How to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress

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You are lying on your bed, ready for a blissful night after a long day, only to be kept up all night by bites from blood-sucking insects called bed bugs. When such happens, all you want to do is figure out how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress.

Finding bed bugs on a mattress occurs more often than you might think. Not to worry, though. Today, we’ll cover all you need to know, ranging from ‘what do bed bugs look like on a mattress?’ to easy and effective ways to eliminate the creeping pests.

What is bed bug infestation like?

You most likely won’t know when the bugs found their way into your home. That’s because they are such tiny little creatures; they hide in crevices, blend into their surroundings, and can go unnoticed for months.

How bed bugs infestation happens

Bed bug infestation can start in either of two ways:

  1. Bed bug eggs carried into your home;
  2. Adult bugs can latch on to an item brought into your home.

Many people believe that a dirty surrounding is the cause of bed bugs, but that’s not accurate. While a dirty surrounding would help the egg or bug to thrive, bed bugs don’t grow out of dust; they get transferred by carriers.

Common bed bug carriers include:

  • Pets;
  • Clothes, shoes, and luggage;
  • Old beddings and pillows;
  • Infested furniture or mattresses.

Signs of bed bugs infestation

Here are some quick signs that can tip you off when you’ve got bed bugs on a mattress:

  • Dark spots concentrated around mattress edges and seams resulting from eggs and bug excreta;
  • Brownish smudge spread across the bed surface from dead bugs;
  • A distinct mild odor oozes from the mattress owing to bed bug eggs and dead bugs;
  • Chief of all, swellings on your skin after a nightcap.

Hiding spots for bugs

Bed bugs hide in the nooks and crannies of household items containing foam, including mattresses, furniture, rugs, carpets, and other surfaces not made of foam. All these places are dark, you rarely move them, and they maintain a cool temperature all day; the conditions needed for them to lay eggs and hatch (1).

So, if you want to sweep out bed bugs from your home, here are places to check:

  • Underneath mattresses and bed frames;
  • Furniture edges;
  • Book and cloth piles;
  • Travel boxes;
  • Behind wall frames;
  • Inside wall and ceiling crevices.

What do bed bugs look like on a mattress?

Many people who ask, “what do bed bugs look like on a mattress?" have probably seen one before, especially at night.

Bed bugs are tiny, brown, and oval-shaped, not growing past the size of a watermelon seed at maturity. However, they move pretty fast on the mattress and quickly bore holes in the foam to hide themselves making them hard to find.

Also read: TOP 5 Best Memory Foam Mattresses

How to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress

The processes involved in this simple guide on how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress are easy to implement. Using home cleaning tools, you can make your mattress good as new. However, you should be ready to do some work too. 

Alright, let’s go through the two stages of removing bed bugs from a mattress:

Containing an infestation

When you first notice signs of bed bugs on a mattress, it’s not time to panic. Instead, you isolate the mattress and all the clothing on it to contain the spread of the bugs or their eggs.

Here are simple steps to follow to contain a bed bug infestation:

Step #1 - Strip beddings

Remove all beddings on your mattress, bed sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and seal them in a plastic bag. You can also throw in your pillows and mattress covers if you have one.

Step #2 - Wash and heat

Once you’ve gathered all the affected items, wash them to remove all stains and bug excreta. You don’t need to soak your pillow in water, just use a clean towel to dab its surface and wipe off the dirt. 

Next up, you’ll subject them to high temperatures. It’s this process that kills the eggs attached to the beddings. You can use a hot air dryer for this part. Let the procedure last for about half an hour.

Step #3 - Scrub mattress surface with a brush

After treating the beddings, you then have to focus on the mattress itself. Bed bugs hide the most inside mattresses and can be hard to reach. Using a stiff brush, you can scrape off dead bugs, dust mites, and bug eggs attached to the bird and make them easy to remove.

Step #4 - Vacuum infected spots

The last step of the containment process is to vacuum the infested items, especially the mattress. Make sure you treat the edges and seams, and if there’s carpet or furniture around, you can clean them also.

Once you’re done, be sure to empty the cleaner into a plastic bag and dispose of it far from your home.

Extermination process

The second part of the bug riddance process is extermination. This time around, we’re after wiping your bed clean off all infestation. So, the process is a bit more intense.

Here’s how to carry out bug extermination:

Step #1 - Steam infested mattress

High-pressure steam pumped from a steamer does an excellent job at killing and wiping off all bugs and bug eggs hiding inside your mattress. In addition, the steam can penetrate their hideouts and finish them off.

If perhaps you don’t have a steamer; you can rent one from a DIY store or call exterminators to help out.

Quote box

When using a steamer, be sure not to soak your mattress wet with water as that can damage the foam. It’s the temperature that kills the bugs, not the water

Step #2 - Apply insecticides

Now that you’re free of bed bug infestation, you need to double down on protecting your mattress by spraying a mild insecticide on it. You can also treat the bed frame and carpet around the bed to be double sure.

Step #3 - Air dry mattress

After applying the chemicals, you need to air dry all the items for at least 12 hours. After which, you can use a mattress protector for bed bugs for a brand new sleep experience.

Also read: Best Camping Mattresses

How to prevent bed bugs from infesting a mattress

Now that you’ve learned how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress, you should also know how to avoid an infestation in the first place. Protecting your bed from bed bugs goes beyond enveloping your mattress in a mattress bag for bed bugs. Here are some precautions you should also take:

  • Use a mattress cover

One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep insect pests at bay from your bed is to use a plastic mattress cover

  • Keep your room clean.

This goes without saying; a room filled with dust and rubble is a good breeding ground for bed bugs. If you own a pet, make sure you clean and care for him/her well to not carry bugs into your bed.

  • Check old materials and travel items before putting them in your home

Before you bring old stuff or travel luggage into your home, ensure it’s clean. Or at least wash the things you can as soon as possible.

  • Do routine checks

Once in a while, check out the possible hideouts for bed bugs; your bookshelf, your wardrobe, underneath the bed, and keep them clean.


Should I throw out my mattress if I have bed bugs?

No, you don’t need to throw out your mattress once you can master how to get rid of bed bugs in a mattress, as we’ve explained in this piece. However, if the infested mattress is old and doesn’t support you well, you can throw it out and buy a new one. If that’s you, then, by all means, check out the best mattress in Australia.

How do I get rid of bed bugs in my mattress naturally?

To get rid of bed bugs in a mattress naturally means you won’t use any chemicals. Instead, you can use baking soda after steam cleaning.


With all said and done, getting rid of bed bugs in a mattress isn’t an everyday task. As the common saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure.’ Your best bet for keeping bed bugs at bay from your bed is to use a mattress encasement for bed bugs.

Have you ever been faced with bed bug infestation? How did you handle it? Let’s hear from you, and we’d also love to answer any queries you’ve got about bugs on mattresses.


  1. D. M. Miller, and A. Polanco. (n.d). Bed Bug Biology and Behavior. Retrieved from

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