Friday, March 24, 2006

Mattress Covers Are Gross

In my March 18 entry regarding spring cleaning, an anonymous poster suggested I buy a mattress cover rather than commit mattress-cide. The poster added a link to a company web page showcasing their mattress and pillowcase covers. Now I’m guessing the poster may have been an employee of the company in question. But I started reading the description of the product anyway.

I had heard of people buying mattress covers to combat their bed bug problems, but I’ve come up with a few flaws in their logic which show why mattress covers may not be so great after all.

The solution that mattress covers provide is that once you have vacuumed and scrubbed down your mattress, and encase it in a zipper-sealable cover, it will trap whatever bed bugs are living inside your mattress. Since bed bugs can live up to a year without eating, the company suggests that you wait well past one year after first encasing your mattress in this cover to remove the cover and discard the by then presumably dead bed bugs.

I have a problem with this because in many cases bed bugs also reside in nearby furniture, namely box springs and headboards. My particular case is very unique because I own a captain’s bed (which is identical to the one in the picture, sans the matching headboard, lamp, bureau and mirror), completely made out of wood. With the captain’s bed, no box spring is needed to support the mattress, as you can see. Though the bed bugs in my home primarily reside in the mattress, I’ve also seen them inside the drawers of the bed as well as the headboard.

Another problem is even if the bed bugs don’t eat for months because they’re trapped inside the mattress cover, they’ll still be alive, which means they’ll still be mating. Here comes the disgusting part: after a few months after you’ve applied the mattress cover, there will be generations of bed bugs residing within the cover itself. I can only imagine myself climbing into bed and feeling scores of bed bugs’ bodies through the cover and into my backside. It’s truly a disgusting mental image.

This brings up another issue: what if during the course of the 12-month period, the cover is ruptured in some way? Maybe you accidentally puncture it with something with a jagged or sharp edge, and then the dozens of bed bugs start pouring out, hungry for human blood? Now you have a real infestation problem on your hands!

If I had a mattress cover, I would never feel safe removing it, even after two or three years. The only way I could see myself removing a mattress cover from a bed bug-ridden mattress is if it were completely submerged in water while I was doing it. From my observations, bed bugs die almost instantly when even partially submerged in water, like when I throw them into my toilet bowl and they immediately stop moving completely.

Has anyone had any personal experiences with mattress covers? If so, if anyone has advice on this, even an anonymous post would be appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Had a look at the site with the allegy mattress covers. Those are not the one's you should get to enclose your mattress with.

Purchase only vinyl one's. Yes they are uncomfortable to sleep on because it is plastic. To remedy a light cotton blanket at your discount store to line your mattress with, follow by your fitted sheets. One a week throw the cotton blanket in the wash and dryer or whenever you wash your sheets.

Once in a while check your cover for holes, if you find any, cover with a piece of duct tape.

Bugged Out said...

Thanks for commenting, anonymous poster. Your comment is exactly why I need to hit the library and look up issues of Consumer Reports to figure out which is the most effective. If Consumer Reports wants to boost future magazine sales, they'll be smart enough to start reviewing and testing bed bug-related pesticides, fog bombs, and other such paraphanelia.

Jeff said...

As far as the bed bugs breeding and becoming a larger colony in your sealed mattress, this won't really happen, since the bugs need your blood to produce eggs. The females need to feed in between laying eggs. And the nymphs need to fee to become adults. So really, by depriving them of blood you put them in stasis.

Anonymous said...

Female bed bugs are unable to reproduce after approximately 1 month without a blood meal - therefore any action which deprives the insects of being able to feed for at least that amount of time inhibits reproduction.

Also, a blood meal is necessary for each larval molt to occur, so insects deprived of food are unable to mature into adults.

Just get a new mattress.

Anonymous said...

Also, if you happen to be in an area with freezing temperatures, you could cover your mattress with the vinyl covering, then stick it out in the freezing temperatures for a day or two.. and freeze the ALL of the little creatures.

Anonymous said...

Vinyl cracks and breaks in cold weather!
Can bed bugs have multiple nests?
I have yet to find a nest but my infant son is getting bit in his room and I am getting bit in mine. I know they can travel far, but do they all stick together or branch out and nest different places? Is it true that I have to wipe down every single page of every single book I own? I have hardwood floors so they could be nesting in there. If I can't find the nest can I still get rid of them?

Anonymous said...

I just discovered a mild case of bed bugs in my home. When found, we did a lot of home remedy treatments that were online because it was the middle of the night. The next day professional exterminators came out and the following day, tore my bedrooms apart to treat them. I think the most important thing you can do is, seek the advice of a confident professional. Bed bugs are so difficult to get rid of that most of the home remedies will NOT be sufficient.

We chose not to buy a new bed (at this time) but I don't know that I won't change my mind down the road. Fortunately, for us, the bugs were only in one room. However, we treated all three bedrooms.

Cal said...

If they die in water so well, I'm hoping that my new way of washing clothes will help. I put the washing in and let it fill with water and add some soda crystals. Then when it has moved around a bit to get all the clothes properly wet and then I switch the machine off and let the washing sit for some hours before completing the cycle. Then I tumble dry the stuff and bag it in vacuum bags.

We have a recently acquired infection, but I am being eaten alive, though my husband is untouched. My son left home and moved into a bedsit then brought them home with him.

Good luck all sufferers, and I am going to put mattress covers on and leave them on after this. It beats being covered in itchy spots.

Anonymous said...

