Note that these tests were carried out many years ago. Many products have been created or updated and tested since then. See the Bed Bug Encasements page for the most up to date information we have, and links to more recent testing data.
Rick Cooper recently made a presentation at the ESA (December 2007) based on tests he had done on six models of mattress encasement currently being sold and labeled to protect mattresses from bed bugs. This information is now available to us.
The encasements tested were: Bed Wetting Direct, Clean Rest, Mattress Safe, National Allergy Classic, National Allergy Elegance, and Protect-a-Bed AllerZip. Each test was run five times on each model, with first instar nymphs.
Cooper’s research attempted to answer three questions about mattress encasements:
- Could bed bugs get through the zipper teeth when the zipper was closed? (All passed.)
- The end stop: could bed bugs escape from the area where the zipper closes? (Mattress Safe, National Allergy Elegance and Protect-a-Bed all passed.)
- When the zipper is open slightly, by 1-2 teeth, could bed bugs escape? Cooper’s research suggested the Protect-a-bed encasement was the only one which would prevent bed bugs from escaping when the mattress encasement zip was slightly opened. The “BugLock” feature is a quilted pad behind the zipper which is sucked towards the zipper, creating a tight seal even if the zipper of the Protect-a-Bed is slightly opened.
I personally used (and still have) the National Allergy BedCare Classic encasement, which did not fare well in this test. Many Bedbuggers have used National Allergy or Mattress Safe covers. Cooper’s research suggests that of the National Allergy covers, the Elegance is likely more effective than the Classic. And it would be essential that the zip not be allowed to open. Many people tape those zippers, as recommended by NA (and by many readers here), but keeping those zippers entirely closed can be very tricky.
Cooper’s research suggests that the Protect-a-Bed encasements may now be the most effective encasements for keeping bed bugs inside the encasement (or keeping them out).
People who have purchased other types of encasements should not panic. They may work fine. The bottom line is that even the best covers must be used properly and carefully.
However, I will be revising some of the FAQs on encasements based on this information.
I was glad to see these tests were done, and I hope more research will follow.
You can view the three parts of the ESA 2007 presentation by Rick Cooper below:
1. Background on encasements:
2. Encasements compared as to effectiveness in two tests: bed bugs’ ability to get through the zipper teeth, and bed bugs’ ability to escape a closed zipper end stop.
3. Encasements compared as to effectiveness in the third test: bed bugs’ ability to escape the mattress encasement when the zipper is not in a fully closed position.