Don’t freak out, but we have to talk about bed bugs. I know, I know—ugh. But bed bugs can travel into your house on your clothing (or your pup) and make their home in your couche, curtains, carpet, and even that brand-spankin’-new mattress you just bought. But what if we told you there’s a solution that can (hopefully) keep bed bugs at bay?
Bed bug covers are encasements you zip around your entire mattress, and they’re usually made from tightly woven fabric, plastic, or vinyl. According to Changlu Wang, PhD, an entomologist (aka someone who studies bugs super extensively) at Rutgers University who specializes in bed bugs, mattress encasements are “highly effective at preventing bed bugs from escaping your mattress if you have an active infestation.” Technically covers of this kind can only stop bed bugs from escaping your mattress if you already have them, but Wang says they’re still a good preventative measure for anyone who never wants to deal with bed bugs in their home in the first place (so, basically everyone). An encasement’s smooth white surface makes it easy to spot bed bugs, and by keeping them from getting into your mattress, makes treating an infestation ~way~ more manageable. And real talk: “It’s a lot cheaper to throw out your mattress encasement and buy a new one than it is to throw out your entire mattress and buy a new one,” Wang says.
So whether you’re treating an active infestation, or just never want to have one to begin with, your best bet is a bed bug mattress cover. Also, just so we’re clear, bed bugs cannot chew their way out of a good mattress encasement, so we can all stop having nightmares about that. No? Just me? Anyway, without further ado, here’s a list of the best bed bug mattress covers to help you sleep tight without any bed bugs in sight.
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The One That Won’t Break the Bank
Utopia Bedding Zippered Mattress Encasement
- Some reviews said the knitted polyester made crinkly noises
Made from knitted polyester, this encasement has a waterproof lining that stops any leaks from causing mold or mildew. Even better: its zipper is reinforced to make sure no creepy bugs can plot their escape. Bottom line: This baby gets the job done, and at just $15, you’ll have money left over for those brand new percale sheets you’ve been eyeing.
The One That’s Easy to Put on
SafeRest Zippered Mattress Protector
- Easy installation
- Machine washable
- Doesn’t sound crinkly
- Water-resistant, but not totally waterproof
A lot of mattress encasements have one zippered opening, which is totally fine, but it does make putting it on feel like you’re in wrestling match you most definitely didn’t sign up for. This cover prevents you from breaking a sweat thanks to a micro-zipper on three sides of the encasement, which makes it easier to install. It’s made from cotton terry to keep you nice n’ cool too.
The One for People with Allergies
AllerEase Ultimate Allergy Protection and Comfort Zippered Mattress Protector
- Blocks allergens and dust mites in addition to bed bugs
- Soft cotton material on top doesn’t sound crinkly
- Might be more features than you need if you don’t have allergies
- Fit may be too snug on mattresses thicker than 14 inches
This is the one I have on my mattress, and I don’t have bed bugs so I guess that means it’s working?! I have bad allergies, so I love that this one blocks 99.9% of household allergens like pollen and dust mites. Because my definition of self care is not sneezing or being bitten by bugs while I snooze. :)
The One for Twin XL Dorm Beds
SureGuard Twin Extra Long (XL) Mattress Protector
- 10-year replacement warranty
- Good for protecting college beds
- Some reviewers said it wasn’t completely waterproof
- Might be crinkly at times
Make room in the minivan for this mattress encasement when you head off to college. Sized for the Twin XL beds common in dorms, it’s waterproof and machine-washable—even in those janky dorm basement washing machines. It also has a 10-year replacement warranty, in case you end up hanging out in your undergrad degree takes you *much* longer than you planned for.
The One for Thick Mattresses
LUCID Encasement Mattress Protector
- Fits well over most mattresses, including 18 inch ones
- Machine washable
- Might be too warm for hot sleepers
If your mattress is on the thicc side, this eco-friendly bed bug cover is your new BFF. It works on mattresses up to 18 inches, and its elastic/polyester blend ensures a snug fit around the entire bed. This encasement is also free of yucky stuff like phthalates, vinyl, and PVC.
The One That Does Everything
Protect-A-Bed AllerZip Smooth Mattress Encasement
- Stain proof and waterproof
- Not noisy or crinkly
- Protects against common allergens and viruses
- 10-year limited warranty
- Pricier than the others on this list
- Some reviewers said it made them too warm at night
This is a ~fancy mattress protector~ with a super secure three-sided zipper and patented seal to make sure absolutely no bugs will be joining you once you turn out the lights. It’s made from breathable terry cloth and protects against dust mites, allergens, mold, mildew, pollen, and pet dander. Another cool albeit slightly unexpected feature: it has the Center for Disease Control’s highest level (level 4) of barrier protection, ideally stopping viruses from being able to pass through your mattress.
