Bed bugs are small, flat insects that live in cracks and crevices, so you’ll probably never see them unless you’re looking closely.
One of the common pests found in mattresses today, bedbugs bite humans when they feed, leaving behind tiny red marks that itch intensely. Unfortunately, if you have a memory foam mattress, you’re not immune to bed bugs.
This article explains how to check your memory foam for bedbugs, what to look for when doing so, and most importantly, how to get rid of bed bugs that live in a memory foam mattress.
Can Bed Bugs Live in a Memory Foam Mattress?
Bed bugs cannot burrow inside memory foam, as they don’t have long enough legs, feet, or claws to dig with. Therefore, you are not likely to find bed bugs inside your memory foam mattress, as you would with a standard box spring mattress.
This doesn’t mean you won’t get bed bugs living on a memory foam mattress. According to Bed Bugs Insider, you are most likely to find bed bugs on your mattress’s underside. Bed bugs prefer dark, quiet hiding places, waiting in anticipation for you to get into bed at night so they can bite you.
Along with the underside of your mattress, you may also find bed bugs on the sides, under any piping, buttons, tags, creases, or folds in the mattress.
A bed bug can only get inside your memory foam mattress if there is an opening.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Memory Foam Toppers?
Bed bugs could crawl on any memory foam surface, including the toppers. This poses a risk to the bed bugs; you could easily squash them if they were to hide either on top or underneath the topper.
If you have an egg crate memory foam topper, the dips in the foam may provide a hiding space for the bed bugs, so check your mattress topper carefully.
Bed bugs want to live as close to their host as possible, so living on a memory foam topper is possible.
Can Bed Bugs Live in Memory Foam Pillows?
Like other memory foam items, bedbugs can’t burrow inside the pillow unless there is a hole, cut, tear, or some other type of damage.
Bed bugs can live on a memory foam pillow, usually the underside.
Early Signs of Bed Bugs on Your Memory Foam Mattress
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, look for these signs if you think you have bed bugs:
- Dark spots on your mattress about the size of a pinhead. This could be bed bug excrement or blood from where they have bitten you.
- Pale yellow skins that have been shed by bed bug nymphs.
- Reddish or rusty-looking stains on your mattress or bed linen. This is caused by squashed bed bugs and also bed bug excrement. 20% of bed bugs will excrete waste while feeding on you (and feeding can last from three to twelve minutes!)
- Bed bug eggs and egg shells are about 1mm in size and pearl white in color. These can be difficult to spot on a memory foam mattress due to the similar color. Look for something that may look like a grain of rice or even smaller.
- Finding bed bugs themselves, which are about the size of an apple seed and dark brown in color.
- Does your mattress or room smell? A musty odor or smell coming from your bed can be a sign of a bedbug infestation. This musty scent has been described as sweet also.
- Bites – this isn’t always a telltale sign of bed bugs. Similar pets can leave marks that look like bed bug bite marks, including mosquito bites. Both will cause raised lumps on your skin and itchiness, so look for other telltale signs of infestation.
How To Remove Bed Bugs From Your Memory Foam Mattress
- Remove your bed linen and bedding and wash in hot water if possible. If you cannot wash in hot water, dry your bed linen in the clothes dryer. Bed bugs cannot withstand heat above 113°F.
- Vacuum your memory foam mattress, including the sides and underside.
- Vacuum your bed frame and headboard. Be vigilant – get into every corner, crevice, tiny crack in natural timber, etc. Get under your bed frame, or lift up your base to vacuum the underside.
- Vacuum your bedroom furniture – your dresser, bedside tables, drawers, carpet, baseboards, window sills, behind curtains, blinds, and your entire bedroom. Look for any common hiding spots described above. Work from top to bottom, one side of the room to the other. Miss a couple of bed bugs, and the breeding cycle can continue.
- Treat your entire room for bed bugs. As a website about using steam for clothing, cooking and cleaning (including pest control), I would turn to my steam cleaner to treat bed bugs. A clothing steamer or steam cleaner will effectively kill bed bugs due to the high heat. It is important, however, not to use a steam cleaner on your memory foam mattress. You risk damaging the foam’s integrity. I’ve written more about that in my steam-cleaning memory foam post.
- Encase your mattress in a bed bug proof mattress encasing. Any bed bugs or eggs that may have been missed in the vacuuming process will be enclosed within this case. Leave the case for at least 6 weeks (if not permanently). The bed bugs will be unable to feed, therefore, unable to reproduce, and the life cycle will cease.
How To Protect Your Memory Foam Mattress From Bed Bugs
Encasing your memory foam mattress is the best way to prevent bed bugs from living on your mattress. You need a six-sided mattress encasement, not just a cover.
Depending on the size of your mattress, an encasement can cost anywhere from $22 to $65.
Don’t forget about your pillows as well. If you have memory foam pillows, follow the same advice as your mattress.
This mattress encasement by Lucid fits mattresses up to 18 inches deep and comes with a 15-year warranty. A California King mattress encasement is around $40, making this much less expensive than replacing your mattress.
- Premium zippered encasement available in many sizes.
- Waterproof and encases or protects against bed bugs, dust mites and allergens.
- 15 year warranty.
Are Covers and Encasements Effective Against Mattress Infestations?
A mattress protector or mattress cover is ineffective against bed bugs on either memory foam or standard box spring mattresses. While bed bugs can’t burrow inside your memory foam mattress due to the dense material, they still could live on the sides or underneath.
Purchasing a six-sided mattress encasement that covers all sides of your mattress is much more effective against bed bugs. If you have bed bugs, you can put this on while they are still active. Bed bugs need to feed at least once every two weeks to continue their breeding cycle. Leave the mattress encasement on, and the bed bugs will starve and die.
The benefit of mattress and pillow encasements is they also prevent dust mites and other insects.
Other Treatment Methods to Eradicate Bed Bugs
Calling a professional exterminator is always suggested if you have a severe bed bug infestation.
Bed bug exterminators use heat treatments or chemicals to eradicate these blood-sucking critters.
There are also DIY bed bug sprays which you can readily purchase online. It may take several treatments to effectively control bed bugs in all their life stages.
If you want to try and get rid of bed bugs at home before calling in a pest control professional, try either one of these products:
- Plant based bed bug control
- Safe for children and pets
- Mixed opinions on how well it works (users that had smaller bed bug problems had more success)
If you have a clothing steamer, steam mop, or steam cleaner at home, use this around your bedroom. You can steam baseboards, bed frames, bed bases, curtains, walls, carpet, and flooring. Steamers heat up to 212°F and are a natural way to kill bed bugs.
If you don’t have a steamer and are considering one, my post on bed bug steamers will help you choose.
Should I Replace My Mattress With Bed Bugs?
I don’t recommend replacing your memory foam mattress if you have bed bugs for the following reasons:
- A bed bug (or two) could easily fall off your mattress while it is being moved and re-infest your new mattress.
- If you have an infestation of bed bugs, they won’t just be on your mattress… (see point above)
- Dumping a mattress into a landfill contributes to environmental waste and won’t stop the breeding cycle of bed bugs.
- It’s costly. Save your money!
Enjoy a Peaceful Sleep Without Bed Bugs
Remember, bed bugs can live anywhere, including furniture, clothing, and even luggage. Use your steamer to treat everything you can in your room, but not your memory foam mattress.
My recommendation is to encase your mattress and steam everything possible. Vacuum and steam clean regularly; hopefully, you can eradicate bed bugs safely, naturally, and cost-effectively.
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