I'm an apartment manager in Seattle and we are just now realizing we need to put a comprehensive proceedure in place for dealing with bed bug infestations. I fear this will all get way worse before it gets better...what are government agencies doing to tackle this issue?!!! Nothing so far that I'm aware of, unfortunately. Anyway, just wanted to say that according to information my organization has gathered, one should NOT count on the fact that bed bugs are killed or drowned in water. Perhaps they stop moving simply because they are in shock or don't know how to swim! I'm only saying this because we have been told by our Pest Control service provider that the most important step in laundering your washable items as a measure of bed bug control is to make sure that the items get put in the DRYER on HIGH least 140 is this, and supposedly NOT the washing in water, that truly kills the buggers!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree with your "logic" here, but you need to get your facts in order. If you cover your infested mattress, they cannot feed. Without a blood meal, they cannot breed, and lie in a dormant state, until they die. That's why there is a one year wait. As for the infestation in other parts of your home, you must deal with this via pest control professional. Mattress covers only stop the spread in or out of the mattress. As for feeling the bugs under your cover, that's ridiculous! They are so tiny and insignificant that you cannot possibly feel them. Look, the idea behind a mattress cover is to save or protect an expessive mattress that you don't want to have to replace. There are also pillow overs, and luggage liners - most bedbug infestations are picked up during travel. Another misnomer is a hygine link. Wrong! You can be a spotless person, live in a spotless home, etc. and still pick up an infestation. So, in closing, if you are going to blog about an issue, please, get your facts in order, otherwise your credibility is toast.

Bugged Out said...

To the latest anonymous poster,

You sure have a lot of anger in you. Like many people, you are too clueless to understand the difference between commentary and a factual news report. Anger and ignorance can be a dangerous combination.

In this entry, I was expressing my opinions, not stating facts. As for my credibility, I never claimed to be any kind of expert on bed bugs. If you re-read the post, you'll find that not once did I claim to be knowledgeable in any way on mattress covers and their effect on bed bugs or bed bug biology nor did I claim to be stating facts. So you should probably assume that I have no credibility on the subject whatsoever.

The only fact I actually offered was that bed bugs die instantly in water, so I don't think I have any "facts" to get straight. Obviously you did not completely read my post. Also, the fact that you've basically repeated the previous eight comments shows that you didn't read them, either. Or perhaps since you think I'm so stupid, you did read the above comments, rewrote their facts and threw it back at me assuming I wouldn't notice.

Dude, you are too angry. Go have a drink, smoke a joint, seek therapy, whatever.

Anonymous said...

This is why you buy a new matress and THEN encase it.

Anonymous said...

I am going through the bed bug issues myself right now.

As for not being able to see them, that is not true. I saw them be between a quarter and a half of a centimeter. The baby ones are very hard to see, but I spotted one because its belly was full of blood. I put in in a ziploc bag, and set it aside. Three and a half weeks later, and it is still alive. No oxygen, no blood.

If you put a bunch of bed bugs in a bag, they will feed on each other. But, without blood, they only survive about a month.

As for feeling them, that is not true, I was getting bit up really bad and felt nothing. They inject a numbing chemical as they feed on you.

I had a professional pest control company come and tell me it was going to be over 1000 dollars to spray my apartment...with no guarantees. I had a local pest control company do it for 125 and it was guaranteed. I am in the process of buying new beds and will be putting bed bug covers on to not infect them in case they are still here in the house.

I am not posting this to argue or fight with anyone, just share my experience and knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I'm 36 years old, born & breed in NYC and I've never had bedbugs...what the hell are these people doing on their bed s that they are getting bugs? Damn clean your sheets...

Anonymous said...

Shame on you, perhaps you should read some educational articles on this issue. You will probably be the next one to get them with that poor attitude of yours.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ireland and just discovered an infestation. Never heard of anyone here having them and no idea how they got into my house. Since heat kills bedbugs and their eggs, I ironed all around the seams of my bed where they supposedly congregate. Iron was set on high and full steam, then I dried it all very slowly with my hairdryer set on HOT. I did the same in my kids room and also put talc on her boxspring and mattress. I only saw two in the bed when I did this and we both still got bitten that night. They must be living in the furniture. Fumigators are coming in next week.

Anonymous said...

my hubby's friends had a big infestation, and he let them sit in my kitchen to drink coffee on numerous occasions and you guessed it: we got them. Just found out yesterday. Ordered stuff online and need to get cleaning. I can't bear to go to bed now. Found two large and one small and encased in tape as evidence. Hubby let this happen and I did spray for bugs when they left. Did not help. At first I thought I had hives so it went on for 3 months...oh dear. Thanks for all the info.

Anonymous said...

If and when you buy any new mattress cover it immediately after removing the shipping plastic. I do this when ever I buy any new mattresses. So far so good!

Anonymous said...

We have a bed bug problem as well will not kill them. We even had a pest control co do our house 3 time still issues. We got it from buying a new mattressbecause they take old mattress away on there truck. If you have hardwood floors check all slats were they Seperate found Several . Couches are the worst. Also diamations earth is the only thing that really works . The pestcontrol co gave us matress covers but there not vynly and my daughter is still getting bit and i find black hard dots on sheet could that because they art vynly . This is such hell .

hams john said...

Tempur-Pedic says that that this is due to the "unique cellular structure" of its material, which is a guarded top secret known only to a few. Tempur material is made only at two company owned facilitie.. Tempurpedic beds