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Does Vinegar Kill Bed Bugs


Bed bug infestations are annoying and difficult to deal with. Chemical insecticides are lauded as the remedy for this pest, but not everyone is comfortable using such chemicals in their own home. On top of that, certain products can be dangerous to our pets or even to humans. Luckily, there are natural alternatives, but not all of them are equally effective. Let’s find out if vinegar kills bed bugs and what other options you have. 

Can Vinegar Kill Bed Bugs?

Well, yes and no. The acidic properties of vinegar are toxic to bed bugs and affect their nervous system. Vinegar can kill bed bugs, but you most likely won’t be able to get rid of the whole infestation that way. This solution is simply not effective enough for such a big task, so consider combining it with another method.

That being said, vinegar is still a great go-to option to help you kill bed bugs faster or even to keep them away at night. If you can stand the smell, that is.

How to Use Vinegar to Kill Bed Bugs

Using vinegar to get rid of bed bugs is a simple and straightforward process. The basic steps are the following:

  • Buy vinegar and a spray bottle. White vinegar would be the best option, as it is the most acidic kind. We don’t recommend diluting it with water because that will decrease its effectiveness.
  • Find all infested areas. In order to kill bed bugs, you’ll have to find them first. Check the areas behind furniture, corners, electrical outlets, baseboards, holes in walls, loose wallpapers, and any other hidden spots you can think of.
  • Soak around the infested area. Before you start spraying bed bugs themselves, soak the surrounding area with vinegar. That way, if they start scattering away, they’ll run straight into the solution.
  • Spray the bed bugs. Direct spraying is the only way to kill bed bugs with vinegar. Spray every bug you see – including eggs, although this solution might not be as effective at them.
  • Rinse and repeat. Killing all the bed bugs in your home using only vinegar is, well, pretty much impossible. However, you can increase the effectiveness of this method by repeating it regularly over the following weeks.

Although the process seems simple enough, we’d be lying if we said there are no disadvantages of using vinegar to get rid of bed bugs. The most obvious one is that the solution simply isn’t effective enough to get rid of an infestation on its own. However, there are a handful of other issues:

  • Vinegar has a strong, unpleasant smell that is difficult to get rid of
  • It might damage certain types of furniture such as wooden, waxed, and granite items
  • If the solution isn’t strong enough, it might only push the bugs deeper into their hiding spots instead of killing them
  • If you have a pet, excessive exposure to vinegar could cause irritation of its eyes, nose, and lungs, or trigger stomach issues.


Other Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

As we’ve already mentioned, if you plan on using vinegar to exterminate bed bugs, you will have to combine it with other methods. Luckily, there is a wide array of options to choose from, but here are some of the most popular and most effective ones.

Heat Kills Bed Bugs Effectively…

These pests are pretty sensitive to high temperatures. That is why washing all your clothes and bed sheets at the highest temperature setting (and drying them the same way) is the first thing you should do when you realize your home is infested with bed bugs. 

As for the items that can’t be washed in the washing machine, you can put them in plastic bags, tie the bags, and leave them in a hot place (such as a car during the summer months) for at least a few weeks. Use a steam cleaner to treat furniture and carpets. 

…And So Do Freezing Temperatures

If you don’t have a spot hot enough to make sure the bed bugs in the plastic bags die, cold places will do, too. Simply put the bags in the freezer and leave them there for a few months. 

Store-Bought Pesticides

Of course, the simplest and most straightforward DIY solution is to buy an insecticide. There are several different kinds based on ingredients, the most common ones being pyrethrines and pyrethroids. However, certain strains of bed bugs can develop resistance to them. If you suspect that is the case, the next option will be pyrroles, or more specifically, a chemical compound called chlorfenapyr.

Desiccants are another effective method of getting rid of bed bugs. They are great at absorbing water from anything they touch. This is exactly how they kill pests – by drying out the insect’s shell. What’s more, unlike some other solutions, they are impossible to develop resistance to. If you decide to use desiccants to kill bed bugs, be cautious – they pose an inhalation risk for people and pets and could lead to health issues. Ideally, you should only use them in crevices and holes and avoid applying them to larger surfaces.

Desiccants: silica gel (left) and clay (right).

Natural Remedies

Aside from vinegar, there are a few other things you might be able to find around the household that will do the trick. These include some essential oils (such as cinnamon, tea tree, lavender, and lemongrass), rubbing alcohol, baking soda (which doesn’t kill bed bugs, but can make their hiding spots uninhabitable), and bleach. 

Professional Exterminators

Who says you have to do it all by yourself? Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to get rid of, especially if you’ve never had to deal with this issue before. Calling professional bed bug exterminators is always a great option. Sure, it will cost you more than a bottle of bug spray, but it will be much more effective, and you will avoid making any mistakes that could make things worse, damage your furniture, or even put your health in danger. 

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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