Ask most city dwellers about their deepest fears, and bedbugs probably rank pretty high on the list. Whether you live in a penthouse or a garden apartment, bedbugs don’t discriminate, and can drive you insane if they manage to infiltrate your space. That’s why it’s important to take proper precautions when trying to prevent (or deal with) an infestation. One of those precautions is to get a mattress cover, which professionals say can be a helpful tool for protecting your bed from the creepy-crawlies. But contrary to popular belief, mattress covers do not prevent a bedbug infestation, according to Timothy Wong, the technical director of New York City–based, eco-friendly pest management company MMPC. Instead, Wong says that mattress covers help with early detection, because they provide a smooth, clean, white surface that makes it easy to spot any visual evidence of bedbugs. Two pieces of such evidence, according to John H. Brickman, the owner of NYC Bed Bug Inspections, are any live insects or “black spotting from fecal matter.”
In the event of an infestation, a mattress cover will also help preserve the integrity of your mattress, making it less likely you’ll have to throw it away, says Richard Kane, the founder of Bed Bug Pest Prep NYC. When it comes to selecting a bedbug mattress cover, Brickman says that the best ones “are pretty much all the same, so it really comes down to comfort.” Below, Wong, Kane, Brickman, and Matthew Moers, a co-owner of EZ Pest Exterminating, recommend their favorite bedbug mattress covers, along with additional encasements made for box springs and pillows. And remember, “the battle of bedbugs is more psychological than anything else,” says Kane. “Getting rid of them isn’t that hard” when you stay calm and follow the experts’ advice.
Best overall bedbug mattress cover
Wong notes that while buying a bedbug mattress cover is mostly a matter of personal preference and budget, he always recommends SafeRest’s mattress covers to his clients, due to their breathable material, washability, and well-designed zipper guard. According to him, “what separates quality encasements from inferior ones is the zipper,” and the best bedbug covers, like SafeRest’s, should prevent bedbugs from crawling through the zipper’s teeth, as well as have a zipper cover that prevents bedbugs from entering into the zipper’s seams. SafeRest’s covers are also completely waterproof, hypoallergenic, and machine-washable, he adds. Bedbug mattress covers are generally made from either cotton, polyester, or vinyl, all of which will keep bedbugs out of your mattress, Wong says. But the experts we spoke to suggested sticking with polyester of cotton, noting that the latter is generally the softest and most breathable material. “Vinyl covers aren’t breathable and rip very easily because they have no stretch,” Moers explains, adding that vinyl covers “often have glued seams.” To get the most out of your investment, Wong also suggests buying encasements that protect against both bedbugs and dust mites, like this one promises to.
A note on how to properly encase your mattress: Brickman says that you want to “make sure your mattress encasement covers everything,” including mattress toppers. You also want to make sure you put the zipper at the foot of the bed, away from your head, because that’s where our bodies release the most bedbug-attracting carbon dioxide, he adds.
Best less-expensive bedbug mattress cover
For a less-expensive alternative, Brickman recommends Linenspa’s mattress cover, which is made from waterproof, machine-washable polyester. (Wong says that polyester can “give a similar feel to cotton, but is generally cheaper in cost.”) “I always recommend Linenspa, it’s cheap, and it’s great quality,” Brickman told us. Like SafeRest’s covers, Linenspa’s encasements also protect mattresses from dust mites and allergens.
Best bedbug box-spring covers
“If you’re going to cover your mattress, you’re going to want to cover your box spring as well,” says Kane. Brickman agrees: “Bedbugs love box springs,” he says, because they tend to have more hollow spaces in between layers of wood and padding, which provide perfect living and breeding conditions. His pick is Linenspa’s polyester box-spring cover, which protects against dust mites, allergens, and liquids, as well as bedbugs. But he adds that, in a perfect world, he would have his clients get rid of their box springs all together, and instead put their mattress on a metal platform bed frame like this one from AmazonBasics, because the metal material is less bedbug-friendly than a wooden frame (or box spring). If clients must use a box spring, he will advise them to cover it with an encasement and still consider using a metal bed frame beneath.
When it comes to box-spring covers, Kane also suggests going for a polyester cover, because he says the material is stretchy but less likely to tear. His preferred box-spring cover is from Protect-A-Bed. While it doesn’t protect against dust mites, it is still excellent at keeping out bedbugs, according to him.
Best bed bug pillow covers
If you want to be extra vigilant, the pros say that investing in covers for your pillows is also a good idea. Pillow covers are designed to do the same thing as mattress or box-spring encasements, explains Brickman. “They eliminate hiding spots on the pillow and make it easier for you to visually inspect for bugs on your own.” He likes Allersoft’s cotton pillow covers, which protect against bedbugs, dust mites, and allergens. Brickman also suggests keeping bright white sheets on your bed since darker colors make it very difficult to visually inspect for evidence on your own. “Because bedbugs breed so rapidly, being proactive is key,” he concludes.
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