Can Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Fighting bed bugs can be a nightmare experience, which can cost you time, money, and emotional distress. It is getting more difficult to get rid of bed bugs these days as they are increasingly becoming resistant to chemical pesticides.

If not pesticides, then are home remedies effective?

We are here to talk about rubbing alcohol as a bed bug repellant. We will discuss its working, how to use it, whether it is an effective solution and some precautions.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Rubbing alcohol is made up of 70-95% ethanol and additives. It is used on wounds and as a disinfectant for surgical tools. 

But is it effective against bed bugs? Yes! Rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs but only when it is in direct contact with them. 

Rubbing alcohol spray can even kill bed bug eggs when directly sprayed on them. The tricky part is making sure that every bug in an infestation comes in contact with it.

But before you start using it, you should know that it can be highly dangerous and there have been many reported accidents while using rubbing alcohol. So, you should read ahead to discover how to use it and the precautions that you need to take.

How Does Rubbing Alcohol Work on Bed Bugs?

There are two ways in which rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs on contact.

First, rubbing alcohol is a very good solvent, which means, if it comes in direct contact with bed bugs or their eggs, it can dissolve, or in simple words, eat away the outer coat or exoskeleton of the bugs. Dissolving action alone is enough to kill the bed bugs.

Second, rubbing alcohol is also a desiccant, which means that it is very good at drying things upon contact. After dissolving the outer shell, it dries up the insides of a bed bug, ultimately, killing it.

It works the same way on bed bug eggs, it dissolves and dries them, hence preventing them from hatching.

Rubbing alcohol also repels bed bugs. Bed bugs prevent laying eggs or hiding in areas sprayed with rubbing alcohol due to its adverse effects on them.

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol as a Bed Bug Repellant?

Both rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol will do the work if you want to get rid of bed bugs.

  • For dealing with bed bugs, find a 91% solution of alcohol for higher effectiveness. A lower percentage solution is slightly less effective but will dry slower, while a slightly higher percentage solution works well against bed bugs but dries faster.
  • Now, fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol. But before you start spraying, remember to test it on a small area of the surface you are spraying on as it may cause damage to the surface.
  • Start by spraying your mattresses, pillows, and your bed as this is the area most likely to have more bed bugs hiding in it. 
  • Spray the box springs and headboard as well, followed by carpets, curtains, furniture, etc.
  • Try to make sure that the spray reaches inside all cracks in your walls, furniture, or floors, otherwise, it may not kill the bed bugs hiding there. 
  • Spray every nook and cranny, and every possible space that could make a home for bed bugs.
  • To prevent bug bites at night, you can spray rubbing alcohol on your mattress, pillows, and the foot of your bed, which will stop the bugs from crawling up.
  • Since alcohol dries up fast, you will have to repeat this process at least once in 2-3 days to see its effectiveness. 

But don’t forget that alcohol is a highly flammable substance and use it carefully while taking the precautions listed further.

rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs
Bed Bug

Is Alcohol the Best Choice for Eliminating Bed Bugs?

Rubbing alcohol is effective enough to keep the bed bugs away from you while you’re sleeping. But there are many drawbacks to using rubbing alcohol for eliminating bed bugs and hence, it might not be the best choice.

Rubbing alcohol will reduce the risk of an infestation from spreading or growing. It helps prevent bugs from multiplying, but even so, its effectiveness is limited.

Bed bugs can hide in the smallest of spaces and it can be often difficult to spray inside all these cracks even if you identify them. So, killing the bed bugs you see will not eradicate the ones you don’t, and they can easily multiply in a matter of months.

Rubbing alcohol can only provide you with temporary relief, and it is not a 100% solution to the problem. The best way to ensure 100% eradication is to use another method in combination with rubbing alcohol. This method can be steaming, freezing, or using essential oils.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Help in Bed Bug Bites?

Rubbing alcohol works as a disinfectant and has a cooling effect when applied to our bodies. It is not only helpful in bug bites, but you can apply it to any insect bite.

After noticing bug bites, it is best to wash them with water first, and then, swab them with rubbing alcohol. This will provide a cooling effect while also keeping the affected area away from infections.


Before using rubbing alcohol, you must know that it can be very dangerous to use. Take the following precautions to protect yourself from any danger while killing bed bugs.

  • Rubbing alcohol is highly flammable! DO NOT smoke or light a fire around the sprayed areas. 
  • DO NOT spray rubbing alcohol in your kitchen where there are high chances of lighting a flame.
  • Wear protective gear covering your face and eyes while spraying as the spray can be dangerous if it gets into your mouth or eyes.
  • Keep the spray bottle away from children. Its consumption can be highly harmful.
  • Always test the rubbing alcohol first on small areas of the material you are spraying, as it may leave stain marks on it.

Tips and Tricks to Eliminate Bed Bugs

Rubbing alcohol is not a full-proof method for eradicating bed bugs. So we suggest you use one of these methods in addition to rubbing alcohol.

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol for Bed Bugs
Essential Oil

Essential Oils

Using a dilute spray of essential oil and warm water acts as a strong repellant for many pests. Its strong odor can repel bugs and keep them away from you. It can also be used as a personal repellant by applying it on yourself at night, or when you go out.

Heat Treatment

Bed bugs cannot tolerate heat and you can exploit this fact to kill them. A simple steam treatment in your house can make most of your bug problems go away. Steam kills bed bugs due to high heat, and since its particles are so small, they get into every crack and crevice and do the work.


Freezing your belongings at a temperature less than 40F can kill bed bugs as they can function only at normal room temperature. Keep your small belongings for 3-4 days in your freezer and clean them afterward to get rid of bugs.

Clear the Clutter

Keep your house neat and clean and disinfect it regularly to keep the pests away. This will provide less hiding space for the bugs, so your house will eventually become less habitable for them.

Final Words

If you have officially given up the battle against bed bugs, don’t worry, we got your back! Try any of the above methods in addition to rubbing alcohol, and your work will be done without using any chemical pesticides or putting in too much money.

However, if things get out of hand, you can always call for an exterminator. But remember to be safe while trying any method and take all the necessary precautions! 

We wish you all the best!

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Daniel White
I'm Daniel White, and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. The warm and humid climate of Florida gives an ideal habitat for many different kinds of pests. So, if I had to live in Florida, I had to learn how to deal with these pests. Now, I have 7 years of experience in Pest Control.

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