Bed bugs, which live by feeding on blood, can be a major problem in urban areas. They are typically brought into homes and apartments through luggage, clothing, used furniture, and bedding.
Once introduced, they tend to hide where people sleep and rest. A popular hiding place for them is under the edge of a mattress or box spring.
However, one simple solution to help prevent bed bugs from infesting your sleeping area is to add a plastic mattress cover or storage bag with zipper closure. This type of “bug barrier” will also help protect stored items in the home against infestations.
The bug barriers can be purchased at discount retailers or department stores for about $10-$20 per twin-sized plastic bag, depending on how durable they are.
Alternatively, you can purchase reusable water-resistant bed bug covers for about $30-$40 per full or queen-sized bag, depending on how durable they are. In addition to more durability, the bed bug covers also have a few features that make them easier to use and help keep them clean longer.
One feature of some covers is an extra flap at the open end of the zipper closure which helps prevent bugs from escaping. There are zippers on both sides of the cover so it can be opened almost completely flat for easy washability and drying. When putting it on your mattress, you simply center it on your mattress, smooth it out, and zip up one side completely first before going around all four corners as tightly as possible.
The zippers on most covers have a larger gap between them when unzipped to help slide the mattress pad over it. This makes it easier to get an easy fit without any wrinkles or bunching under your fitted sheet. Once the cover is centered, you can zip up the other side of the zipper and then tuck in your bed sheets as usual.
It is important to remember that you need to ensure that there are no openings in the cover for bugs to escape. If your sheets don’t tuck under your mattress tightly, you may want to use plastic mattress encasements instead of these covers so long as they have a zipper closure.
How effective are bed bug barriers?
A study tested them on cot mattresses where “wild” bedbugs were hiding, meaning they had never seen or been exposed to any product before and didn’t know what was coming. The researchers used different types and brands of bed bug barrier bags and placed them over the cot mattress without closing them at first. They also used one untreated control bag (which contained some live bugs) and put it inside one untreated cot mattress.
During the 7-day test period, they found that all of the live bedbugs in both types of untreated bags escaped within three days. However, only one of the treated bags had any escapees after 11 days. This means that using these bug barriers can help reduce your chances of having a bed bug infestation by over 90 percent! The even better news is that even if bugs do manage to escape from these covers during use, they will still drown when you take them off your mattress for laundering.
You can find more information on these products at http://www.uvm.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef103.html .