How to Get Rid of Fleas in a Mattress

Fleas aren't just an uncomfortable problem for your pet -- they can wreak havoc on your entire house, leaving itchy, red bumps in their wake. Although they usually stay on their host's body or are found in the carpet, it's possible for fleas to infest your mattress. To get back to a good night's sleep, you'll want to remove them from your bedding as quickly as possible. The key is addressing adult fleas, larvae and eggs so you don't wind up with a recurrence, which means attacking the problem in a few ways.

Terrie Lying Under a Duvet on a Bed
credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
If your pets sleep in your bed, theres a chance that they might spread fleas to your mattress.

Verify It's Fleas

Fleas don't usually infest bedding, so you should first verify that the insects in your mattress are actually fleas and not bed bugs. Adult fleas are small in size, usually measuring less than 2 1/2 millimeters, or about the size of a pen tip. They are reddish brown in color and their flat, thin bodies typically have a slight sheen. The hair that covers their bodies allows them to attach firmly to host animals so they're not easily shaken free. But fleas have six long legs too, so it's easy for them to jump large distances.

Treat Your Pets

Because adult fleas spend the majority of their time on the host animal, treat your pets if you want to get rid of the fleas in your bed. Consult a veterinarian to determine the best flea control products for your pet, but usually, a flea-killing shampoo is the most effective option. Also pick up a flea prevention product that keeps fleas from returning. These include topical solutions that you apply directly to the pet's skin. Dosage depends on the species and size of the animal, so use a product specifically recommended by your veterinarian for your pet.

Wash and Vacuum

Fleas can still wind up in your mattress because fleas eggs often fall off the pet and land in bedding, carpeting, cushions and other areas. To get rid of the fleas, remove all the bedding from the mattress and wash it on a hot water setting. With the mattress stripped, use a vacuum to go over its entire surface to remove adult fleas as well as eggs, larvae or pupae that may be present. You may want to go over the mattress two or three times to ensure that all the insects are removed. Repeat and turn the mattress over, if that's an option. Take the vacuum cleaner outside to remove its bag or empty its canister to so that fleas don't get back into the house.

Insecticide Uses

Some fleas may survive the washing and vacuuming – or they may be hiding in nearby carpeting or cushions and leap back into your mattress. To ensure that all of the insects are removed from your mattress, you need an insecticide to kill them off. You can purchase products that you can apply yourself, such as aerosol sprays. For best results, look for a product that targets adult fleas, eggs, larvae and pupae to prevent a recurrence. Read the label on the insecticide carefully for safety instructions -- family members and pets shouldn't be present when the insecticide is applied, and the surfaces where it's applied should be allowed to dry before they're used again. Ventilate the room, and leave the area while the insecticide dries. If you aren't comfortable applying the insecticide yourself, contact a pest control professional to inspect your bedroom and surrounding area to determine the best way to treat the problem.