Clicky

Can Bed Bugs Live on an Air Mattress?

This research is supported by you, our readers, through our independently chosen links, which earn us a commission with no extra cost to you. Learn More

Written by: Alex Savy
Read 6 minLast updated on August 31, 2021

If you’ve encountered the bed bug infestation, chances are that you will need to replace the bed because it’s the most common location these critters choose to live in.

As a temporary solution, many people choose to sleep on an airbed. And you might have a reasonable question: can bed bugs live on an air mattress?

The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean they cannot live anywhere near it.

So, let’s find out what the signs of the bed bug infestation are and how these insects appear in our houses so that you can be prepared in case of an emergency.

Who Are Bed Bugs and Where Do They Come From?

Who Are Bed Bugs and Where Do They Come From

Bed bugs are tiny wingless insects that vary in size from 1 to 7 millimeters and are similar to an apple seed in shape and color. They’re nocturnal creatures and typically attack at night. However, a bed bug might bite you during the day too, if you’re close to them and inactive for a long time — i.e. watching TV on a coach.

When not feeding, bed bugs hide in hard-to-reach places. These can be cracks and crevices in your walls, inside the foam padding on your chair or couch, or behind the wallpapers that started to peel off, etc.

“A crack in furniture as thin as the VISA card can be a perfect place for bed bugs to hide.”

Even though bed bugs can’t fly or jump, they’re able to crawl long distances pretty fast in search of a host to feed on. That’s why your bed may not be the main habitat of the infestation.

So, how can these gross critters appear in your house? Because they don’t just spawn in your bed out of nowhere, right?

Here are the possible ways how bed bugs can end up in your bedroom:

  • Used furniture. Flea markets have their name for a reason. You may adore this vintage armchair you’ve bought for $25, but note that such a low price might be the result of an unpleasant surprise inside.
  • Luggage. Bed bugs are really good hitchhikers who can hide in your suitcase, backpack, purse or another luggage item. So, if the sanitary conditions of the hotel you stayed in weren’t good enough, you might bring the bugs to your place upon your return home.
  • Public places. An upholstered soft chair in the cinema or an office building, as well as seats in the public transport, can easily be home to a colony of bed bugs, and they can cling to your clothes and travel to your house.

Aside from that, you have more chances to get bed bugs if you live in an apartment building. Because you don’t always know all of your neighbors and what sanitary conditions they have in their home.

Can Bed Bugs Live on an Air Mattress?

Can Bed Bugs Live on an Air Mattress

Generally speaking, bed bugs don’t consider an air mattress as a good settlement for their colony.

And there are three reasons for that:

  • They can’t climb it. More often than not, the sides of the air mattress are made using smooth material. Unlike wood or mattress fabric that has microscopic fibers and grippy texture, those smooth sides aren’t easy for bed bugs to climb and bite you.
  • They can’t chew it. If you take a look at our selection of the best air mattresses for everyday use, you’ll notice that they’re made either of PVC or vinyl. Both these materials are designed to withstand multiple inflation-deflation cycles, and they’re very hard for bed bugs to chew on.
  • They can’t form a colony inside it. An air mattress is basically a layer of air wrapped in film, so even if bed bugs manage to get inside, they won’t settle down and lay eggs in it. 

So, as you can see, your airbed is totally safe when it comes to bed bugs, which means that you can use it as a sleeping space while searching for a colony.

How Do You Know You Have Bed Bugs?

Knowing about the main signs of the bed bug infestation will save you a lot of time and help get rid of them faster.  Because your bed isn’t the only place where the colony can hide. In fact, bed bugs can only travel to your bed to feed on your blood, but their home might be in a totally different place.

So, here’s what you should look for:

  • Red welts all over the body. The most obvious sign of having bed bugs is their bite marks on your skin. These marks look like mosquito welts and may appear on any part of your body, but the back and sides of your torso are most common because they’re the largest areas of your body in contact with the mattress.
  • Dark spots on your sheets and mattress. These are your dried blood and the bed bug fecal matter, so if you see them every time you change the bedding, this is another sign of the infestation.
  • Bed bug eggs and shells around the house. White and opalescent eggs and bed bug shells indicate that there’s a colony nearby, so if you notice them, inspect the nearest furniture pieces very thoroughly.

“Bed bugs have scent glands that release a strong odor when they feel a threat. This odor is somewhat similar to coriander (or cilantro), so if you suddenly can smell it in the air, check the area for bed bugs.”

So, are you dealing with bed bugs now? What are you planning to do to get rid of them? Share your stories below!

