How To Get Rid Of Bed Worms [7 Quick and Effective Steps]

bed worms on mattress

How To Get Rid of Bed Worms [7 Quick and Effective Steps]

How to get rid of bed worms

Usually, the first place you go to at the end of a stressful day is your bed. You just want to jump on it to rest your sore bones and muscles. The last thing on your mind would be seeing a worm crawling across your bed.

The thought alone is terrifying. You can imagine how shocking it will be if you see one. Tiny worms on your bed might be difficult to see, but they can be terrifying when seen. Personally, I can’t sleep on that bed anymore till further notice, and I’m sure most people will react the same way.

What are bed worms?

You might be reading this post because you recently saw some tiny worm crawling across your bed and you want to know what it is and how to get rid of it. You are indeed in the right place.

In the next few sections, we will be talking about what these bed worms are and how to get rid of them quickly and effectively. Fortunately, the methods we will be showing you will not involve calling a pest specialist.

Additionally, we will be going over several simple steps that you can use to prevent bed worms from getting on your bed.

What Are Bed Worms?

bed worm on bed

Bed worms, also known as mattress worms, have some misconceptions about them. The most popular is people think bed worms are a specific type of tiny worms or bugs that are seen on a bed alone. However, this is not the case.

As a matter of fact, there is no worm or bug called bed worm or mattress worm.

This is a term used generally for the larvae of some bugs that you can come across in your bed. Some people describe them as mattress worms or maggots on the bed.

Most commonly, you find the larvae of carpet beetles and moths on your bed. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find the larvae of other bugs or actual adult worms on your bed. Yeah, you heard right.

Adult worms can be found on your bed too. They tend to be in places like the headboard, under the mattress, and in your bed frame. They tend to be nocturnal, so they usually pop out at night to crawl on your bed.

Bed worm infestation has been a problem for many people. Coincidentally, the number of reports of bed worm infestations in the United States and worldwide is increasing. Why is this? You will soon find out.

However, before that, you will probably want to know the different types of bugs and how their larvae can be found as worms in your bed. This next section will be talking about the types of bed worms and why they like staying on your bed and other furniture.

Types of Bedworms

As we have established, bed worms are not a specific kind of insect. However, it is a collective term used for the larvae stages of certain bugs that climb your bed and other furniture in search of food. This might be the dirt on your bed sheet or the bed sheet fabric itself.

The two most common bugs responsible are carpet beetles and moth larvae. This doesn’t mean the larvae of other bugs or actual worms cannot be seen on your bed. However, the aforementioned two are the most common.

Carpet Beetle Larva

carpet beetle larva as bedworm

Have you ever heard of those pests that infest fabrics that are made from animal products like fur, wool, or silk? Yeah, that’s a carpet beetle. Leather upholstery and shoes are no exception either.

You might be wondering how carpet beetle larvae found their way to your bed. Let’s start from the beginning.

An adult carpet bee gets into your home through open windows and doors. They then proceed to lay eggs on any material made from animal products. Remember, these are the bugs that love furniture or fabrics made from animal products.

From the eggs laid, carpet beetle larvae come out and crawl around in your bed or furniture in search of food. You may not be able to see the eggs when they are laid, only to be confronted by “bed worms” whenever the eggs hatch.

Now, what do carpet beetle larvae look like?

Carpet beetle larvae are quite tiny, at about ¼ inches long. They are usually black or brown in color, with fine bristles all over their bodies.

Therefore, that tiny black worm in your bed is most likely a carpet beetle larva. However, some carpet beetle larvae can have other colors mixed with black or brown, such as orange.

Threadbare spots on the fabric and shed skin on the infested fabric are important signs of carpet beetle infestation. Due to its similarity, many people confuse the molted skin of carpet beetle larvae with the shells of bed bugs.

However, it is completely different if you know what to look out for. A bed bug shell is transparent and whitish, and that differentiates it from the molted skin of a carpet beetle, which is brownish.

Synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester, and nylon are safe from damage from carpet beetle larva since these bugs are not attracted to them.

That’s not the case for natural fibers like silk, fur, or cotton. Carpet beetle larva can damage natural fibers immensely and feed on them. This is the reason why you can see carpet beetle larvae on your bed, especially if you have a cotton bed sheet.

Alternatively, these bed worms can get on your bed through your infested clothing. As you can recall, carpet beetle larvae can affect any clothing made from natural fibers like fur, silk, or wool. Therefore, when you throw the clothes on the bed or sit on the bed while wearing them, these carpet beetle larvae can migrate to your bed.

