Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Do-it-yourself remedies are popular with many people that have bed bugs, due to "do-it-yourself" options being relatively inexpensive, and in some cases very effective as well.   One very popular do it yourself treatment option is using Rubbing Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol.  The real questions is though, does alcohol kill bed bugs?

We're going to dive in and explore this question in far more detail.  But, the short answer is: yes it does.  The problem is, it's just not that simple.

Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, Alcohol does kill bed bugs, but the real question people need to be asking is: How effective is alcohol at killing bed bugs?

Over the counter Isopropyl Alcohol, commonly referred to as Rubbing Alcohol is easily available and is commonly used as a disinfectant.   Studies have shown the alcohol does, in fact, kill bed bugs, and the higher the percentage of alcohol used, the more effective it is.  

The majority of Isopropyl Alchohol contains 70% alcohol.  Isopropyl Alcohol is also available containing 91% alcohol, but it is a little more difficult to find, often more expensive, but far more effective.

Spraying 91% Isopropyl Alcohol will kill about 50% of the bed bugs it is sprayed on, according to Rutgers University.  For this reason, using Isopropyl Alcohol is not a treatment solution we would recommend, but it can be used alongside other far more effective treatment solutions, such as steaming.

71% Isopropyl Alchohol

91% Isopropyl Alchohol

Cost

Less Expensive

More Expensive

Availability

Easy to find.  Readily Available

More difficult to find.

Effects on Furniture and Cloth

Relatively harmless to most surfaces and cloth

Can damage some surfaces and cloth.  Must be more careful

Is Alcohol Safe to Use?

Alcohol is generally not considered a safe treatment option due to:

  • Being highly flammable
  • Respiratory issues due to fumes

If you decide to use Alcohol to kill bed bugs, you'll want to avoid having any open flames in your home, and also properly ventilate and air out your home after using, to get rid of any remaining fumes.

When ingested, Isopropyl Alcohol also causes poisoning symptoms, as it is highly irritating to the digestive tract, which can cause nausea, diarrhea, and internal bleeding.   When Isopropyl Alcohol is consumed by children, it can kill them.  As a result, it should be safely stored, along with other dangerous chemicals.

How to kill bed bugs with alcohol

An important aspect of using alcohol to kill bed bugs, that you must understand is that alcohol is a contact killer only.   Spraying 91% alcohol onto a bed bug will kill some of them, and almost immediately.   The Alchohol will also contact surfaces, but will not kill bed bugs that walk across the surface later.

Since the majority of the bed bugs in a home infestation are not visible, treating bed bugs using alcohol should only be used a supplementary strategy.  This basically means that it should be used along with other treatment strategies to fully rid yourself of bed bugs.

Also very important is that 70% or 91% Isopropyl Alcohol will not kill bed bug eggs.   While you might see other sites say it will, it will not.  

Killing bed bugs using 91% Isopropyl Alcohol is actually very easy, assuming you can find the bed bugs themselves:

  1. Purchase 91% Isopropyl Alchohol, spray bottles, and protective gloves
  2. Open windows in your home to properly ventilate it.
  3. Put your protective gloves on, and pour the Isopropyl Alchohol into the spray bottles.
  4. Enter the room infested with bed bugs, and begin searching for bed bugs.  When you see them, spray them liberally with the Isopropyl Alchohol.
  5. Use a Vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean up any dead bed bugs.

Again, treatment using Isopropyl Alcohol should only be used as a supplement treatment, and not your main treatment option.  

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