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How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in a Mattress: Top Tools and Solutions for a Safe Sleeping Environment

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 8 minLast updated on November 4, 2021

Carpet beetles are very common and highly invasive.

So, readers shouldn’t be surprised if they discover these nasty bugs in their homes.

However, they shouldn’t panic either. There are many ways to get rid of carpet beetles in a mattress for good. Today’s guide will share those tools and helpful info on carpet beetles. After all, knowing the enemy makes victory easier.

Are Carpet Beetles Dangerous?

Carpet beetles can do a lot of damage when they get inside someone’s home. They feed on animal-based products and fabrics such as furs, leather, etc. Additionally, carpet beetles are attracted to carpets, clothing, curtains, wool, and natural fabrics. Needless to say, they can easily damage any of these household items by eating them.

However, there’s another reason why it’s important to get rid of carpet beetles in a mattress as soon as possible. Sleeping with these bugs can cause unpleasant allergic symptoms. This usually happens when sleepers inhale larval hairs. In some people, a reaction can appear even after the skin comes in contact with those hairs. Often, this can lead to rash and itching.

How Do Carpet Beetles Appear and Why?

Here’s an entertaining fact: carpet beetles can fly. For some readers, this thought can be terrifying. But this explains where carpet beetles come from. They can fly into one’s house through an open window. Carpet beetles are attracted to light or colorful flowers that readers might be keeping in their homes. Additionally, carpet beetles can travel on pet fur or, let’s say, flowers that people bring from the outside.

Now, the reason why they appear is quite simple – they need food. While adult carpet beetles eat pollen, their larvae enjoy animal products and natural fabrics. Looking for food, a carpet beetle can get into one’s home, find a place near the food source, make a nest there, and lay eggs. Carpet beetle infestation is easy to miss until it’s too late, but some signs can help readers notice they are sharing their home with unwanted neighbors.

Signs of Carpet Beetles in a Mattress: What to Look Out For

The first thing readers might want to do is learn how carpet beetles look. After all, it’s easier to notice the infestations when it’s clear what those pests look like.

Now, there are three main types of carpet beetles:

  • Furniture Carpet Beetles – solid brown hair and a dark head; the hair stands upright and measures up to 5 mm in length;
  • Black Carpet Beetles – small heads and brownish-black wings;
  • Varied Carpet Beetles – black, white, brown, and mustard-yellow wings, making them a bit easier to notice due to such a bright exterior.

Signs of Carpet Beetles in a Mattress

Source:
https://www.nhm.ac.uk/take-part/identify-nature/common-insect-pest-species-in-homes/carpet-beetles-identification-guide.html

Of course, readers might find larvae instead of grown beetles. The larvae are typically oval and look fuzzy. They are easy to spot when one knows what to look for.

That being said, aside from the actual presence of the beetles, there are other signs of a potential infestation. They include:

  • damaged clothing, carpets, upholstery, or other fabrics;
  • shed shells or larvae hairs, whether on the mattress or around the house;
  • small holes in the bed sheets;
  • eggs in pillowcases, under the mattress cover (if it’s removable), between the blankets, under the mattress, or on the box spring.

Differences Between Carpet Beetles and Bed Bugs

Many people confuse carpet beetles with bed bugs, and that’s natural. After all, many pests are similar, so it can be hard to distinguish between them.

Nonetheless, learning about the differences between carpet beetles and bed bugs is crucial. By identifying the enemy, sleepers can find the perfect tool to get rid of it effectively.

So, here are the main characteristics of carpet beetles and bed bugs side by side:

Carpet beetles

Bed bugs

ColorBlack, brown, or calico (black + brown + white + mustard yellow)Light brown (almost translucent)
Size3-5 mm4.5-5 mm
ShapeOval and thickFlat and thin
LarvaeHairy, look a bit like fuzzy caterpillarsSmooth, look like worms
Food sourceAnimal fur, leather, wool, cotton, silk, pet foodBlood
Common signs of infestationDamaged fabrics (with visible holes), shed shells, larvae hairs, occasionally – allergy symptomsBlack smears on the mattress or sheets, bite marks, allergies
WingsYesNo
Do they bite?NoYes

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles in a Mattress

Even the most comfortable mattress (like the ones we have gathered here) can turn into a terrible sleeping spot if it becomes infested with carpet beetles.

