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Can Bed Bugs Live on an Air Mattress? Tips, Facts, & FAQs

air mattress inside a room

Bed bugs are a huge problem in any home. They are difficult to remove and leave painful red marks on your body when they bite and drink your blood. Since these bugs often hide in mattresses, many wonder if an air mattress can help protect them. Unfortunately, bed bugs will also climb onto an air mattress to bite sleepers, but keep reading to see if there are any advantages to the air mattress and what you can do to help eliminate and prevent the return of these pesky insects.

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How Do I Know If I Have Bed Bugs?

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In most cases, the first sign that you have bed bugs in your home will be small red marks on the back of your torso. These red marks can be sore or sting. You may also find small traces of blood or rust-colored bug fecal stains on your mattress and sheets. As the problem worsens, you will likely see more red marks on your body, and you may also see small bed bug eggs and shells on the bed and furniture.

Will Bed Bugs Live on an Air Mattress?

Bed bugs like to live on mattresses and sofas because it’s relatively easy for them to borrow into the fabric and padding to hide until nighttime when you fall asleep. These brown and red bugs are usually only 1–7 millimeters long, so they are difficult to spot. Besides your mattress, you will find them in the cracks and holes around your home. While the bedbugs won’t be able to burrow into the PVC plastic of an air mattress, as they would into a traditional-style bed, they can still hide underneath or in any small cracks or crevices that they can find. They can also move quickly and will climb on the mattress as you sleep to get the food that they need. So, while bed bugs will unlikely be able to lay eggs on an air mattress, they can still bite you or your other family member.

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How Can I Remove Bed Bugs From an Air Mattress?

Since bed bugs cannot burrow into the PVC plastic of an air mattress, it’s usually relatively easy to vacuum them away if you see any. Pay special attention to where the material creases or overlaps. Always remove any sheets and other bedding, and place them in the wash before vacuuming the mattress. A HEPA vacuum that uses steam will be the most effective because it will kill the bugs and destroy the eggs.

person vacuuming mattress
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 How Can I Keep Bed Bugs Away From My Mattress?

  • Placing a mattress cover over your mattress will help create an impenetrable barrier that blocks bed bugs. These covers use materials that are safe, breathable, and washable. Placing the cover over an infested mattress will trap the bugs, and they will die of starvation in a few days.
  • If you own or have access to a large freezer, you can place your air mattress and other items inside for at least 4 days to kill any bed bugs efficiently.
  • There are many commercial bed bug pesticides available that you can use to help reduce and eliminate the population of bed bugs in your home. In many cases, treatment requires you to spray the insecticide on mattresses, frames, baseboards, and other areas where the bugs like to hide. These chemicals can be expensive and dangerous to use around pets, but they often work well.
  • Bed bugs are highly sensitive to the scent of citrus. Create a spray by boiling the rind of several lemons or oranges in water, and then frequently mist your bed and other furniture to effectively reduce the number of bed bugs that you see.
  • Cinnamon is a natural pesticide, so spreading it over your mattress can help kill pesky bed bugs.
  • Spreading baking soda over your mattress will dehydrate and kill bed bugs extremely effectively.

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While bed bugs cannot burrow into an air mattress to hide and reproduce, they are still likely to climb onto the mattress at night to bite you and obtain food, making an air mattress an inadequate means of protection for you or your family members. A commercial pesticide is likely your best chance at eliminating pesky bed bugs once and for all, and a high-quality mattress cover will help prevent their return.

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Featured Image Credit: Maria Studio, Shutterstock


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