Skip to content

Will Rubbing Alcohol Keep Bed Bugs From Biting?

Bed bugs are small, blood-sucking insects that infest homes and feed on human and animal blood during the night. These pests can be challenging to eliminate, and people often seek various methods to repel or prevent bed bug bites. 

One of the techniques that some individuals use is rubbing alcohol, which is a common household item that many people believe can help keep bed bugs at bay. 

Rubbing alcohol is a versatile substance that can disinfect surfaces and kill certain types of insects, but is it an effective solution for preventing bed bug bites?

Do Bed Bugs Stay Away From Rubbing Alcohol?

Dealing with bed bugs can be challenging, but one effective solution to repel them is by using rubbing alcohol. The scent of alcohol is detested by bed bugs, making it a useful tool in managing an infestation. 

The alcohol can dehydrate the bed bugs, ultimately leading to their demise. Additionally, using rubbing alcohol can be beneficial for your property because its smell can prevent the pests from laying eggs in your home. 

Bed bugs will search for another place to reproduce when they detect the scent of alcohol. By spraying rubbing alcohol, nearly half of the bed bug population can be eliminated.

If you have rubbing alcohol at home, it can serve as an effective tool for eliminating bed bugs. You can apply it directly to the bed bugs to kill them and ensure a restful night’s sleep. However, using alcohol should be done with caution, as it can cause fire hazards.

Although isopropyl alcohol can effectively eliminate bed bugs and their eggs, it is important to note that using rubbing alcohol on a bed bug infestation can be ineffective and potentially hazardous.

Why Alcohol May Not Be Your Best Choice

Alcohol is effective in killing bedbugs in two ways. Firstly, it acts as a solvent, breaking down the bedbug’s outer shell. 

While this dissolving action may kill some bedbugs, alcohol also delivers a double blow by acting as a desiccant, causing dehydration and drying out of the bedbugs.

Once the outer shell of the bedbug is dissolved, the alcohol penetrates inside and dries out its insides, ultimately killing the bug. 

Similarly, alcohol can eliminate bedbug eggs by dissolving and drying them out, thereby preventing them from hatching.

Alcohol is a relatively inexpensive and widely available solution that effectively eliminates bedbugs. However, not everyone opts to use it to solve their bedbug problem for several reasons.

  • Firstly, while alcohol can be effective, it is not always a guaranteed solution, especially in severe infestations. In such cases, professional pest control services may be necessary.
  • Secondly, using alcohol to eliminate bedbugs requires caution, as it is flammable and can pose a fire hazard. Improper usage or storage of alcohol can lead to accidents and injuries.
  • Lastly, some people may prefer to use alternative methods, such as natural remedies or professional services, to avoid potential risks and ensure effective and safe elimination of bedbugs.

Mainly Because It’s Flammable

Avoiding the use of alcohol to kill bedbugs is crucial not because of the bugs themselves but due to the fact that isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable. 

While it may evaporate rapidly, applying it to fabrics, clothing, upholstered furniture, carpets, or mattresses can pose a significant risk of fire. In addition, the vapors released into the air are also combustible. 

In 2017, a woman in Cincinnati attempted to eliminate bedbugs from her home by saturating her furniture with alcohol, resulting in a fire that left ten people homeless when a nearby candle or incense ignited the fumes. 

According to The Washington Post, at least three other similar incidents have been reported.

It’s Not 100 Percent Effective

Rutgers University researchers conducted a study on two isopropyl alcohol-based products with varying concentrations. 

One had 50 percent alcohol, while the other contained 91 percent. However, neither of these products was able to exterminate more than half of the bedbugs. 

Given that bedbug infestations can rapidly multiply, with a single female laying up to 250 eggs in her lifetime, a solution that can only eliminate half of the available population is insufficient to solve the problem.

It Requires Direct Contact

The challenge with using alcohol to eliminate bedbugs is that it only works upon contact. Therefore, you must directly spray the bugs to eradicate them, but this can be exceedingly challenging when dealing with an infestation. 

Bedbugs can conceal themselves in even the tiniest of crevices, such as furniture cracks, electrical outlets, or stacked books. As a result, getting alcohol into these nooks and crannies is often nearly impossible. 

Furthermore, bedbugs tend to gather in hard-to-reach locations, also known as “harborages,” so attempting to kill only the visible bugs will not eradicate the problem entirely, leaving the remaining bedbugs to continue to propagate.

What Does The EPA Recommend?

When it comes to bedbug infestations, the majority of researchers suggest seeking the services of a professional exterminator. 

Although this approach can be expensive, it will likely save you time and alleviate the frustration associated with attempting to resolve the issue independently. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests utilizing an integrated pest management strategy, combining chemical and non-chemical techniques to address the infestation.

The EPA’s Recommendations For Fighting Bedbugs

  • Bedding, clothing, and fabrics should be washed and dried at a high temperature.
  • You can get rid of bedbugs by subjecting each room in your home to high heat – over 120°F (49°C) for 90 minutes or more (bedbug removal experts can do this for you).
  • Shoes, jewelry, and newer books should be frozen below 0°F (-18°C).
  • Make sure your pillows, mattresses, and box springs are protected from bugs by zippered covers.
  • You can prevent bedbugs from climbing up your bed by placing bedbug interceptors on their legs.

Your First Step

Ensure that you are dealing with a bedbug infestation before treating your dorm room, office, home, vehicle, or belongings. The National Pest Management Association recommends the following indicators to determine if you have a bedbug infestation:

  • The bedding on your bed appears to have tiny reddish smears (feces and blood)
  • Molted shells that are white or yellow
  • While sleeping, you may experience itchy red bites on exposed body parts
  • During heavy infestations, you can smell a sweet scent

As well as the bugs themselves, you may notice flat, reddish-brown bugs less than a quarter inch long. Your mattress’ piping is a common place to find them.

Natural Remedies

There is a wide range of bedbug-killing products available at big box home stores, hardware shops, and grocery stores. However, many of these products lack scientific evidence to support their claims. 

While some products containing essential oils, such as EcoRaider and Bed Bug Patrol, were found to be effective in killing bedbugs in a lab setting according to a 2012 study, it’s important to note that lab conditions are different from real-world scenarios. 

In another study from 2018, oregano essential oil was found to repel bedbugs for over nine hours under lab conditions, which is longer than a good night’s sleep. 

Interestingly, the study found that oregano essential oil was more effective at repelling bedbugs than a traditional pesticide (DEET) in stick form. 

However, the effectiveness of oregano essential oil in home settings may differ from lab conditions.

Final Point

Although rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, can be effective in killing bedbugs and their eggs, it is not a foolproof method for eradicating an infestation. 

Applying alcohol directly to the bugs can be difficult since bedbugs tend to hide in small crevices and cracks. Even if you manage to spray or douse the bedbugs with alcohol, it does not guarantee their complete elimination.

Moreover, rubbing alcohol is highly flammable and using it carelessly around your house could pose a significant fire risk. Instead, adopting an integrated approach to tackling bedbug infestations is advisable. 

This approach involves using pesticides prudently and isolating or discarding infested items from your home.

If your efforts to get rid of the pests prove unsuccessful, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a professional exterminator to address the issue.

Leave a Reply