When it comes to bed bugs, it's better to be pro-active than re-active. It's much easier to prevent them from infesting your bed than getting rid of them. This helpful guide will give you a deep understanding of everything bed bug related. We'll go over how to protect a mattress from bed bugs, how to identify them and how to properly clean your mattress.
What are bed bugs?
Before creating your plan of attack against bed bugs, it's best to know your enemy. Bed bugs and their bites can be mistaken for other pesky critters like fleas. While fleas can be an equal nuisance, they're usually easier to get rid of. Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that feed on human and animal blood. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies, similar to a credit card in width and range between 2.5mm to 5mm in length. They're distinguishable to fleas from their colour, flat bodies and large abdomens. Bed bugs typically bite areas of the body that are exposed whilst sleeping, like the head, arms and legs. The bites tend to be in clusters and appear as red raised bumps with a dark spot in the middle.
How to check for bed bugs on a mattress:
Understanding the behaviour of bed bugs will help figure out where to look for them. Despite what their name implies, they can live in all kinds of places. Including sofas, skirting boards, bed frames and even ceiling cracks. Because they are so flat, they're able to fit in any gap a credit card could. They tend to come out at night in search of their next feed. Because of this, they usually stay close to anywhere you or a pet will be sleeping. To protect against bed bugs, make sure to hoover anywhere they could hide. This could be around skirting boards, under sofa cushions and under the bed.
Bed bugs tend to scurry away at any sign of humans and hide in groups. Making it difficult to find them in broad daylight. To spot them on a mattress, look out for signs that they've been there previously. Here are some things to check for on your mattress:
- Reddish stains or the appearance of rust on bed sheets can be a sign of a crushed bed bug
- Tiny dark spots that look like a black marker pen stain. This can be a sign of bed bug excrement
- Eggs or eggshells that are 1 mm in size. These can be particularly hard to spot but are usually found in clusters
How to protect a mattress from bed bugs?
One of the best ways to protect a mattress from bed bugs is by using an encasement mattress protector. These can be labelled as bed bug proof, but the primary word to look out for when shopping is encasement. This style of mattress protector completely covers the mattress, leaving no entry point for the pesky insects. Another great tip for bed bug prevention is to regularly hoover any areas they might like to hide. While bed bugs aren't attracted to dirt, catching them at the first signs of nesting will stop them from spreading. This is why hoovering any hiding hot spots regularly is advised.
How to properly clean a mattress:
Regularly cleaning your mattress is key to making it last longer and it's also the perfect opportunity to check for bed bugs. You should aim to clean your mattress once every three months and flip or rotate as stated on your mattress instructions. By taking proper care of your mattress, it gives you the perfect chance to check underneath and give everything a good vacuum or sweep. Here are some tips to follow when cleaning your mattress:
- Give your mattress a vacuum or sweep all over every three months. Pocket sprung styles can be vacuumed safely whereas foam styles like memory foam require sweeping to avoid damage
- Pull back your bedding once a week and let the mattress air. This gives the mattress the chance to spring back into shape and evaporate any excess moisture
- Try to wash and change your bedding at least once every two weeks to avoid a build-up of bacteria
- Using a waterproof mattress protector will prevent any spills from getting into the mattress. If you do have any spills, be sure to pat dry as soon as you notice it and use a gentle stain remover if needed
How often should you replace a mattress?
As advised by the National Bed Federation, you should aim to replace your mattress between seven and ten years. This can vary depending on your style of mattress, how you take care of it and how much it's used. However, this is a guideline and you should aim to replace with any signs of wear and tear. If the mattress is sagging or doesn't seem to give the same support that it used to, it's probably time to replace. We have a large range of mattresses available for next day delivery.