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black pepper black specks in bed sheets

What Are Black Specks on Bed Sheets?

What Are Black Specks on Bed Sheets

Stains and marks on your bed might just be a common indicator of bed bugs but they still need to be investigated more closely before jumping to any conclusions. There are cases when those black spots are nothing more than dust, dirt, or even just hair. But there are black pepper black specks in bed sheets issues too.

Typically, when I find black pepper black specks in bed sheets, they end up being bed bug droppings. These droppings are blood or excrement from bed bugs. When fresh, they can look a lot darker. Since blood is what bed bugs feed on, it makes sense for them to excrete the darkened blood. 

This will then show up on bed sheets as a smattering of small dark spots and the dark flaky appearance of bed bug waste can often cause people to confuse it with dirt. However, keep in mind that those droppings are made of digested blood. 

These droppings are about the size of a dot from a marker and can either be black or rust-colored. So, to help you understand more about the black specks on your bed sheets, below we will talk about what they are, how to spot them, and the things you can do to get rid of them!

How To Spot Bed Bug Infestation

How To Spot Bed Bug Infestation

Bed bugs show themselves in a variety of ways. As a result, when I began to think that I had a bed bug infestation in my bedroom, I looked to see if each of these things were present to be certain.

Black Spots

Of course, one common sign of bed bugs is black pepper black spots on the bed sheets. There are times when they become smeared and end up looking similar to pencil marks. I made sure to check for these marks on my sheets, box springs, mattress, and bed frame.

Bed Bug Bites

I discovered quickly enough that my bed isn’t the only place I should be checking for signs of a bed bug infestation. I made sure to do a thorough inspection of my body, looking for signs of bed bug bites. These marks look like little bumps or splotchy welts. They can also be sometimes formed in lines or zigzag patterns. They’re pretty noticeable because of how itchy they can be.

Bed bug bites don’t spread disease, but they do often lead to bleeding and infection. 

Blood Stains

I have also recently noticed blood stains on my bed that did not seem like they came from me. I later found out that when a bed bug has recently fed and ends up getting crushed by me on its way to its hiding place, it ends up leaving a red blood stain on my bed sheets or mattress. It’s important to look closely since these stains can be easy to miss and mistaken for something else. 

Places to Look For when Investigating Bed Bug Infestation

black pepper black specks in bed sheets

Since it was the first time I ever suspected a bed bug infestation in my home, I wasn’t sure exactly where to look. So, I came up with a list to help those who might be confused about where to start searching for signs too.


I noticed that bed bugs often like hiding close to where I slept, making my pillowcases the ideal spot for them. The good thing is that it’s a spot that’s a lot easy to check too. 

I started by removing my pillow from the case. Then I checked the inside corners for any signs of black spots or even live bed bugs. I also made sure to inspect the seams by turning the pillowcase inside out. 

Mattress Top

The thing is that bed bugs hate to be disturbed so it’s unlikely for them to hide out on the top of your bed. However, it still doesn’t hurt to check and make sure. 

I typically go over my mattress top twice, looking for any black spots or stains. They can often appear like pencil marks, so I tried not to pay close attention to any marks I see. 

Box Springs and Bed Frames

Bed bugs commonly like to hide in box springs and bed frames. Because of this, I have to remove my mattress to do a thorough inspection. These bugs especially like hiding in the bottom of the box spring. 

I make sure to check every crack, crevice, and corner. Next, I inspect my bed frame, focusing particularly on the headboard. I own a dark-colored bed frame so I have to bring out my flashlight to be able to do a proper inspection.

Bed Sheets

This is also an uncommon place for bed bugs to hide but it’s one of the easiest to check. After I remove the comforter and top sheets, I then remove the fitted sheet, one corner at a time. I make sure to inspect the inside of each corner before moving on to the next, making sure to properly focus on the seams.

Rest of the Mattress

This is where bed bugs are more likely to hide. After checking the top, I flip over my mattress to get a good view of the rest of it. 

The seams and bottom corners are especially important to pay attention to, as well as along the zipper. It’s important to look really closely when inspecting this part of the bed.

If it’s hard to get a clearer picture, bringing out a flashlight is a good idea.

Bed Bug Feces vs. Flea Dirt

Bed Bug Feces vs. Flea Dirt

There are also cases when what was originally thought of to be bed bug feces was actually flea dirt. Knowing the distinction between the two is important to understand what type of infestation is plaguing your home.

Here are the key differences that I have observed between bed bug feces and flea dirt. However, these differences can be easy to miss so it’s important to pay close attention.

Bed Bug Feces

As mentioned several times now, bed bug feces are tiny black specks in bed sheets. You can also find them on walls and in soft furnishings. 

One key distinction that makes bed bug feces easily recognizable is that washing them with water won’t leave behind any reddish stains. It’s advisable to use hydrogen peroxide to completely get rid of bed bug feces before washing your sheets. 

Bed bug feces are also semi-liquid. This is something I realized when I noticed bed bug feces smeared on the walls and a tiny trail running down from it. 

The semi-liquid feces dries up and leaves behind black spots on different surfaces. With severe bed bug infestation, it’s common to also find their feces in random places such as door frames and window sills. 

Flea Dirt

On the other hand, flea dirt is tiny black pepper grains that look similar to other small particles such as dust. They can also be found on floors, carpets, rugs, and other floor furnishings. 

To easily confirm whether it’s flea dirt and not bug feces or regular dust, I usually try rubbing them with water to find out if they leave behind red stains. This is because flea dirt contains blood. 

Flea dirt can also be removed from any surface using a vacuum. It’s advisable to pick up the flea dirt using a piece of paper first before confirming whether it is actually flea dirt. This is to avoid leaving any blood stains on your bed, furnishings, etc.

Flea dirt is also commonly found on wooden floors; the wood beams make it easier for the fleas to hide. Of course, it’s not unlikely for them to be found on bed sheets.

Pets can also bring in fleas. In fact, I noticed that the fleas in my home come from my dog. They drop off my pet and hide between the floorboards, waiting for a host to latch on to. They can also breed and lay their eggs in the gap between wooden floors.

black pepper black specks in bed sheets

Final Words 

One thing I’ve realized is that black pepper black specks in bed sheets are not a sign of a dirty home or poor hygiene. In fact, cleaning my house regularly does not necessarily mean I’m immune to a bed bug infestation. 

Signs of a bed bug infestation should not be cause for immediate alarm. I was able to prevent the bed bug infestation in my home from becoming too severe. 

In cases when you’re having trouble getting rid of bed bugs, it’s always a better idea to call in the experts. They can perform a more thorough inspection of your home and offer proper and professional cleaning services. 

A bed bug infestation can be hard to completely avoid. Bed bugs often like hiding in used furniture or hitching a ride on luggage, backpacks, etc. allowing them to move from location to location. 

But, once you know what to look for and the steps you can take to prevent it from becoming too large of an issue, it becomes a lot easier to keep your home spic and span and comfortable to live in.


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