14 comments

  1. I know I have them because they’re all over the sides of the bed it’s a air
    mattress and I just I’m tired of cleaning them but can I use to get rid of them

  2. I had a bed bug sitting on the other pillow next to me. I had professional bug control and a packing service come in. In was costly, my apartment building did not contribute to the cost. They just said don’t tell anyone. Hell I told everyone!! I’m still sleeping on an air mattress!!!

    1. Hi Fulton, so sorry for the late response!

      You did the right thing by calling the professionals. I know it can be very costly, but it’s a good investment in your health, as bed bugs can cause very unpleasant symptoms.

  3. I’m getting conflicting advice about sleeping on air mattress. I’ve been told yes they can climb on it to get to their host. And also told no it’s best solution while getting rid of them.

    1. Hello Sherry,

      Apologies for the delayed reply!

      Theoretically, bed bugs might climb an air mattress, but it happens very, very rarely. In most cases, the sides of an air mattress are too smooth and don’t have the fibers that could give the bugs the needed grip to climb up.

  4. I’ve been staying at someone’s house and using an air mattress. The first night I stayed I set it up and put my blankets and pillow on it from my house. I never had any problems with any bugs at my house. Then the next day I woke up with bites all over. I told my mom and the people I’m staying with. I told them I’ve not seen any bugs whatsoever anywhere. And to have as many bites as I do u would think I would have noticed something at some point. Then out of nowhere two nights in a row I was sitting on the mattress watching tv. I have white pillowcases and noticed something out of the corner of my eye on it. Both times it was one bug. It’s not very big and there’s no more anywhere I can find. I killed the 2 I’ve encountered and each time I take off my blankets and pillows and shake them and then go over them inch by each with an extremely bright light, there is nothing on the mattress or the floor around it. I have no idea where they came from but I’m not liking it.

    1. Hi Jenna, thank you for sharing your experience!

      I understand your confusion, but here’s the thing: bed bugs can be very sneaky. They could have climbed onto your air mattress if the blanket was touching the floor. Just like that, you could’ve brought them from your home. They can live in mattresses, blankets, and pillows without being noticed. And since one bug can take more than just one bite, it’s natural that you haven’t seen that many bugs but still woke up with bites all over.

  5. I came look with bedbugs can’t get rid off them I clean my flat all the time not my council office will do nothing about I got to keep phone someone to get rid of them and it coats me 300 pound every time

    1. Hello Amy!

      If the bed bugs keep returning again and again, they might be coming from the apartments nearby. It’s also possible to bring bed bugs from someone else’s home (on your clothes or in your bag, for example).
      Another reason I can think of is the remaining eggs. Perhaps the professional service you have hired didn’t get rid of all the bed bugs and their eggs, so they keep coming back. It might be a good idea to contact a different exterminator next time, just in case.

  6. I’m constantly getting bites. I threw my mattresses out and sleep on a air mattress. I have never seen a bedbug. But the bites have my anxiety in overdrive!!

    1. Hi Carol, thank you for sharing!

      I understand your concerns. Those bites are a nasty thing to deal with. If you keep getting bites even after you’ve changed your mattress, the bed bugs might be living in your pillow or blanket. It might be a good idea to contact an exterminator and schedule an inspection for your home.

  7. I can totally understand the concerns everyone has with the bedbugs as I have discovered them the past months in my apartment .Had an exterminator here 2 times and still have the problem .Tryed several home fixes and nothing works .I now sleep on a blow up mattress on the living room floor and still wake up with bites .I now going to spray the blow up mattress with cooking oil which provides a very slippery sides so they cannot climb, will find out the results tomorrow and let you all know.This is about the worse that I have ever had to endure in my senior years.

  8. 28, September 2021
    Just found bed bugs on the 18th threw away mattress and slept in living room big no no. Yesterday my partner had 2 bites on her arm looked on sofa and Holy Brake. Got rid of sofa that night. Still told the apartment management. Last Thursday bug guys came by said clear out closet and every dresser. Taking forever as I work 10 hrs a day sometimes up to 13 days in row. Seriously thinking of getting a company to get rid of 90% of my stuff as its taking forever to clean. Having anxiety attacks everyday using a flash light looking for these bastards. Crazy thing I was in the US Army Infantry and sleep out in the open sometimes with who what on me. But this causing me to have breakdowns while talking about this. Found one on me 2 hours ago on my arm while looking up ways to get to of them. This is Psychologically dabilitatating. I hope we get rid of them soon. I’ve only slept 8 hours in two days and looks like another night of maybe 4. What can I do? Is the some number to call to talk about the psychological problem which I think is going to let to PTSD. I’m think I g there on me as I write but see nothing. Driving me crazy.

  9. Yes bed bugs can live on an air mattress. My boyfriend has an air mattress. His ex had bed bugs and brought her pillows to his house. Which spread from the pillows onto the mattress and bedding.

Leave a comment