Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Control Technician
Finding you’ve got bed bugs might lead to you thinking of what might be the quickest and easiest way to kill them, and I’m often asked if bleach can kill these pests.
Bleach is a common solution kept in our kitchens to disinfect our homes. But did you know bleach can be classed as a pesticide? As are many other products probably in your kitchen cupboards, if they claim to sanitize and disinfect.
Even though bleach can be registered as a pesticide, it is as an antimicrobial pesticide and not an insecticide. This means it should be used to destroy pest microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi, on surfaces such as kitchen countertops or bathtubs.
Will Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?
Bleach, such as Clorox and other branded/unbranded names is made by combining water with sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), which quickly breaks down into salt and water, and other chemicals such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to produce a corrosive solution.
It’s the corrosive properties in bleach that may kill bed bugs by breaking down the body’s proteins.
In other words, if you pour undiluted bleach directly on bed bugs, then yes using bleach will likely kill them either by drowning them or by penetrating their body.
However, simply pouring or spraying bleach either neat or diluted directly onto the bed bugs or in areas where they are infesting is not the answer.
The main uses of bleach are to whiten, remove color, or disinfect clothing and surfaces. So spraying bleach onto your mattress or couch will only ruin your furniture and won’t kill all the bed bugs and eliminate them completely.
Another thing to consider is if you spray them, the chances are the bed bugs will be scattered to other areas from the force of the spray resulting in more treatment.
The hazards associated with over-spraying should also be considered as sodium hydroxide can cause skin burns and the sodium hypochlorite can react with many reagents causing irritation and respiratory problems. There’s also irritation of the eyes, mouth, and throat to consider.
Bleach also shouldn’t be used in any areas that have already been treated with a pesticide, as it may cause a toxic reaction that can be harmful if exposed to.
Bleach and other disinfectants like Lysol are not effective in killing bed bugs, and I certainly recommend you don’t try these as control methods.
What Will Kill Bed Bugs And Their Eggs Then?
One of the most effective ways to kill bed bugs is with heat! Other methods include residual sprays and mattress encasements. If the infestation is in the early stages, then you can do your own pest control and eliminate them yourself. Our step-by-step guide shows you EXACTLY what you need to get, and what you need to do so you can kill the bed bugs and be infestation-free.
I realize not everyone wants to try and tackle this on their own, so if it’s not for you then contact a recommended, local bed bug exterminator who will work with you to devise a treatment plan that will probably be a combination of the above methods.
Bleach, however, will not solve your bed bug problem.
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