Pest Resources

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?​

If you are reading our guide, you probably suspect you may have a bedbug infestation that you need to get under control. We are here to help you do just that.

Rubbing alcohol, or its real name, Isopropyl alcohol, is made from other chemicals and has many uses. It can be used as a solvent and disinfectant.


Please do not confuse it with a bottle of the best whiskey. Firstly, it is much stronger than drinkable alcohol, between 70 % and 90%, while most drinkable alcohol is no higher than 50%. And secondly, it is highly toxic to humans and pets.

Does alcohol kill bed bugs? Whiskey will drown a bed bug (what a waste!), but you won’t kill bed bugs just by spraying them with whiskey.

Evidence of a bed bug problem

If you think you have bedbugs but are not quite sure, here are some things to look for to help you identify the pests.


Bed bug feces resembles dried blood. It is a reddish-brown color, and you are most likely to find it on your bedsheets.


Red itchy welts, generally on the top half of the body. Bites can be treated with witch hazel. Witch hazel also makes a good repellent. Apply witch hazel to your sheets at night.

Smears of blood



These insects can be greedy when feeding, and some blood can be dropped onto the sheets.

Bed bug skin shells

When they feed, they grow and shed their shell. If you find shells, chances are you could be infested with a bed bug problem.

Bed bug odor

Bed bugs give off a horrible musty smell with their scent glands. Smell this awful scent, and usually, there is a bed bug infestation. You must treat the problem or contact a pest control exterminator to get rid of them!

So, if you have read this so far and are convinced the insects in your home are bed bugs, you may need our help with bed bug control.

Please read on to discover the answer to the question: Does rubbing alcohol kill bed bugs?

Does rubbing alcohol kill bed bugs?

In short, the answer is yes; rubbing alcohol is a simple solution that can kill bed bugs if applied directly to them. It should be used alongside other treatments.

Rubbing alcohol can also be used for the killing of lice and ticks.

How does it kill bed bugs?

Rubbing alcohol has a drying effect. It soaks through the outer shell of the bed bug’s exoskeleton, which it dries out and reaches internally, drying it entirely and eventually leading to death.

Does rubbing alcohol eliminate bedbug larvae and bed bug eggs?

Using rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol) to kill bed bug larvae and bed bug eggs kills them more easily than adults because they are less developed than adult bed bugs.

Isopropyl alcohol green

The difference between Isopropyl alcohol green and clear Isopropyl alcohol is a green dye that makes the Isopropyl smell minty, making it more pleasant for spraying around your house.

The downside with the green one is it contains less alcohol than the clear Isopropyl alcohol, at around 50% alcohol, and is therefore not as effective.

How to use Rubbing alcohol

Before you start, you need to search your house or apartment for bed bug populations and eggs.

If you want to kill bed bugs, you need to have an idea of where it is best to apply the rubbing alcohol.

Take a good look around the property and bedroom. Look in cracks and crevices, seams and folds of your mattress, box spring, carpets and rugs, sofas, towels, and sheets.

Now you have found them and their hiding places; it’s time to spray to kill bedbugs.

First, perform a test in a hidden spot, as rubbing alcohol can stain and mark some fabrics and wood—open windows before use.

Be aware of the strong smell and only spray where needed when using alcohol to eliminate bed bugs.

Put the rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spray alcohol in the areas well to kill bedbugs. For maximum effect, the pests should be soaked.

When you spray your mattress and upholstered furniture, pay special attention to the seams and folds of the item.

Does rubbing alcohol repel bed bugs?



A lot of people claim that rubbing alcohol will get rid of bed bugs so long as you spray it everywhere in the house. It will not repel a bedbug problem.

Negative effects of Rubbing alcohol to get rid of bed bugs?

  • Rubbing alcohol used carefully is safe. However, we must stress it is highly flammable.

  • It would only take a spark or heat source to ignite the rubbing alcohol.

  • An awful lot of fires are caused in the house by rubbing alcohol because it is extremely flammable.

  • It is also worth knowing that rubbing alcohol is not visible when lit, making it dangerous.

  • Rubbing alcohol will evaporate eventually, but it is highly flammable while wet.

  • Rubbing alcohol is highly toxic, so it is essential to wear gloves when you are using it. Rubbing alcohol dries the skin, which can irritate the skin.

Take an integrated approach to the bedbug problem, and treat infested areas and furniture with pesticides and rubbing alcohol. If your home has a large infestation, consider professional help to get rid of them.

How effective is Rubbing alcohol?

Rutgers university studied many ways to kill bed bugs, and one of their findings was that rubbing alcohol works and kills bed bugs, about 50% of them.

The study also found that no matter how high concentrations of alcohol were, it was the same: 50% died. Another study found 40% – 60% of bed bugs died using 99% alcohol.

