‘New’ Mattresses May Be Crawling With Bed Bugs

In New York City, the spread of bed bugs, particularly in immigrant communities, has been directly linked to the sale of reconditioned (used) mattresses. NBC’s Dateline tracked a mattress through the reconditioning process (see our April 23 post). Today we tell you what Dateline discovered.

Dateline purchased dozens of reconditioned mattresses. Rebuilt mattresses are a high-profit business. “They might pay a collector $5 per product,” explained bedding industry consultant Gordon Demant. “They might sell that product to the consumer for $50. And all they’ve done in many instances is to put a new cover on it.” Customers include low-end hotels, shelters, school dorms and unsuspecting consumers. “They believe that they’re getting a product which is maybe of lower quality, but not a product which could subject them to significant health problems.”

Dateline opened up the mattresses they purchased. Their outer pristine appearance was a sham. Inside, Dateline found debris, cigarette burns, urine, fecal matter, fungi, bacteria — and bed bugs. Not every mattress contained live bugs, but telltale fecal smears indicated bed bugs had been present and may have left eggs waiting to hatch. The mattresses purchased from the Brooklyn Sleep Products factory were among the filthiest and most bed bug infested mattresses obtained by Dateline.

Next time: Correcting the problem