How to tell if a pillow has bed bugs

How To Tell If A Pillow Has Bed Bugs?

When we talk about bed bugs, they can become a real problem if not handled correctly. They tend to make a nest inside our beddings and pillows in general, so how to tell if a pillow has bed bugs? If you feel itchiness on your skin when you wake up and see small red bumps, then this is most likely caused by bed bugs.

Bed bugs can also cause issues for people who have allergies. However, most allergies that occur at home are related to dust mites, but a good portion also comes from bed bugs. If you experience symptoms like sore throat, watery eyes or asthma attacks, be sure to consult with your allergist to have precise results about your allergies, so you can be sure what is the main cause of the problem and know how to handle it.

If you currently have issues with bed bugs, there is no reason to worry, since this is something that can be fixed in a couple of hours, with proper preparation and effective methods I am about to share.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small parasites that can live in almost any area in the home, but they do pick the spots where they have a host. Which means that bed bugs spending their time hiding inside our bedroom and beddings. Mostly you can find them inside the pillowcase, in the pillow directly or beneath the pillow.

They also like to hide under the mattresses and lay eggs inside of it, and also in beddings and covers. Any dark, secluded place where you sleep can be a good place to find bed bugs. A common mistake with bed bugs is that some claim that they only stick on beddings, which is not true. They can start from there, but later on, they move on to other areas of your bedroom, including the drawers and bed frames in general.

The problem is that they are very small and difficult to spot, and they hide pretty well. They lurk at night where they are looking for a host, and a blood meal so they can feed on and reproduce. A place where there is no sunlight is also a good spot for them to hide. For that reason, it is important to take some time and make a good plan for bedroom maintenance and pest control.

Worth mentioning is that their area of movement is limited since they move closer to their Inhabitat, which is where the host is. By knowing this, you can cross a lot of places in your house, and focus on the bedroom, living room or a place where you spend the most time. Most people find bed bugs inside their bedrooms.

RELATED: Tips On Allergy-Proof Bed Covers.

A cat and a gray pillow

How To Tell If a Pillow Has Bed Bugs?

1. Pillow Stains

The signs on the pillows are pretty obvious if you have issues with bed bugs. You can find black or dark red circles on the surface of your pillows, which are bloodstains. Since they feed on blood, this is the main indication of bed bugs. Sometimes when we sleep, we might squish a bed bug, which also leaves a stain on the pillow.

2. Distinctive Smell

Usually, bed bugs do have a distinctive smell you can sense, especially on your pillow and pillowcase. It is a sweet musty smell, and this is something you will definitely get a good sense of, especially when your head is close to the pillow.

3. Feces

This is closely related to black stains on pillows we mentioned earlier, but these are a bit smaller and harder to spot. This is also a good indication that the pillow or fabric is infested with bed bugs.

4. Dead Bed Bugs

Bed bugs have their lifespan, and it is possible to see dead grown bugs inside or around the pillow, and they are distinctive by their dark red color.

5. Eggs

Female bed bugs lay eggs especially in pillows since this is a good spot for them to hide.  Eggs can be found inside the pillowcases, covers or around the mattress. If you have seen small white, oval-shaped eggs around your bed and beddings, it means that bed bugs are present at least for a couple of months, and it is necessary to immediately start working on getting rid of them before the infestation spreads.

If not treated well, they can move on to other furniture like drawers, couches, decorative pillows and storages where you keep the sheets, covers, and beddings in general.

6. Itchiness & Red Bumps

This is not directly related to bed bugs signs on pillows, but they can move from the pillow to our arms or legs and suck the blood. Some people experience small bumps on their skin, itching and a general unpleasant feeling on their skin after they wake up.

In general, it is very similar to a mosquito bite, but it is a bit smaller and distinctive, and it looks like a little red bump on the skin surface.

Dark bed and bedroom

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

Now if you are sure that you have a problem with bed bugs in your home, there are many ways to get rid of them with simple and straightforward methods. I definitely recommend following each and every step, since this will ensure that the bed bug infestation will come to an end, and ultimately to get rid of them for good. Start working on it on your own, and if you are unsure about your progress, you can always call in the professionals to get the area rid of bed bugs with pesticides and chemicals.

1. Bedding Maintenance

First, start with washing and cleaning your pillows, pillowcases, sheets, covers, and blankets you are using. This also applies to beddings that are cleaned and which can be found in your storage unit where you keep the beddings. Since bed bugs are easy to transfer around the room, it is best to be sure that there are no bed bugs around.

High temperatures are the perfect solution since bed bugs are intolerable to heat. Using a washing machine program at a high temperature and with a good detergent, you can be sure that bed bugs will no longer be a problem. All places where leftover bed bugs might hide inside the fabric will now be removed.

