Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

Discovering a bed bug infestation in your house is a nightmare. Bed bugs are extremely hard to eradicate, and the infestation can take over your life. You’re always worried you’ll spread the infestation to someone else, and you don’t know where to sleep

What can you do about the bed bug infestation?

Does bleach kill bed bugs?

Yes, bleach kills bed bugs. But it’s not a practical solution for an infestation.

Here’s what we know:

  • Bleach can kill bed bugs.
  • It does this by using sodium hypochlorite to oxidize the bug’s exoskeleton.
  • For bleach to work, you must spray it directly on the bug and risk inhaling the toxic fumes or ruining your property.

Read on to see how bleach kills bed bugs, the pros and cons of using bleach, and how to prep your home before safely using bleach to kill bed bugs.


Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny-little Vampires that can get into just about any corner of your home. They find you when you’re sleeping, drink your blood, and lay eggs that spread the infestation.

You can get rid of adult bed bugs by using home remedies, and they don’t cost nearly as much as hiring an exterminator. However, home remedies aren’t always effective in exterminating bed bugs, especially if they’ve already established a colony.

If you can possibly afford it, your best move is to hire a professional familiar with bed bugs. They can survive up to a year in a vacuum bag, so it’s extremely hard to know when your infestation is actually extinguished.

Bleach is a common item in many homes. And it can help somewhat with bed bug infestations. Bed bugs have a built-in resistance to some chemical pesticides but are susceptible to bleach.

Though some other brands of pesticides can kill bed bugs immediately upon contact. 

Spraying bleach directly on the bugs is a good way to kill them. But rarely are you directly in front of a large quantity of living bed bugs!

Spraying bleach directly on the bugs is a good way to kill them. But rarely are you directly in front of a large quantity of living bed bugs!

However, using bleach has significant downsides.

While spraying, you may stain surfaces and even damage your property. People with health problems may also be harmed when confronted by the toxic fumes of bleach.

And you need to be very careful to not mix bleach with ammonia, as you will create a toxic gas!


How Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

Bleach is a harsh chemical with various uses, some of which are being discovered with time. For instance, killing bed bugs with bleach. Bleach is made up of sodium hypochlorite, and it kills bed bugs by oxidizing their outer shells. 

Bleach is a harsh chemical with various uses.

When sprayed directly onto bed bugs, bleach changes the proteins in their exoskeletons so they cannot survive.

However, bed bugs tend to avoid bleach, making it incredibly difficult to spray them directly!

Besides its harsh properties, bleach is known for its strong scent, which makes it difficult for some people to use it directly. This strong scent can kill bed bugs by interfering with their respiratory system and suffocating them.

The bed bugs find it difficult to breathe and die slowly instead of instantly.

Bleach contains many chemical ingredients, with hypochlorous acid being the active ingredient, which has properties similar to heat on proteins. When you use bleach while doing your laundry, the bed bugs present are exposed to hypochlorous acid.

This ingredient causes the body structure of the bugs to unfold. 

The protein membrane of the bug is denatured, and they experience a condition similar to having a fever. With their immune system left defenseless, the bugs slowly die.

But the heat from your washer and dryer (or even a blow dryer) will also kill them, no bleach needed!


Pros and Cons of Using Bleach to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Bleach can be quite effective when sprayed directly on bed bugs. And there are other reasons why people consider bleach a top choice when warring against bed bugs.

However, there are also several reasons why using bleach may be a bad idea. 

Pros

  • Easily available. You can easily get your hands on bleach. They can be found in many drug stores and grocery stores.
  • Cheap. Besides being easily available, bleach is inexpensive. A large bottle costs only a few dollars.
  • Works if sprayed directly on bed bugs. Bed bugs are tiny pests that tend to hide in cracks and crevices you may not be able to reach. However, they’ll immediately die if you can get the bleach directly on them.

Cons

  • Toxic. Bleach contains harmful chemicals that can hurt you when swallowed, inhaled, or if allowed to touch your skin. With bleach being so toxic, it may not be a good idea to use it in busy family areas or when kids or pets are around.
  • Strong and harsh odor. The harsh and unmistakable odor of bleach lingers long after use.
  • Ineffective unless there’s direct contact. Without direct contact with the bugs, bleach does not affect them.
  • Ruins fabric. Using bleach on your mattresses, bed sheets, or other dyed fabrics can discolor or ruin them.
  • Doesn’t affect eggs inside mattresses. Bed bugs tend to lay their eggs in the crevices of mattresses. It’s incredibly hard for the bleach to touch them while they are lodged there.
  • Doesn’t completely eliminate infestations. Bleach can effectively kill some adult bed bugs but won’t eliminate the entire infestation.

Using Bleach to Eliminate Bed Bugs on Hard Surfaces

Although there are downsides to using bleach, you may still choose to use it to combat bed bugs. If you’re using bleach, you should ensure that you use it with care. Remember that bleach will not completely eliminate a bed bug infestation. 

Before using bleach, there is some home prep you need to do.

  • Deep cleaning. Bed bugs enjoy hiding in nooks and crannies, but decluttering will reduce their chances of hiding. Deep cleaning your home can deprive them of hiding places. Vacuuming corners and picking up laundry that you’ve left lying around can go a long way.
  • Dismantle furniture. These pests are called bed bugs because they are mostly found hiding in beds. However, they are just as happy nesting in furniture. Dismantle beds, dressers, etc. (particularly second-hand goods), and couches if you can, as this can expose the nest of bed bugs.
  • Sealing cracks. Seal any crack that is uninhabited by bed bugs. Doing this will ensure bed bugs have no place to run to during treatment.
  • Heat treatments. Do a quick heat treatment before using bleach, which will weaken the bed bugs. Wash and dry all infected clothes or bedding material on high heat.

After prepping your home, you’re ready to use the bleach. 

  • Dilute the bleach with hot water.
  • Dip a dry washcloth in the bleach solution.
  • Use the washcloth to scrub every hard surface in your home meticulously. Doing this will line your furniture, walls, and floor with bleach.
  • Spray visible bed bugs with the diluted bleach solution.

Conclusion

There are few home remedies to combat a bed bug infestation, and bleach can be one of the effective options (though we would recommend diatomaceous earth over bleach).

Using bleach comes with health risks, especially with repeated usage. And it does not entirely wipe out bed bug populations. If at all possible, your best bet is to call an expert in before your infestation gets out of hand.