Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs? (The Answer Might Surprise You)
When you’ve got a bed bug infestation, you’re going to have to spend some money to treat the problem. Unfortunately, professional services can be costly, and not everyone has an insurance policy or a savings account to support this expense.
That’s why many people have turned to common household chemicals to try and rid themselves of bed bugs. One of the most popular options is bleach, or bleach diluted in water. But how effective is this solution? Does it really work?
Read on to find out!
Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?
In short, yes. Harsh chemicals like bleach are effective at killing bed bugs. When applied directly to the insect, bleach breaks down the proteins the insect needs to survive, resulting in a quick death.
However, bleach isn’t a faultless solution. The possible trouble comes from two factors.
- You will have to spray the bleach directly onto incredibly small and difficult to see insects.
- You will be spraying your belongings and bedding with bleach, which can stain fabrics and emit strong odors.
So, while bleach can kill bed bugs, it can also stain or discolor your bedding, furniture, or carpet. It can also be a potential hazard for pets, small children, or those with respiratory disorders. These negative consequences have convinced many people to choose an alternative approach.
One such approach is diluting bleach with water, thereby creating a less intense mixture that is not as likely to produce stains.
Does Bleach Water Kill Bed Bugs?
Bleach water is a diluted, less powerful alternative to using pure bleach. While it is far more fabric-friendly, it is also less effective.
A solution of hot water and bleach is your best bet when attempting to kill both adult bed bugs and their eggs. Heat is a bed bug’s greatest enemy, especially since many pests are becoming immune to modern chemicals and pesticides.
Bleach water alone may not kill bed bugs, as the bleach may be too diluted. But a combination of bleach water and heat is sure to be a killer combo!
Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs Eggs?
Bed bug eggs are difficult to kill. Firstly, they’re incredibly small, and often laid in the darkest and tiniest of crevices. Secondly, many chemicals and pesticides are unable to kill 100% of all bed bug eggs.
While bleach is effective in killing adult bed bugs, it may be difficult to use when attempting to target and destroy bed bug eggs. In attempting to rid yourself of eggs, you will likely have to spray the entirety of your home with bleach. Not only is this not a cost-effective or time-effective option, it can also be quite harmful to your health.
Heat is the most effective way to destroy bed bug eggs. After 90 minutes at 122˚F or higher, the eggs are dead. It would take a lot of bleach and a lot of time to achieve the same effect.
How Exactly Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?
Bleach is a mix of many different chemicals. The primary ingredient is sodium hypochlorite, which is commonly used as a disinfectant, whitening agent, and detoxicant. It’s been used in liquid form since 1785!
In addition to the uses listed above, bleach has often been used as a handy insecticide.
Insects typically do not contain internal skeletons. Instead of having calcium-rich bones deep within their bodies, they have exoskeletons. Simply put, they wear their bones on the outside of their bodies.
This exoskeleton is comprised of proteins. These proteins are oxidized and unraveled with the introduction of bleach. Essentially, bleach causes the protective exoskeletons of insects to break apart, leaving them unprotected and susceptible to external dangers.
Imagine how difficult it would be to stay alive if you had no skin! If you’re a bed bug caught in a vat of bleach, you won’t have to wonder.
How Well Does Bleach Work to Kill Bed Bugs?
Bleach is 100% effective in killing bed bugs, but only under two very strict conditions.
- The bleach is pure and undiluted.
- The bed bugs are completely and directly covered in bleach.
As we discussed above, bed bugs are small and difficult to catch. In addition, undiluted bleach can be dangerous.
For these two reasons, it may be better to seek an alternative solution to your bed bug woes when considering bleach. While it is extremely effective in killing bed bugs, it is not the most efficient method to use, and can prove harmful to your home and belongings.
How Much Bleach Does It Take to Kill Bed Bugs?
It takes a strong dose of bleach, and a period of at least 24 hours, to kill bed bugs. A spray bottle filled with bleach will surely be able to incapacitate and kill any bed bug that gets a good squirt, but it will also destroy your furnishings just as effectively.
It may not take a lot of bleach to kill bed bugs, but due to the size and nature of these pests, you would certainly end up spraying many areas.
Heat treatments are far more effective, and also far less damaging than a bleach treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bleach is powerful due to its active ingredients. It contains sodium chloride, which is used as a stabilizer in many cleaners and soaps. Sodium hypochlorite is the main active ingredient, and it works to kill germs. Sodium chlorite is the natural breakdown of this chemical. Sodium carbonate softens water and can help remove stains. Sodium polyacrylate prevents dirt from becoming reabsorbed into materials as they’re being washed.
You can boost the bleaching treatment you did by exposing your furniture, especially the mattress and box spring, to bright sunlight. After leaving the mattress outdoors in the sun for a period of eight to twelve hours, seal the mattress in a plastic cover for six to twelve months. Doing so ensures the bug will suffocate and die.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests taking precautions to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home. Before allowing secondhand furniture into the house, check for signs of bed bugs. Put a protective cover on your mattress and box spring. Consider getting a mattress cover that has been pretreated with insecticide. Vacuum frequently and reduce clutter.
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