Technically, no, bed bugs cannot go through plastic mattress covers because they cannot chew through plastic. This is because bed bugs do not have mouths with teeth, they have a straw-like proboscis much like that of a mosquito.
But plastic mattress covers do not encase the entire mattress, thus still giving bed bugs access to the mattress through the bottom.
If you want your mattress to have complete protection from bed bugs, you are better off using a bed bug-proof mattress encasement.
Can bed bugs chew through plastic?
Bed bugs have a tiny straw for a mouth and have no teeth. They use their straw-like mouth to draw blood from their host. Blood is their main source of food and nutrition.
Because bed bugs do not have a mouth with teeth, they cannot chew through any material, especially not plastic. Bed bugs need to search for small holes their body can fit through because they cannot chew their way through materials.
As long as the bed bugs are kept in a sealed plastic bag or container, they cannot escape.
Can bed bugs go through a plastic mattress cover?
Plastic mattress covers, also called waterproof mattress protectors, are used mainly to protect your mattress from getting wet and soaked if you accidentally spill any liquids on it.
As mentioned above, bed bugs cannot chew through plastic, so it is safe to assume that they cannot literally go through a plastic mattress cover.
Unfortunately, waterproof mattress covers do not encase the entire mattress, they usually just go over the mattress like a fitted sheet. This means that bed bugs can still infest your mattress if they learn to go through the bottom.
A more effective cover to keep bed bugs from infesting your mattress, as well as starving and killing the bed bugs already in the mattress, is by using a bed bug-proof mattress encasement.
Can plastic mattress encasements kill bed bugs?
Plastic mattress encasements work by trapping the bugs that are already inside the mattress. These bed bugs will eventually die because they will no longer have access to their human hosts and are unable to feed.
The logic is quite simple, but you need to keep in mind that compared to a lot of other insects, bed bugs are able to survive for up to a year without feeding. So, you might need to keep the mattress inside the plastic encasement for a few years to make sure no bed bugs survived.
Can bed bugs go through the zippers on plastic mattress encasements?
Bed bugs cannot go through the zipper on plastic mattress encasements because they are smaller and produced specifically to ensure there are no spaces that bed bugs can squeeze through.
Bed bugs are around the size of an apple seed and they are capable of putting their bodies through the tightest of spaces, but you can rest assured that these pests cannot go through a plastic encasement’s zipper.
Can I still get bed bugs even if I have a plastic mattress encasement?
Yes, because even though your mattress is protected from bed bugs, the rest of your house is still vulnerable.
The furniture around your bed, your carpet and floorboards, and even clothes that you have left unmoved on the floor can become harborages for bed bugs. As long as there exists and object in your room with dark corners that a small bed bug can hide in, your problem is not over.
How do I choose a bed bug-proof mattress encasement?
There are different types and brands of mattress encasements and some do a better job at keeping bed bugs out than others. Here are the factors one needs to consider when looking to buy a mattress encasement.
First, you need to make sure that you are buying an encasement and not just a cover or protector that merely covers the top and sides of the mattress.
Make sure it says “bed bug proof” on the label, and even better if it is certified by a well-known pest control company.
If you have sensitive skin, you are better off choosing one made from a hypoallergenic material.
Do as much research as you can regarding the encasement you want to buy, read customer reviews and testimonials.
Note the price, because cheaper mattress encasements may be made from lesser quality material.
Do mattress encasements get rid of my bed bug problem completely?
No, mattress encasements, no matter how effective they are, will not get rid of your bed bug problem if other parts of your house have already been affected.
Bed bugs, unlike fleas and lice that die shortly after being separated from their host, can live on a single blood meal for up to a year. They can also live anywhere as long as they have access to a human host before they die of hunger.
Aside from beds, bed bugs can live and thrive on chairs and couches, stuffed animal toys, electrical outlets, floorboards, wall cracks, curtains, carpets, rugs, large wooden furniture, books, and clothes.
Although bed bugs prefer to feed on their host while the host is lying down and asleep, a hungry bed bug is not opposed to feeding on a host that is awake and sitting up.
Mattress encasements are still useful in trapping and starving the bed bugs that are in your mattress, they also make bed bugs easier to spot, and can also keep new mattresses clean and free of bed bugs.
If you truly want to rid your home of a severe infestation, you are better off spending money on professional pest control.
No, bed bugs cannot go through plastic. They do not have the anatomy to chew through any material.
Plastic mattress covers are typically used to protect your mattress from spills, but they leave the bottom of the mattress exposed, which means bed bugs can still easily infest it.
If you want to protect your mattress, opt for a bed bug-proof plastic mattress encasement because it covers the entire mattress and the zipper that keeps it sealed is made specifically so that bed bugs cannot squeeze through it.
Image: istockphoto.com / AndreyPopov