Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

Bleach is the turn-to solution for stubborn stains, but does it kill bed bugs? This is an oft-asked question by many households who are sicked of getting bed bug bites.

Is bleach an effective solution in getting rid of bed bugs, and more importantly destroy their eggs. Let’s find out what science says about this. 

What Does Bleach Contain?

Bleach, which is commonly available in retail stores, has sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient. Sodium hypochlorite gives bleach the power to remove stubborn stains from fabric and kill germs in the process.

Besides sodium hypochlorite, bleach also contains a few secondary ingredients, such as sodium hydroxide and sodium chloride. The former helps to keep bleach alkaline while the latter is just a by-product of the bleach production process. 

Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

At the moment, there are no studies that conclusively indicate that bleach is effective in killing bed bugs. 

Some articles linked the study of bleach on Hsp33, a type of protein in bacteria on its effectiveness in killing bed bugs. While it’s proven that bleach may cause the Hsp33 protein to unfold and clump together, there isn’t any information that suggests Hsp33 is present in bed bugs.

Note that a bed bug measure around ¼” and is visible to the human eye. Bacterial is way tinier than bed bugs. Assuming that bleach does have an effect in breaking down the Hsp33 in bed bugs, nothing is known about how long does it take to kill the bug. 

It is also generally believed that bleach’s oxidizing effect will kill bed bugs. However, having that proven by a scientific study will leave nothing to doubts. 

Does It Kill Bed Bug Eggs?

Killing the adult bed bugs is only half of the battle. To stop the pest from breeding, you’ll need to hunt and destroy the eggs.

It is unknown if bleach has the same effect on bed bugs as on the eggs. It’s also not practical to use bleach to kill the eggs as you need to first spot them. With the eggs measuring around 1/16” each, you’ll have a problem finding them. 

How To Use Bleach To Kill Bed Bugs?

You’ll want to be very careful when using bleach to kill bed bugs in your home. It’s a challenging process as hunting bed bugs is not easy and bleach can be hazardous. 

Laundry

You can use bleach on the laundry if you suspect bed bugs are hiding in clothes or bedding. However, make sure that the fabric can withstand the bleaching effect or you’ll end up with discolored garments. 

Bed and Furniture

Bed bugs usually hide in cracks and crevices in bed frames and furniture. You’ll want to start by removing the mattress and items from closets or racks. 

Dilute one cup of bleach with nine cups of water and place it in a spray bottle. Grab a wiping cloth and wear rubber gloves to be safe.

Spray the diluted bleach on crevices and/or wipe it around the bed frame and furniture. Ensure that you’re keeping the window open because you don’t want to inhale vaporize bleach. 

Safety Precautions When Using Bleach

As mentioned, bleach can be hazardous. It can trigger nausea, dizziness, and lung issues when inhaled in a great amount. If you come into contact with undiluted bleach, you may suffer skin irritation which can be quite painful.

Bleach can also interact with other products and produce toxic gasses. You should avoid mixing bleach with ammonia, rubbing alcohol, and vinegar at all costs. The resulting toxic gas can cause you to lose consciousness or worse. 

Better Ways To Kill Bed Bugs

Regardless of whether it works or not, using bleach to kill bed bugs was never a good idea in the first place. 

You need to get the bleach on the bed bugs for it to be effective. Bed bugs are quite a scavenger and you’ll have a tough time finding them. 

At best, you may wipe off a few bed bugs that got unlucky, but many will remain unscathed. Consider using these methods that are less risky and more effective.

  • Steam cleaner – Heat is proven to destroy both bed bugs and their eggs. A steamer equipped with the right nozzle will send the steaming vapor to the bugs. It is cleaner and doesn’t leave any toxic residue.
  • Vacuum – Vacuuming may not kill the bugs directly. However, a powerful vacuum can dislodge bed bugs from their hiding spot and trap them within the dust bin. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the stubborn bed bugs and get rid of them.
  • Diatomaceous earth Diatomaceous earth, or DE, is a powdery substance that punctures the shell of bed bugs and wicks moisture from their body. Without water, bed bugs will perish. Sprinkle DE onto surfaces and crevices where bed bugs could be hiding. 

Bottom Line

Bleach will never be my chosen method of killing bed bugs even if it is proven to effective. It’s just too risky to be spraying or wiping the chemical at home, particularly when you’re having children around.

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