Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs? The Ultimate Guide

Does rubbing alcohol kill bed bugs? Rubbing alcohol does kill bed bugs on contact, but there are way too many downsides to using it as an effective treatment. 

Dealing with a bed bug infestation is a nightmare for anyone. If you’ve been searching for an effective way to eliminate bed bugs, one solution you may have encountered is rubbing alcohol. But does rubbing alcohol really kill bed bugs and their eggs? Let’s explore this further.

While it’s true that isopropyl alcohol, known as rubbing alcohol, has the potential to kill bed bugs and their eggs, it’s not considered an effective method for the complete eradication of an infestation. Rubbing alcohol must be directly applied to the bugs, which can be challenging since they often hide in hard-to-reach places like mattress seams and cracks in furniture.

Moreover, rubbing alcohol is only effective in killing the visible bugs, not those deep out of reach, making the odds of eliminating a bed bug infestation quite slim.

Instead of relying solely on rubbing alcohol, consider incorporating other methods, such as vacuuming, washing your belongings in a high-heat dryer, and using non-chemical methods like heat treatments or steaming.

Implementing a multi-faceted approach, alongside chemical treatments, can increase your chances of successfully getting rid of bed bugs in your home.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs on Contact?

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs

As we mentioned in our article, “What kills bed bugs instantly?” Yes, 91% rubbing alcohol is one of the things that kills bed bugs.

Although rubbing alcohol can kill some bed bugs, it is not entirely practical, plus it’s unsafe. According to a 2013 study by Changlu Wang, spraying groups of bed bugs with alcohol only killed half of them, and the surviving ones were still alive even four days later.

How Rubbing Alcohol Works

Rubbing alcohol, specifically isopropyl alcohol, can kill bed bugs and their eggs when directly applied to them, but it’s not 100% effective.

What happens is that the alcohol eats away at their outer shell, desiccates them, and harms their respiratory system, causing death. However, while it does kill most bed bugs on contact, it isn’t a lasting solution.

You Need to Drench the Bed Bugs Completely

To effectively eradicate these troublesome pests, you must ensure that the bed bugs and their eggs are entirely saturated with alcohol. Achieving this is quite difficult without creating a health hazard of fumes. 

Additionally, keep in mind the alcohol will dry relatively quickly, and it mainly affects only the visible bugs –not the ones that are hidden in your mattress or their eggs.

Thus, the chances of rubbing alcohol actually exterminating an entire bed bug infestation are quite slim.

Remember to be cautious when using rubbing alcohol to kill bed bugs since it is flammable. Avoid contact with open flames, heat sources, or electrical outlets.

We do not recommend that you spray DIY alcohol for bed bugs. In short, while rubbing alcohol does kill bed bugs and eggs on contact, it might not be the most effective solution. To truly get rid of an infestation, consider seeking help from a professional pest control expert.

91% rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and bed bugs

Why Rubbing Alcohol is Not the Best Option

Risk of Flammability

Rubbing alcohol is highly flammable, which poses a significant risk when using it to combat bed bugs. If you accidentally expose it to an open flame or spark, it can easily ignite and cause a fire in your home.

Furthermore, its fumes are also flammable, posing additional hazards. So, while it may kill some bed bugs, the potential danger outweighs the benefits.

Limited Effectiveness

Although rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs, its effectiveness is limited. To eliminate bed bugs with isopropyl alcohol, apply it directly to the bugs and their eggs.

However, this is not a practical solution, as bed bugs can hide in hard-to-reach areas, making direct application challenging. Additionally, even if you manage to kill a few bed bugs, it’s unlikely to eradicate the entire infestation.

Alcohol Wipes Will Not Kill Them

Many of our clients ask me if they can use alcohol wipes to kill bed bugs. You might think using alcohol wipes is an excellent alternative to rubbing alcohol, but unfortunately, they won’t kill bed bugs either.

The alcohol on the wipes evaporates too quickly to have a lasting effect on bed bugs. Plus, since you can’t drench the bugs with a wipe, it will not have any killing power.

Wiping a Surface with Alcohol Will Do Nothing

Cleaning surfaces with alcohol will not help you get rid of bed bugs. They’re excellent hiders and can live in crevices, cracks, and other hidden spots like bed frames, baseboards, and furniture joints. Wiping down surfaces might give you a false sense of relief, but it won’t address the underlying problem.

All in all, while rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs, it’s not the best option due to its flammability, limited effectiveness, and the ineffectiveness of alcohol wipes.

Exploring other methods, such as professional extermination, is essential to eliminate bed bugs from your home effectively.

Safer and More Effective Alternatives

Heat Treatment

One amazingly effective way to eliminate bed bugs is through heat treatment. Exposing your infested items to temperatures above 120°F (49°C) can kill all stages of bed bugs, including their eggs. The time you need to hold the items at that temperature will depend on how much stuff you are treating.

You can achieve this by using professional heat treatment services or even using one of the portable hot boxes for bed bugs.

