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Alcohol Vs Bed Bugs: Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Are you wondering if alcohol can be used to get rid of bed bugs? While there is a popular belief that alcohol kills bed bugs, the truth might surprise you.

I’m going to give you the low-down on whether alcohol can help you in getting rid of your bed bugs, as well as comparing alcohol to other methods of pest control. 

Brown bed bug crawling on bedding

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects, about the size of an apple seed. They’re flat and oval-shaped, making them experts at hiding in tiny crevices during the day.

A bed bug’s life begins as a tiny, almost translucent egg, no bigger than a pinhead. After hatching, they go through five nymph stages, growing darker and larger with each molt.

If they’ve got enough to feed on, they can reach adulthood in just five weeks. An adult bed bug can live for up to a year, maybe even longer in cool conditions.

What about bed bug infestation identification? You’ve got to be eagle-eyed. Look for small rust-colored stains on your sheets, which are a result of bed bugs being crushed.

Live bugs, their shed skins, or their tiny white eggs may also be lurking in your mattress seams or headboard.

Female bed bugs can lay hundreds of eggs in their lifetime. That’s why, if you spot one, you can bet there’s a lot more hiding away.

Knowing how to identify these pests, their lifespan, and understanding their reproduction cycle can help you tackle an infestation effectively.

Why Is It Important To Kill Bed Bugs?

In battling these tiny pests, it’s vital to understand why eliminating bed bugs from your home is so important.

There are three main reasons: health implications, infestation prevention, and property damage.

Bed bugs may not transmit diseases like mosquitoes, but their bites can cause serious discomfort.

You may experience itching, redness, and swelling, which can lead to secondary skin infections if you scratch them.

Some people even suffer from allergic reactions to bed bug bites. Stress and anxiety associated with an infestation can also impact your health.

Next, it’s essential to kill bed bugs for infestation prevention. These critters multiply fast.

As mentioned above, a single female adult bed bug can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime, leading to a full-blown infestation in no time. If you don’t act promptly, you’ll find yourself in a constant battle against these pests.

They can hide anywhere, from your bedsheets to your clothes and upholstered furniture, making them difficult to eliminate fully.

Lastly, bed bugs can cause property damage. They tend to hide in tiny cracks and crevices in your furniture, walls, and floors.

Over time, the need for extensive pest control methods may lead to damage to these areas. 

Bed bug crawling on someone's skin

Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as dousing your bed in a bottle of vodka. Alcohol’s effectiveness against bed bugs depends on a number of factors.

Firstly, not all alcohols are created equal in this respect. Isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as rubbing alcohol, is more effective than the ethanol found in your standard alcoholic beverages.

This is mostly due to its high level of alcohol concentration. When applied directly to bed bugs, rubbing alcohol can kill them on contact by dehydrating their bodies.

However, there’s a catch. Bed bugs have developed resistance to many common pesticides and treatments, including alcohol.

This bug resistance is a major hurdle in the fight against bed bug infestations. Just a few resistant bugs can repopulate an area, making your efforts futile.

Alcohol doesn’t prevent future infestations. While it can kill live bugs, it doesn’t affect eggs or nymphs hidden away in cracks and crevices.

This means that merely treating your home with alcohol won’t stop further infestations.

What Does Alcohol Do To Bed Bug Eggs?

Alcohol is deadly to bed bug eggs and can significantly reduce their population. This is because alcohol dehydrates the cells in the egg, which interrupts their life cycle.

It also works as an insecticide that kills any larva or nymphs that may have emerged from eggs already hatched.

Plus, it disrupts the production of new eggs in adult female bed bugs that are exposed to it by directly interfering with their respiration and eventually leading to death.

As a result, anything from a small spray bottle of rubbing alcohol to full-on fogging with an insecticide containing high concentrations of alcohol can be highly effective against bed bugs.

