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Bed Bug crawling on bedding.

Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Dealing with bed bugs in South Florida as homeowners can be more than just a nuisance; it can disrupt your peace of mind. Among the myriad of suggested home remedies, rubbing alcohol is often a potential solution.

But before you reach for that bottle of isopropyl alcohol, it's essential to dive deeper.

Does alcohol spell doom for bed bugs, or is it merely a temporary fix? Understanding the intricacies of alcohol application, from its concentration to safety precautions, is crucial.

Join us as we unpack the truth about using alcohol against bed bugs and explore comprehensive strategies for your long-lasting home pest control.

Key Takeaways

  • Alcohol may have some effect on bed bugs, but its efficacy and safety should be considered.
  • Proper application and complementary measures are essential when using alcohol for bed bug treatment.
  • Long-term prevention requires evaluating results and exploring more sustainable alternatives.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Alcohol can be a potent agent against bed bugs, but its effectiveness hinges on the type used and direct application.

Types of Alcohol Used

The primary types of alcohol considered for bed bug eradication are rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.

Type of Alcohol


Rubbing Alcohol

Typically contains between 70% and 90% isopropyl alcohol.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Commercially available in various concentrations, but 91% is recommended for bed bug control.

Both are commonly utilized for their insecticidal properties. However, concentration plays a critical role in the level of efficacy, with higher percentages like 70% or 90% isopropyl alcohol being preferred.

Mechanism of Action

When alcohol is sprayed directly on bed bugs, it acts swiftly to dehydrate and kill them through a process known as desiccation.

  • Direct Contact: Alcohol must touch the bed bug for it to be effective.
  • Concentration: Higher alcohol content increases toxicity and effectiveness but can also increase flammability risks.

Remember, while spraying an alcohol solution directly on bed bugs can kill them upon contact, it is a contact killer only and does not have lasting residual effects.

Calling a pest control professional is the best way to determine what treatment your infestation will require. 

How To Implement Alcohol Treatment?

When considering alcohol as a means to treat bed bug infestation, it's critical to prepare properly, apply the substance effectively, and be acutely aware of the associated safety concerns.

Preparing for Treatment

Proper preparation is the first step in using alcohol for bed bug treatment.

You need to inspect the affected area thoroughly for signs of bed bugs. Focus especially on:

  • Cracks
  • Crevices
  • Mattresses
  • Bedding and bed frame
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Carpet 

Box springs and furniture should be moved away from walls for full access.

Application Methods

For the treatment process, a spray bottle can be employed to apply alcohol to infested areas.

You should target bed bug hiding places, focusing on mattress seams, furniture joints, and baseboards.

Application Reminders

When spraying alcohol, you should be mindful of the following:

  • Aim for a fine mist to maximize coverage while minimizing the risk of damaging items through excessive moisture.
  • Conduct repetitive applications for sustained results since alcohol evaporates quickly.

Safety Concerns

Before anything else, always prioritize your safety by wearing protective gloves, avoiding skin and eye contact, and ensuring the room is aired out after treatment.

Using alcohol as a DIY treatment raises significant concerns due to its highly flammable nature. As a result, you should:

  • Never use alcohol near open flames or potential ignition sources
  • Ensure that rooms are well-ventilated to prevent the accumulation of alcohol fumes

Furthermore, you are advised to consult the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines concerning the safety and efficacy of alcohol treatment for bed bugs to ensure compliance with safety standards.

What Are Available Alternatives and Complementary Measures?

When alcohol falls short in the battle against bed bugs, there are a slew of other strategies that come to the rescue.

1. Chemical Treatments

Pesticides are often a go-to option; however, they must be used correctly to be effective.

Chemical Treatments



Disrupt bug nervous systems; limited due to resistance.


Induce paralysis and death in bed bugs; effective yet consistent professional guidance is recommended.

Desiccants (diatomaceous earth)

Physically dry out the exoskeleton of bed bugs without resistance issues.

Furthermore, following an integrated pest management plan, which may include multiple treatment types, is critical.

2. Heat and Freezing Treatments

Heat and freezing treatments utilize extreme low and high temperatures to exterminate bed bugs.

Heat and Freezing Treatments



Effectively kills on contact with sustained exposure to temperatures above 118°F to be successful.


Runs at least for 30 minutes on high heat to eliminate bugs in fabrics, like clothing and bedding.


Places infested items in a standard freezer for at least four days, although it's less practical for large or immovable items.

3. Non-Chemical Methods

Resorting to non-chemical methods can be both effective and environmentally friendly.

Non-Chemical Methods



Immediate physical removal of live bugs, nymphs, and eggs from surfaces needs careful disposal of the vacuum bag.

Bed Bug Interceptors/Bug-Proof Covers

Prevent new bugs from reaching the bed and trap existing ones.

Essential oils (like oregano oil)

They have been explored as natural repellents, though they're not proven as primary treatments.

These strategies should be part of a broader pest control plan that may include seeking help from professional pest control companies who can offer more comprehensive solutions.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

Sustaining a bed bug-free environment requires a combination of preparation and exploring remedies.

The National Pest Management Association endorses a multifaceted approach:

  • Seal entry points: Cracks in walls and spaces around cables or pipes can be gateways.
  • Use protective covers: Encase mattresses and box springs to deter bed bugs.
  • Employ professional help: Sometimes, professional bed bug exterminators with experience and access to heat treatments are necessary.
  • Stay vigilant: Regular vacuuming and reducing clutter diminish the likelihood of a severe infestation.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you can find quick, practical responses to common questions about getting rid of bed bugs.

How effective is hand sanitizer in the fight against bed bugs?

Hand sanitizer, which contains alcohol, can kill bed bugs on direct contact, but its use is not a comprehensive treatment method and should be combined with other strategies.

Is there a strong DIY bed bug spray that works?

A strong DIY bed bug spray involves mixing tea tree oil or neem oil with water. However, its effectiveness may be limited compared to professional treatments.

What are the surefire ways to wipe out bed bugs completely?

The most reliable methods include professional heat treatments, steam cleaning, and consistent use of EPA-approved insecticides. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approaches are comprehensive and have the highest success rates.