Does baking soda really kill bed bugs? – the truth

Dave Campbell

Bed bugs are pretty much a modern plague. They have been a pesky nightmare for many people, literally giving them sleepless nights and making them consider all possible ways of getting rid of bed bugs. One of the most popular bed bug home remedies is baking soda.

The truth is that many of the claimed home remedies for bed bugs, for instance salt, vinegar, essential oils, and so forth, don’t work well, if at all. So, let’s see if baking soda is an option you should consider as a measure against a bed bug infestation and effective pest control.

The facts about baking powder

Baking soda or baking powder, is a common term for the chemical called sodium bicarbonate. It is a very common household item, and it has applications in cooking, cleaning, and even medicine. Below are some claims made about baking soda as a home remedy and how it can kill bed bugs.

1. It Causes Dehydration

The reason some argue that baking soda can kill bed bugs is that it has strong absorbing powers. And that’s true, which is why the product is used to remove bad smells in old books and refrigerators.

Bed bugs have a layer of oil protecting them from dehydration, which can be eliminated using baking soda. Removal of this layer leads to dehydration in a bed bug, and ultimately causes their death.

2. It Can Make the Bed Bugs Explode

Some argue, that as in cockroaches, baking soda, when consumed by bed bugs, can cause them to explode. The chemical reacts in the insect’s body and a lot of gas is generated that builds up and makes the bed bug blow up and die.

3. It Can Open Up Fatal Wounds on the Bed Bugs

Another explanation on how baking soda kills bed bugs is that it is abrasive enough to open up fatal wounds on the underbellies of these insects. From there, bleeding, infection, and the aforesaid dehydration can them bring about death for the bed bug. Some people swear by this homemade solution as an effective way to kill bed bugs.

Check out the SayByeBugs Bed Bug Spray. Many people report it to be very effective.

Keeping bedbugs away from your house

The scientific evidence does not back some of the above explanations on how baking soda kills bed bugs. Good science says that baking soda can absorb, but only odors and some select chemicals. Fluids like the oil layer found on bed bug’s body are not easily absorbed by baking soda, if at all.

Also, as far as science goes, the idea that baking soda is abrasive enough to open wounds on a bed bug’s belly is quite a reach. Similarly, the theory about bed bugs eating the powder and exploding is also quite questionable. For one thing, these insects don’t have a taste for baking powder. In fact, even their digestive anatomy does not make it possible for them to consume substances like baking soda. Read more about effective bed bug treatments.

soda on carpet
Apply baking soda to a carpet

So does it work against bed bugs?

There may be all these arguments and counterarguments about applying baking soda to kill bed bugs, but at the end of the day, what matters is whether the intervention works or not. And if so, to what extent is it an good form of pest control.

Luckily, science does admit that the baking soda adheres to the soft underbellies of these pests; and that this does not bond well for them. So yes, bed bugs can succumb from exposure to this household item, but maybe not in the way most people think. So yes to some extent baking soda could be a good homemade remedy for killing bed bugs.

A bed bug is an insect that lives on surface in a house, such as bedding, mattresses, carpets and also clothing. Bed bugs vary in size and appearance because they feed on human blood and as they feed, they get bigger. So the difference in size between one bed bug and another might just be because one has eaten and another hasn’t. When bed bugs bite, they can leave an itchy rash behind on skin and cause some irritation. They also lay eggs and when their larvae hatch, they look like little white specks. Bed bugs are usually active at night and during the day can be hiding inside a mattress or bedding. An adult bed bug can grow to about 1 cm long and appears as a brown color. Some mistake bed bugs for other insects as they can look a it like mini cockroaches. It is believed that bedbugs can bite the bite the scalp under your hair.

One of the most common way for bed bugs to enter a house is after people come back from holiday or vacation, and bring them back in their suitcases. Even a single bed bug that is able to lay eggs, can cause a lot of havoc once they multiply. Some signs of bed bugs to look out for are tiny blood stain on your sheets. Also a bed bug can shed it’s skin and leave traces on you bedding. Bed bugs can also give off a strange smell. The other thing to look out for is little rust colored dropping that a bed bug can leave behind.

How effective is this method?

While some theories suggest that it is not possible to kill bed bugs with baking soda at all, the truth is that people have reported some level of effective pest control when applying. But this is largely a question of how well the product is used, and the level of patience you have with the method.

Those who say baking soda works recommend that you apply it effectively to witness any noticeable difference. Otherwise, you will be convinced that baking soda cannot kill a bed bug.

It is also recommended that you exercise a bit of patience when trying baking soda to get rid of bed bugs. In other words, if you are looking for instant results, baking powder might not be the solution you are looking for.

The household chemical takes time before it can take a toll on the bed bugs crawling from room to room.. And finally, those who have reported some level of success when using it, it’s strongly recommend that you use it in conjunction with other interventions.

Anyone who has dealt with bed bugs has an idea as to how resilient these creatures can be. They have even been known to survive very hazardous chemicals specifically designed to kill them. So, you should not expect any magical solution from using baking soda to eliminate them.

Basically, a multifaceted approach is what works best for bed bug pest control. But even then, make sure you follow the right application procedure.

Signs on sheets
Signs of bed bugs on sheets

Steps for best results

How effectively does baking soda kill bed bugs? First of all, there are many ways you can use baking soda to deal with bed bugs. Firstly, you can mix the baking soda with water in a bowl to make a paste. You can then paint this paste in areas where the bed bugs might hide using a toothbrush such as on cracks, holes, chairs, mattresses, and so forth.

Basically, you should put the paste on all the places the bed bugs might walk through. Secondly, you can pile up a ring of baking soda around the legs of your bed. The bed bugs that pass through the powder will succumb to its deadly effects and die.

You can also sprinkle the baking soda on the said areas of concern, or even on the carpet for effective bed bug pest control for your home. But as mentioned earlier, patience is key. You have to keep reapplying the baking soda as the bed bugs will not all die in one go. In other words, this is a long-term process.

Also remember, as mentioned earlier, that throwing in two or three other bed bug control methods can magnify the outcome. This way, the bugs that fail to die from the baking soda for some reason or another can die from any of the other interventions you are using. This home remedy for bed bugs will help you get faster and more effective conclusion.


Can you leave sodium bicarbonate on a mattress?

Baking soda is an effective way of getting rid of bad smells, so for that reason alone it is useful for removing odours from a mattress. To freshen up a mattress, leave the baking powder for at least and hour on the surface and then vacuum. To solve a bed bug problem, you may want to leave for longer. If you can get your mattress outside, even better and there you can deal with a bed bug issue without them getting loose around other parts of your property.

Other types of home remedy

Some people have reported good results with using diatomaceous earth, like an alternative to baking soda treat bed bugs. It is a completely natural solution and bed bugs hate crawling over it and will do anything to avoid areas treated with diatomaceous earth. It is something readily available from hardware and garden store and also at online shops such as Amazon or Target. Read more about diatomaceous earth here.


Generally speaking, baking soda is something you can use to eradicate your bed bug problem. But you have to be realistic about what it can actually accomplish. Additionally, you have to apply it diligently to get the expected outcome.

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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