Does Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are well know for being notoriously difficult to kill. There are lots of natural solutions and some work better than others. The good news is that alcohol does kill bed bugs. But, the bad news is that there’s a lot more to it than that.

In this articles, we’ll unpack:

  • The elusive nature of bed bugs
  • Alcohol’s role in this battle
  • What precautions to take when using alcohol

Key Takeaways

These tiny, blood-sucking critters are pros at hide-and-seek, making them a real pain. They are also extremely resilient and are very difficult to kill.
Alcohol, like isopropyl, can kill bed bugs on contact, but it’s not a miracle solution. It’s a quick fix that evaporates fast and doesn’t reach hidden bugs or their eggs.
If you’re using alcohol, be smart. It’s flammable, so only spot-treat, ensure good ventilation, and keep it away from flames.
Heat treatment, specific pesticides, and natural solutions like diatomaceous earth are in the game. Combine methods and be vigilant.
Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to treat so don’t hesitate to reach out to a pest control professional.

The Nature and Resilience of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs: tiny, oval, brownish critters that survive by feasting on human blood. Sounds horrifying, right? These insects are pros at hide-and-seek, tucking themselves away in mattress seams, cracks, crevices, and even your favorite armchair. 

Bed Bugs With Eggs on Underside of Chair
Public Domain

A bed bug infestation isn’t just an itchy nuisance. Beyond the discomfort of their bites, these bugs can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, not to mention the psychological distress of sharing your bed with unwanted guests.

And here’s a kicker: they’re pros at spreading across rooms, hitching rides on luggage, clothes, or any item they can cling to.

As for getting rid of these bothersome borders? Standard solutions range from pesticides to heat treatments. The strategy depends on the severity of the infestation and the environment. 

But let’s be clear: not all solutions are created equal.

Some bed bugs have grown resistant to certain pesticides. Not every remedy is safe for every household, especially those with pets or children.

Alcohol as a Bed Bug Exterminator

You might’ve heard whispers in the wind about alcohol being a quick fix. And it’s true—to an extent. Rubbing alcohol, particularly isopropyl can kill bed bugs on contact.

How Effective is Alcohol

While it might sound like a dream solution, it’s not all that simple. Relying solely on alcohol can be a gamble. It evaporates quickly, meaning its effect can be short-lived, and it doesn’t reach those deeply hidden bugs. 

It is ineffective at killing bed bug eggs So you may be able to kill the bed bugs you see, but you’re missing the ones you can’t see and you aren’t taking care of the next generation.

Plus, there’s a glaring drawback: alcohol is flammable. Using it excessively, especially without proper precautions, poses a fire risk.

Alcohol as a Spot Treatment

The savvy approach? If you’re using alcohol, it’s best as a spot treatment. Spray a mixture of 90% isopropyl alcohol and water directly on the bugs or their known hideouts. But remember: it’s a band-aid solution.

While isopropyl is the most common recommendation, ethanol can also work. However, it’s the high alcohol content (90% or more) that does the trick, disrupting the bed bug’s outer cell membrane. But like all things in life, moderation is key. Overuse can lead to reduced effectiveness, not to mention the safety concerns above.

Potential Consequences and Precautions

Using alcohol to combat bed bugs might sound like a handy home remedy, but it doesn’t come without risks. It’s crucial to remember that while alcohol can be a friend in this fight, it can quickly become a foe if misused.

Alcohol is Flamable

For starters, let’s talk fire. Alcohol, especially in higher concentrations, is highly flammable. Carelessly spraying it around your home could turn a minor issue into a catastrophic fire disaster. Inhaling the fumes can be harmful, causing respiratory problems, headaches, or even nausea.

So, what’s the safer route? If you’re insistent on using alcohol, ensure your space is well-ventilated. Open windows or turn on fans. Diluting the alcohol with water can also reduce its flammability (though it may affect its efficacy against bugs).

This might sound like a no-brainer but never use alcohol sprays near open flames or potential spark sources.

Alcohol Fume Inhalation

It’s not just about what you do but how you do it. While ventilation is vital, also consider where you store it. Keep it away from heaters, stoves, and other heat sources. And remember, it’s for spot treatment. You’re not trying to recreate a doctor’s office throughout your home!

Alternative Solutions

While alcohol can play a part, it’s not the only contender in the anti-bed bug arena. There are numerous ways to send these pests packing.

Heat Treatment

One popular option is heat treatment. Bed bugs aren’t fans of high temperatures. By raising the room temperature to around 118°F, you can exterminate them. However, this method requires specialized equipment and can be pricier than DIY solutions. On the upside, it’s chemical-free and often very effective.

Steam Cleaning a Tan Carpet


Pesticides specifically designed for bed bugs are also on the table. But be cautious; some bugs have become resistant to certain chemicals. It’s also paramount to consider health implications, especially in homes with kids or pets.

Diatomaceous Earth

For a more natural touch, diatomaceous earth is a game-changer. This fine powder, made from fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms, can dehydrate and kill bed bugs. Sprinkle it in known infested areas, and wait. It’s not an overnight solution, but it’s chemical-free and relatively safe, provided you’re not inhaling the dust.

Diatomaceous Earth Powder Poured on a Table

Every solution has its place. Some are quick fixes, while others are marathon runners. What is the best approach? Combine methods, stay informed, and consider consulting a professional if things get out of hand.


Alcohol can potentially kill bed bugs, but it’s not a silver bullet. While it offers a quick solution, it comes with significant risks, like flammability and health concerns.

Ensuring proper precautions can mitigate some of these. It’s also worth noting that various alternative methods, from heat treatments to natural solutions like diatomaceous earth, can be as effective without some associated risks.

Dealing with bed bugs can be frustrating, but it’s essential to approach the issue with informed choices. If ever in doubt, seeking professional help is always a smart move. Knowledge is your best defense.

Arm yourself with the right strategies, and you’ll be on your way to a bug-free home. If this article sheds some light, why not share it? Help friends and family stay informed. After all, the more we know, the better we can tackle these unwelcome guests!

Photo of author
Sean is the founder of Conquer Critters. With more than 17 years of experience in dealing with various pests, he is passionate about spreading his knowledge to help everyone manage their pest problem in the fastest, most effective manor possible.

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