Does Salt Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs can turn a comfortable night’s sleep into a nightmare, leaving many desperate for a quick and inexpensive solution—anything to stop the little red spots, itching, and blood-soiled bedding. Although salt is often suggested as a natural remedy, it’s unfortunately ineffective in killing these parasitic pests.

This article will explore why such natural remedies—like salt—fall short. While salt may be effective at drying out insects like slugs to kill them, bed bugs are a trickier pest to deter. We’ll provide proven alternatives for actual effective bed bug elimination. Get rid of these unwanted bed fellows once and for all. 

Key Takeaways

Salt is not effective for killing bed bugs.
Cold treatment is effective for killing bed bugs. Unfortunately, its usually not possible to freeze every infected item – beds, for example.
Heat treatments are extremely effective at killing bed bugs. This is typically done using the washing machine and dryer or by using a steam cleaner.
Chemical treatments are perhaps the most popular method. These are difficult to effectively implement safely by the average layperson. If chemical treatments are needed, it’s probably time to call in a pest control professional.

The Effectiveness of Salt in Killing Bed Bugs

Salt is often misconceived as an effective remedy for killing bed bugs, but it is actually ineffective due to the inability of salt to penetrate their hard exoskeleton.

Misconceptions About Salt

Despite being a common household ingredient, salt’s reputation as a bed bug killer is largely due to misconceptions and old wives’ tales. The belief that regular table salt can desiccate and kill these pests is widespread, yet there is no scientific evidence backing this claim.

Perhaps it stems from the avoidance of salt by these insects. 

Bed bugs possess an exoskeleton and skin which do not absorb salt, thwarting its alleged offensive properties. Moreover, it’s crucial to understand the difference between standard table salt and specific insecticidal salts used in professional pest control solutions.

These specialized salts are engineered for insect extermination while your usual kitchen variety isn’t. Ultimately, relying on such unfounded remedies often leads to frustration as they hardly reduce bed bug populations significantly.

Salt Cannot Penetrate Bed Bugs’ Exoskeleton

Renowned for its absorbent properties, salt has been misconstrued as an effective bed bug killer. However, the reality is far from this common belief. Salt does not possess the ability to permeate a bed bug’s exoskeleton – a crucial component in exterminating these resilient pests.

Bed bugs’ hardy exoskeletons act as robust barriers that prevent foreign substances from infiltrating their internal organs. This includes table salt, known scientifically as sodium chloride.

Unlike some other insects and pests with less protective outer shells, bed bugs are unaffected by salt due to their tough skin cells and non-permeable exoskeletons — a unique adaptation of these stubborn creatures which aids in their survival against harsh conditions.

Salt in a Bowl with a Wooden Spoon

Alternative Treatments

One popular alternative for bed bug extermination is the use of diatomaceous earth. This naturally occurring mineral is known to effectively eliminate many pests, including bed bugs. It works by penetrating their exoskeleton and dehydrating them from within, leading to their death.

However, DIY solutions such as these fall short of being a permanent solution and may not be effective against larger infestations or resilient nests hidden in hard-to-reach places in your home.

Hiring professional pest control services with access to more potent treatments can guarantee complete eradication and offer long-term solutions for bed bug infestations.

Biology of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs possess a physiology that renders them resistant to salt, making it ineffective in eradicating infestations.

Bed Bugs’ Resistance

Bed bugs have a unique physiology that makes them highly resistant to salt. Unlike other pests such as slugs, which can be killed by the dehydrating effects of salt, bed bugs are not easily affected by it.

Insects like bed bugs have tiny pores in their nerve cells’ membranes that allow sodium ions to enter, triggering nerve impulses. Salt alone is unable to penetrate these pores at the concentration needed to cause harm to bed bugs.

This resistance further emphasizes the importance of understanding the biology and habitat of these pests for effective management and control strategies in eliminating infestations.

Adaptations That Help Bed Bugs Survive

Bed bugs are formidable pests that have evolved several adaptations to help them survive in various conditions. One crucial adaptation is their ability to withstand high levels of stress and thrive in different environments.

They can endure extreme temperatures, from freezing cold to scorching heat, and even survive without feeding for extended periods. Bed bugs have also developed resistance mechanisms against certain pesticides, making it more challenging to eradicate infestations.

Understanding these adaptations is crucial for effective bed bug control strategies.

Another adaptation that aids bed bugs’ survival is their ability to molt and grow larger by shedding their exoskeletons. This process allows them to accommodate new growth and continue reproducing effectively.

However, while they may possess these remarkable abilities, it’s important to note that salt alone does not have a significant effect on killing bed bugs due to the insects’ physiology and the inability of salt crystals to penetrate their exoskeletons deeply.

