It is unlikely that your air mattress will become infected with bed bugs, although it is not impossible. This is because the materials used (PVC and vinyl primarily) are not the best environments for bed bugs to live in.
If air mattresses do get bed bugs, they are most likely to be in the dips on the upper surface and sides. This is because bed bugs traditionally crawl inside the mattress and rest on the sponge inside during the day to hide.
They often cannot get through the plastic material encasing the air, and if they do there is nowhere to hide inside. This means that it is much less likely for air mattresses to suffer from bed bugs.
If you think that your home is infested with bed bugs, the best thing to do is to contact a pest control professional. They will know the best way to eradicate the infestation from your home without spreading it unnecessarily to other areas.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that measure anywhere from 1 to 7 millimeters long. They have a flat, round body and are a red-brown color. They do not have wings but their bodies contain a lot of ridges which is how you can identify them.
The eggs of bed bugs look kind of like salt. Adults can release 5 eggs each per day, which will take 2 weeks to hatch. Once hatched, each egg can release up to 10 cream colored nymphs.
Bed bugs feed on blood. Human blood is their preferred food source, although they are not hugely picky and will feed off other animals too.
The bed bug releases saliva as it bites your skin. This acts as a numbing agent and means that you often do not feel the bite until it is too late. The bug will sit and feast off of you for up to 5 minutes at a time.
They are difficult to get rid of as they are very robust creatures. Adults tend to eat every 5 to 10 days, although they can survive for up to a year without feeding.
They are attracted by heat released from the human body, and carbon dioxide.
What are the signs of a bed bug infestation?
Bed bug bites are the most common symptom that indicates the presence of bed bugs. These bites often just appear as a small bite, similar to a mosquito bite.
Some people can have allergic reactions to the bed bug saliva. In these cases, there is likely to be a much larger swelling and you could potentially enter a state of anaphylaxis.
Bed bug bites are commonly found on the legs, arms, face, feet, and neck. They can be found in straight lines, alone, or in a small cluster.
Mattresses infested with bed bugs are likely to smell sweet and musty at the same time.
You can also do some visual checks of the mattress. If you see any eggs, small blood splats, or exoskeletons that have been shed, you likely have a bed bug infestation.
If you suspect a bed bug infestation, this is a useful way to spot them more easily. Bed bugs thrive in the darkness and will always try to remain there.
If you suspect you have bed bugs then we recommend removing the sheets from your mattress when it is dark. Turn the lights back on and you may well see the bed bugs scrambling back to find the darkness.
How to protect your air mattress against bed bugs
It is very easy to do this, much easier than on a regular mattress. Simply purchase a zippable cover for your mattress and the bedding you are using. You should also check all of the seams on a daily basis to ensure there are no bed bugs hiding there.
Changing and cleaning your bedding every day will also help to protect against bed bugs, although this can be costly and time consuming.
If you are washing your bedding because of a suspected bed bug infestation, run it through a very hot wash and dry. The high temperatures will kill off any bed bugs, keeping your sleeping environment safe and clean.
We recommend vacuuming your home, and in particular, your bedroom, regularly. If you notice any cracks in the walls or furniture it is wise to fill these in as soon as possible.
We do not recommend bringing second-hand furniture into your home without thoroughly checking it first. Bed bugs are incredibly contagious and incredibly resilient.
This means that they can easily make their way into your home from old furniture. You should check everything with a flashlight before you bring it into your home. Once bed bugs have made their way in they are very difficult to get rid of and so you should take precautionary measures where possible.
If you commonly sleep in bed with your pets, this could be a way bugs are getting into your bed. Clean them regularly and potentially offer a spot treatment if they appear to be infected too.
It is a good idea to regularly steam your carpets too.
How to get rid of bed bugs on an air mattress
The fact that an air mattress can be deflated is a huge advantage when dealing with a bed bug infestation. Press all of the air out of the mattress and fold up the empty mattress. Place this inside a garbage bag and seal tightly.
Place the garbage bag inside your freezer and leave it there for 4 full days (96 hours). This is long enough to ensure the bed bugs will all have died.
You can also spray the air mattress with a pesticide spray to kill off bed bugs. These are designed to weaken and kill the bugs and should do an effective job.
Take care to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for usage. Some bed bugs have evolved to have a level of resistance to pesticides, so be aware of this.