Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs aren’t dangerous, but they will rob you of a good night’s sleep. Not only do they multiply quickly, but they’re hard to get rid of, if you let the infestation get too bad.

It’s tempting to go out and buy a big can of pesticide and spray your whole house. However, not only is that dangerous for the people living in your home, but pesticide isn’t lethal to bed bugs anymore. That’s why bed bugs have recently resurfaced as a major problem in urban settings.

If you’re looking for a safe and natural way to kill bed bugs, alcohol is a safe and easy option.

Scroll down to learn more about whether alcohol kills bed bugs and how to stop them from spreading in your home.


does alcohol kill bed bugs

Will Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs When Applied Directly?

Alcohol works best when its applied directly to bed bug infested areas.

Bed bugs have sensitive skin and a low threshold for irritants and poisons like alcohol, especially if you’re spraying with a high concentration.

(In fact, bed bugs dislike alcohol so much that they’ll avoid biting humans with a high blood alcohol content.)

Alcohol also works because even if it doesn’t stun and kill the bugs right away, living in an environment with alcohol eventually kills them anyway.

The effect alcohol has on their internal organs ultimately causes organ failure and death because it destabilizes the bugs’ pH balance, which disrupts important processes in their bodies.

Getting rid of bed bugs also means getting rid of their eggs. Luckily, alcohol also kills the eggs, preventing new generations of bugs from haunting you.

Alcohol can be applied directly to bed bugs in one of several ways.

The easiest way is to transform it into a spray by diluting a highly concentrated alcohol with water and spraying it on the affected areas. These areas include your mattress but also cupboards, dressers, and cabinets that house linens or clothes.

You also need to spray the sides and frame of your bed. All nooks, crannies, crevices, and joints also need to be spray because bed bugs are more likely to lay their eggs there.

Using alcohol to kill bed bugs

How Long Will It Take For Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Alcohol is a DIY, non-toxic way of killing bed bugs. The amount of time it takes to stop your infestation depends on three factors:

  • check
    Strength of the alcohol spray
  • check
    Size of the infestation
  • check
    Other environmental factors

The alcohol spray will kill a good number of bed bugs upon contact, but you won’t come into contact with all the bed bugs at once. You’ll need to keep applying the alcohol directly for up to three or four weeks to make sure they’re all gone.

Not getting rid of them all allows one of them to lay eggs, and then you’ll need to start over with new generations of bed bugs.

Bed Bug Eggs

Bed bug eggs can be deceivingly hard to find. CC Image courtesy of AFPMB

The size of the infestation matters because larger, more resilient groups will be harder to get rid of. If you have a significant infestation, it’s worth calling a professional to help remove them faster. Otherwise, you could be fighting an uphill battle.

Finally, there is the factor of the environment. You can spray alcohol all over the room, but you won’t kill them all if you aren’t keeping the room clean. Additionally, if you’re inadvertently spreading them through your house by moving piles of clothes around, you’re going to find it harder to get rid of them.

For best results, you should vacuum regularly. Sheets and blankets should also be washed and dried regularly – and you should clean your laundry facilities to stop any bed bugs from falling out of your laundry and hiding in there.

Will Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs When Applied Indirectly?

Alcohol won’t effectively kill bed bugs when it is applied indirectly, but it can act as a deterrent to stop them from crawling into your bed and biting you at night.

Your best bet is to apply it directly, if possible. If it’s not possible to use alcohol this way, you may want to seek professional help to get rid of your bed bugs before they spread.

Can Alcohol Be Used to Deter & Repel Bed Bugs?

Alcohol can be used to deter and repel bed bugs.

By spraying structures like bed frames and cupboards as well as your mattress and curtains, you’re deterring them from moving around to bite you when you sleep.

However, alcohol alone won’t necessarily prevent bed bugs.

As previously mentioned, good hygiene, including regular vacuuming, is a good way to stop infestations before they start and prevent them from growing out of control. Wash your sheets regularly and avoiding spreading the bugs across your house.

Additionally, whenever you get rid of bed bugs, put them in a sealable garbage bag and put the bag in the outside dumpster or garbage bin to prevent them from sneaking back into the house.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live In A Plastic Bag

What Kind of Alcohol Works Best for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs?

Isopropyl alcohol is the best kind of alcohol to use when getting rid of bed bugs.

For best results, you’ll want a 91% rubbing alcohol or a 70% Isopropyl based spray if you want the method to be effective.

Lower concentrations will be ineffective or will take far more time to kill the bed bugs, allowing them to continue breeding and feeding in your home.

If you’re unsure about how to handle alcohol with a high concentration, ask a professional for help. Using alcohol inappropriately can result in burns and other injuries.

Also, be sure to store alcohol and the spray properly. Ingesting the alcohol spray can result in life-threatening injuries. If you do ingest the alcohol, call poison control or go to the hospital immediately.

What Are the Best Ways to Use Alcohol Against Bed Bugs?

There are two ways you might use alcohol against bed bugs.

Diluted Spray

The first is in a diluted spray.

All you need to do is combine the alcohol with some water in a spray bottle and spray it on the relevant areas. Be sure you wear the appropriate safety gear, including gloves and an apron, when you do so.

Once sprayed, ensure the room is well ventilated and that you won’t need to use the room for at least several hours after spraying.

Apply with a Rag

The second option is to apply the alcohol directly to the surface of the furniture with a cloth, pad, or cotton. This is not generally recommended because alcohol is a solvent and it may well damage your furniture irreparably when applied this way.

