Busting Myths: Does Alcohol Really Wipe Out Bed Bugs?


From DIY cleaning solutions to old wives’ tales, there’s a sea of information out there about combating pests. One such common belief is that alcohol can be an effective agent against bed bugs. But is this truly the case, or just another urban legend that needs debunking? In today’s deep dive, we’re going to sift through the facts and fictions surrounding this popular belief.

Understanding Bed Bugs: What Are They?

Before diving into the myth, it’s crucial to understand our adversary. Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that feed on the blood of animals or humans. Known for their sneaky nature, they can be hard to detect until the infestation becomes significant. They’re notoriously resilient and can survive under various conditions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs can reproduce quickly and hide in tiny spaces, making them a challenge to control.

The Alcohol Assertion: How Did It Start?

Like many myths, the belief that alcohol can be used to combat bed bugs likely originated from the known fact that alcohol is a disinfectant. Alcohol has been used for years to clean wounds and disinfect surfaces. The leap from “alcohol kills germs” to “alcohol kills bed bugs” is a short one, but is it accurate?

Isopropyl Alcohol: A Temporary Solution?

Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is often cited as a solution. While it’s true that direct application of alcohol can kill some bed bugs on contact, there are significant drawbacks:

  • It’s Not Comprehensive: Alcohol might kill the bugs it touches, but it won’t get rid of eggs or bugs hiding in cracks and crevices.
  • It’s Flammable: Using large amounts of rubbing alcohol can be dangerous. There have been reported incidents of house fires started by people trying to kill bed bugs with alcohol.

The National Pesticide Information Center also cautions against using alcohol for pest control due to its flammability.

A More In-Depth Look: Alcohol’s Efficacy

Researchers have studied the effects of alcohol on bed bugs. While some studies suggest that high concentrations of isopropyl alcohol can kill bed bugs, its effectiveness as a long-term solution is debatable. One primary reason being, bed bugs can hide, making it hard to reach them all with just a spray of alcohol. Moreover, alcohol doesn’t provide residual protection, meaning it won’t prevent future infestations.

For a comprehensive understanding of how alcohol impacts bed bugs, this resource on whether alcohol can be used to kill bed bugs provides a well-researched perspective.

Professional Extermination: The Better Solution

While DIY solutions like alcohol might seem appealing, they often fall short when dealing with a large-scale infestation. Professionals use a combination of treatments to ensure all bed bugs, including their eggs, are eradicated.

Benefits of Professional Treatment:

  • Thoroughness: Professionals know where to look and have the tools to reach even the most hidden bugs.
  • Safety: No risk of setting your home on fire with professional treatments.
  • Long-Term Solutions: Professionals can provide advice on preventing future infestations.

Preventative Measures: Keeping Bed Bugs at Bay

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some steps to ensure these pests don’t invade your home:

  • Regularly inspect hotel rooms or guest beds when traveling.
  • Wash and dry bed linens on the hottest temperature settings.
  • Be cautious when buying used furniture. Check thoroughly for signs of bugs.


While alcohol might kill some bed bugs on contact, relying on it as a sole method of extermination can be ineffective and dangerous. It’s essential to approach bed bug infestations comprehensively, considering both immediate eradication and long-term prevention. When in doubt, turning to professionals or trusted resources can guide you towards the best possible solution.

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