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The Effectiveness of Using Rubbing Alcohol to Kill Bed Bugs: What You Need to Know

Rubbing alcohol for bed bugs

Table of Contents

Rubbing alcohol, often known as isopropyl alcohol, is a popular home substance with several purposes. One of the most common claims regarding rubbing alcohol is that it may be used to eliminate bed bugs. Does it, however, work?

There are a number of ways to get rid of bed bugs, and some may question if rubbing alcohol is one of them. Considering many people are looking for safe and affordable solutions to get rid of bed bug infestations this is a common question pest professionals need to answer. While there are many ways to deal with bed bug infestations on your own, using interceptors and glue traps, we are focusing more on rubbing alcohol today and its effectiveness on pests.

This post will examine the evidence for and against rubbing alcohol to eliminate bed bugs. We'll also provide tips on getting rid of bed bugs and keeping them from coming again.

Bed bugs on the mattress and the rubbing alcohol application

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs if in direct contact with adult specimens, but it’s not 100% efficient, and it’s a highly flammable substance.

In a recent study laboratory studies by Rutgers University came to the conclusion that:

“Direct spray of either of these two products killed a maximum of 50% of the bed bugs. In addition to their low efficacy, rubbing alcohol products are flammable materials, can create a fire hazard, and should not be used to control bed bugs.”

So, rubbing alcohol might be one of the most recommended ways to deal with bed bugs, because it’s cheap and the results are instant on visible bed bugs. However, bed bugs are very small and can hide practically anywhere so the efficiency of rubbing alcohol becomes questionable for all the pests living in your mattress, floor, furniture, and even electrical outlets.

Considering you are not able to reach all the places with rubbing alcohol, and that all the eggs will survive this is not the optimal way to deal with the pest. Keep on reading to find out the most efficient methods to get rid of bed bugs once and for all.

How long does it take for rubbing alcohol to kill bed bugs?

Rubbing alcohol kills the bed bugs instantly if applied directly because it’s dissolvent and a desiccant that will dry out the exoskeleton of bed bugs, and dry them out. This means the bed bugs that come into contact with high-percentage rubbing alcohol will die immediately. 

But, considering how flammable this solution is and its low efficiency on bed bug eggs, there are far better remedies you can try. For example, simple and affordable Diatomaceous Earth Powder will also dry out the bed bugs' external layer dehydrating them to death, but it's more efficient and safer to use all around your home.

With specialized dusters with long nozzles, you can spray Diatomaceous Earth Powder in all the nooks and crannies the bed bugs might be hiding, and it’s also efficient on other pests such as roaches and silverfish.

DE duster

What percent of rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs?

70% or 91% is the usual percentage of rubbing alcohol used in the household so it’s the one used on bed bugs the most. While the percentage is important when you are dealing with bacteria it’s not as important when you want to kill bed bugs.

Keep in mind that even if you try using rubbing alcohol you should always include other methods such as interceptor traps and bed bug glue traps. In case the bed bug infestation is severe it’s always a good idea to contact professionals. 

Alternatives for Rubbing Alcohol to Eliminate Bed Bugs

In addition to or instead of using rubbing alcohol, there are various additional ways for eliminating bed bugs.

Among the most popular are:

  • Interceptor traps - Durable plastic cups that you can place under each bed leg to capture all the bed bugs that try to climb into your bed. The interceptors are great for confirming the bed bug infestation and work great with glue traps to eliminate most of the bed bugs from your bedroom.
  • Heat - Bed bugs do not tolerate high temperatures so many people deal with infestations with special heaters that eliminate all the bed bugs and eggs. It’s also a good idea to wash all the items you can in high temperatures and use a laundry detergent that kills bed bugs to eliminate all of them at once.
  • Exterminators - If you notice the infestation is severe or you simply don’t want to deal with the bed bugs alone you should call professionals. They always have the best tools and methods to eliminate pests faster and more efficiently.
Bed bug in the interceptor trap

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, yes, rubbing alcohol can be used to kill bed bugs. It is crucial to remember, however, that it is not a complete solution on its own. Bed bugs are tough to eradicate, and it is usually necessary to use a multi-pronged strategy to properly eradicate an infestation.

There are a few things to bear in mind while using rubbing alcohol to eliminate bed bugs:

  • To begin, rubbing alcohol is most effective when applied directly to the bugs. It will be less effective if applied to surfaces and locations where bugs are prone to hide. This is due to the fact that rubbing alcohol must come into close touch with the bugs in order to destroy them.
  • Another thing to bear in mind is that rubbing alcohol works exclusively on mature bed bugs. Because rubbing alcohol does not destroy eggs and nymphs, additional treatments, like insecticides or steam cleaning, must be used to target these phases of the bed bug life cycle.
  • Finally, apply rubbing alcohol in a well-ventilated place to prevent breathing the fumes. It's also not suggested for use on textiles or upholstery since it might discolor or harm them.


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