Barefoot Technologies Blog- Vacation Rental Industry News

Vacation Rentals - How to deal with bed bugs

Posted by Adam Zippin on Feb 4, 2011 1:33:00 AM

This is an article written by Paul Bello. Paul is a consulting entomologist and recognized bed bug management expert. We believe this is information all vacation rental and property managent companies should be aware of.


Since the first “On the Road With . . .” column writing has been an interesting pursuit accomplished by following a rather simple recipe; go on the road to work in the field, see something interesting and worth writing about and then publish a column. Inspirational subject matter and topicality are observed nearly every day. However, once in a while an editor, publisher or industry constituent comes through with requested topicality which is the case for this very article.


Recently some e-mail conversations and announcements were forwarded to me. After reviewing these communications it appeared that some folks may have missed some key points on the role played by mattress encasements in a bed bug management program. With property managers informing their property owners that with the purchase and installation of mattress covers that their bed bug concerns were over, it was clear that some additional information about mattress encasements was warranted.


Mattress Covers vs. Mattress Encasements.  Mattress covers have been around a long time and, like most things, have evolved along the way. Mattress covers are not mattress encasements. Covers are intended to simply due as their name indicates, to cover the mattress. In doing so the low end and precursor units to today’s fancier models were simply intended to cover the mattress to prevent damage, stains and other such things from occurring to the mattress. For the most part, these covers simply cover the top. Currently available models may vary from a simple cover to plush padded pillow top type models that enhance the mattress. However, these covers are not bed bug proof encasements. They are merely covers.


Mattress encasements actually encase the mattress. Units are also available to encase box springs as well. Encasements fully encase, wrap or envelop the mattress or box spring. Once installed they zip shut to fully enclose the mattress or box spring within leaving no portion of the mattress or box spring exposed.

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Bed Bug Tested & Bed Bug Proof. There are any number of models and brand name mattress encasements commercially available today. However, those units that have been engineered for and independently tested to be bed bug proof are the best choice for you especially if your intention is to enhance your bed bug management program. Note that in the free market economy buyer beware is a recurrent theme we should consider. As such, check out that the encasement you purchase is in fact independently tested at a credible research lab to be bed bug proof. If so, the manufacturer will have a supporting data publication available for your review on their website or within their sales information documents. Don’t be fooled by low cost or cheap imitations.


What does bed bug tested and bed bug proof mean? Sometimes, possibly more often than not, marketing claims and product performance data may be slightly different from each other. The phrase your mileage may vary comes to mind. This said, we need to understand what the phrases and terms being used actually mean. By bed bug tested and bed bug proof we mean that the encasement tested has proven to be bite proof, escape proof and entry proof by bed bugs. That is to say that a bed bug within the encasement is not able to bite a person through the material nor is it able to escape from the encasement through the zipper mechanism. Further, bed bugs are not able to enter these units from the exterior either through the fabric or through the zipper mechanism.


The role of encasements in bed bug management?  We need to clearly understand what the role of mattress encasements are in a bed bug management program. Just because you have installed mattress and box spring encasements does not mean that your property will not get bed bugs. It is still possible that bed bugs can be brought in to your property by a traveling guest or otherwise however, once encasements have been installed the mattress and box spring are protected from bed bug intrusion and fecal staining.


Take a quick look at a mattress and box spring. With pillow tops, decorative ticking and stitching mattresses offer bed bugs a multitude of hiding places where they may easily evade detection during a visual inspection. Perhaps even worse is the potential hiding places within a box spring. Once inside a box spring there are several locations where bed bugs may hide undetected by inspection while also evading subsequent bed bug control efforts. Suitably installed encasements prevent this.  Additionally, because encasements are essentially a smooth surface, bed bug activity is more easily detected during subsequent inspections should bed bugs be introduced.


All encasements are not created equal !  Again, it’s buyer beware! If you’re serious about bed bug management than you are not interested in poor quality and non-tested encasement units. Encasements come in varying qualities, features and benefits. The qualities of prime concern are durability and sleep comfort. After all, while it may be possible to successfully encase using 8 mill plastic sheeting, who wants to sleep on a sheet of plastic? Manufactures may offer a few models at different price points. In my experience, the higher end models offer greater comfortable and durability for use on a mattress. Of prime concern for a box spring encasement is durability and the ability to resist tears.


Which encasements are recommended? There are a number of manufacturers who offer quality mattress encasements. The units I recommend are manufactured by Mattress Safe located in Cumming, GA. Mattress Safe encasements have been tested bed bug proof by independent labs and have the advantage of being engineered such that the sides are stretchable while remaining bed bug proof. This is a huge advantage because the mattress height does not need to be measured to purchase the correct fitting encasement size as may be the case with competing brands. Go to for further information.


For which ever units you elect to purchase be sure that it has been tested bed bug proof and offers good comfort and durability. While the installation of encasements may not totally protect your location from an inadvertent bed bug introduction, they will help you to protect the valuable investment in your bedding and enhance your inspection and early detection success. Encasements are an important recommended portion of your ongoing bed bug management program.


Paul Bello can be reached at, or 770-500-0460