Using a dryer is also a great solution since a dryer uses high temperatures to dry off the fabric. If you have beddings that allow the use of a dryer without damaging or destroying the fabric, be sure to use the high heat cycle after the bedding has been thoroughly washed.

I do not recommend storing the beddings inside the storage units near the bed or in a bedroom in general, if this is where you have found bed bugs. Put them in a bedding zipper bag and store them in some other area of your house or apartment.

RELATED: The Ideal Number Of Bedding Sets.

2. Mattress

Bed bugs tend to get inside the mattress, which can also become a problem, especially with spring and coil-based mattresses. These old models have a number of issues, but the main one if that allergens and parasites like bed bugs can get inside relatively easy. You can also vacuum the mattress and try getting rid of bed bugs this way.

The mattress is not very practical to maintain, so using a professional service dedicated to mattress cleaning will be necessary. If you have an old mattress, I highly suggest switching to a hypoallergenic mattress since it provides a number of benefits for people with allergies, but also for people who do not experience allergies in terms of comfort.

3. Bedroom Vacuuming

Bedframe is also something you need to consider maintaining. Now when all objects are removed from the bed which we usually use when sleeping, only a frame is left. Use a vacuum cleaner and do a good check on the frame but also on the surroundings of the bed. Be thorough with your vacuuming and check every edge and corner of the room.

Don’t forget to maintain any decorative objects and upholstered furniture you might have since this is also very important to get rid of bed bug infestation, but also to keep your room protected from allergens.

RELATED: The Right Way To House Cleaning For Allergies.

4. Steam Cleaning

After doing proper vacuuming and general maintenance in the room, steam cleaning is highly recommended. By using a steam cleaner, this will surely remove any leftover bed bugs you might have hidden inside the room. This can also be used for furniture and bedframes you might have inside the bedroom. Investing a bit of money in the steam cleaner would be a good long-term solution versus bed bugs.

You can also use it for your mattress, but keep in mind that this is not a perfect solution for mattress maintenance, and professional cleaning is recommended if you have serious problems with bed bugs.

5. Pest Control

Chemical pesticides will surely get rid of any critters you might have in the bedroom, but keep in mind that this can be a costly investment, but also some chemicals need a couple of days before going inside the room and spending time in it without adequate clothing or a mask.

Hiring a professional pest control service is something that will surely get the job done, but it is not always necessary to spend the big bucks for sanitizing a small portion of your bedroom if the infestation is not in very serious stages. With proper planning, and following the steps we mentioned earlier, you can sanitize your bedroom and make it bed bug-free. If it starts to spread all around the house, then hiring someone to do the job is definitely recommended.

Two white beds

Bed Bugs Prevention

1. Regular General Maintenance

Being meticulous with home maintenance is an amazing thing, but it is not effective if it is not done on a regular basis. I highly advise spending at least 1 hour every 3-4 days for dusting and vacuuming, especially the bedroom and the living room. These are the areas where most allergens and parasites find their home, so be sure to make a schedule and plan your cleaning days.

2. Hypoallergenic Beddings

Consider changing your regular beddings to anti-allergic beddings, especially to hypoallergenic pillows and pillowcases. These fabrics are made differently, they are much thicker so it is harder for allergens to penetrate through the fabric, but they also provide a soft, pleasant feeling during sleep.

There are also special anti-allergic mattresses which also share similar properties like hypoallergenic beddings, but buying a mattress will be a bit more costly investment, but this is something that will last for years, and ensure quality and ease of mind.

3. Monthly Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning is a very effective solution for getting rid of bed bugs, but also a good tool to prevent them from spawning. Do an occasional run-over of your bedroom with a steam cleaner, especially in the area around the bed.

Learn more about steam cleaners and find out How To Use A Steam Cleaner.


We learned about bed bugs and more on their behavior. In essence, they are small parasites that get inside our pillows and beddings, and in order to preserve their existence, they need to find a host. This is why they can oftentimes be found in beddings and beds in general.

We can be sure that a pillow is infested with bed bugs if it shows round, dark stains, feces, dead mature bed bugs, and if you sense a distinctive sweet musky smell on your pillow and beddings.

Some common symptoms of bed bug infestation are itchiness and red bumps on the skin.

Then, we learned about proper bedroom maintenance and how to get rid of bed bugs by following a couple of effective methods. These methods are closely related to the prevention of bed bugs since with consistent and detailed maintenance, we can get rid of and be protected from bed bugs.

Let me know in the comment section what you think about bed bugs and if you find an answer to how to tell if a pillow has bed bugs helpful or not. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, and I will be more than happy to respond!

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