Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs? How Alcohol Really Affects Bed Bugs

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At one point, we’ve noticed how alcohol affects bugs. It’s deadly to them, so does that mean that they’re deadly to bed bugs too? Does alcohol kill bed bugs?

Rubbing alcohol’s potency to bed bugs is tricky. A lot of researchers, pest control and homeowners can’t agree whether it’s effective in getting rid of the pesky insects or not. Luckily, we found a middle ground that we can all use to our advantage. Curious? Read on.

does alcohol kill bed bugs

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With the right kind of rubbing alcohol, you can kill off bed bugs in your house. CC Image courtesy of Leonore Edman on Flickr

Alcohol as a Bed Bug Killer

Does alcohol kill bed bugs? Well, there are two sides to this story.

According to a study from Rutgers University in New Jersey, bed bugs sprayed with regular Isopropyl alcohol aren’t that much affected by it. In fact, they were still very much alive for 4 days after the initial exposure. So they classified alcohol as something that “does not work” against bed bugs.

In heavy contrast, some pest control enthusiasts like Bed Bug Bites claim that you can only kill bed bugs if you use the right rubbing alcohol. That’s right, only a 91% solution isopropyl alcohol will do, not the usual 70% that you see in drugstores and supermarkets.

At a 91% mixture level, this alcohol has the highest isopropyl percentage that you can get through distillation. And in high concentrations, it’s said to be effective against bed bug infestations.

Alcohol as a Bed Bug Repellent

Because of the 91% solution’s stronger odor and more potent nature, Bed Bug Bites further claims that you can use the same rubbing alcohol to ward off the bed bugs while you sleep.

All you have to do is spray infested surfaces directly. This will keep the insects out.

You can also spray your bed regularly during the day. But keep in mind that the alcohol will stain your mattress and your beddings.

The Downsides of Using a 91% Solution Alcohol

As always, no single treatment is foolproof. For the 91% solution rubbing alcohol, being potent comes with downsides. Here are a few drawbacks that you have to consider before using it.

  • ​First of all, alcohol is FLAMMABLE regardless of its type. But the 91% solution catches fire faster than the 70% solution.
  • It also dries out faster, so you’ll have to constantly apply it in hourly intervals.
  • It dries out your skin.
  • Its strong odor can be toxic. Use a mask when applying the treatment.
  • It’s hard to find. This type of alcohol is not that popular, so you have to consult specialized stores.
  • Lastly, alcohol can be very abrasive on some surfaces and fabrics.

How to Use Alcohol to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

bed bug up close

If you’re fascinated with this treatment, get your hands on a 91% solution. But don’t just spray away frantically. To successfully use the solvent, go over these tips. These will help you get started in your attempt to exterminate bed bugs.

  • You can get the best results by making sure that the alcohol has direct contact with the bed bugs.
  • Vacuum the house first. Vacuum your home from top to bottom. Make sure to clean every nook and cranny.
  • Throw away the vacuum bag, and clean the vacuum itself. Check for bed bug stragglers. Sometimes, there are survivors that can cling to your machine.
  • After buying a 91% solution isopropyl alcohol from your local store, prep your bed and the rest of the house/room. Remove beddings, curtains, cushion and pillow casings and dirty clothes. Wash them with hot water.
  • Spray liberal amounts of the alcohol into affected areas. These can be little corners of the bed, crevices, furniture legs, wall cracks and holes.
  • Spray alcohol inside the holes in the wall, and seal them with caulk.
  • The alcohol will eat away your furniture’s varnish coating. So spray it in inconspicuous places. You can also reapply a coat of varnish after the alcohol wash.
  • Regularly repeat this method every couple of hours for two weeks just to make sure the bed bug eggs completely die off.
  • Combine the alcohol with other treatments to make it more effective.​

All in all, does alcohol kill bed bugs? That may be a yes. With its controversial reputation, it’s up to you to really see if this method really works. But keep in mind that it may not be the one-shot treatment that you’re looking for.

So if you’re looking for something that will totally get rid of bed bugs, try multiple treatments. Mix them up and combine them to get maximum effectiveness.


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