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Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?​


Bed bugs are common pests in our households and among the most difficult ones to get rid of. Luckily, though, many products we all have at home can be used to tackle the issue – or at least get it under control.

For example, Vinegar and Lysol can be used to speed up the process of getting rid of a bed bug infestation. But what about bleach? Does bleach kill bed bugs?

What Are the Ingredients of Bleach?

Bleach works by releasing chlorine. Chlorine Bleach is made up of a solution of Sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient, and sodium chlorite is the natural breakdown of the chemical. Oxygen bleach contains hydrogen peroxide or a peroxide-releasing compound like sodium perborate or sodium percarbonate.

Bleaching powder is calcium hypochlorite. Most commonly, these chemicals are chlorine-based (chlorine being their active ingredient). For the most part, household cleaning products have chlorine-based bleach.

Aside from cleaning stains, many bleaches have antibacterial properties, which makes them great for disinfecting and sterilizing various surfaces. They are used to clean pools, kill weeds, or get rid of mildew. So, can bleach kill bed bugs?

Will Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

Maybe you have heard bleach kills bed bugs and are looking for more information; after all, knowledge is power. Let’s take a look.

Bleach is a harsh chemical commonly found in households, so it should come as no surprise that bleach is an effective method and kills bed bugs. It is far more effective to kill bed bugs with bleach than other common cleaning products, such as Lysol. However, there are certainly some disadvantages to using home remedies like bleach to kill bed bugs.

Pros and Cons of Using Bleach to Get Rid of Pests

If you were planning to kill the bed bugs in your home with bleach, you should probably be aware of this method’s advantages and disadvantages.

Why is bleach effective at bed bug infestations?

  • It is affordable – a 100 oz bottle of Clorox bleach from Walmart will cost you around $13, which is reasonable for bed bug extermination. Clorox bleach contains sodium chloride, better known as table salt.

  • It is readily available – you can find bleach in most grocery stores,

  • It is easy to use – using bleach to kill bed bugs doesn’t require any special skills as long as you take reasonable preventive measures, such as wearing gloves,

  • It actually works – unlike many miracle solutions you can find online, bleach is among the few household products that effectively kill pests like bed bugs, mosquitos, and drain flies.

  • When bleach makes direct contact with bed bug eggs, it is unlikely they will survive because the shell’s outer layer of a bed bug, nymph, and eggs are oxidized by sodium hypochlorite. The sodium hypochlorite will also denature the protein membrane of bed bugs, leading to a condition similar to fever.

However, there are certainly some disadvantages:

  • It has a strong and unpleasant smell – let’s face it, the strong smell of undiluted bleach is even more pungent than its bed bug-killing properties.

  • It can pose health hazards – bleach, significantly if not properly diluted, can severely irritate the skin and the respiratory system.

  • It can be dangerous in combination with other chemicals – mixing bleach with other chemicals, including other household cleaners, can produce toxic gases.

  • It could damage certain surfaces – because of how strong this chemical is; it can damage some surfaces during the process of killing bed bugs.

  • It takes a while to work – when using bleach to kill bed bugs, it may take up to two days for this method to work. Bleach does not work as a bed bug repellent.

How to Use Bleach to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Now that you know that using bleach to kill bed bugs is a feasible plan, it’s time to learn how to do it effectively.

If you regularly use bleach in your cleaning routine, you are likely already acquainted with all these methods, so it is safe to say this won’t be a huge learning curve.

Prep the house

Take a flashlight and carefully examine the bed, mattress, box spring, bed corners, and furniture for signs of a bed bug problem. Look closely at cracks and crevices near the bed bugs’ food source.

Remove the bed sheets etc., from the infested area. Place bed coverings in garbage bags and seal them ready to be washed. Wash the bed items in boiling water with laundry detergent that contains color-safe bleach to kill bed bugs.

Use a Vacuum cleaner

Next, use a vacuum cleaner to clean the mattress, box springs, and bed frames, other furniture; this will help to eliminate bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs. Seal the vacuum bag when you have finished and throw it away in the trash.

Mix bleach and hot water at a ratio of one to one in a spray bottle and apply to the mattress, box spring, and bed frame. Wear gloves during application.

You can use a washcloth dipped in the mix to apply on other furniture, baseboards, and inside drawers to get rid of and kill bed bugs, eggs, and nymphs.

It might take up to two days for the mattress to dry. If anyone in the house is sensitive to bleach or has respiratory problems, it might be best to leave the house until the strong smell from the spray bottle mix has gone. This will also allow time for the bed bug problem to be gone.

On returning, cover the mattress with a mattress encasement or plastic cover; this will kill bed bugs and their eggs if any survived the bleach.

How to keep bed bugs out of the house

If you have purchased second-hand furniture before taking it into the house, check it for signs of bed bug infestations. Please note a bed bug can live for a year without a blood meal.

Purchase a mattress encasement that has been pre-treated with a pesticide. Choose a light-colored mattress to make spotting bed bugs easier.

Vacuum often and de-clutter your house. Bed bugs love clutter to hide under!


Using Bleach on Clothes for killing bed bugs

Cleaning clothes with household bleach is one of this product’s most common and best-known uses. It is effective in getting rid of persistent stains and kills germs. If you’re not used to using bleach when washing clothes, don’t worry – the process is quite simple.

If the product has to be diluted (which it most likely does), the exact amounts will be clearly marked on the package. 

Usually, you’d put a small amount of bleach directly on the stain before washing a garment. However, since we’re dealing with a bed bug infestation here and not stains, you will have to bleach the entire load. 

Keep in mind that not all types of fabric can survive the process of bleaching, so make sure to read the labels first. And don’t worry, running a bleach-free cycle at the highest temperature setting will likely get rid of any bed bugs anyway, as hot water will eliminate bed bugs.

 Drying washed items in a dryer at the maximum possible heat for around half an hour will help to kill all the bugs.

Treating Furniture with Bleach

To get rid of bed bugs on the furniture and carpets, you will need to use diluted bleach with warm water and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray bleach solution on washable surfaces of an object you’re treating but pay special attention to the areas where bed bugs might be hiding – corners, crevices, folds, and seams. Don’t forget to wear gloves while doing this to avoid skin irritation.

Other Surfaces

Surfaces that aren’t furniture – such as walls and floors – can also be sprayed the same way to kill bed bugs. Dip a washcloth in the mixture and use it to clean the floors thoroughly, insides of drawers, and other areas the spray may not have reached in the first round.

After the last two steps, you should let all surfaces dry naturally (which may take as long as a full day). This will also allow for enough time for the bleach to have direct contact with the bed bugs and their eggs. You will need to repeat the process for a severe infestation of bed bugs in the house.

What Not to Clean with Bleach

Because of the strong corrosive properties of these products, not all surfaces can be treated with bleach. For example, items made of copper or stainless steel will react with bleach, resulting in stains and corrosion.

Another object you should avoid is granite countertops (or anything made of granite). Bleach might clean these surfaces, but it will also change their color and stain them.

Signs of bed bugs

Bed bug feces can cause dark rust-colored stains on the sheets. You might see drops of blood; bed bugs often over-feed, and the blood falls on the sheets.

You may also notice tiny eggs or empty eggshells in the bed and yellow-white molted skins shed when bed bugs grow.

Getting the Help of Professionals

To sum up, bleach can kill bed bugs and is actually highly effective in doing so. However, there are certainly some disadvantages to using it, the most serious being its potential health consequences.

So, if you would rather stay away from bleach, that is entirely understandable. Hiring exterminators with the skills and experience to deal with bed bug infestations is a much better choice.

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively. 

Read more here.

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