These tests were performed in enclosed containers and applied directly to the bed bugs, so imagine you will miss a few as you’ll never spot every bedbug, and those you missed go to other locations and will carry on laying eggs and feeding.

If you persist, you can reduce the infestation, which can be time-consuming. If the bed bugs move on to other hiding places, you will need to search for them.

It may seem like you are having success, but you may have to spray the rubbing alcohol many times for total victory, especially when using alcohol on its own.

Is it a good idea to use Rubbing alcohol as a treatment?

Rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl) should ideally be used alongside other treatments, like residual pesticides, as it does not kill all the bed bugs in one go.

If you contact a professional exterminator, check the pesticides they use for infestations, like bed bugs. The chemical could be unsafe for children and pets.

Top tips

  • Launder all the bedding, including duvet and pillows, with hot water, which kills bed bugs.

  • Launder all clothing at a high temperature and tumble dry on high heat.

  • Do not put the clothing back into the room after being laundered. Wait until the treatments have been successful. You don’t want bed bugs present in your clothes again!

  • De-cluttering will remove places for bed bugs to hide. This includes newspapers, cardboard, and unused clothing; all can be recycled.

  • Seal up cracks, crevices, and any peeling wallpaper and paint where bedbugs can hide. Place bedbug traps under the legs of your furniture.



  • Wear clothing in bed at night that covers up as much skin as possible.

  • Do not be tempted to throw away or move your mattress out of the room or apartment. Doing so could spread the infestation. The insects will settle into another room in the home.

  • Steam cleaning is a great DIY option. You do not need a chemical for this, as the high temperature of the steam is good at killing the bed bugs.

  • Use the steam cleaner regularly on the mattress for killing bed bugs and eggs. You can also use it on drapes.

Dry cleaning

If clothes are not washable, take them to a dry cleaner. The methods used in dry cleaning will kill bed bugs. You must ask the dry cleaner if they are ok with bed bug-infested clothing before taking it in.

If it is ok to take them to a dry cleaner, place clothing in a sealed bag and let the staff know the situation. Keep the clothes out of infested rooms after cleaning.

Bed bugs do not like the cold, so place clothing in a bag and put it in the freezer for at least 10 hours.

Home remedies

You may have some of the items below already in your home; if not, they are easily bought from stores.

Tea tree oil

A lot of essential oils repel and kill bed bugs; Tea tree oil kills bed bugs on direct contact.

Tea tree oil is also used for other things like skin problems, insect bites, head lice, and fungal infections.

Bed bugs do not like the scent of tea tree oil. With that in mind, make up a spray bottle undiluted and use it for spraying the tea tree oil around the home. If some family members are sensitive, then dilute with a bit of water.

Test before using on furniture, surfaces, and carpets for staining.

When buying Tea tree oil, we recommend that you check it is pure, as some can be diluted. For effectiveness, tea tree oil should be undiluted. Click here for more information.

Talcum powder

Sprinkled around areas with an infestation, talcum powder causes dehydration and death of bed bugs. Vacuum up after two days and reapply regularly.




Place a handful of mothballs around bedbug hideouts. Mothballs contain strong chemicals bedbugs hate. The smell naturally repels them.

In New Jersey, a university studied this method and found that 45%-65% of adult bed bugs died. However, the nymphs and eggs survived.

Diatomaceous Earth

Naturally occurring, this white crystalline powder has drying effects leading to dehydration and damaging the exoskeleton of insects, causing death when they come into direct contact with it.

Sprinkle around the home, particularly on the seams of the mattress, box springs, bed frames, and other furniture. After two days, vacuum the area well and reapply the Diatomaceous earth.

Professional treatments using heat treatments

When you have tried everything and have not been successful, it is time to call in an exterminator.

Call a registered exterminator; that way, you will know they are fully qualified to use the pest control equipment and pesticides.

The pest control company should go through a detailed plan with you to treat the pest.

The rooms might need to have items removed that cannot tolerate high heat, like photos, artwork, and plants.

Heaters are used to heat the rooms over 122 f. The heaters are powerful and cannot run off the main supply, so specialist equipment is needed, partly because heat treatment is an expensive pest control method.

Rooms should be monitored for cold spots, as recorded cold spots will not kill the bugs.

In summary,

You may have read and heard from other people that Rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol kills bed bugs and is suitable for bed bug infestations. It is but should be used in conjunction with something else. Try it with other treatments and pesticides.

We have given you advice and guidance on DIY pest control; now, you can decide whether to go ahead with it or not with the information you have.

Please check out the rest of our site for valuable tips and advice on pest control.

Feel free to send us an email if you have any questions. We do our best to respond as quickly as possible.

Good luck, and sleep tight!

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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