Even the best mattresses with the latest in hypoallergenic technology are not immune to a bed bug infestation. So, if the recent outbreak has left you wondering if your own mattress could be infested, the next question you might have is how to actually get rid of the little blighters.
Bed bugs are stealth-like blood suckers that lurk in dark corners of your mattress and soft furnishings, waiting for the opportunity to strike. Once embedded within your home, they can be incredibly tricky to shift — and it’s hard to know where to even begin. One common question that keeps getting asked is, will vacuuming your mattress get rid of bed bugs? We put that question to the experts below. If after reading this you decide there's no hope for your mattress, read our guide to how to dispose of a mattress with bed bugs and the steps to take.
Stephen Wales is the founder and owner of Bespoke Pest Control, a UK based pest control company. After accruing more than two decades of experience as a pest control specialist, Wales now places an emphasis on preventative pest control measures, offering both a proactive and reactive pest control service.
Georgios Liakopoulos has over two years experience as a Pest Franchisee at Fantastic Pest Control, which sits under the Fantastic Services umbrella. Liakopoulos is highly skilled in a wide range of insect and rodent eradication and is passionate about helping eradicating pests from homes and businesses.
Will vacuuming my mattress get rid of bed bugs?
Thoroughly cleaning your mattress is a great place to start in your battle against bed bugs. However, Stephen Wales, a pest control expert from Bespoke Pest Control, warns that bed bugs can be found throughout the home, so vacuuming your mattress alone will not be enough to get rid of a bed bug infestation.
“Bed bugs live in and around the host, they do not just live in or on the mattress,” explains Wales, who has over 20 years of pest control experience. “They can live in the bed frame, plug sockets, drawers, soft toys, behind pictures, in light fittings — basically anywhere with a gap big enough that they can hide behind or in. They can also live in sofas and chairs, so it’s not just a mattress or bedroom issue.”
Georgios Liakopoulos, a Pest Control Technician from Fantastic Pest Control, recommends vacuuming alongside other measures. "While [vacuuming] can help remove bed bugs, eggs, and debris, bed bugs often hide in cracks, crevices, and deep inside the mattress," says Liakopolulos. "The most effective way to address an infestation is to combine vacuuming with other methods, such as using pesticides, heat treatments, or contacting a professional pest control company."
How to check for bed bugs your mattress
You can check your bed for bed bugs by pulling back your covers and having a good look, paying particular attention to the seams and folds in the mattress where bed bugs like to hide.
Bed bug fecal matter (which look like small dark spots), eggs measuring 1mm, shed skin, bloody stains and a musty smell are all pretty strong indications that bed bugs are dwelling in your mattress. However, despite their name, bed bugs can also make your bed frame, duvet, pillows and headboard their home, so Wales recommends thoroughly inspecting these areas also.
I’ve found bed bugs in my mattress. Now what?
Launder any bedding or pyjamas on a hot wash after first consulting with product care instructions, then vacuum your mattress thoroughly. Focus on getting into any creases or folds, which is where bed bugs like to hide. Once finished, take the vacuum outside and empty into a bag before putting in an outside bin.
Bed bugs can lay dormant in your mattress for up to a year in a state of ‘hibernation.’ Regular vacuuming of your mattress, bed frame and headboard will help rid your mattress of these sneaky critters.
This, says Wales, is to prevent bed bugs from living inside your vacuum. Before embarking on the task, ensure you are using the best vacuum for the job - Liakopoulos recommends one with a HEPA filter and brush attachment.
In addition to a thorough vacuum, Liakopoulos advises those with an existing bed bug infestation to invest in a steam cleaner. "Steam cleaners can kill bed bugs and their eggs," says Liakopoulos. "Steam cleaners with mattress attachments are suitable for mattress cleaning."
Although investing in a mattress encasement would have protected your mattress against a bed bug infestation, it could still be a worthwhile purchase even after an outbreak. “If you already have signs of bed bugs in your mattress, a fully zippered encasement will keep them locked inside until they die, preventing the critters from infesting other parts of your bedroom and home,” explains Claire Davies, Tom’s Guide Sleep Editor and Certified Sleep Science Coach.
However, while these strategies can help eradicate bed bugs, both Wales and Liakopoulos recommend seeking professional help from a pest control specialist to thoroughly eliminate bed bugs from your home.
Will vacuuming my mattress keep bed bugs out?
Vacuuming your mattress alone won’t eradicate a bed bug infestation. However, Wales recommends regular mattress vacuuming and cleaning in a bid to keep bed bugs out of your bedroom. This way, you will spot any early signs of an infestation and be able to tackle the problem before they become deeply established in your home. “I would recommend vacuuming not just your mattress and headboard but also your bed frame”, says Wales, who recommends vacuuming your mattress every month.
For additional protection, our Sleep Editor Davies recommends investing in a mattress encasement. “A fully zippered mattress encasement is the best way to prevent bed bugs in your mattress,” explains Davies. “Whereas normal mattress protectors just cover the top and sides, a mattress encasement covers the top, bottom and sides. It then zips shut, so bed bugs have zero chance of reaching your mattress.”