Will Bleach Kill Bed Bugs? Here’s What You Need to Know

Can bleach kill a bed bug? Yes.

But, can bleach clear a bed bug infestation? On its own; Probably not!

Dealing with a bed bug infestation is a harrowing experience. Although they have plagued all social classes in civilizations for centuries, it seems impossible for human beings to ever just get used to them. But not taking an action can make you deal with health problems, including itching, inflammation, and more.

Using population movement, these pests travel around by hiding away in belongings and have successfully managed to permeate communities all over the world. These insidious little insects huddle together in the nooks and crannies around the whole home. Even under peeling wallpaper, leaving blotchy crusts of egg cases and feces as signs of their presence.

Fact: Do you know bed bugs have no wings but they can crawl up to 40ft from harborage to their host and back.

No one can blame you for reaching for the nearest bug killing remedy fast but not many will work. Even so, it turns out it is possible to deal with a lightweight infestation using household bleach. Even if it turns out you have a really big problem, having a go with the bleach is a good place to start trying to get rid of them.

What Makes Bleach Effective?

Even cheap everyday bleach is a powerful acid cocktail with sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), as the main active ingredient. It kills common bacteria and most viruses and also whitens teeth. Sodium chloride, sodium chlorite and sodium polyacrylate are also present making bleach the powerful chemical compound needed to take on any infestation of bed bugs.

The real question is – can you get rid of these bloodsucking pests using just bleach?

There is scientific evidence suggesting that you can terminate bed bugs with bleach. A this study found bleach destroys protein Hsp33, which happens to be the same protein the shells of both species of adult cimex (bed bug) are made from. In short, on contact, their abdomen splits open spilling their guts for a certain death – the sodium hypochlorite is mainly responsible for this gruesome but sudden end.

Bleach works on contact and that’s what is needed for bleach to work well on these stubborn bugs. To be effective, the bleach needs to sit for a couple of minutes. It’s better delivered as spray with a little hot water added.

All acids work better when warm and you’ll need an active solution from the go to work in all the crevices. These critters don’t fly but they can certainly run and being flat bodied and as small as 1mm, although they can grow up to 7, they can hide anywhere.

Cimex bed bugs also have an evolutionary superpower that means you have to spray the entire area thoroughly. Lone breeding females stay away from the main colony. If you don’t get them, they will replenish the population very quickly. It takes only 6 to 10 days for eggs to hatch and a female lays around 250 of them during her 6 months of life. The first thing each nymph offspring wants is a warm blood meal.

It’s not unusual to have to deal with an infestation several times. How effective each time is, depends largely on how much time are you willing to devote to applying different chemicals to your bed.

It can be a time consuming process trying different pesticides or even traditional home remedies like boric acid, and disheartening to have no lasting result. There is evidence around suggesting bed bugs are developing resistance to traditionally used pesticides anyway. However, they are not resistant to bleach.

Fact: Bed bugs could make you anxious and paranoid, and you might feel itchy even when you have dealt with infestations.

Use Bleach Properly to Get Better Results

 It may be your methodology that’s at fault. It takes a lot to find and spray all the places where they hide. You need a thorough approach.

  • Discard all the bedding including duvets, throws and pillows.
  • Lift the mattress out, spray bleach it all over, especially into the seams and around the buttons and handles and vents.
  •  Leave to dry then give it a long hot blast with a good hair dryer. These bugs can’t take the heat after 122 degrees so don’t rush and be systematic.
  • Strip the bed frame down its components and spray each one. Don’t hold the bleach and let part stand and air dry.
  • Spray along the skirting board and into the room corners and strip, spray and replace old peeling wallpaper.
  • Pull the rugs and ditch the carpets and other soft furnishings along with the curtains. Wet mop the floor with a strong solution of bleach and hot water.

Do all of this in one hit for a bed bug Armageddon.

Few Points to Remember

If you’re willing to proceed with bleach and undertake the hard work, you also need to consider your own protection. Spraying bleach around is isn’t good for health. Breathing fumes can be positively dangerous. You need to suit up in the full gear; goggles, mask, gloves and boots.

It’s having to deal safely with the amount of liquid bleach needed and its fumes that makes people consider using a professional pest control service or at least switching to a safer method of extermination, such as turning up the heat to a toasty 120F for 5 minutes.

It’s a step up from using bleach, but there are also hot boxes for rent you can put smaller items into or even use to cover and heat up whole houses. In the end, if you don’t get ahead of the infestation bleaching, this may be what it takes to rid your home completely of this particularly bloodthirsty bed fellow.

Work on “Not” Introducing New Bed Bugs to Your Home

After clearing an infestation, work on not having it again. If you travel a lot and stay in lodgings or use cheap accommodation, you increase your chances of bringing bed bugs home in luggage. But they also hang out in other kinds of soft furniture such as second hand armchairs and clothing. Bed bugs can thrive almost anywhere as long as they have access to food, blood. Even in the seams of your new vintage wear.

Bed bugs have always been with us, and it is hard to escape, especially considering they are all over the world, and of course, all 50 states. And it’s got nothing to do with being hygienically clean or dirty, although you can make the feel less at home by getting rid of their hidey holes in any clutter.

Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham
Hello, Andrew is the co-founder and lead editor for DailyPest.

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