Rubbing alcohol comes in a lot of different varieties, and is used in different household items. You can use it to kill bed bugs, but considering most of us are not pharmacists or good at chemistry.
Before using rubbing-alcohol make sure you are aware and understand all the risks for using alcohol in your home, and that it cannot match the results from a professional exterminator.
You might be confused on what type of alcohol to use for this purpose. Most think of using their regular alcoholic beverages stored in the fridge to kill bed bugs.
But that is not the best way to go forward with this extermination process.
You can find different products of rubbing alcohol on the market such as isopropyl alcohol or wintergreen alcohol that you can use for this purpose.
The biggest factor in how well alcohol will kill bed bugs is its concentration. So what percent of alcohol should you use.
Is 70% alcohol good to kill bed bugs?
A research conducted at Ohio University tested how different concentrations of alcohol can be more effective in killing bed bugs. They used distilled water as a placebo effect, just to confirm if bed bugs would die because of drowning and not alcohol.
The study was also divided into phases of light, medium and heavy application. Which means with each concentration the amount of substance sprayed on bed bugs was also tested.
According to the results, the highest mortality of bed bugs in light application were noticed with 70% alcohol concentration. Where 15% of bed bugs died, where other concentrations of bed bugs did not manage to kill any bed bugs.
Keep in mind, these mortality rates are for bed bugs that were directly in contact with bed bugs. There is an even low chance of alcohol killing bed bugs with indirect contact.
What does 70% alcohol do to bedbugs?
Why makes alcohol toxic for bed bugs? What causes them to die when they get in contact, even if it is a small percentage?
The answer lies in the chemical composition of rubbing alcohol.First of all, alcohol is an amazing solvent. It dissolves the outer shells of bed bugs that are protecting its internal organs.Bed bugs shed their skin throughout their stages of life. Until they become an adult, which is when their shells turn reddish-brown Once the outer-shell has been dissolved. It acts as a drying agent also known as desiccant.
The concentration plays an important role in how quick alcohol dries out the bed bug. With its internal organs collapsing due to dryness and lack of water. The bed bug is ultimately killed.
The drying effect is the reason why in household items such as sanitizers, glycerine is used in combination with rubbing-alcohol to avoid the excessive dryness of the skin.
Is 91% alcohol good to kill bed bugs?
In the same study conducted at Ohio University. Researchers also tested 91% concentration of alcohol. The results of which were not so tempting in light weight applications.But when researchers tested 91% alcohol with heavy application.
The mortality of bed bugs increased dramatically to 67 – 85 %. Which is really good keeping in mind it’s just a DIY extermination method you can create and use on your own.
The results still speak for direct application, this does not apply for bed bugs that got in indirect contact with alcohol. The mortality rate for that group would definitely be lower.
Can I put alcohol on my skin to keep bed bugs from biting me?
There are not many studies supporting the use of rubbing alcohol as a repelling agent. It is a fact that bed bugs can use their sense of smell to identify their prey as well as danger.
However, it is still not tested if the smell of alcohol would keep bed bugs away from your skin.
Even if alcohol can repel bed bugs. It might not be a good idea to use it regularly on your skin. Alcohol has many properties that can clean and rejuvenate the skin by tightening its pores.
But continuous usage of alcohol can cause dryness and increased redness of the skin. Any type of usage of rubbing alcohol should always be followed by the usage of moisturizer.
Will Alcohol Kill Bed bug eggs?
The same study also measured the efficacy of alcohol on bed bug eggs. The efficacy or mortality was measured in terms of hatch rate of eggs. A hatch rate of over 80% was observed in light and medium applications of alcohol irrespective of their concentration.
A significant increase in mortality of bed bug eggs was noticed in heavy application where over 75% of bed bug eggs didn’t hatch after heavy application of rubbing-alcohol.
