Can Bed Bugs Live in Leather Couches?

Photo of a brown leather couch with a bed bug drawing on top. Can Bed Bugs Live in Leather Couches?

Bed bugs are some of the most annoying household discoveries in your furniture. But can bed bugs live in leather couches? Let’s take a look.

Bed bugs can live in or on your leather couch, though they often steer clear of leather if they have other materials available. Since leather couches aren’t made entirely from leather, they’ll simply travel to the backside or underside of the couch and find a place to hide out. So, while they may not be as common in the creases on your leather, they could very well be on the back or bottom of the couch and will nest there instead.

Can bed bugs live on leather?

Bed bugs can live on leather, but it wouldn’t be their favorite material. Since leather’s pores are slippery and buttery (especially if you’re caring for your leather correctly and conditioning it), bed bugs struggle to climb leather quickly.

While this is good news at first glance, it’s not as simple as that. Leather couches have fabric inside them and underneath them that make great alternatives for bed bugs to find a place to set up their camp instead of on the leather.

When they want a snack (aka you), they’ll move around on the leather, grab a bite, disappear into a seam, and make their way back down to their nest in the fabric. 

So, while they’re not drawn to leather, it certainly won’t stop them from getting a nibble when they want it.

Can bed bugs bite through leather?

Bed bugs can bite through any material at all, especially tough leather! They won’t bite you through your leather couch at all. Even mature bed bugs don’t have mouths strong enough to bite through fabric and leather.

They simply will come out of hiding from the crease in your couch to bite you and then crawl back to their hiding spot.

How to tell if a leather couch has bed bugs

I would recommend using this as your chance to check your couch since it’s notoriously easy for a home to have a bed bug infestation and not even know it!

There are a few signs that you can check for since finding the actual bugs themselves can be tricky. Full-grown bed bugs are smaller than apple seeds, after all.

One of the easiest signs of a bed bug infestation is looking for streaks of discoloration or blood spots. They’re left as bed bugs move around.

You can also look for signs of skin shedding, poop, and even eggs. These are signs that you have a rather severe infestation since they are very good at hiding, and it’s rare to come across those unless there are so many that they’re running out of space in their more hidden spots!

You’ll want to check in every crease, behind every pillow, on the back of the couch, underneath it, and especially on the wooden frame. One of the most common places to find bed bug signs is between the screw-on foot and the wooden frame!

What kills bed bugs on a leather couch?

If you’ve found these pesky little creatures, you’ll want to get rid of them, like, yesterday. Since you can’t exactly throw your leather couch into a washing machine and a dryer, you’ll need to get creative with how you clean your leather.

Regarding the killing power itself, you’ll find your best two tools to be steam-cleaning and/or diatomaceous earth!

Since bed bugs can only survive in temperatures up to 140 degrees F (60 degrees C), an upholstery steamer will be one of the best tools you can use to help rid your couch or bed bugs and their eggs! Hold the cleaner to the leather for 20 seconds before moving on to the next patch. You’ll need to do this for every surface on your couch, including its creases and cushions, and you’ll also need to do the back and the underside. Don’t forget the wooden frame!

If you want to make it easier on yourself, try sprinkling pesticide-grade diatomaceous earth all over the couch. This will break down their shells and kill off the mature bed bugs. It also will destroy the eggs once they’ve hatched. 

Do bed bugs lay eggs on leather?

Bed bugs will lay eggs anywhere they feel is home for them and their soon-to-be offspring. It could be the underside of your leather couch or even in the crease between two of the sections of your couch. 

How to kill bed bugs from leather couch step by step

Now that you’re thoroughly grossed out, let’s take a more thorough approach to how to kill bed bugs and get them out of your couch for good. When it comes to the complexity of your leather couch, three main methods rely on the two I mentioned earlier.

  • Use diatomaceous earth and vacuum it up
  • Steam clean
  • Hire a professional

Use diatomaceous earth and vacuum it up

Some people just skip the earth and simply vacuum their couches thoroughly. You can do this, but using the diatomaceous earth as a first step helps accelerate getting rid of those bugs!

Thoroughly vacuum your couch to help remove the bed bugs and their shells, feces, and eggs from your couch. Be extra diligent on the wooden frame and remove the legs so you can get between the joints as much as possible.

Steam clean

After vacuuming, you’ll want to use an upholstery steamer to help make sure that every last little remnant of these pests is out. As I instructed above, be thorough with this step so that you don’t have to repeat the process if you missed a few! The steam also makes removing the stains much easier!

Tip:

See if you’re making progress by putting small cooking oil containers around your furniture legs. WikiHow explains that the oil will catch the critters and expose them to you!

Hire a professional

If you want to save yourself the effort of DIY options and hire professional pest control agents to come in and handle it, this is a wonderful option. A severe infestation can be time-consuming, long-term, and stressful to handle on your own. If you’ve done the DIY choices and still have an issue, I’d recommend bringing in a pest control agent and having them professionally clean your leather couch and every other piece of furniture in your home!

How to prevent my leather couch from getting bed bugs

Preventatively or after the fact, there are several things that you can do to help keep bed bugs from getting back into your home and your furniture. Top tips include the following:

  • Vacuum your couch regularly, including the back and underside
  • Steam your couch as soon as you suspect an issue
  • Be thorough in cleaning your couch
  • Keep the area around your furniture clear of clutter (especially blankets)
  • Be cautious of second-hand furniture

The last point is especially important! AAD advises that you don’t bring secondhand furniture into your home unless a pest control agent thoroughly checks and certifies that it isn’t infested with bed bugs! It may seem like overkill, but this is important!

While bed bugs don’t love leather, they certainly won’t let it stop them from setting up a home in your couch’s creases, backside, underside, or wooden frame. You can get rid of them by using diatomaceous earth, a steam cleaner, or calling in a professional for more advanced support. Make sure you know what to look for in signs of a bed bug infestation and how to handle it as quickly as possible!

Know someone who will find this information valuable? Share it with them and help them save their leather couch!

Andre from leatherninja.com

Andre is a passionate leatherworker who spends his spare time working with leather. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.