Why do I need to use an encasement if heat treatment kills bed bugs?

Encasements are fully zippered protectors for your mattresses and box springs that engulf them on all six sides. They can be used for many things like: guarding against stains and spoilage; keeping out allergens; protecting against dust mites; protecting against pet dander; and, protecting against bed bugs. Encasements are becoming more and more popular among savvy Pest Management Professionals (PMPs) as a tool to lessen the effects of bed bugs before, during, and after an infestation. For those of you familiar with different types of remediation, like heat treatments, you may be wondering why you should bother with encasements at all if heat treatments kill bed bugs and their eggs. Keep reading to find out!

Heat Treatment is not a one-time fix

Let’s say the hotel you’re running discovers one or more of the rooms has bed bugs. You would (hopefully) call up your contracted PMP and schedule a remediation service ASAP. There’s a very good chance that the type of remediation they use when they come to service the rooms will be heat treatments. Your PMP would come to your property and bring their heaters into the affected guest rooms and effectively kill off all the bed bugs and their eggs. There’s no denying that heat treatment is a great form of remediation in the war against bed bugs. The bad news, however, is that bed bugs are bound to come back. That’s not to say that your PMP didn’t do their job well, or that the bugs will come back right away, but the rates of bed bug incidents are only growing in number. While you can certainly remediate as bed bugs are discovered, it’s important to prepare for the inevitability of bed bugs in advance of an infestation. If you encase your beds before they come back, or before they ever arrive (best case scenario), you dramatically cut down on the level of the infestation. By denying the bed bugs their preferred sanctuary (the mattress and box spring) it forces them into the wide open, so they can be spotted more quickly and easily before a bed bug occurrence has a chance to turn into a bed bug infestation.

It matters who finds the bed bug first

Working in the hospitality industry, you know first-hand that it’s impossible to please everybody all the time. Your front desks and concierges are constantly being bombarded with requests and complaints. You have a lot of things to worry about, and so much time, energy, and money goes into making your guests’ stays comfortable and successful. The last thing you want to worry about is them finding a bed bug. By using encasements in advance of a bed bug occurrence, it’s easier for your housekeeping staff to spot them more quickly. A well-trained staff knows what to look for and where to look, and encasements only help to streamline that process and make it more efficient. It is so much better for your brand and your bottom line for your staff to spot a bug before you guests do. You avoid guest complaints, negative social media revues, comped rooms and laundry services, as well as legal fees! As I said before, encasements force the bed bugs to be more visible on the mattress, as opposed to hidden inside of it. Routine inspection services by your hotel staff and your contracted PMP can help you find bed bugs before your guests do, and that’s a win-win for everyone!

It’s all about the mattress

Again, heat treatment is a great option for bed bug remediation; it’s effective and it avoids the use of controversial insecticides. There is, however, one issue with heat treatment for bed bugs, and it has to do with the mattress. Whether your property uses a standard mattress, or a super thick pillow top mattress, the mattress is too deep to heat through all the way. Temperatures in the affected room need to reach upwards of 120 degrees in order to effectively kill the bed bugs. With items as thick as a mattress, it’s very difficult to heat up the center of the mattress to a temperature that is hot enough to kill the bug. What ends up happening is, the center of the mattress is not hot enough, so the bed bugs burrow deeper and deeper into the mattress during the treatment. Once the treatment is over, the bugs start to make their way back out of the mattress and your room is then re-infested. If your mattress was encased in advance of the bed bug showing up, the PMP could go in and heat the room to the desired temperature and not have to worry about heating the mattress at all, because the bed bugs would be outside of the mattress to begin with.

 

Instead of thinking of using heat treatments or encasements as a way to control bed bug infestations, use them to complement each other. The best results come from combining remediation efforts with preemptive use of encasements.

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