Apart from your bed, you can also see these tiny black worms on carpets made from natural fibers such as wool, silk, etc. These bed worms can cause you a lot of damage because they can get into your wardrobe and destroy your expensive fabrics.

That tiny black worm in your bed is very likely to be a carpet beetle larva.

Cloth Moth Larva

cloth moth as bed worm

As the name suggests, these bed worms are larvae of cloth moths. They are usually creamy white with a brown head. The abdomen of these worms has trails of silk webbing.

Also called case bearers or bagworms, cloth moth larvae are good at climbing walls too. Therefore, your bed is not the only area you can see moth larvae.

Cloth moth larvae pose more danger to you than carpet beetle larvae. This is not because they carry any disease or illness, but rather because of the extent of their damage. Carpet beetle larvae tend to damage only fabrics, natural fabrics to be precise. Cloth moth larvae, on the other hand, can go beyond that.

Cloth moth larvae are also classified as pantry pests because they infest stored food grains and cereals. Unlike carpet beetle larvae, cloth moth larvae affect a wider range of fabrics, including those made from animal products. Hence, they can destroy both natural and synthetic fibers. They can indeed be disastrous!

The last thing you would want is a cloth moth larva to gain access to your wardrobe.  This might spell doom for all your expensive and precious fabrics, both natural and synthetic. They can easily ruin your fur coats, leather handbags, silk dresses, etc.

Are you wondering how these tiny worms got into your house? Well, it is the same way the carpet beetle larva gets into your house. The adult cloth moths enter your home through open doors and windows to lay eggs.

Like the adult carpet beetle, they lay their eggs on furniture or clothing with animal fiber. However, they also lay eggs on open containers and jars that contain food grains.

Once the larvae come out of their eggs, they eventually find their way onto your bed in search of food. This is because most bed sheets are made from natural fibers such as animal fibers. Such fibers contain keratin.

This keratin is a protein that serves as food for both carpet beetle larvae and cloth moth larvae.

We know that carpet beetle larvae are tiny black moths with bristles on their bodies. How does a cloth moth larva look?

This bed worm grows up to ½ inches in length and is creamy in color with a brown head.

As time passes, these cloth moth larvae build an open-ended tubular structure at the lower part of their bodies. It drags this cocoon-like structure around wherever it goes. This cocoon-like case is made up of all it has fed on.

Dark or undisturbed areas are the preferred areas of infestation by cloth moth larvae. Such places include drawer chests, closets, and wardrobes. They tend to stay away from regularly used clothing and rugs that are walked on or vacuumed frequently.

Their feeding pattern is unusual. They tend to feed on the folds of fabric and hidden areas like the edges and undersides of rugs or carpets. When feeding, they drop brownish feces on fabrics they have damaged. This can be a significant finding to suggest cloth moth larvae infestation.


pinworm as bed worm

Have you ever been horrified at the sight of white worms on your bed and wondered what they were? Well, they might just be pinworms.

Knowing how pinworm lands on your bed is not all that appealing. Pinworms, otherwise known as threadworms, are parasitic worms that live in the intestines of humans. Now the question is, how do they go from staying in the large intestine to crawling all over your bed?

There is only one route, and I’m sure you are already thinking about it. While you are asleep at night, these pinworms escape the intestine through the anus and end up on the bed. Not the fanciest image to imagine, right?

Unfortunately, these worms are contagious. Therefore if more than one person is using the bed, pinworms can be transferred from one person to the other. Hence any sighting of tiny white worms on your bed should make you suspect pinworms.

It is best to go see the doctor for pinworm eradication as it can cause severe symptoms. Additionally, wash all your clothes and bed linens in warm water to get rid of the threadworms.

Flea Larva

flea larva as bed worm

Fleas, as you might know, thrive by sucking the blood of animals. If your pet usually gets on the bed to play or sleep with you, then they can transfer fleas into your bed.

During your pet’s stay on the bed, the adult flea will fall off and hide somewhere on the bed. Usually, the dropped-off adult fleas hide in tiny cracks in mattresses and bed frames.

Fleas suck the blood of animals to survive. However, they don’t mind biting you to compensate if they don’t have access to an animal. The more blood meals they have, the faster they grow and breed.

