Can Bed Bugs Live on an Air Mattress?

You may be sleeping on an air mattress for numerous reasons, but the question is, “can bed bugs live on an air mattress?” The simple answer is yes; bed bugs can live on an air mattress.

The likelihood of bed bugs getting onto an air mattress will increase if you throw out your bed due to bed bugs and then get an air mattress.

In this case, bed bugs in other areas of your home will probably find their way to the air mattress. Throwing things out is not a solution for getting rid of bed bugs. We often find bed bugs in other areas of your house or apartment and not just on mattresses.

So can bed bugs live on an air mattress? Yes, we often find bed bugs on an air mattress around the seams and near the pump mechanism.

Even though air mattresses do not have a big seam/crease, it’s still just enough space for a few nymphs to set up a harborage.

If you have bed bugs, you must kill them, or they will keep coming back. However, some people cannot bear the thought of sleeping on their bed even after treatment. So they opt to get rid of the bed and temporarily sleep on an air mattress.

Bed bugs are still a significant problem in 2022. Since travel is again increasing after the global pandemic, you will more likely pick up bed bugs from traveling.

According to Pest World’s recent 2022 survey, only 36% of the 575 households surveyed were concerned about picking up bed bugs during their summer travels.

Those people who are not concerned and do not take extra precautions can wind up bringing bed bugs home from a hotel. Learn all about how to avoid bringing bed bugs home here.

An air mattress on the floor can get bed bugs. A bed bug on the pillow of an air mattress.

How Easy is it for Bed Bugs to Get On Air Mattresses?

It is pretty easy for a bed bug to get on an air mattress because air mattresses usually sit flat on the ground. An air mattress on the floor provides plenty of surface area for a bed bug to climb from the floor to the bed.

Also, the blankets from an air mattress will often touch the ground, making it easy for a bed bug to climb on the blanket and then onto the air mattress.

Can Bed Bugs Climb an Air Mattress?

Yes, a bed bug can climb an air mattress. Many people think that because the air mattress is plastic, the bed bug cannot climb on it. However, the plastic is not usually slick enough to deter them from climbing on an air mattress.

Bed bugs have a wrist pad at the distal tip of their tibia that helps them climb up surfaces. Although bed bugs are not as good at climbing as roach, they will make the trek when they are motivated by a close enough blood source.

Reasons Why a Bed Bug May Climb an Air Mattress

  • You recently threw out a bed, and now you have bed bugs roaming the floors in search of a blood meal.
  • They are hungry and searching for a person or animal to bite.

  • You bought a used air mattress with bed bugs or bed bug eggs on it.
  • If you are at a campsite and a former guest left behind bed bugs, they will be searching for a blood meal.

These reasons can cause a bed bug to climb an air mattress in search of food.

Can Bed Bugs Get in an Air Mattress? (Can They Burrow on the Inside?)

The quick answer is no. Bed bugs cannot bite or burrow, so they wouldn’t be able to get through the plastic fabric of an air mattress.

If you’re using an inflatable mattress, inspect it for bed bugs before bringing it into your home. Also, please keep it away from areas where bed bugs are likely to hide, such as cracks and crevices.

These precautions can help prevent bed bugs from making their way into your home. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t hitch a ride on one.

What Are the Signs of Bed Bugs on an Air Mattress?

The signs of bed bugs on an air mattress are as follows:

  • One of the first signs of a bed bug issue is droppings. Look for bed bug poop around the air mattress’s seams, pillows, blankets, or creases.
  • Next, look for an actual bug; you may see one on the air inlet area since there are more hiding spots there. Also, look around the seams and your pillows, sheets, and bedding.

  • Lastly, you can look for shed skins, but you are less likely to find these than bed bug stains or bugs. The main bed bug hiding place on an air mattress is near the air inlet.

Keep in mind that bites are not a sign of bed bugs. Many things can bite you, and many types of rashes cause “bed bug-like reactions.”

Can bed bugs climb on an air mattress?