The One with Extra Secure Closure
Bedbug Solution Hybrid Zippered Queen Mattress Cover
- Resealable tape that goes over the zipper
- Comes in all mattress sizes
- May not work on mattresses thicker than 15 inches
For all you people who are extra anxious about bugs (hai!), this one’s for you. The zipper has an extra resealable tape piece over it so no bugs can possibly escape the mattress cover. It’s a polyester-cloth fabric that’s soft and washable, yet durable and waterproof.
“I actually bought this item for total protection. We have never had a problem with bed bugs….it makes no ‘plastic’ noises at all. I put a cloth mattress cover over it and sheets…It never causes a body heat problem. I would recommend this for all your mattresses. It water proofs them and keeps them looking new,” wrote one happy reviewer.
The One That Catches Spills and Bedbugs
Home Collection Queen Liquid and Bed Bug Proof Total Mattress Encasement
- Protects against mattress stains
- Fits mattresses that are up to 18 inches thick
- May crinkle a little when you move
Okay, even if you don’t have a bedbug issue, you could have a very serious coffee-spilling habit (or red wine, no judgement) when you’re sipping in bed. This microfiber fabric is plastic-lined so absolutely no liquid will seep through (we’ll drink to that!).
The One That’s Super Quiet
Guardmax Zippered Mattress Protector
- Soft, non-crinkling fabric
- Machine washable
- May not be stain-resistant, according to some reviews
No one’s a fan of that crinkling sound that sometimes comes with mattress protector. But this one’s made with a polyester that’s softer and won’t bunch or crunch. “Our mattress protectors won’t make you feel like you’re sleeping on a bag of potato chips,” the brand says (um, unless of course you are sleeping on a bag of potato chips after a wine-fueled night out). The cover is also water-resistant, so you won’t work up a sweat just sleeping. If you sleep hot, just throw the cover directly into the washing machine whenever it needs a good cleaning.
The One That Goes on Top of the Mattress Protector
Brentwood Home Organic Waterproof Mattress Protector
- Organic cotton
- Machine washable
- No zipper, so can’t be used as a bed bug protector on its own
Some vinyl mattress covers may not be the softest, so we don’t blame you for wanting an extra layer of protection in the form of a soft cotton topper. This one’s both organic cotton and waterproof, so spills won’t stand a chance.
How to choose a bed bug cover
Look for reinforced, high-quality zippers
“Bed bugs can’t escape a mattress cover generally, but they can if the zipper is broken, or if there’s a small gap at the beginning of the zipper,” Wang says. He suggests looking for encasements with reinforced zippers and a little Velcro flap (sometimes called a zipper seal) that goes over the zipper and prevents it from gaping.
Know your materials
Encasements can be made from fabric, vinyl, or plastic, and they all work, Wang says. What you choose is just a matter of your priorities. If you want something washable that can do several things at once—like protect against allergens and regulate temperature—go for a fabric cover. If you’re on a tight budget, he says vinyl or plastic encasements will do the trick, but they’re more prone to tearing and they’re “not as comfortable” as fabric covers (aka they can be crinklier and warmer). Overall, he suggests, “if you can afford it, it’s generally better to buy a fabric cover,” because they’re breathable, sturdy, and can protect you from more than just bed bugs.
Is there a bed bug cover that kills bed bugs?
“If you already have bed bugs in your mattress and you put the cover on, the bed bugs won’t be able to get out,” Wang says. Sadly, there’s no bed bug cover on the market that kills or repels bed bugs outright with something like say, an insecticide, so the only way an encasement will kill bed bugs is if you already have ‘em in your mattress. It’s important to know that bed bugs can be really stubborn, so an encasement might not get rid of them completely. In addition to putting on a bed bug cover, it’s a good idea to have a professional exterminator assess and treat the situation.
How long should you leave a bed bug cover on the mattress?
Short answer: eternity. Long answer: “Unless it gets dirty or broken, you can continue using it,” if you’re just keeping it on your mattress as a preventative measure, Wang says. That said, it’s probably good to give it a wash every now and then so it doesn’t get too grody. If you’ve had a professional treat an active infestation, Wang says that “the rule of thumb is to wait six to eight weeks after all signs of infections have stopped to remove your encasement.”
Okay, yay—we’re officially done talking about bed bugs now!
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