Adult fleas also lay eggs on the bed. When the eggs hatch, flea larvae come out and start crawling all over your bed. They are difficult to spot since the larvae are so tiny.

The Causes of Tiny Bed Worms

After having an inkling of the identity of the worms on your bed, your next question is likely going to be “why are they here?”. Bed worms can be accidental or there might be something on your bed that keeps attracting them.

We’ve come up with some of the top causes of seeing bed worms in your bed.

1. Dirty Bed

Our bed is the most comfortable piece of furniture in our homes. Most of the time, we want to do everything on it, even eating.

Eating on the bed will leave food crumbs all over your bed. At worst, there might even be a food stain on your bed. As a matter of fact, most bed worms won’t be in your bed if there is nothing attracting them there.

In this case, food crumbs and food stains can serve as a food source for these bed worms. Once they get on your bed, they will chew through the area of the food stain, leaving several holes in your bed sheet, thereby damaging it.

Dirt such as food stains on your bed sheet does attract not only bed worms but also adult bugs. These adult bugs can constitute a nuisance and can be very frustrating to deal with.

Apart from your bed, dirt on any other furniture, carpet, or rugs can also attract these bed worms to them. Therefore, next time you are about to eat in bed, think of the complications.

2. Damp and Dirty Kitchen and Bathroom

A highly damp and dirty kitchen and bathroom are the top two factors that attract bugs into your home. A kitchen or bathroom that is dirty and filled with food and organic waste is a perfect living condition for every kind of bug. This is because of the high level of dampness and an unlimited supply of food for these bugs.

Many of these bugs preferentially invade the bathroom and kitchen pantry. However, your bedroom isn’t off limits.

The larvae of such kitchen bugs tend to love infesting food stores. However, you shouldn’t be surprised to see them on your bed if your bed sheet is coated in food stains.

3. Cracks on Walls, Windows, and Door Frames

As we’ve already mentioned in this post, cracks in doors and windows are a major entry point for insects into your home. While these cracks or gaps may seem very tiny to your eyes, they are big enough to admit these bugs into your home.

Accidents do happen. You might also bring these bugs into your home accidentally. For instance, bringing in a potted plant that has carpet beetles in it. As you can see, all it would take is for this bug to lay eggs on your bed, and in no time, bed worms would start crawling all over your bed.

Steps To Get Rid Of Bed Worms

bed worm on bed

Even though they can be gross and horrifying when noticed, these bed worms are quite easy to get rid of. You can easily get rid of bed worms without needing a pest control expert. Let’s dive into the steps.

Step 1: Apply Heat to Your Bed

This might be surprising to some. However, heat is an instant and effective killer of bed worms. Applying heat to your bed using a steam cleaner is the most straightforward way to eliminate these bed worms. It is fast and easy.

The heat coming from a steam cleaner is about 130 degrees Fahrenheit or above. This is destructive to bed worms (larvae of bugs), bugs’ eggs, and the adult bug itself. Hence, heat is an effective eradication method for bed worms.

It takes only seconds for bed worms to die when exposed to such heat. Moreover, the eggs of these bugs do not stand a chance either.

To do this effectively, remove your bed sheet and dust it. This would remove all the crumbs, dust, and dirt from your bed sheet. Take it off your bed and thoroughly clean the mattress with the steam cleaner.

Remember that these bugs love to lay their eggs on hidden parts of the mattress, and this includes the folds, seams, and gaps between the mattress and bed frame. Make sure that you carefully clean these parts of the mattress with the steam heater.

When you are done steam cleaning the mattress, you don’t just put back your bed sheet on the mattress. That would be going back to square one. Rather you must wash the bed sheet, pillow case, and other bed covers in hot water. The heat from the hot water will eliminate any bed worm or bug eggs on the fabric.

Step 2: Stop the Adult Bugs from Entering Your Home

No matter what you do, you would keep seeing bed worms on your bed if you don’t stop the adult bugs from entering your home. Carpet beetle bugs and cloth moths, just like most other bugs, enter your home through cracks and gaps in your door or window.

It is impossible to seal off your doors and windows. However, some measures stop them from gaining entry into your home. Carpet beetles and cloth moths for instance are active during the spring and summer months.

Therefore, you should use a window screen during those periods to stop the entry of these bugs into your house. Another way these bugs can enter your house is through the things you bring in.

Bringing potted plants or flowers into your house can be the way these bugs enter your house—or bring back clothes you bought from garage sales or thrift stores. If you check these items carefully, you may see a few of these bugs on them.