Ultimately, the best way to use alcohol against bed bugs is in combination with other techniques of getting rid of bed bugs including regularly washing your bedding and other linens, keeping the room tidy, and vacuuming on a regular basis.

There are also other options to use in conjunction with the alcohol spray. There are removable mattress covers available, which are designed to keep the bed bugs from crawling out of your mattress and biting you at night. The mattress effectively starves them, which prevents nymphs from growing into adults and prevents adults from feeding.

However, the mattress cover will not prevent bed bugs living under your bed, in your carpet, in the piles of clothes around your room, or eggs from traveling across the room to bite you.

Bed bugs aren't only confined to living around your mattress. CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Precautions & Risks When Using Alcohol for Killing Bed Bugs

Alcohol is flammable and the concentrations required for killing bed bugs are even more so. Because of this, you need to be incredibly careful about creating any kind of spark or flame near the treatment to avoid fires occurring and damage to the material.

In addition to being flammable, alcohol is also abrasive. Using it on some surfaces and fabrics will damage or even destroy them. You should never use alcohol on furniture it might damage or any furniture or items that are invaluable or irreplaceable.

Finally, isopropyl alcohol is safe to use in living spaces. Just remember, the room should be well-ventilated and the spray should be dry before you go to sleep in the room.

Alternative Home Treatments For Killing Bed Bugs

If you'd rather not use flammable alcohol in your home, diatomaceous earth is a great alternative. While it won't kill bed bugs instantly like alcohol does, it dries out their exoskeleton over time by cutting into it and drawing out all the moisture, eventually destroying the bed bug.

When looking for Diatomaceous to use against bed bugs, don't worry about buying anything too special or expensive, as most forms are more or less similar to each other. However, choosing a food grade DE is probably your best choice as it can be less hazardous than other forms. A bag like this Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade 10lb should work absolutely fine.

DE can be a little tricky to use, so be sure to check out our diatomaceous earth for bed bugs article to learn how to use it as effectively and safely as possible.

Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs

Diatomaceous Earth

Summary - Get Rid of Bed Bugs Yourself with Alcohol

Bed bugs are a common problem in cities because people live so closely together in small spaces. Bed bugs also thrive by traveling from place to place with ease.

Preventative measures like good hygiene are the best way to prevent bed bugs, but even those measures do not always work if another apartment in your building or house near yours gets infected. Bed bugs may not be dangerous, but they are also not easy to kill.

If you have bed bugs in your house, the best thing to do is to get rid of them as soon as you find them. Alcohol sprays and good hygiene are the easiest DIY solution for bed bugs if the infestation is still in its early stages.

However, if your house is crawling with these pests, you’ll want to seek professional help to manage the problem before it gets out of control.

There’s no shame in having bed bugs. As long as you do your best to contain and avoid spreading them, then you’re doing your part in making your area a more livable place.

My Favorite Bed Bug Treatment Products

My Favorite Bed Bug Treatment Products

Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer - 100% Natural, Non-Toxic, Environmentally Friendly, Family & Pet Safe 24oz

Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer - One of the best bed bug sprays that I've yet to personally use. Not only does it have a reported 100% kill rate against live bed bugs in controlled tests, but it's also child and pet friendly. This product can be used against both light and heavy infestations, and most importantly, it's laboratory tested and completely chemical-free.

Studies conducted using the treatment showed an impressive kill rate of 83% within just 30 minutes after application, and 98% within the first four hours, leading on to an eventual mortality rate of 100% over time.

Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer - 100% Natural, Non-Toxic, Environmentally Friendly, Family & Pet Safe 24oz

Queen (13-16 in. Deep) SureGuard Mattress Encasement - 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic - Premium Zippered Six-Sided Cover - 10 Year Warranty

SureGuard Mattress Encasement - It's thick, durable, and is certain to help stop bed bugs of all sizes from getting to, or from, your mattress.

The protector prevents bed bug transportation by using SureSeal technology, and by using an extremely fine zipper that not even bed bug nymphs can impregnate.

Queen (13-16 in. Deep) SureGuard Mattress Encasement - 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic - Premium Zippered Six-Sided Cover - 10 Year Warranty

Bed Bug Interceptors - 8 Pack | Bed Bug Blocker (Pro) Interceptor Traps (Black) | Eco Friendly Insect Trap for Bed Legs | No Chemicals or Pesticides | Killer, Detector, and Trap for Bed Bugs

In my experience, the best and most effective bed bug traps are usually the ones that are designed to work in the simplest of ways. I've used the Bed Bug Blocker Interceptor Traps extensively and I find they do the job better than any other trap I've tried. You also get a very generous 8 interceptors per pack.

Simply place them directly underneath the bed/table/chair legs you're trying to protect, and watch the bed bugs fall into the traps time and time again with no chance of escape.

K9King Bed Bug Interceptors 4 Pack Bed Bug Trap Black. Design Ensures no Talcum Powder or Additional Products Needed. Sleep Safe with The Bed Bug Traps

The ZappBug Oven 2

ZapBugg Bed Bug Heater - Specially designed to kill all stages in the bed bug life cycle, including eggs, without the need to purchase expensive pest control heat treatment solutions.

Simply place infested items into the ZappBug heater and it will automatically reach the all-important bed bug killing temperature, so you can be sure the items will come out free from all life stages of bed bug once the process is complete.

Small & XL versions are also available.

The ZappBug Oven 2

Article Last Updated on

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required