If bed bugs have infested your home, you may be tempted to try resolving the problem yourself before resorting to costly professional pest control services.
One potential method for removing the pests is by using bleach, since it is toxic and can be used to kill bacteria, mold, and weeds. But will it work? Will bleach kill bed bugs and their eggs?
Read on as we answer the question: “Does bleach kill bed bugs?”
About bed bugs
These little insects come out at night, biting exposed skin as we sleep. Compounds in their saliva make these bites painless. If a bed bug bites you, you probably won’t even feel it. Their bites often appear as small red spots, similar to mosquito bites, though some people do not react to bed bug bites at all. When bites present a reaction, the welts are often lined up in a row or clustered together.
Bed bugs can live anywhere that humans sleep: in houses, hotels, apartments, dormitories, etc. They are most likely to dwell in mattresses, box springs, and the cracks and crevices of other bedroom furniture. Electrical outlets and baseboards may also harbor bed bugs if the infestation is large enough. They can also hide in luggage and clothing, and thus be transported to a new location by unwitting humans.
Bed bug resurgence
After WWII, bedbugs became much less common in the developed world, partially thanks to synthetic insecticides like DDT. In recent years, however, they have experienced something of a comeback, mainly due to increases in international travel and trade as well as greater restrictions on the use of the aforementioned pesticides.
How infestations happen
Even though they cannot fly, bed bugs can easily spread around your home – and from one house to another – by hiding themselves and their eggs in clothing, furniture, and luggage.
They also breed quickly and even though their bites are not especially painful or dangerous, they can be itchy, unsightly, and could potentially lead to an allergic reaction or anemia in rare cases. Furthermore, infestations can have a profound psychological effect, leading to anxiety and trouble sleeping. You should swiftly and thoroughly deal with any bed bug infestation in your home.
Can bleach kill bed bugs?
Calling a professional pest control service to deal with a bed bug infestation in your home may seem a bit drastic, not to mention expensive. Wouldn’t it be better if you could solve the problem on your own using cheap, readily available household products?
We all know that bleach is a powerful and versatile cleaner and disinfectant. You might have wondered if you can also eradicate bed bugs with it. The short answer is no. While bleach may technically be able to kill bed bugs, its use is strongly discouraged. It must be a narrow, targeted attack (which makes it nearly ineffective against true infestations). It is also unnecessarily risky for yourself and your household. A thorough understanding of the composition of bleach, why it works as a disinfectant, and how it affects living things is necessary before attempting to put it to an unintended use like pest control. Bed bugs are very difficult to eradicate. Experts recommend professional pest control services.
What chemicals does bleach contain?
If you are thinking of using bleach to kill bed bugs then you should first have a good understanding of its makeup.
The main active ingredient of common household bleach is sodium hypochlorite. This is the agent in the bleach that helps remove stains, kill bacteria, and whiten your clothes (although hydrogen peroxide is typically used on cloth). Bleach may also contain:
- Water (a component of all liquid bleach)
- Sodium chloride (i.e. table salt, which acts as a stabilizer)
- Sodium carbonate (helps remove grease and stains and softens the water used in the bleach cleaning process)
- Sodium hydroxide (a pH adjuster which also aids in removing grease and stains from clothing)
- Sodium polyacrylate (helps keep dirt and soil from being reabsorbed into the clothes being washed)
Will Clorox bleach kill bed bugs?
Bed bugs are very stubborn creatures that are highly resistant to many pest control products.
Furthermore, bed bugs are elusive and typically come out to feed only after dark. The rest of the time, they hide in inaccessible cracks and crevices. Sometimes, their presence and exact whereabouts can go undetected.
So, will bleach kill bed bugs?
Common household bleach may be able to kill bed bugs. But you would have to spray the bleach directly on the bugs. This is not practical for large scale eradication.
Bleach unfolds proteins and causes them to clump together. This protein damage leads to cell death, which can ultimately kill an insect-sized organism. However, finding every individual bed bug would be next to impossible. If you were to just douse all of your bedding, mattresses, and other home furniture and fittings with bleach, you’d probably end up destroying your property and exposing yourself to the poisonous bleach fumes.
The risks of using bleach to try eradicating bed bugs outweigh any slim benefits.
To summarize, can bleach kill bed bugs? Yes, probably, but it is unlikely to be effective and likely to be dangerous.
If you want to solve your own bed bug problems without the side effects, you are better off attempting to harness the power of heat than chemicals.
Professional exterminators often use heat against bed bugs. Using special equipment, they raise the air temperature to a point that is lethal to bed bugs.
For bedding, a hot wash and dry is probably better than washing in bleach.
Bringing in the professionals is still the surest way to permanently eliminate all bed bugs from your home. So, get out the yellow pages and find the number for the nearest pest control specialist. The problem of bed bugs is best solved by professionals. The expense will be worth it.