Step 3: Seal All Cracks and Crevices

This is the most common route of entry for these bugs into your home. It is large enough for bugs like carpet beetles, cloth moths, and others to get through.

The solution to this is to seal these cracks and crevices using a quality sealant that will stand the test of time. You should always check for cracks on the outside of your walls and seal them off before they become passageways for bugs.

Apart from your walls, you should check your windowsills and door frames too. These are possible spots where cracks and crevices can occur.

Step 4: Vacuum Clean Your Bedroom

The previous three steps have eliminated most of the bed worms or prevented the entry of adult bugs. However, some might have gotten away and still be lurking around. Vacuuming comes into play to eradicate any hidden bed worms.

Therefore, you should vacuum all the furniture in your bedroom, including your bed, carpet, and rugs. This is in order to kill any hiding bed worms.

While vacuuming, make sure to reach the edges and corners of your rug and carpet because this is a common area for bed worms to hide. You should even go further and pull up a portion of the rug or carpet below the furniture to vacuum the area too. Don’t underestimate these bed worms.

When you are done vacuuming, discard the dirt from the vacuum cleaner outside your home. If you dump it in the trash bin inside your house, then the bed worms can easily find their way back to your bed.

Step 5: Dry Clean Clothes Made of Animal Fabric

It is no longer news that bed worms love clothes made from animal fabrics such as wool, silk, fur, and leather. Inhabiting such expensive fabric can cause costly damage to your clothing.

Therefore, to prevent such damage, it is best to dry clean your clothes to eliminate the bed worms. After that, proceed to vacuum clean your wardrobe and closet to remove any remaining bed worms.

Step 6: Wash Your Dirty Laundry

Don’t allow your dirty laundry to fill up the whole room before you do it. A pile of dirty clothes, even if made of synthetic fabric, easily attracts bed worms.

Remember not to eat on your bed as food crumbs and stains can attract bed worms. Hence keeping your bed sheet clean can do a lot to prevent bed worms from getting on it.

Step 7: Spray Essential Oil

Even after eliminating bed worms, you might want to take preventive measures. There is nothing better than using essential oils. This is because they are good at repelling bed worms. Amidst the numerous options, the most popular ones include eucalyptus, cinnamon, and peppermint sprays.

Peppermint spray does very well at repelling bed worms due to its methanol smell and insecticidal properties.

Spray it around your bed and bed frame. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of cinnamon and eucalyptus. Quite a number of people choose to use a mixture of white vinegar and water as a bed worm repellant. However, the smell is pungent.

Suggested Products For Bed Worm Removal

Bed worms can be eliminated through natural or chemical means. We will list the products in both categories.

Natural products for bed worm elimination

  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Plant oil
  • Neem seed oil

Chemical products for elimination of bed worms

  • Pyrethrin-based insecticide
  • Permethrin
  • Neonicotinoids

Conclusion – How to Get Rid of Mattress Worms

As we have come to know, there is no bug or worm specifically known as a bed worm. However, it is a collective name given to the larvae of bugs found on the bed. While these larvae are termed bed worms, they can also be seen in your closets, wardrobes, dressers, etc.

They are attracted by food crumbs stains, or grease on fabrics, especially fabrics of animal origin. They end up damaging these fabrics as they feed. This can cost you a lot.

In this post, you have learned the 7 steps necessary to eliminate bed worms from your home. Not only do the steps help you eliminate them, but they also help you prevent the future entrance of bugs into your home.

Heat alone is powerful when it comes to the eradication of bed worms. Therefore, it is recommended to use a steam cleaner while cleaning your bed. With them, you won’t have any need for harmful insecticides.


Do bed worms bite?

The only bed worm known to bite is the flea larvae. Others do not bite, however, they can cause allergic reactions to your skin. Therefore, if you have bed worms on your body, you may notice itching or reddish lesions on your skin.

Do bed bugs start out as worms?

No, they do not. Bed bugs are different and have no association with bed worms. They have no larvae stage.

Are bed worms harmful?

No, they are not harmful. Although, they can lead to discomfort and sleepless nights. Imagining worms on your bed is too much for you to even sleep.

How do I know if I have bed worms?

If you have the slightest feeling that you might have bed worms, then you have to inspect carefully to be sure. While inspecting lookout for small dark insects that look like dots crawling around your bed or tiny white insect eggs. This will enable you to act fast by eradicating them or calling a pest control expert.