To combat bed bug infestations successfully, alternative treatments such as professional pest control services, heat treatments, or chemical treatments should be considered. Additionally, DIY solutions like using baking soda as an alternative to salt or employing methods such as vacuuming and steam cleaning can aid in controlling the problem.

Effective Methods for Eliminating Bed Bugs

Professional pest control services, heat treatments, and chemical treatments are the most effective methods for eliminating bed bugs.

Professional Pest Control

Professional pest control services are the most effective method for eliminating bed bugs. These experts have the knowledge, experience, and specialized tools to thoroughly inspect your home, identify the extent of the infestation, and develop a targeted treatment plan.

Bed bug extermination requires a combination of techniques, including heat treatments and targeted pesticide use. DIY solutions may provide temporary relief but often fail to completely eradicate these persistent pests.

By enlisting the help of professional pest control services, you can ensure that your home is free from bed bugs and prevent their return.

Heat Treatments

Heat treatments are widely considered to be the most effective method for eliminating bed bugs. These treatments involve the use of heat, usually in the form of steam, to raise the temperature in infested areas to levels that instantly kill bed bugs and their eggs.

Unlike chemical treatments, which can be site-specific and depend on getting to the pests, heat treatments are able to penetrate deep into cracks, crevices, furniture, and other hiding spots where bed bugs may reside.

This makes them highly efficient at eradicating infestations quickly and thoroughly. Professional pest control services have access to more intensive heat treatment methods that can even treat entire houses, ensuring complete elimination of these pesky insects.

Steam Cleaning a Dirty Carpet

Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatments are a popular and effective method for eliminating bed bugs. These treatments use specially formulated insecticides that target both adult bed bugs and their eggs, ensuring complete eradication of the infestation.

Unlike natural remedies, chemical treatments have been scientifically proven to be highly effective in killing bed bugs and preventing reinfestation.

Professional pest control companies often use chemical sprays or dusts that contain powerful ingredients designed to penetrate deep into cracks, crevices, and other hiding places where bed bugs may be hiding.

These insecticides work by disrupting the nervous system of bed bugs, ultimately leading to their demise. In addition to treating visible areas of infestation, professionals also apply these chemicals in hard-to-reach spots where bed bugs are known to hide.

It is important to note that when using chemical treatments for bed bug control, it is crucial to follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer or professional exterminator carefully. This includes wearing protective clothing and equipment during application, as well as taking precautions to minimize exposure to humans and pets.

DIY Solutions for Bed Bugs

In addition to professional pest control methods, there are a number of DIY solutions that can help in managing bed bug infestations effectively. 

These include using household products like baking soda as an alternative to salt, diatomaceous earth, vacuuming, high-temp steam cleaning, and washing and drying infested items at high temperatures for prolonged periods.

Vacuuming and Steam Cleaning

Regular vacuuming and steam cleaning are essential components of any DIY solution for bed bug control. Vacuuming helps to physically remove bed bugs, their eggs, and the tiny larvae from surfaces like mattresses, carpets, and furniture.

It is important to use a vacuum with strong suction power and a HEPA filter to ensure that the captured pests are effectively trapped inside. Steam cleaning, on the other hand, is highly effective in killing bed bugs instantly as it uses high temperatures to kill them on contact.

The heat from the steam penetrates cracks and crevices where these pests hide, ensuring a thorough extermination process. Both methods should be used in combination with other treatments such as washing infested items at high temperatures or using insecticides for optimal results in eliminating bed bugs from your home.

Steam Cleaning a Tan Carpet

Washing and Drying Items at High Temperatures

One of the most effective DIY solutions for bed bug control is washing and drying infested items at high temperatures. Bed bugs and their eggs are highly sensitive to heat, and subjecting them to hot water can effectively eliminate them.

Washing bedding, clothing, and other washable items in hot water that exceeds 120°F (49°C) can kill bed bugs and their eggs

This method is recommended by the US EPA for bed bug control due to its effectiveness. We just want to note that for eggs specifically, this temperature has to be sustained for a period of 60-90 minutes. A prolonged rinse and dry cycle should do the trick. 


Salt is quite simply not an effective solution for killing bed bugs. Despite online misconceptions and repeated misinformation, bed bugs’ physiology and hard-shelled exoskeleton make them resistant to the bactericidal and drying properties of salt.

If you are dealing with a serious bed bug infestation, we would always recommend seeking professional pest control services, or considering effective alternative treatments such as high heat treatments.

DIY solutions like vacuuming, steam cleaning, and washing/drying infested items at high temperatures can help manage the problem, kill off bed bugs and their eggs—-but may not be enough to completely eradicate the infestation. 

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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