How Do You Clean Pillows of Bed Bugs?

Have you ever experienced an itchy rash that you got right after a nap? It so, it could be a sign of bed bugs being present in your bed.

Finding one alive to prove this may be extremely difficult because they are small parasites without wings that move really quickly and are very fast in finding places to hide.

Bed bugs can hide in mattresses, box springs, baseboards, pillows, wallpaper and other items close to your bed. The truth is they can live in any place that has a host and they spend most of their lives hiding and come out only during the night to find a fresh blood meal.

They usually don’t go far away from their hiding spot and their source of food and often you will find them crawling under your pillow.

However, as soon as you lift the pillow, and before you can even take a good look, you will find that they have disappeared. The thing is that they don’t actually disappear, but they hide inside the cover of your pillow or the pillow itself. Although the cover of your pillow may seem well sealed, they will always find their way inside.

Clean Pillow of Bed Bugs

Can Bed Bugs Live in Pillows?

Bed bugs can hide in mattresses, box springs, baseboards, chairs, wallpaper and even the alarm clock, picture frame or a lamp sitting next to your bed. So, if you are wondering whether these nasty little beasts can live in your pillows, the answer is yes, bed bugs can live in pillows too.

Because they are called bed bugs, that doesn’t mean that they will stick to beds only and infest just your mattress and nothing else.

The truth is that bed bugs will inhabit any place that gives them a quick access to food, which in this case is blood, and what’s a better place for hiding than your pillows where they can come out during the night and crawl all over your face in search of a perfect spot for feeding.

Signs of Bed Bugs in Pillows

Although bed bugs are excellent in hiding and are difficult to be seen due to their super speed, there are some signs that may indicate their presence.

Bed Bug Feces

Sometimes infested pillows may show stains in the form of small black spots which are actually dried excrement of bed bugs. Also, maturing bed bugs also shed or molt their skin during their development and growth and this skin can be found all over your bed and in pillows as well.

Bed Bug Eggs

Pillows are excellent place for bed bugs to store their eggs. If you see tiny white oval eggs on the pillow or inside its cover or anywhere on your mattress, it is an alarming sign. The female bed bug can lay about 200 to 250 eggs in its lifetime and an adult bed bug can live for about 2 to 6 months.

So, if you don’t do anything to get rid of them and control this infestation, your entire home could quickly get infested.

Clean Sheets of Bed Bugs

Bites or Rashes

An obvious sign that bed bugs have infested your bed and your pillows are bites. These are usually small red bumps on your skin that give you a crazy itch although some people might not experience any reaction to these bites.

The bites are otherwise known as wheals or papules, and they mostly form a row and cause a bad rash. They don’t have any critical or mortal effects but irritate you a lot.

A Sweet Musty Smell

Also, if you notice a musty sweet smell around your pillow, this smell is a sure sign of bed bugs crawling around under your pillow and in your bed.

Blood Stains

If you notice very dark blood stains on your sheets r pillow cover, this may be from accidentally crushed bed bugs. If you find such blood stains combined with other indicators that we mentioned above, then you can be sure that your bed has been infested.

Clean Sheets of Bed Bugs and Blood

Killing Bed Bugs in Pillows

There are many ways to get rid of bed bugs and below we will list some of them that hopefully can help you clean your pillows.

Wash Your Pillows

The first thing you can do when you suspect bed bug infestation is to thoroughly wash your pillows, their covers and bed sheets. You should wash them in hot water in your washing machine and this will work but maybe only for a short period of time. The adult bed bugs will certainly die but their eggs can be left behind unnoticed in this way.

Kill Them With Heat

Bed bugs have low tolerance to heat. So, all you have to do to get rid of them is to put your pillows into your washing machine dryer on medium to high heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, after you check manufacturer’s instructions first, and let the heat do its job.

This can kill bed bugs at all stages of life and destroy their eggs as well. However, this is not a permanent solution because if there are bed bugs in your bed frame, they will certainly return back to your pillows after some time.

Washing pillows to remove bed bugs

Use Pillow Protectors

Once you clean your pillows from bed bugs, you can try using pillow protectors to protect your pillows from another infestation. There are different types of pillow protectors and they range from those resistant to bed bugs to high thread count natural cotton covers. These protectors are extremely durable, come with a zipper closure mechanism and protect your pillow from daily wear.

Natural cotton is usually the best material for pillow protectors because it is breathable and allows greater airflow through the pillow, but if your house is infested with bed bugs then it is best to get those that are resistant to bed bugs.

Treat Your Bed for Bed Bugs

To kill all bed bugs, not just those living in your pillows, you should treat your bed too. If you clean your pillows only, bed bugs from your mattress will find their way to your pillows again.

The most effective ways to kill bed bugs in your mattress is to use some of the pesticidal sprays that most people use. These sprays kill on contact and have a prolonged effect so they will kill and repel bugs for some time.

You can also use diatomaceous earth to kill bed bugs. It is a powder that acts the same way as pesticidal sprays and has the same effects.  

However, if you want to avoid using any chemicals for killing bed bugs, maybe you can hire exterminators for heat treatment. They will raise the temperature of your home enough to kill bed bugs without the use of any pesticides.

Get New Pillows

If your pillows are already old or if you are not sure whether you cleaned them properly you might want to throw them away and get new pillows.  This is often what is necessary because bed bugs can be so persistent and you don’t want them up near your head either.

Finding the right pillows that can suit all your specific needs and sleep preferences is not so easy with such a wide range of choices available on the market these days.

That’s why we reviewed some of the best pillows offered on the online market, to facilitate your purchase and help you find the right one for your needs. Click here to read our pillow reviews and chose those pillows that will work perfectly for you.

One favorite of ours, and the top one on our Best Pillows list is the Kapok memory foam pillow from Layla. This pillows is super soft, and has adjustable fill inside that allows you to add or remove the materials so that you can customize the amount of material in it to suit your sleeping style. $99 is a small price to pay for making sure you get rid of bed bugs!

This also applies to your mattress as well, which is normally the prime source of bed bugs (hence the name BED bugs!) in addition to your pillow you may also want to replace your mattress as well, if you have really bad infestation that you can’t get rid of.

We have over 100 reviews of beds on our site, but the Top 10 Best Mattress guide is a good place to start.  Layla also has an excellent mattress that matches their pillow and is one of our favorites as well – you can read our Layla Mattress Review here.



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