Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional

Disposing of your mattress because it has bed bugs may not always be the best idea. Often you’ll be able to manage the infestation by using a mattress and box spring encasement cover.

However, if your mattress is heavily infested, it is old, or you really can’t stand the thought of sleeping on it even with an encasement and prefer to get rid of it, then a few simple steps need to be followed for proper disposal.

Why do bed bugs live in beds?

Basically, bed bugs follow us and live near us as they need our blood to survive. So they are primarily found infesting your mattress and bed because they need to stay close to a host for a quick blood meal.

They are also attracted by our body heat, odor, and the carbon dioxide exhaled when we sleep. So our bed provides these small, apple seed-shaped pests places to hide such as in the mattress seams where they return to after feeding to mate and lay eggs.

Do you have to throw out your mattress if you have bed bugs?

No, you don’t have to throw out your mattress. Getting rid of your mattress or bed is going to be costly and unless they are heavily infested, save your money and encase them in bed bug proof protective encasements.

However, it might make more sense to get rid of it if it needs replacing or is heavily infested as this will remove a large part of the infestation.

Also, some people just want to throw it out because they cannot stand the thought of sleeping in a bed bug infested bed.

bed bugs infested mattress and furniture disposal
Bed bug infested mattress left on the street for disposal

How to properly dispose of a mattress with bed bugs

This page doesn’t just cover throwing your mattress away, it’s for the disposal of other items of furniture, such as the box spring, bed frame, couch, and anything else that is bed bug infested.

First, contact your local waste management department or a junk removal service that specializes in collecting bed bug infested furniture. Their advice will probably be the same as follows:

  • Rip or deface the mattress or any other item so it cannot be reused. This will also deter someone from taking them.

    It is vital that the mattress/item is encased and sealed in the room where the infested item is before removal. A thick plastic wrap, such as painter’s plastic or shrink wrap can be used to make sure it’s completely wrapped and sealed.

    Duct tape all folds, creases, and cracks so no bugs can escape. Another option is using mattress encasements specifically for bed bug use which can also be used when getting rid of your mattress.

  • If you’re disposing of small items and bedding, then double bag them and make sure they are sealed completely with duct tape.
  • ALL items that you put out for disposal should be labeled “BED BUG INFESTED – DO NOT REMOVE” or something similar.

If the mattress isn’t encased properly the bed bugs and their eggs can drop off when it’s being moved from the room. The bed bugs will then spread to other areas of the home and the infestation will no longer be confined to just the bedroom.

Also, you should consider how you are going to remove the mattress from your property. Be careful not to bang it into walls, or drag it along the floor or down the stairs as the wrap will tear or pull away leaving an area for the bed bugs to escape.

If you would prefer to keep your mattress, then read our in-depth guide on how to properly get rid of bed bugs for good and how to treat your bed.

If you are leaving it outside for a curbside collection, whether it is a scheduled pick-up by local waste management or a junk removal company, try and time it so the mattress is put out the day or night before and isn’t sitting there for too long.

You don’t want these pests to be able to escape, and the longer it’s sitting on the curb, the more chance there is that someone will take it into their home and they’ll soon have a bed bug problem.

Will changing your mattress get rid of all the bed bugs?

A common misconception people have about these pests is that they are only found on the bed, so they buy a new mattress or bed thinking it will solve the problem.


The new mattress or bed will soon become infested as well. Although the majority of the infestation is found on the bed, bed bugs will also be found hiding in areas close by, so just getting a replacement mattress will not get rid of these blood-suckers or stop the infestation.

See more pictures of bed bugs on mattresses.

How can I prevent bed bugs from getting on my mattress?

How do I keep bed bugs out of my mattress? When you’ve got your new mattress or bed then a mattress encasement and/or a box spring encasement must immediately be put on them to protect from re-infestation. Encase your pillows as well.

Move your bed away from any walls so it isn’t touching anything and place a bed bug interceptor trap under each leg of the bed (if it has them). These are great for monitoring the population level of these pests, and they also prevent any bugs from being able to crawl up the bed leg and get onto your bed.

Even though you’ve protected your bed, you will still need to inspect the rest of your room for bed bugs and their hiding areas. You should also remove any clutter, wash bedding and curtains, vacuum, and clean thoroughly.

I’ve put together a step-by-step bed bug removal guide that goes into detail on what to do and how to do it if using a pest control company is not within your budget.

But it’s always best to get an infestation treated by a pest control professional (especially if it’s not in the early stages) that is experienced in carrying out bed bug treatments.

How does your bed get bed bugs?

Bed bugs don’t just magically appear on your bed and they don’t fly in through an open window. They are brought in through a number of ways and the main one being through travel such as staying in a hotel. Bringing second-hand furniture or other household items into your home is another common route.

You’ll find more information by reading where do bed bugs come from in the first place?

Regardless of how they got into your home, you’ll need to learn how to spot the early signs of bed bugs such as dark spots and bloodstains on bedsheets as well as other clues, so you can prevent a reinfestation quickly.

How can you get rid of bed bugs?

These insects won’t just be limited to your bed for long. As the infestation grows over time, they will spread to nearby furniture, behind baseboards, and hideaway inside the smallest cracks in walls as well as other areas.

It becomes harder to get rid of them as their population levels increase so it’s important to act fast to eliminate them and using a pest control company is your best option.

If you have a heavy infestation, then disposing of the mattress will remove a large number of them, but make sure to dispose of it properly so these blood-thirsty bugs are not spread to other areas of your home when removing it.