How to Identify and Clean Bed Bug Stains

Bed bugs are a nuisance that can infest homes and leave behind telltale signs of their presence. While the bites they leave on skin are an obvious indicator, bed bugs also leave stains on bed sheets, mattresses, and other surfaces that can confirm an infestation. Learning how to identify and properly remove bed bug stains is an important part of eradicating these pests.

Identifying Bed Bug Stains

Bed bug stains have some distinct characteristics that set them apart from other household stains. Here are the key features of stains caused by bed bugs:

  • Small dark spots – The stains will appear as tiny dark dots, similar to a marker. This is dried bed bug feces and blood.
  • Clustered together – You’ll often see groupings or clusters of multiple stains near each other. This is because bed bugs tend to congregate.
  • Found on mattresses – Check around the piping and seams of your mattress. This is a common hiding spot for the bugs.
  • Seen on sheets – Bed bug stains will also appear on bed sheets, pillowcases, and other linens. They like to hide in the folds and feed on humans at night.
  • Splatter pattern – The stains may have a splattered look, especially if squashed. Bed bug’s bodies contain blood that can leave splotches.
  • Red/brown in color – The stains range in color from red to brown to black. Older dried stains appear darker.
  • Gritty texture – Rub your finger over a stain, the debris may feel gritty and rough due to dried bed bug waste.

If you see telltale stains like these, it’s very likely bed bugs are present. Thoroughly inspect your mattress, bed frame, headboard, and crevices around the bed for confirmation. Their small flat bodies can hide in cracks and crevices.

Cleaning Bed Bug Stains

Once you confirm bed bugs with stains and visual sightings, you’ll want to eliminate both the bugs and their stubborn stains. Here are the best ways to clean bed bug stains:

Wash Fabrics and Linens

Bed bug stains on sheets, pillowcases, mattress covers, comforters, clothing, curtains and other washable fabrics should be washed on the hottest water setting possible. The high heat will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding in the fabric fibers. Dry them on the highest heat setting afterwards.

Scrub Mattresses

Mattress surfaces can be scrubbed to remove stains. Use a stiff brush and soak stains with an enzyme cleaner or detergent. Avoid harsh bleach and chemicals that may damage the mattress. Thorough vacuuming can also help remove debris trapped in fabric fibers.

Steam Clean

One of the most effective ways to simultaneously kill bed bugs and clean their stains is by steam cleaning. The extremely hot steam penetrates fabrics, cracks and crevices to kill bugs on contact. The heat and moisture also loosen and sanitize stains.

Spot Clean Walls and Furniture

Use an enzyme cleaner, rubbing alcohol or soap and water to spot clean walls, baseboards, picture frames and furniture where stains may have spread. This removes both the stain and bed bug pheromones.

Discard Infested Items

In severe infestations, bed bug stains may warrant discarding heavily infested mattresses, box springs, carpeting and upholstered furniture. The stains can be too difficult to fully remove from fabric fibers.

Vacuum Vigilantly

Use the crevice tool and vacuum bed frames, headboards, underneath furniture, along baseboards and any spot stains are found. This removes bed bugs, eggs and debris that can spread. Empty the vacuum immediately after into a sealed bag.

With diligence and the proper cleaning methods, you can tackle bed bug stains as part of your prevention and elimination strategy. Stopping an infestation early and cleaning thoroughly helps ensure the bites, bugs and stains don’t return.

FAQs About Bed Bug Stains

How do you get rid of bed bug stains?

Vacuum debris thoroughly. Wash infested fabrics and linens in hot water. Use steam, scrubbing and enzyme cleaners on mattresses and furniture. Discard heavily infested upholstered items. Work quickly to prevent spreading.

What do bed bug stains look like on mattresses?

Bed bug stains on mattresses appear as small dark spots, specks and clusters of black, brown or reddish stains. They are dried bed bug feces, blood and carcasses. Stains congregate near piping, seams and folds.

What kills bed bugs in mattresses?

Steam cleaning and high heat kill bed bugs in mattresses. Temperatures above 120°F are lethal to bugs and eggs. Vacuuming removes some pests, but steam penetrates deeper into mattress fibers and crevices to fully eliminate infestations.

Can you get rid of bed bugs on your own?

It is possible to eliminate a light bed bug infestation on your own through diligent steam cleaning, vacuuming, washing of fabrics, sealing crevices and discarding infested items. Severe cases may warrant professional pest control.

Do bed bugs come out in the daytime?

Bed bugs are mostly nocturnal and feed at night. However, in heavy infestations, they can venture out in daylight hours. Seeking refuge in dark cracks and crevices, bed bugs avoid light. Regular cleaning disturbs them.


Dealing with bed bugs is never fun, but identifying and properly removing stains is an important step. Look for small dark spots clustered together on mattresses, linens and furniture. Use hot water, steam, vacuuming, scrubbing and discarding of heavily infested items to eliminate traces. Stopping bed bugs and stains quickly can help prevent larger infestations in the future. Stay vigilant and use thorough, regular cleaning techniques for best results.