Rubbing alcohol is a known disinfectant, but does it work in killing bed bugs? It’s common knowledge that bed bugs are tough to kill, which is why I’ve been digging around to find out if rubbing alcohol works.

Let’s get started!

Rubbing Alcohol vs Alcohol

Both alcohol and rubbing alcohol have the same formula but a slight structural difference which changes their properties.

Rubbing alcohol usually contains 70% isopropyl alcohol, while alcohol is the generic term used to describe the intoxicant.

You shouldn’t confuse rubbing alcohol with ethyl alcohol as the latter is found in drinks.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?

Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol can kill bed bugs and their eggs. However, it is not the most effective method to do so and can only give you temporary relief.

First, let’s discuss how rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs. Rubbing alcohol is both a solvent and a desiccant. Rubbing alcohol dissolves the exoskeleton of the bed bugs, which is all it takes to kill some bed bugs. But on top of it, the desiccant nature of the alcohol completely dries out all the liquid from inside the bed bugs, thus fully destroying their existence.

It follows the same process to kill bed bug eggs.

However, in 2013, Changlu Wang Rutgers University studies different cost-effective bed bug methods. They found that 40% of the bed bugs sprayed with rubbing alcohol were alive even after four days, which proved that it is not an efficient method.

Precautions When Using Rubbing Alcohol

Before using rubbing alcohol for bed bug infestation, do consider all the precautions.

  • Rubbing alcohol is a highly flammable chemical. Therefore, it is advised not to use it anywhere near high heat or open flame.
  • Though it has alcohol in its name, rubbing alcohol is not a beverage. Never drink it as it can be life-threatening.
  • Only use it on top of your skin. A tiny amount of rubbing alcohol is enough to apply on the skin with a cotton ball. If you need to apply again, use a new piece of cotton.
  • Keep rubbing alcohol out of reach of children. And in case you are giving it to children to use, supervise them.
  • Surely, rubbing alcohol creates a cool sensation when applied to the skin, but it cannot reduce your body’s temperature. So, do not use it in high fever as it will remain ineffective.
  • Rubbing alcohol can be effective in killing lice, however, it can cause chemical burning on the scalp. Therefore, it is highly recommended not to use it on the scalp.

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol to Kill Bed Bugs?

To get the best results possible, a 91% solution of rubbing alcohol is the best choice. However, if that is unavailable then a less concentrated solution will be great as well.

Pour this solution into a spray bottle and directly spray it on the affected area. Direct contact of the solution with bed bugs is extremely important to kill them.

Better Ways of Killing Bed Bugs

Steam cleaning

Steam cleaning is one of the easiest and simplest methods for killing bed bugs and other insects. If done correctly, using premium-quality equipment, steam cleaning can get you relief from the bed bugs’ problem.

Steam cleaner turns water into steam. Then, using a specific tool, heat up the specific surface where bed bugs are present. Regular steam cleaning can completely get rid of bed bugs from all their hiding places.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is reportedly one of the most effective methods for killing bed bugs. Diatomaceous earth is available in powder form. It is created from the fossilized remain of algae known as diatoms.

DE is cheaper than other bed bugs killing methods and is also free from any harmful chemicals. You can safely apply it in every nook and corner of your home without worrying about its side effects.

Bed bug spray

Using bed bug sprays is another effective way of killing bed bugs. There are various bed bug sprays available in the market which works efficiently well in getting the job done. Spray all around your mattress and bed. Spray in the closets, drawers, all around the furniture, frames, etc, or simply in every nook and corner of your place.


Rubbing alcohol does kill bed bugs. However, there’s much doubt on its effectiveness. Chances are, the rubbing alcohol would evaporate before it sends bed bugs to their demise.