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. Vinegar and Lysol, for example, can both be used to speed up the process of dealing with an infestation. But what about bleach, does bleach kill bed bugs?

What Are the Ingredients of Bleach?

Bleach is a generic term used for all chemicals that clean surfaces by bleaching them. Most commonly, these chemicals are chlorine-based (chlorine being their active ingredient), but they can also be peroxide-based (their active ingredient is oxygen) or sulfur dioxide-based. 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 get rid of bed bugs?

Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

This is one of the most potent chemicals commonly found in households, so it should come as no surprise that bleach does kill bed bugs. As a matter of fact, it is far more effective than other common cleaning products, such as Lysol. However, there are certainly some disadvantages to using bleach to kill bed bugs. Let’s take a look.

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 all the advantages and disadvantages of this method. In general, the best things about using bleach are:

  • It is affordable – a 100 oz bottle of Clorox bleach from Walmart will run you around $13,
  • It is easily 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 precautionary measures, such as wearing gloves,
  • It actually works – unlike a lot of miracle solutions you can find online, bleach is among the few household products that are effective in killing pests.

However, there are certainly some disadvantages:

  • It has a strong and unpleasant smell – let’s face it, the smell of bleach is even stronger than its bed bug killing properties,
  • It can pose a health hazard – bleach, especially if undiluted, can severely irritate the skin and the respiratory tract,
  • 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.

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.

Using Bleach on Clothes

Cleaning clothes is one of the most common and best-known uses for this product. It is effective in getting rid of persistent stains. 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 bed bugs 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. 

Treating Furniture With Bleach

In order to get rid of bed bugs on the furniture and carpets, you will need to dilute some bleach with warm water and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the whole surface 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, but they might require an extra step. Dip a washcloth in the mixture and use it to thoroughly clean the floors, 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 bed bugs and their eggs to die.

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.

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 ones being potential consequences to health. So if you would rather stay away from bleach, that is completely understandable. In fact, hiring exterminators who have 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 pest control method, product and process. 

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