Pest Resources

Does Permethrin Kill Bed Bugs?

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In this article we will answer the question: does Permethrin kill bed bugs? We will look at its effectiveness, and how to use it as a treatment. We will also give you some advice on long term control of bed bugs.

Bed bug infestation reports have grown over the years by a massive 500%!

Please read on

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are a common household insect that feeds on the blood of a human, mainly at night while you are asleep.

The bed bug is oval, about the size of an apple seed. Their bodies are flat, which helps them crawl into tiny spaces. They are reddish-brown looking, redder if they have just fed on blood.

They do not have wings but can crawl very quickly. They can cover around 4 meters a minute, which explains why an infestation can soon spread all over the house. The bed bugs generally stay near their host, which is why they tend to be found in bedrooms

There is not any risk of catching a disease from them, thank goodness.

They are spread by getting on clothing and in your luggage. You bring them to your house, and before you know it you have an infestation.

Do not buy secondhand furniture unless you have given it a good search for bed bugs. They may be on it and you unknowingly bring the bed bugs to your house!

You could apply a treatment to the furniture just to be on the safe side. Make sure you treat any gaps and cracks on the furniture.

You thought you could save money buying used furniture, when in fact it could cost more money to treat the infestation.

What is permethrin?


Permethrin is an insecticide from the pyrethroid family, which are synthetic chemicals that act like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower.

It was invented back in 1972 by Michael Elliot. It was used in agriculture because it was effective and did not break down in sunlight.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) found, however, that it kills fish and other aquatic animals that are susceptible to Permethrin, so its use has been limited to cotton farming.

Permethrin is mildly toxic and can cause eye, skin, nose, and throat irritations, and breathing problems.

What else is permethrin used for?

Companies use Permethrin in head lice treatments. Exposure to it kills the lice but not the eggs. Permethrin works by affecting the nervous system of the lice. Once a treatment has been completed it could be necessary to re-treat to kill newly hatched eggs that were missed before.

Permethrin can also be found in insect repellent that you can apply to the skin.

It is used to treat scabies, which is caused by mites that irritate your skin.

It comes in cream form and is massaged into the skin and left to work for around 8-14 hours. Then it is washed off.

What are the symptoms of scabies?

Scabies causes itching of the skin, which gets worse at bedtime. You will notice fine white wavy lines and burrows on fingers, toes, wrists, armpits, and various other places.

After the permethrin cream has killed the mites, you may still itch for up to 4 weeks afterwards.

Are there any side effects to the cream?

It can cause skin irritation, swelling, and redness. Also, you may feel a stinging or burning feeling sensation.

Rare side effects from using the cream


You should seek medical advice urgently if you get a rash, a feeling of dizziness, and trouble breathing.

What insects does Permethrin kill?

Permethrin is used to kill many different types of pests which include, Fleas, Ticks, Cockroaches, Flies, and Mosquitoes.

Some bed bug groups have become resistant to Permethrin. However, if used with pyrethroids, the combination can have better results on a resistant bed bug population.

Manufacturers constantly look for pesticides like Permethrin for the general population to use that the bed bugs are not resistant to. Over time, the bed bugs shells have grown thicker, and this makes it harder to produce insecticides that can get through.

How does Permethrin kill insects?

Permethrin works because it paralyzes the nervous system of insects, which leads to starvation and death.

Permethrin is more toxic to insects than it is to a human and dogs. The insects are unable to break Permethrin down in the body, unlike us.

How quickly does it work on bed bugs?

If a bed bug comes into contact with permethrin, it affects the nervous system and it will become paralyzed and die immediately.

It may take several applications of spraying overtime to kill an entire infestation, particularly as bed bugs hide in tiny gaps and cracks.

Is it a carcinogen?

The EPA has found through studies that it is a weak carcinogen. A lab report found that it was highly toxic to fish, and other aquatic animals were susceptible to Permethrin. Permethrin was then classed as a restricted use pesticide.

Using Permethrin indoors

Spraying a product containing 36.8 % Permethrin is safe indoors to get rid of bed bugs. Use Permethrin, as it is ideal for hard to treat insects like bed bugs and fleas.

