can you wash bed bug mattress covers

Can You Wash Bed Bug Mattress Covers? The Ultimate Guide to a Bug-Free Bed

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Bed bugs can turn any mattress into a nightmare. But with the right bed bug prevention tools like washable mattress covers, you can defend against infestations and pesky bug bites while you sleep.

A key question for anyone investing in a bed bug mattress encasement is: Can You Wash Bed Bug Mattress Covers? And exactly how do you do it safely and effectively? This guide has all the answers on washing and caring for mattress covers for bed bug prevention.

Here’s what we’ll cover about caring for bed bug mattress covers and encasements:

  • What materials allow covers to withstand frequent machine washing
  • Recommended washing frequency and signs it’s time for a cleanse
  • A step-by-step guide for washing bed bug mattress covers properly
  • Pro tips for keeping your encasement in great shape between washes
  • Using hot water to kill bed bugs during laundry
  • Special safety precautions for washing and drying covers

Let’s start by looking at what bed bug mattress covers are and how they block bed bugs even with regular laundering.

What Are Bed Bug Mattress Covers?

Before digging into the washing details, let’s quickly overview what bed bug mattress encasements are and how they work to lock out pests.

As the NPMA explains about encasements:

“Mattress encasements are protective fabric ‘shields’ that fully wrap a mattress and zip closed on all six sides, preventing bed bugs from infesting or hiding inside.”

So in a nutshell, bed bug mattress covers provide a complete fabric barrier around your mattress. This barrier blocks bed bugs from crawling inside to nest, bite, or lay eggs. Encasements also trap any existing bugs inside so they eventually die off.

It’s a twin defense of smothering bed bugs out!

Now back to answering a key question about bed bug mattress covers: Are these fabrics and protectors able to stand up to regular machine washing?

can you wash bed bug mattress covers
Can you wash bed bug mattress covers ?

Are Covers Meant to Handle Frequent Laundering?

Here’s the good news when it comes to maintaining bed bug mattress protection — these covers are designed to withstand frequent laundering!

Manufacturers reinforce vulnerable spots like zippers and seals. And they construct external fabric shells and inner barrier layers out of durable materials such as:

  • Vinyl – waterproof and tear-resistant
  • Polyurethane – puncture-proof to block tiny bugs
  • Fine tightly woven fabrics – breathable and washable

So you can trust that washing by the book won’t compromise the bed bug-blocking integrity or lifespan of properly designed encasements. (Cheaper versions may be less wash-worthy though, so focus your mattress protection search on reputable brands.)

In fact, experts actually advise proactively washing covers every month or two as part of your prevention plan…

How Often Should You Wash Covers?

To keep your first line of defense going strong, aim to launder bed bug mattress covers:

  • Every 2 months as routine mattress protection
  • After any suspected exposure to bed bugs while traveling, guests visiting, etc.
  • Whenever visibly dirty from sweat, spills, etc.
  • At the first signs of wear and tear like thinning, stretching, or tearing fabric

Keep in mind that bed bugs eat shed human skin and oil. So regular hot water washing removes this attractive residue before bugs take notice. Consider it spring cleaning for your mattress armor!

Step-By-Step Guide to Washing Covers

Ready to scrub these creepy crawly foes away? Here’s your playbook for safely and effectively washing bed bug encasements:

Step 1: Review Care Instructions

Your first move should always be checking tag guidelines for washing and drying. This protects delicate fabrics and barriers from damage. Take note of recommendations for:

  • Washing machine water temperature
  • Ideal wash cycles and spin speeds
  • If bleach or other additives are allowed
  • Drying methods and heat settings

Step 2: Shake Thoroughly Outdoors

Before laundering, gently shake out the cover outdoors to dislodge debris, cast-off skins, and other bed bug temptations. No survivors allowed!

Step 3: Wash With Hot Water and Detergent

Use the hottest recommended water setting to penetrate fabric and kill bed bugs and eggs on contact. Let that spin cycle mow down any remaining survivors!

Combine this thermal attack with a strong laundry detergent for bed bug prevention. Skip fabric softener, as residue can assist bed bug grip and cling.