How To Use Alcohol To Kill Bed Bugs

Step Description
1. Preparation Ensure the room is well-ventilated to disperse fumes, and remove any ignition sources.
2. Use 91% Isopropyl Alcohol Higher concentration alcohol is more effective. Spray or dab alcohol directly onto visible bed bugs.
3. Treat Surfaces Lightly spray alcohol on surfaces where bed bugs may hide or lay eggs.
4. Repeat Treatment Alcohol doesn’t kill eggs, so repeat treatment every few days to kill newly hatched bugs.
5. Additional Measures Combine with other treatment methods like heat treatment or professional extermination for better results.

A bottle of bed bug killer on a wooden table with a bed in the background

Does Rubbing Or Isopropyl Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Alcohol effectiveness in killing bed bugs is indeed a reality, but it’s not as simple as splashing some on your bed.

The application methods play a key role. You can’t just pour alcohol on the bugs or their eggs; it must be sprayed directly on them.

This is because alcohol needs to make contact with the bugs to work, and they’re often hiding in small crevices that are hard to reach.

To increase your chances of success, you’ll need a spray bottle and a targeted approach.

Keep in mind, though, that rubbing or isopropyl alcohol isn’t a long-term solution. It can kill bed bugs on contact, but it won’t continue to kill them once it’s dried.

Plus, it doesn’t affect the eggs, so you may still end up with a new generation of bugs.

Safety precautions are also key when using alcohol. It’s a flammable substance, so you should avoid using it around open flames or sparks.

It can also be harmful if inhaled in large amounts, and it can damage some surfaces and materials.

Risks of Using Alcohol for Bed Bug Extermination

Alcohol toxicity is one concern. Prolonged or excessive exposure can be harmful to your health, possibly leading to skin irritation, respiratory problems, and even poisoning.

If absorbed through the skin or ingested, it could lead to severe health issues.

Inhalation hazards are another risk. Breathing in alcohol fumes can irritate your respiratory system and may cause dizziness, headaches, or more serious complications.

If you’re using alcohol in a poorly ventilated area, these risks increase.

Lastly, there are fire risks. Alcohol is highly flammable. If it comes into contact with a heat source or open flame, it can ignite, causing serious damage or injuries.

Here’s a table breaking down the risks:

Risk Explanation
Alcohol toxicity Prolonged or excessive exposure can lead to skin irritation or poisoning.
Inhalation hazards Breathing in alcohol fumes can lead to dizziness, headaches or worse.
Fire risks Alcohol is highly flammable and can ignite if it comes into contact with heat.

Assess these risks before using alcohol for bed bug extermination. There might be safer, more effective methods available. Always prioritize your safety and wellbeing, and if in doubt, seek professional advice.

Crawling adult bed bugs on a bedsheet

Other Home Remedies For Bed Bug Control

One such method is Diatomaceous Earth usage. This naturally occurring substance harms bed bugs by drying out their exoskeleton, causing them to dehydrate and die.

You can sprinkle it around your bed and other areas where you’ve spotted the critters. But remember, it’s not an instant kill; it takes a few days to work.

Next, there’s the heat treatment. This method has proven to be quite effective as bed bugs can’t withstand high temperatures.

When you’re increasing the temperature in your home to about 118°F for 90 minutes, you’ll kill off any bugs and their eggs.

But, it’s not a DIY-friendly method. Professionals are often needed to ensure the heat spreads evenly throughout your home.

Lastly, let’s look at essential oils application. Some of these oils, especially tea tree, lavender, and eucalyptus, are believed to be effective in repelling bed bugs.

You can add a few drops of these oils to your laundry or spray them around your bed. However, while they might deter the pests, they won’t eliminate them completely.


To answer the question: yes, alcohol can kill bed bugs. But, as with other common treatments, it doesn’t always work and there are risks involved in using it.

Rubbing or isopropyl alcohol may be effective at killing live bed bugs on direct contact, but it won’t affect eggs or nymphs hiding away in cracks and crevices.

It also can’t prevent future infestations like some other methods can.

Plus, prolonged or excessive use of alcohol can lead to toxicity, inhalation hazards, or fire risks. Consider safety first before applying this treatment in your home.

If you’re looking for a more reliable solution, there are alternative home remedies you can try, such as diatomaceous earth application and heat treatments, as well as essential oils usage.

Contacting a professional might also be the best way to handle an infestation efficiently and safely.

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