed bug activity that may be introduced,” says Braun. It’s virtually impossible to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking into any place, whether it’s a house, hotel, dorm, or nursing home. Of course, that doesn’t mean you will have an infestation if a bed bug is discovered on your laptop case. Take a look at what bed bugs, eggs, and all other kinds of bed bug evidence look like.
“There are two factors to look for in an encasement: a durable material and a bed bug-proof zipper,” Braun says. A durable material helps the encasement hold up against wear and tear. Why is the zipper important? “Because the smallest of gaps where the zipper meets the seam can create an opportunity for bed bugs to gain access to your mattress.” Protect-A-Bed is recommended by both Braun and Brody Brothers Quality Pest Control, who writes of the bed bug mattress cover encasement: “We have tried all different types of brands, and they all appear or feel cheap. It could be the fabric or the bad zippers, but we have found the Protect-A-Bed to outlast the others! They have been around since 2001, and they have always had a great quality product to offer.” Protect-A-Bed states the encasement is bed bug bite-proof, entry-proof, and escape-proof with patented BugLock Secure Seal three-sided zipper.
Braun also recommends Mattress Safe for its durable material and zipper that keep bed bugs from accessing the mattress and you. According to Mattress Safe, a certified entomologist tested its encasement and concluded bed bugs couldn’t penetrate the fabric or design of the encasement giving it the ability to prevent infestation of bed bugs in a mattress or box spring. Here are 7 more ways to help prevent infestation.
Just Encase My Mattress
Sound Pest Management owner Frank Carter is confident recommending Just Encase My Mattress to all his clients with bed bug infestations and as a preventative measure. “They have a two-year money back warranty and incredibly durable zippers that keep the encasement secure. They’re 100 percent waterproof—think potty-training children and most importantly, the keep bed bugs out.” Carter also points to a study that deemed the encasement Certified Bed Bug Proof.
Bed Bug Solutions
“I recommend Bed Bug Solutions to all my customer,” says Randy W. Pendleton, owner of Discreet Bed Bug Removal. “For an encasement to do its job properly, it needs to remain in place on the bed for over a year as bed bugs can survive a long time without feeding. If a product rips before this amount of time, any activity that may remain in the mattress could escape and cause a new infestation.” Here are some clues that you might have a new infestation on your hands.
A little extra assurance after a bed bug ordeal certainly could help in getting a good night’s sleep. ActiveGuard mattress liners are used in combination with an encasement for extra security. The liner is a specially treated, thin polyester fabric liner that fits over a box spring or mattress. “The liner contains an active ingredient that disrupts the feeding and development of bed bugs within ten minutes of contact and eventually leads to bed bug mortality,” says Braun. “The ActiveGuard liner is ideally suited for use on bedding as it keeps the material where it needs to be—in the liner and in contact with the mattress and box spring, which is where bed bugs are most likely to reside.” The unique formula stays active and in place for the lifespan of the liner, which is about two years. And if it rips, it is still effective.
Bed bug interceptors
After going through the mental anguish and treatment of bed bugs, you may finally think you’re in the clear, but monitoring for bed bugs after an infestation is a must. Monitoring tools, like bed bug interceptors, can alert you to a problem by detecting bed bugs early and before they crawl into your bed again. “The SenSci Blackout is a great product that is relatively maintenance-free and made of sturdy, heavy-duty plastic,” says Braun. Try these home remedies along with your exterminator’s treatment to keep bed bugs away for good.
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