Does Rubbing Alcohol Kills Bed Bugs?

Rubbing alcohol to kill bed bugs

Bed bug (Cimex Lectularius) is an insect that feeds on human blood and therefore likes to be near beds, sofas, rugs and box springs. Which are usually close to its food source : You !) Brown or reddish in color and measuring 4 to 9 mm, it is a very hard to kill parasite that can stay for months without feeding blood. Its bites are similar to those of mosquitoes, causing severe itching. You may spot streaks of blood or small black stains on your sheets, if those critters set up residence in your home. In this case, you have to act very quickly and here are several natural tips for you to get rid of an infestation. Rubbing alcohol is one of them. In this article, we will answer the question : Does Rubbing Alcohol Kills Bed Bugs?

What is Rubbing Alcohol ?

Rubbing Alcohol is Isopropyl alcohol mixed with water. It is a good solvent for waxes, oils, resins and many other products. Thus, it is mainly used as a solvent:

  • In formulations of varnishes, paints, primers, inks, strippers and adhesives
  • In the food and pharmaceutical sectors, for the extraction and purification of various natural products: alkaloids, aromas, gums, oils, proteins, vitamins, etc.
  • In electronics, as a cleaning solvent for integrated circuits and semiconductors.
  • In many household products, such as floor detergent, shoe polish, insecticide, window cleaner, air freshener, car window de-icer, disinfectant
  • In cosmetics, such as lotions, perfumes, shampoos, skin cleansers, nail polish, makeup removers, deodorants, body oils, hair sprays, etc.


Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs ?

The Isopropyl alcohol in Rubbing alcohol is extremely acidic. As a result, Bed bugs do not support the smell at all or contact with this product.

It exterminates them in two ways :

First acting as a solvent, which means slowly dissolve and destroy the pest’ protective shell (also called exoskeleton).

Then, once the protection from the insect is gone, it dries out the bug due to its desiccant properties. Bed bug eggs are handled the same way : dissolving them first, then by dehydrating which will prevent hatching a new generation of bugs.

Rubbing Alcohol is inexpensive, readily available, and can be effective against those pests. So why isn’t everyone choosing this tool to end their bed bug infestation?

In some studies, Scientists reported that not all bed bugs died when they came in contact with Rubbing Alcohol. Only up to 60% of adult bugs died after being directly sprayed with the solution containing Isopropyl. You must apply another Pest Control method to kill the remaining 40% of bedbugs. Thus, Rubbing Alcohol is useful but you should use it in combination with other DIY methods.


What percentage of Rubbing Alcohol kills Bed Bugs?

A concentration of at least 70% alcohol is required to provoke bed bugs death. Lower alcoholic concentrations may be too weak to penetrate the bed bug’s outer shell. However, even a 70% solution may not be a fully reliable technique to kill every bug.

Hand sanitizers also do contain Isopropyl alcohol. If you want to learn more you can check our article on Hand Sanitizers and Bed bugs.


Rubbing Alcohol kills bed bugs with direct contact

This means you have to spray directly on the bed bugs, and it can be extremely difficult to know where they are located in a room. They can hide in the tiniest spots – cracks in furniture, electrical outlets, between books on shelves. It can be nearly impossible to get this solution into these areas. Alcohol also evaporates quickly. Which makes it complicated as you need to directly spray on those critters for it to be truly lethal to them.


How long will it take for Isopropyl Alcohol to kill Bed bugs?

How long it takes for isopropyl alcohol to eradicate bed bugs depends on several factors :

  • How much water you add in the solution to kill those pests
  • The alcohol concentration of the isopropyl solution itself
  • The length of exposure of bugs to the solution.

What Pest Control experts generally admit is that 70% isopropyl alcohol solution will kill an adult bug in about a minute. You should spray directly on the bug.

Due to the shell of bed bugs eggs, isopropyl alcohol will not be as lethal for them. As the penetration will not be optimal inside the shell of the bed bug egg.


Does Isopropyl Alcohol repel bed bugs?

Isopropyl alcohol is not classified by Pest Control experts to repel bed bugs. It will not keep those pests away. They can easily move within an apartment or a building if they disturb or spray them. Therefore, using it as a repellent or a preventive measure may bring counterproductive results.

If you are looking for home remedies, readily available, to repel those bloodsuckers. You should consider Bleach to repel them. If you want to know more, you can have a look at our article on Bleach and Bed bugs.


How to use Rubbing Alcohol to get rid of Bed bugs

You should handle Rubbing Alcohol with precaution as it is flammable.  Always rely on the Manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Mix Rubbing alcohol and water inside of a spray bottle. We recommend you to go with an equal ratio : same quantity of Rubbing alcohol and water in the prepared solution.
  • Spray directly on bed bug nests and areas that they could potentially pass by. Be sure to spray the solution into all cracks and holes close to the bedding area. This is where those bloodsuckers like to hide.
  • Let the prepared solution dry entirely
  • Ventilate the room afterwards, to evacuate that alcohol smell in the room

You should repeat the spraying every 7 days. Until you see no more signs of these pests.


Rubbing Alcohol vs Vinegar to get rid of Bed bugs ?

Rubbing alcohol and vinegar are home remedies that you can use as a DIY method to get rid of bed bugs. However those two weapons are not comparable when it comes to those critters :

Rubbing alcohol will kill on contact, up to 60% of them. For best results it should be formulated at 70% alcohol at least. It has some killing effect on bed bugs but you cannot count on this substance alone to eradicate all of these bloodsuckers.

Pest Control experts do not consider Vinegar to be an effective substance to get rid of them. This is due to the fact that Vinegar is not as acidic as rubbing alcohol to penetrate deep into the insect’s exoskeleton and thus kill them. However it can help remove the pheromones released by the bugs.



We answered in this article the question : Does Rubbing Alcohol kill bed bugs ? The answer is yes to some degree, as we saw in this article. However you cannot only use Rubbing Alcohol to get rid of a large number of bugs. Best is to use insecticides designed and labeled for bed bugs. If you are interested in finding out the best insecticides for those blooduckers in the market you can have a look at our Best Bed Bugs Sprays Buying Guide.