How to Treat an Air Mattress for Bed Bugs?

Since you cannot easily wash an air mattress, the best way to treat it is to throw it into one of the heaters for bed bugs. These small portable machines will easily allow you to heat treat anything within. Heat will kill bed bugs at 120°F.

ThermalStrike Ranger Bed Bug Heater | 100% to Reach Lethal Temperature | Used by Professionals and Homeowners | Effective Against Moths, Carpet Beetles and Lice.
  • [Lethal Heating System] ThermalStrike uses a patented six-sided heating system that surrounds and destroys bed bugs, carpet beetles, moths, and other insects – including eggs, larvae, and adults. Heat in excess of 120 degrees penetrates deep into cracks and small openings.
  • [Commercial Grade Construction] A fully sealed inner liner constructed of hospital grade heating pad material traps the bugs inside the unit. Additional layers of insulation keeps the heat inside the Ranger to minimize electrical power draw while seven thermostats continually monitor and control the heating system.
  • [Easy to Load and Operate] Place luggage directly into the unit or load the Ranger like a laundry hamper. Heat comes from all sides and eliminates cold spots, so there is no moving air, motors, or moving parts which can break down. Items being treated can touch the interior walls.
  • [Everything You Need] Includes a built-in timer (two, four, and eight hour cycles) which turns the unit off and a thermometer which clips onto the front of the unit and shows the current and maximum temperature reached during a heat treatment. Based on a national average, a four-hour heating cycle costs less than 16 cents.
  • [Everything You Need] Includes a built-in timer (two, four, and eight hour cycles) which turns the unit off and a thermometer which clips onto the front of the unit and shows the current and maximum temperature reached during a heat treatment. Based on a national average, a four-hour heating cycle costs less than 16 cents.

Other ways to treat an air mattress for bed bugs are as follows:

  • Hire a professional bed bug specialist company to treat your entire home. When dealing with bed bugs, it’s best to use a holistic approach and treat all areas of the apartment or house. You can’t usually spot a treat for bed bugs with success.

  • Don’t self-treat or use bed bug repellents. A bed bug repellent like cedar or mint oil will cause them to scatter and move into areas that are harder to find.

  • Use the portable bed bug heating machine that we mentioned above. These will kill a large group all at once.

Can You Wash an Air Mattress?

Technically, since an air mattress is made of plastic, you can wash it with soap and water. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you wash your air mattress.

If washing by hand, ensure that you fully inflate the mattress. Inflating will help prevent any wrinkles or creases from forming while wet.

Second, use a mild detergent and avoid using any harsh chemicals. Scrubbing the mattress too vigorously can damage the material.

Finally, rinse the mattress thoroughly to remove any soap residue. Once it’s clean, allow the bed to air dry before storing it or using it again. With some care, you can keep your air mattress clean and comfortable for years to come.

Washing an air mattress by hand is not a suitable method of getting rid of bed bugs. Plus, bed bugs do not die in a washer, which is also not an appropriate method of killing bed bugs.

It’s better to kill any bed bugs by heating the air mattress using a portable bed bug heater, and then you can wash it by hand afterward.

How to Safely Throw Away an Infested Air Mattress

Have a large bag ready, then place the air mattress in the bag. Make sure to tie the bag in a knot so that no bed bugs escape. Double bagging is necessary because bed bugs are outstanding Houdinis and can escape from one layer of plastic.

If you have a large trash can, place the bagged mattress inside. Be careful not to transfer any bed bugs to other parts of your home in the process! It’s important to bag the air mattress wherever you find it; this will ensure that you don’t drop off bed bugs as you carry it through your house.

Final Thoughts for Can Bed Bugs Live on an Air Mattress? 

So, can bed bugs live on an air mattress? The answer is yes. If you’re struggling with a bed bug infestation, it might be worth your time to check out your air mattress for any signs of the critters.

And if you’ve just gotten rid of your old bed and brought in a new air mattress as a replacement, make sure to take precautions against bringing any unwanted guests into your home.