Now, getting rid of them involves several steps, and it’s crucial to be thorough. They involve:

  • Removing the bed sheets and pillowcases. They are very likely to attract carpet beetles (larvae), especially if made with natural fabrics. Washing the bed sheets in hot water can help eliminate any larvae or eggs that might be hiding in them.
  • Vacuuming. Now, if there’s a mattress protector or a skirt, readers need to vacuum those first before removing them. Then, it’s time to thoroughly vacuum the mattress (all of its sides), the bed frame, the headboard, and the floor around the bed.
  • Wiping the bed frame. It’s better to use a store-bought disinfectant in this case. Readers need to make sure it’s safe to inhale; otherwise, they might want to buy a protective mask as well. A pair of gloves would also come in handy. It's crucial to get all of the bed frame corners, so this step may take a bit of time.
  • Looking for more larvae and beetles. To prevent a new mattress infestation, readers need to search around for signs of larvae or carpet beetles. It wouldn’t hurt to check the carpets around the room (the underside too), other furniture (especially upholstered), curtains, and clothes. If readers notice any larvae, they can trap them using a piece of tape. If there are holes in the clothes, it might be a good idea to move them into a tightly closed container or bag and then wash them in hot water.  
  • Spraying insecticide. This step isn’t always necessary but can serve as insurance that readers managed to get rid of every carpet beetle or larvae in their mattress and around the bedroom. Now, shoppers need to make sure that the insecticide mentions carpet beetles on the packaging. These sprays can typically be used on furniture, carpets, and mattresses. However, readers shouldn’t ignore the instructions on the packaging nonetheless.
  • Spraying boric acid. It can be a good alternative for insecticide. Readers can mix 1 tablespoon of boric acid with 2 cups of hot water until the acid powder dissolves, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and use it to lightly dampen those areas where carpet beetles may be. This solution would work especially well for crevices that are hard to reach. That being said, readers need to be careful with dark fabrics and materials, as boric acid can have a bleaching effect.

How to Prevent Carpet Beetles in a Mattress in the Future

After getting rid of carpet beetles in a mattress, readers need to think about prevention measures. After all, it’s easier to prevent infestations than to get rid of every beetle and larva again. 

The first thing readers can do is look for (and remove) carpet beetles outside, especially near the windows, doors, and foundation. It also wouldn’t hurt to check the flowers brought from the outside.

Naturally, it’s also crucial to clean regularly. When vacuuming, readers might want to go over the mattress and the bed frame too. The same goes for clothing – even if it’s just hanging in the wardrobe and hasn't been worn for a while, readers still need to wash it regularly. It’s also essential to wash the bed sheets frequently (every 1-2 weeks).

When sharing their bed with a pet, sleepers need to remember that pet fur can attract carpet beetles. Therefore, it might be a good idea to move one’s furry friend to the floor. After all, the market is overfilled with pet beds suited for every budget.

To prevent carpet beetles from biting through the mattress’s cover, readers might want to invest in a good, top-rated mattress protector. A full-encasement type would be especially handy in this case. Plus, a mattress protector can prolong the lifespan of one’s bed.

Now, some people believe that getting an extra-firm mattress (like the ones we have shared here) can prevent infestation. They say it’s harder for carpet beetles and bed bugs to get through the mattress material if it’s denser and firmer. However, this isn’t always the case, especially with carpet beetles. They can easily eat through the mattress’s cover and hide underneath it. Therefore, the prevention methods should be taken seriously even if readers have an extra-firm mattress.

F.A.Q.

Can carpet beetles get inside the mattress?

Carpet beetle larvae can feed on bed sheets or the mattress cover, but they don’t typically live in mattresses (unlike bed bugs).

Are carpet beetles as bad as bed bugs?

Carpet beetles don’t bite, which makes them a bit less dangerous than bed bugs. That being said, both can cause allergies in sleepers.

What does a carpet beetle infestation look like?

The common signs of carpet beetle infestation usually include damaged rugs (bare areas or holes), small holes in the bedding or clothes, shed bug shells, and larvae hairs.

Wrapping Up

There’s nothing pleasant about getting carpet beetles, but such a situation is not hopeless.

Usually, cleaning thoroughly, using a disinfectant solution, and implementing prevention methods can help sleepers get rid of carpet beetles in the bedroom once and for all.

Have you encountered carpet beetles in your mattress before? And what methods have you tried to get rid of them? Share your experience in the comments!

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