Heat treating a mattress and box spring for bed bugs
by Tom Costello, Technical Director
August 13, 2018
This blog continues our series of technical highlights that are covered in greater depth and detail in our Master Heat Technician Certification training program. We believe training is the differentiating factor between success and failure. That is why we include the Master Heat Technician Certification training program as standard equipment in all bed bug heat treatment packages $1,999 and up, and every package we sell includes our flash video training.
Even beds get bed bugs!
When most people hear about bed bugs, they instantly picture a bed full of these blood-sucking insects. What most people fail to realize is that Cimex lectularius lives all around us: in carpeting and around baseboards, in bookshelves and behind pictures, in our comfy chairs, cars, restaurants, busses, hotels, and airplanes. And, yes, you can even find them in our beds!
Conventional wisdom around mattresses
Too often the simple approach for mattresses with bed bugs is to encase the mattress in a plastic bag. Mattress encasement will not prevent bed bugs... bed bugs live all around our rooms, as I mentioned previously! Putting a mattress in a bag is a great idea to prevent bodily fluids from penetrating a new mattress, but the mattress bags are completely worthless in the prevention of the harborage or spread of bed bugs. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet. One online resource falsely proclaims the following:
I know someone who recently had a bed bug problem and it took almost 2 months for her to get rid of them. Pest control cost her over $3,000 and the bed bugs almost cost her the house. If only she knew about mattress encasements and what they were capable of doing. She ignored the warning signs and thought she just had fleas, she was wrong. Once she figured it out, it was too late. This is why it is important to just have an encasement on your bed at all times. Even though you may not have a bug problem right now, there is always the possibility that you could pick them up on vacation, at work, or someone else could bring them into your home. If this is the case, your encasement will help to detect them, saving you thousands of dollars.
Let’s break this paragraph down point by point and debunk the false premises:
- It took almost 2 months to get rid of them... sounds like a chemical treatment to me. Chemicals can kill all the hatched insects, and the eggs will usually hatch within ten days. Then the cycle repeats.
- She ignored the warning signs... not a good treatment strategy regardless of how you intend to eliminate the bed bugs.
- It was too late... once bed bugs have established a wide-spread colony, heat is the only treatment that will kill all insects and eggs in a single, one-day treatment. Chemical treatments are notorious for requiring multiple treatments spanning multiple visits.
- This is why it is important to just have an encasement on your bed at all times... I fail to understand how a good mattress encasement will preclude bed bugs from living in, on, or around your bed, let alone anywhere else in your home. Bed bugs hatchlings are so small they can pass through a stitch-hole in a mattress. Sounds like a snake oil salesman to me.
- Even though you may not have a bug problem right now, there is always the possibility that you could pick them up... how does this line of thought relate to the premise of the entire paragraph that a simple mattress bag could prevent an infestation of bed bugs throughout your home?
- Your encasement will help to detect them, saving you thousands of dollars... If you can see bed bugs or fecal spots on a mattress encasement, you can see bed bugs or fecal spots on a mattress.
Heat is different. Bed bug heat treatment technology is the only methodology that can effectively kill 100% of hatched insects and 100% of eggs, 100% of the time, every time. In just one treatment.
Most bedding is impervious to heat
While bed bugs love to harbor in all the folds and pleats in mattresses and box springs, these pieces of furniture are nearly impervious to heat.
Unfortunately, so often we find beds can be difficult to successfully treat because most bedrooms and hotel rooms have beds positioned and dressed to minimize airflow for a lethal treatment. A little understanding and planning will change everything into your favor.
Beds are often placed right against one or more walls in a room. Dust ruffles on beds can obstruct treatment airflow under and around a box spring and mattress, potentially limiting the furniture’s exposure to heated air and extending treatment times. Lift and secure the dust ruffle to allow heated air to flow all around the bed. Use milk crates to separate the mattress from the box springs so air can flow between and around these items.
Whenever possible, move the bed away from the walls to allow heated, convected air to flow all around the bed. Bed bugs often hide between the bed or headboard and wall. Mattresses and box springs can take extremely high heat without any structural consequences. A little preparation and planning will enable you kill all the bed bugs and eggs in and around beds, ensuring you a good night’s sleep.