Beware of Bed Bugs in ‘New’ Mattresses

Beware those signs you see at intersections or in the classifieds advertising: New mattresses. Still in factory plastic. Those “new” mattresses may actually be reconditioned, and they may harbor bed bugs.

Reconditioned mattresses are supposed to be stripped and sterilized, then re-covered and sold for less than new ones. New York is one of 19 states that regulates the sale of reconditioned mattresses, requiring that they be clearly labeled “used materials.” In a recent report, NBC’s Dateline staff traced the route of a mattress through the reconditioning process.

Mattresses are picked off garbage heaps or sidewalks and sold to factories for $5 a piece where they are supposed to be cleaned and fumigated. In Brooklyn, Dateline took along an entomologist who inspected a mattress left on the curb and immediately found a bed bug and eggs.

Dateline watched as a man stopped and loaded the mattress into his van. He delivered it and 21 others to Brooklyn Sleep Products. Inside the factory, an undercover reporter observed workers spraying rebuilt mattresses with a common household cleaner. Dateline’s entomologist said the disinfectant used might kill some bed bugs but only on direct contact and would not kill eggs. Old and newly rebuilt mattresses were also stacked together allowing bed bugs to infect ‘new’ mattresses.

Tune in Friday to see what Dateline found inside those reconditioned mattresses.