Pesticides and Insecticides

Pesticides and insecticides designed explicitly for bed bug control can also effectively eradicate them from your home. Look for licensed bed bug specialists in your area to help you with this. If you live in the New York area, call us, and we can help you find someone trustworthy. We do not recommend DIY chemical treatments.

Ensure you give the treatments enough time to work, as some bed bugs may resist common pesticides. Using a combination of chemicals (applied by a licensed exterminator), heat, and vacuuming is your best bet.

Remember that applying excessive amounts or using them more often than indicated on the label can pose risks to your health.

Cryonite Treatment

Cryonite treatment is another alternative method for bed bug control. It involves freezing bed bugs by spraying them with carbon dioxide “snow” at very low temperatures, around -77°C (-110°F).

Cryonite is an eco-friendly method that’s chemical-free and leads to the immediate death of bed bugs upon contact. However, seeking professional help for this treatment may be best, as using the equipment effectively requires proper training.


Consider using Aprehend, a biopesticide designed explicitly for bed bug control. It contains a fungus (Beauveria bassiana) that infects and kills bed bugs.

You’ll need to find a certified, licensed applicator to use Aprehend. You can look them up state by state on the Aprehend site.

An Aprehend technician will apply it as a spray. Doing this will allow bed bugs that come into contact with the treated areas to carry the spores back to their harborages, spreading the fungus among the population. Multiple applications may be necessary for complete eradication, and following the guidance of a professional is essential.

Remember, you have various safer and more effective alternatives at your disposal for eliminating bed bugs. Always prioritize your safety and choose the method that suits your situation best.

Preventing Bed Bug Infestations

You can do many things to prevent bed bugs; we do all these regularly. It won’t seem like a chore if you incorporate each bed bug prevention strategy into your daily life.

Regular Inspections

One of the important ways to prevent bed bug infestations is by regularly inspecting your living spaces. Additionally, you should pay particular attention to areas where bed bugs tend to hide, such as the seams of mattresses, bed frames, and box springs.

Be on the lookout for reddish-brown bugs, their eggs, fecal spots, early bed bug stains, and discarded exoskeletons. Early detection is crucial in preventing a full-blown infestation.


Frequent vacuuming can help to remove any bed bugs and their eggs that may have found their way into your home. Focusing on more vacuuming may help you suck up a bug before it ever bites you.

Remember to focus on bed frames, backs of couches, seams of mattresses, closets, cushioned seats, and any cracks, seams, and crevices where bed bugs might hide. After vacuuming, empty the contents outside in a sealed plastic bag to avoid the risk of re-infestation.

Implementing Stringent Monitoring Techniques

To further reduce the likelihood of a bed bug infestation, it’s essential to implement stringent monitoring techniques. Here are some methods we use to prevent bringing bed bugs home.

  • Using bed bug interceptor traps: These devices can be placed under the legs of your bed or furniture to catch and monitor any bed bugs attempting to climb up. Regularly checking these traps will help you identify an infestation early on.

  • Change clothing as soon as you get home: Put your clothes into the high-heat dryer or Thermal strike bed bug heater anytime you sit somewhere in public. ⬅️ is probably your number one life-saving prevention tip for bed bugs. The great thing about having the Thermal Strike is that you can heat any new items you buy. So any items coming into your home will be heat treated. More importantly, It is what we do; therefore, we recommend doing this for prevention.

  • Encasing mattresses and box springs: Protective covers will make it impossible for bed bugs to enter and hide in these areas and make it easier to spot signs of an infestation.

  • Avoiding secondhand furniture: Refrain from bringing used furniture into your home, as it may already have bed bugs. If you must use secondhand furniture, thoroughly inspect and clean it before introducing it to your living space.

  • Travel precautions: prevent bringing bed bugs home: When staying in hotels or traveling, inspect the bed and furniture for signs of bed bugs. Keep your luggage and carry-on away from the bed, and consider using a luggage rack or a sealed bag to limit potential exposure.

To effectively prevent a bed bug infestation in your home, it is imperative that you diligently implement these prevention measures. Remember, early detection and action are critical in controlling various pests.

Final Thoughts for Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

As you’ve learned, rubbing alcohol can indeed kill bed bugs, but it may not be the most effective treatment option. It’s important to remember that it has to come in direct contact with them and in a significant amount to be effective. Plus, it’s unlikely to eliminate all of them, and the fumes are dangerous.

Bed bugs are incredibly resilient and require a multi-pronged strategy for proper eradication. You might have tried rubbing alcohol as a home remedy, which can be a starting point when dealing with a bed bug infestation. However, it’s crucial to recognize that there are more complete solutions.

While exploring your options, remember that high heat at 120°F or intense cold at 32°F (0°C) can effectively kill bed bugs without chemicals. High heat must be included alongside other treatments, like professional extermination services.

Remember that dealing with a bed bug infestation can be a challenging and frustrating process. It’s imperative to be patient and persistent when tackling the issue. Feel free to reach out for help if you feel overwhelmed, and always consult a professional when in doubt.

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