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Understanding essential quality characteristics of mattress and box spring bed bug encasements

| September 18, 2015

Bed bug encasements are an essential part of any complete bed bug service package because of their ability to prevent reinfestation of the property once you have effectively treated and eliminated any live insects. Encasements then cut off from their food supply, the human host and any bed bugs that may be hidden in harborage areas inaccessible to the technician. Quality encasements accomplish this without compromising a bed’s comfort or structure. In addition, encasements allow customers to detect the presence of newly introduced bed bugs before they can again infest and breed continuously in a home or commercial property. Encasements force the bed bug to work harder to gain a foothold on a property and also can force existing insects to move towards a kill zone that a thoughtful technician has established around the bed’s perimeter using a variety of insecticides.

Recognizing that mattress and box spring encasements help in managing bed bug infestations, certain encasements can have quality issues that a knowledgeable pest control operator will want to steer clear from. The single largest issue related to bed bug encase- ment quality is durability, specifically the encasement’s ability to resist ripping and tearing. The timing of the tear often varies; it can be during the installation process, in the wash, or while the customer is moving or making the bed. In any of these situations, customers feel cheated because they had thought that the encasement would provide a legitimate solution to their bed bug infestation. Also, an encasement that has torn, is now an excellent area of harborage for new infestations. Of course, if any insects from the previous treatment are still alive, they will escape and potentially re-infest the property.


voiding encasements that use nonwoven materials in their construction will greatly increase the likelihood that the encasement you are providing will not tear during its use.

Instead of putting their annoying and possibly embarrassing bout with bed bugs behind them, customers and pest control operators that are experiencing encasements that rip and tear will now have to deal with further expenses and devote more time to their bed bug problem.

No pest control company wants to be put in this type of situation. It looks bad when your team has to delay the installation process or return to a customer because an encasement has ripped. Here are a couple of ways to ensure that your bed bug encasement does not tear and, as a result, does not damage your reputation with customers:

Find durable encasements

This suggestion might seem pretty straightforward, but pinpointing the type of fabric that will endure future moves and washing cycles is not always easy. You want strong, technical fabrics that are breathable, easily laundered and resist tears from abrasion with the bed frame. When examining an encasement for these quality attributes you should ask that the manufacturer supply your technical team with test reports which document that the organization has test- ed for the following elements.

Resistance to tearing: Also called tensile strength, it refers to a fabric’s ability to resist tearing due to being introduced to a sharp object or being worn down through constant contact with another surface. Tear strength in excess of 8 lbs. per square inch and tensile strength in excess of 75 lbs. per square inch should be your target range. Avoiding encasements that use non-woven materials in their construction will greatly increase the likelihood that the encasement you are providing will not tear during its use.

Breathability: This is a critical element of quality as it relates to sleep comfort. If the encasement you install is not breathable, specifically on the waterproof sleep surface, then the customer will likely remove the encasement and expose the property to a potential re-infestation. Breathability should be measured in Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate, the ability for the fabric to move air borne body moisture through its surface to prevent a sticky, sweaty, hot sleep experience. This is also known as MVTR. Look for a waterproof sleep surface that has an MVTR rating in excess of 5000 grams of water per square meter per 24 hours. This rating will ensure that your customers enjoy the clean and insect resistant sleep experience you would like your company to be known for providing.

Launder-ability: It is likely that the encasement you install will encounter a washing machine within the first year of its installed life. Events ranging from incontinence to sills can contaminate a sleep surface and require your customer to remove the encasement and launder it. When choosing a quality encase ment, ask the manufacturing about their recommended laundering instructions and be sure to share these instructions with your client. The encasement you choose should be able to handle a minimum of 10 launderings in both a commercial grade and residential grade laundry

Zippers and their closure can make a big difference.

Quality encasement

Quality encasements should be tear resistant, machine washable and provide oversized zipper pulls for easily installation and inspection.

Besides the fabric quality, you should also be taking a close look at the zipper and the closure which are being used in the encasement you are buying. Technicians can experience frustration during the installation process and clients can find similar problems when reinstalling post laundering, if the zipper pull is difficult to use and the closure is hard to inspect or install correctly. Encasements which have small white coloured zipper pulls similar to the small zippers found in fashion dresses, often hidden in a seam can be hard to grab hold of, this will likely increase the time and effort needed to install the encasement by your technician. Large, oversized contrasting colored pulls that when locked into a bed bug resistant enclosure should be easy to inspect without having to pull back layers of fabric, flaps or Velcro straps. Also, your encasement manufacturer should provide you with both a bite proof test report as well as an escape proof test report from a live insect third party testing facility.


Large, oversized contrasting coloured pulls should be easy to inspect without having to pull back layers of fabric, flaps or Velcro straps

Encasements are a critical component of any Integrated Pest Management solution for bed bugs, using an encasement with essential quality characteristics that protect the bed owner’s long term interests will increase your customer’s satisfaction and build your brand’s reputation in the marketplace for quality products and service levels.

Published in International Pest Control – May/June 2015 issue

Author: *Gary Goldberg –
*Textile Technologist, Founder and CEO, CleanBrands LLC.

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Category: Public health

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