Alcohol for Bed Bugs Guide: Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

If you have a bed bug problem, there is probably only one thing on your mind: “How to kill them quickly while protecting your loved ones”. Products containing alcohol are inexpensive and generally considered safe. Let’s look at how they can also help rid your home of these pests!

Does alcohol kill bed bugs? If the product you are using contains the right amount of alcohol, then yes, alcohol can kill bed bugs. Solutions containing a high percentage of alcohol evaporate quickly, drying out anything organic it came in contact with. It kills bed bugs by dissolving their outer shell and then drying them out from the inside. However, it is important to know that the alcohol made for human consumption will NOT be effective in killing these insects because their alcohol content is too low. 

The products that are effective for killing bed bugs are commonly known as “rubbing alcohols.”  The type of alcohol used as a disinfectant is also effective. These products must contain an alcohol content of 70% to 99% in order to kill bed bugs. Not only do products with a high alcohol content kill bed bugs, but some studies show they can also help deter them.

Bed Bug Exterminators

Bed bugs tend to avoid places previously sprayed with an alcohol-containing product.  They will also avoid laying their eggs in places that have come in contact with an alcohol solution. However, if you already have an infestation, simply spraying the items in your home as a deterrent will not be enough to rid your home of bed bugs. 

There are a number of things to consider before running to your local store and picking up an alcohol-based product.  Consider product safety, effectiveness, and protecting the items in your home. 

DISCLAIMER: First of all, we do not recommend the use of alcohol for eradicating bed bug infestation. Alcohol can kill bed bugs no doubt but because bed bugs can infest almost every place in your house it is better to use pesticides intended for them that have a residual effect. Also if you are dealing with a huge infestation in your house, please just call the exterminators because it is really hard to get rid of them without professional help.

Now let’s delve deeper into this topic if you are still eager to try out alcohol in your fight against bed bugs.

What Kind of Alcohol Kills Bed Bugs?

When it comes to using alcohol to kill bed bugs, it’s important to make sure you’re using the right kind. Otherwise, all of your efforts might go to waste! Remember, you must use a solution with at least 70% alcohol or higher. In fact, the alcohol content of more than 90% is recommended. Now let’s take a look at the types of alcohol-containing products you may find and whether or not they are effective.


Does Isopropyl Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes. In fact, if you are planning on making a homemade bed bug spray using alcohol, this is the one to use.


Will Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, rubbing alcohol will destroy bed bugs. “Rubbing alcohol” is a household term generally used for a solution containing isopropyl alcohol. The key is making sure that the solution contains at least 70% (but preferably over 90%) alcohol. Anything less will be ineffective!


Does Green Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Green alcohol is another variety of rubbing alcohol that you may find at your local store.  The difference is that it typically contains a “winter green” additive as well as menthol.  While this green alcohol variety can kill bed bugs if the alcohol content is high enough (and may also smell better than regular rubbing alcohol), it is not recommended that you use this product to kill bed bugs, as the green color will likely ruin any fabrics it comes in contact with.


Does Spraying Alcohol Kill Bed Bug Eggs?

Yes, if the alcohol content is high enough, again, at least 70% to 99% then the spraying alcohol directly on bed bug eggs will kill them. The alcohol penetrates the shell, then dries it out from the inside. Keep in mind that the eggs will need to come in direct contact with the wet alcohol solution in order for this to be effective.


How Alcohol Kills Bed Bugs?

How Alcohol Kills Bed Bugs

When spraying or rubbing alcohol on a bed bug it is causing their cells to dissolve. It may seem that bed bugs have tough skin, but when it comes in touch with pure alcohol, it burns through it and inflicts damage to all internal organs. Alcohol is a drying agent so when it is used against bed bugs eggs, it just dries them out completely.


Can Bed Bugs Smell Alcohol?

According to a couple of research articles, bed bugs can detect a variety of scents. They can detect the presence of humans by a high concentration of CO2 in the air produced by our breathing. Bed bugs can also smell each other, so there is no reason why they couldn’t sniff out alcohol. The only question is do they know if it is bad for them? Well from the looks of things, they know, because they run from surfaces covered in alcohol.


How to Kill Bed Bugs with Alcohol – Step by Step Instructions


1. Safety First

First, let’s talk about safety and how to protect the items in your home. Alcohol is flammable, especially when it is heavily concentrated like the kind you will need to kill bed bugs. It is true that once the alcohol has dried, it is no longer flammable. However, it is wise to take precautions while using it in your home. 

Keep the alcohol (and anything you spray it on) away from any source of heat until it is completely dry. 

