Alcohol for Bed Bugs | Effective Solutions for Pest-Free Living!

Written by Thomas Matthews

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? Bed bugs and their eggs can be eliminated by using isopropyl alcohol, also referred to as rubbing alcohol. 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. 

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?

Remember, you must use a solution with at least 70% alcohol or higher. In fact, an 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?

Isopropyl alcohol kills bed bugs. 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?

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 “wintergreen” 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?

If the alcohol content is high enough, at least 70% to 99%, then 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 its 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 their 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

Ecologic Bed Bug Killer 64 Ounces, Ready-To-Use Spray, Kills Pyrethroid-Resistant Bed Bugs And Eggs
  • KILLS BED BUGS BY CONTACT: Ready-to-use spray kills bed bugs by...
  • TREAT CRACKS AND CREVICES: Apply as a spot treatment to cracks...
  • TREAT MATTRESSES: Use on mattresses, box springs, bed frames and...
  • ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Formulated with lemongrass oil and cornmint...
  • SAFE AROUND KIDS AND PETS: When used and stored as directed.
Bed Bug Killer Spray by Premo Guard – 16 oz – Fast Acting – Stain & Scent Free – Child & Pet Friendly – Best Extended Protection – Industry Approved – Satisfaction Guarantee
  • SAFE AND NATURAL. Made from natural ingredients that produce...
  • STAIN AND SCENT FREE. Naturally produced by a team of...
  • POWERFUL. Field tested and proven to eliminate bed bug...
  • GUARANTEED RESULTS. Effective for small and medium infestations....
  • CLICK THE ORANGE ADD TO CART. When you order Premo Bed Bug, Lice...
HARRIS White Label Bed Bug Killer, Liquid Spray with Odorless and Non-Staining Extended Residual Kill Formula (32oz)
  • Kills Resistant Bed Bugs & Their Eggs - Kills even the toughest...
  • Kills Quickly - Knocks down bed bugs fast when sprayed directly
  • EPA Registered - Approved for use in homes with people and pets...
  • Long Residual - Continues to kill bed bugs for up to 16 weeks...
  • Odorless Formula - Odorless and non-staining formula will not...

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.

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.

Thomas Matthews
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