Step 4: Dry Thoroughly on Low Heat

Tumble dry on low or no heat to prevent cover degradation. Or hang to air dry out of direct sunlight to limit sun damage. Just ensure moisture gets whisked away fully to deter mildew growth.

Step 5: Store in Sealed Bag or Bin Afterward

Post wash, keep the cover sealed up tight in a plastic bag or storage bin until ready to reinstall. This blocks any roaming bed bugs from sneaking a free ride back to the mattress!

Keeping Covers in Top Shape Between Washes

  • Vacuum seams to remove hidden bed bugs
  • Spot clean stains ASAP before bugs take notice
  • Let covers air out to prevent humidity havens
  • When not on mattress, store folded in sealed plastic bags or bins
  • At any tearing, stretching, or thinning, replace covers to preserve the barricade

Staying vigilant between rounds in the machine ensures your cover keeps unwelcomed guests out 24/7!

can you wash bed bug mattress covers

Choosing a Detergent for Washing Bed Bug Protection

The best practices for washing call for hot water and detergent to penetrate fabrics and drown bed bugs. But take care in selecting a laundry detergent suitable and safe for bed bug prevention.

Avoid detergents with:

  • Added perfumes or dyes that can react with fabric
  • Brightening agents that degrade water resistance over time

Look for detergents with:

  • Specialized enzymes that digest skin cells and organic matter bed bugs feed on
  • High-efficiency (HE) formulas that cut through residue without excess suds
  • Color-safe and fragrance-free formulas compatible with protective fabrics
  • Consider occasionally adding bleach or vinegar for extra disinfecting against menacing microbes and allergens

Is Machine Washing Harmful to Covers?

The quick answer – most bed bug mattress covers are 100% washing machine safe if done properly! Manufacturers design fabrics and zippers to withstand regular laundering.

But exceptions do exist:

  • Latex or memory foam toppers require professional dry cleaning, as moisture can distort shape and encourage mold.
  • Feather or down toppers also demand pro dry cleaning or very gentle hand washing to prevent clumping.

So double-check your cover’s construction before treating to a vigorous hot machine wash.

And even for machine washable covers, take care to avoid over-drying or excessive heat exposure from hot dryer settings, which degrades fabrics over time.

How Hot Does Wash Water Need to Be Kill Bed Bugs?

Extreme high temperatures can exterminate these chilling pests for good. Here’s the bug science according to bed bug extermination experts:

  • Temperatures reaching 118°F (48°C) for 20+ minutes reliably kills all bed bug life stages including eggs
  • Hot water from most household tanks reaches 120-140°F (49-60°C) — well above lethal levels

So by harnessing your appliance’s hot water heater, the ordinary laundry routine becomes a super-charged bed bug death trap!

However, take note hot water works best on direct contact. So team up with a pest management professional if tackling a serious infestation beyond mattress and bedding isolation.

Special Precautions When Caring For Covers

While designed for hardiness, bed bug mattress encasements still require some gentle care for maximum lifespan:

🔸 Prevent over-drying using medium or low heat to avoid cover degradation
🔸 Line dry covers in the shade whenever possible to limit sun damage
🔸 Wash covers separately from household laundry to prevent cross-contamination
🔸 Seal freshly washed covers in plastic bags or bins until time to reinstall to barricade roaming bed bugs
🔸 Carefully shake out covers outdoors pre-wash to avoid spreading bed bugs indoors
🔸 Always zip closed all openings before washing so hot water penetrates every crevice

Summing Up Caring For Your First Line of Defense

And there you have it – everything you could need to know about safely and effectively washing and caring for bed bug mattress covers!

With a quality encasement and consistent laundering routine, you can proactively guard your mattress 24/7 against bed bug threats. No more nighttime bites or creepy-crawly horrors. Just blissfully pest-free sleep!

FAQs – Can You Wash Bed Bug Mattress Covers?

How often should you wash bed bug mattress encasements?

Should you use fabric softener when washing bed bug covers?

Is dry cleaning okay for bed bug mattress protectors?

Can vinegar remove bed bugs from mattress covers?

What if you put a memory foam topper cover in the washing machine?

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