Second, alcohol has a strong, unpleasant smell.  Therefore, it makes sense to only use it on the areas of your home where you find the bed bugs and their eggs, instead of going overboard and drenching your house in the solution. 

Thirdly, keep in mind that alcohol has the potential to stain fabrics.  This may not matter if you are only spraying the solution on a mattress or box spring which will be covered anyway, but it is something to consider before you douse your couch, curtains, or carpets in alcohol.


2. Explore Bed Bug Hideouts and Find Them

Explore Bed Bug Hideouts and Find Them

It’s important to know where to find bed bugs in your home. Remember, you can only kill bed bugs with alcohol if the solution comes in direct contact with the bugs. Any bugs or eggs missed by the alcohol will continue to live and reproduce in your home. It’s important to understand that a bed bug infestation is not always limited to your mattress and linens. 

Be sure to check your box spring, carpet, furniture and items inside your furniture (especially inside drawers), laundry, and even curtains. They love to hide and lay their eggs in tight, dark places where they are unlikely to be disturbed. Cracks, crevices, and folds, any of these items will be your best bet for locating these unwanted guests.


3. Be Sure You Have Identified the Bed Bugs

Know what you are looking for. Adult bed bugs are small, about the size of a grain of rice and they are reddish-brown in color. Their bodies are flat and oval-shaped but they can appear a bit longer if they have recently fed. Like all insects, they have six legs and two antennae. Although they don’t fly, you may see two “wing buds” resembling tiny wings if you look closely enough. 

Bed bug eggs are about the size of a pinhead. They will be white or off-white and are hard to simply brush off the surface where you find them. This is due to a sticky, glue-like residue the female bed bugs use to secure her eggs in place.


4. Choose the Type of Alcohol You Want to Use

For a recommended list of alcohol-containing solutions with high alcohol content, keep reading (there is a list located near the end of the article).


5. Spray the Infected Areas with Alcohol

If the solution you choose doesn’t already come in a spray bottle, pour your solution into a bottle with a spray nozzle.  You’ll want to make sure that every bed bug along with every egg comes in contact with the solution. If you miss any of them at all, you’ll see the infestation continue to grow despite your hard work.


Top 3 Alcohol-Containing Products to Kill Bed Bugs


Solimo 99% Isopropyl Alcohol

Amazon Brand - Solimo 99% Isopropyl Alcohol For Technical Use,16 Fl Oz
  • 99% Isopropyl alcohol is not intended for use on the skin
  • Wash face, hands and any exposed skin thoroughly after handling...
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product
  • When using this product, wear protective gloves/protective...
  • Satisfaction Guarantee: We’re proud of our products. If you...

Mountain Falls 91% Isopropyl Alcohol

Solimo 91% Isopropyl Alcohol Spray Bottle

Amazon Brand - Solimo 91% Isopropyl Alcohol First Aid Antiseptic, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
  • 32-fluid ounce bottle of first aid antiseptic
  • First aid to help prevent risk of infection from minor cuts,...
  • Active ingredient: 91% isopropyl alcohol
  • Satisfaction Guarantee: We’re proud of our products. If you...
  • An Amazon brand

How Long Does It Take For Alcohol To Kill Bed Bugs?

When you directly spray bed bugs with alcohol, it starts working right away. The problem is you will hardly get them all at the same time. Some will run away and hide. They will likely lay eggs while in hiding. From a couple of reports, bed bugs came out alive a couple of days after the use of alcohol, so you will need to repeat the treatment day after day if you want to have any chance of eradicating the infestation.


Summary

Having bed bugs in your home can be both physically and emotionally distressing, but you don’t have to suffer anymore! Alcohol is cheap, effective, and safe, as long as you take the necessary precautions.

In this article I wanted to introduce you to another way in fighting bed bugs, and their pros and cons. All in all, you need to be very careful if you decide to use alcohol in a long fight against bed bugs – it can produce some results, but if you misuse it, it can harm you in more ways than one.

If you choose to call the professionals, you will see that some companies use alcohol, instead of insecticide (with heat treatment of course), in the fight against bed bugs, so in proper hands, alcohol can do some serious damage, and resolve your problems with these nasty blood-sucking pests.


List of Sources

Bed bugs: Do-it-yourself control options, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Effectiveness of Alcohol as a Do-it-Yourself Treatment to Combat the Bed Bug, Cimex lectularius, The Ohio State University

Frishman A. 2000. Bed Bug basics and control measures. Pest Control 68: 24.

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