This again proves the strength of rubbing alcohol against insects, but only for instances where you are able to spray alcohol directly on bed bug eggs or the bugs themselves. Which makes it a hard task in itself.
A better approach of using this treatment is to find the hideouts of bed bugs in daylight. Once you know where the masses of bed bugs hide, you can spray on them directly increasing the chances of mortality.
What kind of Rubbing Alcohol is Best?
Rubbing alcohol is a more generalized compound. It has many different kinds that are used for medical and household purposes in different ways.
So which kind of rubbing alcohol is best for killing bed bugs?
There are a couple worth nothing that are more popular. The first one is isopropyl alcohol and the second one is wintergreen alcohol.
Both products use the same kind of alcohol structure and compounds to kill bed bugs. So there is no difference between the two. However, wintergreen alcohol uses essential oil extracts from wintergreen plants.
Which makes it smell better
The usual odor of isopropyl or any kind of rubbing alcohol is not pleasing. Instead, many describe it as the likes of vinegar.
The Dangers of Rubbing Alcohol
Before you decide to use rubbing alcohol as an extermination method. There are 2 important things you need to understand before using it in your home. The first one is the efficacy of rubbing alcohol and if it is worth spending your time on a treatment that kind of works.
Secondly, you need to understand the dangers associated with rubbing alcohol. An informed decision can only be made after comparing the pros and cons of this DIY solution.
So here are some o the dangers of rubbing alcohol that you need to be aware of:
Any compound derived from alcohol is highly flammable and can leave your home on fire if not treated with care. There have been cases reported in the past where homes caught fire because of spraying rubbing alcohol on upholstered furniture after the owner lit a candle.
Allergies and IPA Poisoning :
Some people can have allergies with rubbing alcohol. The compounds in rubbing-alcohol relate to that of aspirin. If you had allergic reactions to aspirin in the past. Chances are you can get allergies with rubbing-alcohol as well.
Our body absorbs rubbing-alcohol by ingestion, absorption and inhalation. Any contact of rubbing-alcohol on skin can be equivalent to many aspirin pills. Overexposure to rubbing alcohol can cause poisoning. If you suffer from rubbing-alcohol poisoning, you would face poisoning symptoms such as dizziness, low blood pressure, nausea, slowed breathing and much more.
If you suffer from rubbing alcohol poisoning due to inhalation. Try to move out to a fresh environment and take fresh air in. In the event of inhalation, treating the poisoning can become a little tedious.
Depending on the extent of poisoning, you should first call a professional for help. Meanwhile, you should drink 1-2 glasses of water to dilute the effects of rubbing-alcohol .Try not to vomit, as it can introduce the substance into your lungs causing further damage. A medical professional can try laxatives and activated charcoal to clean out stomach contents.
Can you Spray Alcohol on your Bed and Pillows?
Your first preference when using rubbing alcohol should be to find spots where bed bugs can be directly sprayed on. Majority of bed bugs killed by alcohol would be from direct contact. If you feel like there are a lot of bed bugs hanging around your mattress or bed.
You can definitely try to spray on them directly. Most of the solution you spray would shortly evaporate into the air, but it would still linger around in the environment for quite a long time. So beware of the possible fire hazard, and do not try to use any lighters, candles or flaming substances in the area.
Same application and caution guidelines apply for pillows. Whenever you’re rubbing alcohol on your mattress make sure you try to find the hidden linings on the mattress. Bed bugs can hide in the smallest of gaps so keep an eye for that.
What smells do bed bugs hate?
All insects including bed have an enhanced sense of smell through which they navigate and identify danger and food. According to this research, many different smelling compounds were tested to see if they had an impact on how much bed bugs a specific area.
Among many different compounds tested, the researchers found that a chemical named “Linalool” reduced bed bug visits by a significant number of times. This same compound is found in many different essential oils that you can use to repel bed bugs.
Some of these essential oils are as follows:
- Lavender Oil
- Neroli Oil
- Rosalina Oil