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Sleep Tight, Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite: Expert Tips to Eliminate These Critters From Your Mattress

Bedbugs can appear out of nowhere and be difficult to get rid of. Here are eight expert tips for a bug-free mattress.

Nasha Addarich Martínez Managing Editor
Nasha is a Senior Editor for health and wellness at CNET. She is a nutrition, mental health and sleep science enthusiast. Her passion for mindful and holistic practices transcends her personal life and profoundly influences her editorial approach, as she weaves evidence-based insights with practical advice to inspire readers to lead healthier, more balanced lives. Throughout her career, she's covered various topics including financial services, technology, travel and wellness.
Expertise Sleep, mental health, personal care and nutrition. Credentials
  • Sleep Science Coach Certification from The Spencer Institute.
Nasha Addarich Martínez
4 min read
Bed bug colony on mattress
Dzurag/Getty Images

The streets of Paris were invaded by bedbugs over the summer, leaving locals and visitors in panic and disgust. Videos of these insects have taken over TikTok, where travelers show how these tiny blood-suckers have swarmed hotels, public transportation and even movie theaters.

If you're concerned about these pests making their way from the City of Love to your bed, we've gathered a few tips to help you get rid of them. CNET has a studio filled with mattresses we've tested over the years, so we know exactly how to keep them free from pests. 

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What are bedbugs?

Bedbugs are tiny oval-shaped insects that are reddish-brown. When younger, they can be translucent and imperceptible to the human eye. Adult bedbugs may be easier to spot, especially on light-colored linens. Similar to fleas and ticks, bedbugs feed on the blood of animals and humans. Despite the name, bedbugs aren't only found in beds -- they can also be found on anything made of fabric, like couches, chairs, curtains and clothes. If your mattress has bedbugs, you may even feel them crawling over you. You may not feel the bite, but it can leave itchy red bumps. 

Leg with red rash caused by bedbug bites
Andrii Medvediuk/Getty Images

What causes bedbugs?

Bedbugs love to feed on people and animals, so they're bound to be in places with many people, like hotels, restaurants and public transportation. They most likely make their way to your home by hitchhiking on your purse, backpack, luggage or clothing. If you're into thrifting, be sure to check any second-hand furniture you purchase before bringing it to your home. Bedbugs love crowded spaces, warm temperatures and fabrics.

"Bedbugs can multiply quickly, and those swollen, red and itchy bites are not something you want to deal with at any level," says David Rubin, Product Expert at The Sleep Doctor. "The best way to prevent them is to keep your home and bedding as clean as possible. Don't leave clutter around where bed bugs could hide and multiply," he added.

bed bug on fabric.
dblight/Getty Images

8 tips to get rid of bedbugs on your mattress

If you suspect your mattress has bedbugs, follow these tips.

Dry, wash and dry your linens and bedding

Remove your bed sheets, pillowcases and bed covers and place them in the dryer at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Bedbugs can't survive at these high temperatures, so it's best to eliminate them and any eggs before washing. After running through the dry cycle to kill the bugs, wash your bedding on the hottest setting and dry as usual. If you want to take it up a notch, you can use a detergent that's specifically made to terminate bedbugs.

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Bedbug-specific laundry detergent is more effective at killing the little pests.

Vacuum your mattress thoroughly

Use a vacuum cleaner hose (avoid using a brush attachment since the eggs and bugs can hide in the bristles) to vacuum your mattress, paying special attention to seams, crevices and folds. Be sure to empty the vacuum outside in a sealed bag and dispose in an outdoor trash can.

Use a steam cleaner

Steam cleaners produce enough heat to exterminate bedbugs and their eggs, so you can use a steamer to effectively treat your mattress. Ensure to steam through all folds and crevices of your bed.

Invest in a mattress encasement

Mattress encasements are specifically designed to trap bedbugs and prevent them from escaping or feeding on you and any pets. This helps control any existing bedbug infestation and can help prevent infestations from starting.

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A mattress encasement can trap bedbugs and prevent them from getting out.

Use diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a food-grade powder made of silica that causes bedbugs to dehydrate and die. Sprinkle your mattress with a generous layer of diatomaceous earth, let it sit for an hour and then vacuum. Even though DE is considered safe for human consumption, inhaling can be dangerous. Be sure to use gloves and a mask when handling DE, and ensure your room has proper ventilation.

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Diatomaceous earth can be used as a natural pesticide.

Inspect your bed frame

Even if your bed frame isn't made of fabric, these critters can hide in cracks, small crevices and even the legs of your frame. Wipe down smooth surfaces on your bed frame and steam and vacuum any parts containing fabric.

Use bug interceptors

Bug interceptors are small plastic dishes you place under your bed frame legs that trap bedbugs. These traps don't use any pesticide but rely on the fact that bedbugs find climbing smooth, slippery surfaces challenging. Once they've entered the interceptor, they can't get out and eventually die. One small study showed that bedbug interceptors showed a success rate of 96% in apartments with a range of low-level to severe infestations.

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Bedbug blockers can prevent them from crawling up your bed.

Resort to pesticide

If you've tried everything but can't seem to get rid of the bedbugs, consider using bedbug-specific pesticides. Be sure to look for EPA-approved products that are safe for indoor use. Spray your mattress with the insecticide as instructed on the product label. Avoid direct skin contact with treated surfaces, and allow your mattress to dry thoroughly before covering it.

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Pesticides are designed to exterminate bug infestations.

Too long; didn't read

Getting rid of bedbugs is no easy task. Washing your bedding and, with the help of a few products, you can control and exterminate most infestations. If you're too grossed out by your old mattress having bedbugs, you can consider getting a new one. Be sure to eliminate any infestation in your home so they don't transfer to your new bed.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.