It is not a good idea to use Permethrin spray on bedding and mattresses. There are various sprays that can be sprayed on a mattress. Here are just a few: Cross fire, temprid fx, D-fense nxt good for treating cracks and crevices, and Cimexa dust.


Only spray Permethrin lightly onto carpets.

Some interesting points

There are over 1400 Permethrin permitted products available in the United States.

The good thing about the spray is that it shouldn’t stain clothing.

Hikers are able to buy Permethrin pretreated clothing that acts as a repellent.

In the tropics, Permethrin is used to prevent Dengue fever and malaria.

Cats are severely affected by Permethrin when exposed to it, as it is toxic to them. This pesticide should not be used in a house that has cats.

Permethrin is still active for up to 2 months after it has been sprayed.

How to spot a bed bug infestation

  • Bites will be red itchy welts found usually on the top half of the body’s skin, but other exposed areas may be bitten.
  • Smears of blood appear when a bed bug has fed and some blood gets dropped on the bed clothing.
  • When a bed bug feeds it grows, and as it outgrows the shell it will fall off onto the bedding. If you find them, you know you have an active bed bug infestation.
  • Bed bugs can produce an odor from their scent glands. If you notice a musty smell, chances are there is a bed bug infestation.
  • Feces which resembles dried blood is a sure-fire sign of bed bugs in the house.

So you have bed bugs, what to do next

There is no need to throw out your mattress, as it can be treated with a pesticide. If you move the mattress you could cause the infestation of bed bugs to spread around the house.

You need to think about pest control to get rid of bed bugs.

Launder the bedding

Remove all the bedding into a plastic bag, then wash at a high temperature around 120 F if you can. Dry the clothes in a tumble dryer for at least 20 minutes. The heat will get rid of bed bugs and eggs. Tie the plastic bag up afterwards and throw it in the trash outside.



The next part of the treatment involves vacuuming the rooms concerned. Search the box spring and bed frame, also the headboard, then vacuum them well, especially in places the bedbugs can hide. Get into any folds in the mattress with the crevice tool.

When you have finished vacuuming, empty the canister into a bag and tie it up and place it in the trash outside. Wash the hoses and attachments of the vacuum cleaner.


Steam kills bed bugs and eggs, so it is worth investing in a steam cleaner. It works well on box springs, blankets, pillows, sheets, and curtains. The steam can reach a temperature of up to 230 F, so it has to be used carefully and will not be suitable for some items or surfaces in the house.

Protector case

Now that you have got rid of some of the bed bugs, you can use chemicals to get rid of the ones left behind. Place the mattresses and box springs in a protector case. They can be difficult to treat, so it is worth keeping the mattresses and box springs covered at all times to prevent future bed bug infestations.

Sprays give you good coverage. Spray inside cabinets and other furniture if the product allows.

In the long term, vacuum regularly to remove any bedbugs and eggs.

Heat treatment

Among the most popular methods of pest control for bed bugs is heat treatment, or the use of a chemical. It takes a period of around 6-8 hours for the treatment to be effective.

The house is heated up to temperatures of 135 F. The PMP (pest management professional) will monitor the temperature with thermometers.

Because of these high temperatures, heat-sensitive items should be removed from the house, like a television, makeup, plants, fish, paintings, and photos. All animals will have to be removed from the house. The PMP responsible for the treatment will go through what needs to be removed.

A repellent and pesticides may also be used alongside this treatment to ensure every insect is killed.

Remember for the future

  • If you have been on vacation or stayed anywhere else, wash all clothing on a high heat and tumble dry them.
  • Vacuum your luggage bag.
  • Check second-hand furniture before bringing it into the house.
  • If you have had visitors staying with you in your house, search their room carefully for signs of bed bugs.
  • Fill in any cracks or crevices where bed bugs can hide.

And Finally,

Permethrin does kill and will get rid of bed bugs. Permethrin needs to be used with caution. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. And remember, do not misuse it!

We hope you have found our article useful and informative. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to drop us an email. We do our best to answer as quickly as possible.

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Recommended Permethrin Product

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

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