Does alcohol kill bed bugs? – find out if it really works

A bedbug infestation can easily turn your home from a sweet comfortable sanctuary into a place of misery. Unfortunately, bedbugs bite humans and can be a real nuisance. Bed bugs are increasingly becoming resistant to common pesticides. Consequently, their number has dramatically grown in the previous years to scary levels and more and more people are getting treated for bed bugs bites. 

Your best bet when it comes to maintaining a home free of bed bugs is by early prevention. Now, there are numerous ways of eliminating or keeping bed bugs at bay. Most of them are commercially available pesticides that you can buy at your local drugstore. However, most of them are filled with harmful chemicals that may wreak havoc on your overall health. Additionally, using these chemicals means that you have to stay out from your house for extended hours waiting for the re-entry period to elapse. Also just washing all your bed clothes on a regular basis can go a long way to helping with bed bugs and with bed bug eggs. You may also want to consider steam cleaning your mattress and boxspring all around your bed frame,  and vacuum around all the cracks and crevices of your bed. You might have heard about alcohol being an effective treatment, but what’s the truth? Will rubbing alcohol kill bed bugs?

What are the facts?

For this reason, scientists and homeowners have investigated and developed more friendly methods and home remedies for bed bugs. One of these methods is the use rubbing alcohol as a treatment for bed bugs, Isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. There are many bug sprays on the market that are designed to kill the bed bugs and get rid of them for good, but alcohol sprays are among the most effective. 

So, what’s the truth, can rubbing alcohol kill bed bugs?Using 91% alcohol as well as 70% Isopropyl alcohol based sprays has been shown to effectively get rid of s serious bed bug infestation. While the above two can effectively do the trick, entomologists( who study bed bugs and other insects) recommend the use of higher concentrations of Isopropyl when dealing with these pests. Although in a Rutgers University study in 2013, they did not find a clear correlation on whether rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs or not. Despite the Rutgers University study, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that alcohol can kill bed bugs.

As far as the safety of using alcohol-based sprays is concerned, you need to take into account the flammability of these alcohol sprays. These sprays are very flammable and whenever used, owners of the house should always be informed. 

I have used one particular brand of rubbing alcohol based spray and it worked very well, especially if you need to cover a large area. 

bedbug spray

Why is rubbing alcohol effective?

There are many reasons why isopropyl rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs. Rubbing alcohol has several modes of action that take advantage of the vulnerabilities of the insect’s bodies. So if you are still wondering about whether this bed bug treatment is effective, read on. Below are some of the reasons why rubbing alcohol will work on getting rid of these nasty crawlers.


a. They have sensitive skin


One of the things you should understand is that bed bugs might seem tough but they actually have a very sensitive skin. This is why bed bugs often die almost immediately after exposure to rubbing alcohol. However, it needs to be in very high concentrations and sprayed directly to make alcohol kill bed bugs. Low concentrations of rubbing alcohol below 70% will require repeated applications for several days to create significant damage on their skins.


b. It can burn their organs


Rubbing alcohol is quite dangerous to most organs of the bed bug. When it gets in contact with the internal organs, it scorches the bed bugs and messes up with the general physiology of their body. Rubbing alcohol also destabilizes the pH of the bug causing disruption in fluid flow. For this reasons, you can easily kill bed bugs by exposing them to this treatment. This also makes it the safest method to kill bed bugs without damaging the environment.

isopropyl alcohol bed bugs

c. It is toxic to their eggs


The power of multiplication of these insects lies in their ability to lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Alcohol is a toxic compound to bed bugs’ eggs and therefore learning how to use it to attack the eggs can help you prevent the multiplication of these pesky bugs. By attacking the eggs before they even hatch, you can completely eradicate bed bugs in your home with alcohol. 

How to use effectively

Being a natural and safe product, there are many ways through which you can use rubbing alcohol to get rid of these pests. If you haven’t noticed yet, you interact with it in your household every day. It’s all in our toiletries, makeup, detergents, disinfectants and so on. So this means that you can rest assured of your health and safety when using it as a homemade insecticide. So how do you use it in the control of bed bugs? Three main methods involving bed bugs and rubbing alcohol, i.e.


a. Using in a spray bottle

Does rubbing alcohol kill bed bugs? – The simplest way to use 99 rubbing alcohol as a bedbug insecticide is by making a spray. If you have high infestations, dilute 90% in a handheld spray can and spray around the infected areas and on infected items. In affected rooms, for instance, your bedroom, remove all your beddings and set them aside within your bedroom. Spray the solution on the entire frame of your bed, targeting mostly the joints and crevices. Do the same with all your clothing cabinets and makeup cabinets, and finally finish with a fine mist covering the entire mattress, emphasizing on the sides and corners.

You will require repeated applications of alcohol to kill bed bugs each week for 3 to 4 weeks , each time targeting the hiding spots and monitoring their occurrences. Directly spray on the eggs that can sometimes be easily spotted in the joints of furniture items and wall crevices. For preventative measures, apply 70% of the alcohol spray in the bed bugs potential hiding places once I per month. 

bed bug on sheets
Bed Bug


b. Clean your beddings

This is more of a preventive measure than a curative method. Ideally, make sure you wash your beddings more frequently with a strong detergent helps kills bed bugs that may be hiding on them. Using rubbing alcohol in your washing solution can further help you kill the bed bug eggs and repel the adult critters away from your bed. If you think your clothes might be infested too, you can occasionally add a few drops in your washing solution when doing your laundry. Just be careful with the fabrics that might not stand up to this alcohol treatment.


For larger quantities of rubbing alcohol for killing bed bugs, click here to get the price from Amazon. This one also comes with a handy spray bottle.


So, does alcohol kill bed bugs? From the above literature, yes it does. However, if you are not sure about formulating your own homemade sprays, it might be a good idea to go for the commercially available options in the market.   One of the other home remedies to kill bed bugs is to use diatomaceous earth which is also effective.  If you have unfortunately been on the wrong end of a bed bugs bite, I’m sure it is something you won’t want to experience again, hopefully this article has will be helpful to you doing your own pest control.

Finally, I must mention that it might be a bit slow to act in the event of an overwhelming bed bug infestation. In this case, call in the help of a professional pest exterminator. You can go ahead and request if they have organic pesticides which are much safer and just as effective. 



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Dave Campbell

I'm Dave Campbell and the owner of You can read more about me and my background on my About Me page.

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