Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?

We all are guilty of trying to get by with shortcuts. Here's the thing to remember about short cuts, though – they often lead to long delays. Perhaps you have heard that common Clorox bleach or Pine Sol (see on Amazon) can kill bed bugs. Well, in certain circumstances, it can. However, it will not be an effective treatment in the long run.

Although common household cleaners like Pine Sol or Clorox bleach can sometimes kill bed bugs, it is not a reliable or the best way to get rid of them. The best way to get rid of a bed bug infestation is to hire a professional exterminator. Before the exterminator arrives, be sure to thoroughly clean your home.

How Does Bleach Kills Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are a family of tenacious critters that have lived for thousands of years. However, they are not able to swim. Therefore, when placed in any container of liquid, whether it is just water or just bleach, they will soon drown.

In order to drown all the bed bugs in a home, you would have to either submerge your entire home in bleach or find each individual bed bug and drown it. Neither of these solutions is recommended or feasible. I mean, even if there existed a dunking tank big enough for your house to fit in, the bleach would make your home uninhabitable for ages.

Bed Bug Infestation And Treatment Service
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Does Bleach Kill Bed Bug Eggs?

Sadly, bleach, rubbing alcohol, and other common cleaners do not kill bed bug eggs since eggs can't drown, unlike adults. However, heat and getting mashed about in a washing machine and dryer can sometimes kill eggs. Since people often add bleach to their laundry, this has led to the wrong conclusion that bleach kills bed bug eggs.

Often the best way to get rid of bed bug eggs (besides getting rid of the adults that keep making them) is to get the eggs out of your home. The eggs go in the trash or down the drain and you wave them goodbye. Finding the eggs can be difficult. This is why it's best left to a professional. In the meantime, vacuuming, steam and heat treatment, and doing laundry can help get rid of bed bug eggs.

Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs in Laundry?

Bed bugs can be killed in the laundry or even in dry cleaning, but it is not necessarily the bleach that does the killing. Just imagine if you were caught inside of a washing machine when it is running. Washing machines have been known to kill pets and small children that accidentally got in the laundry. The whole process of getting tossed about manically under water is the killer here.

However, doing laundry is a great way to kill bed bugs. You will not get all the bed bugs in your home, but you will get some. You need to launder not only all your clothes, but your bedding, your pillows, cushions, drapes, curtains, valences, stuffed animals, and just about anything made of fabric. Once clean, they need to be placed in resealable plastic bags until the exterminator gets there. This way they are not infested with the surviving bed bugs.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

Although bed bugs are perhaps the world's worst swimmers, they are champions at hiding. Their tiny size and almost-flat shape make them able to easily wedge into cracks, crevices, and seams that make them nearly impossible to find. Places they hide include but are not limited to:

  • Electronics and small appliances
  • Baseboards and floorboards
  • Underneath furniture
  • In your car
  • In and underneath carpets
  • In the seams of clothes, drapes, curtains, or even stuffed animals
  • In between cabinets or drawers
  • In picture or mirror frames
  • In the crevices in laundry baskets
  • Inside the indentation in the head of a screw
  • And, oh yeah – bedding, mattresses, box springs, couches, recliners, and anywhere you take a nap!

Bed bugs stay hidden until you are asleep and then come out to feed on you, your family, and your pets. In the daytime, you may see no evidence of the critters, but if you wake up with bites, they are hiding. You just haven't found them. All the time you cannot find them, they are breeding and making your infestation even worse.

Related Question:

Are Bed Bugs Repelled by the Smell of Bleach?

It is a common misconception that certain odors can cause bed bugs to flee. Bed bugs are strongly attracted to human body odor, such as the stench given off in the dirty laundry. Strong B.O. means potential feasting for bed bugs. If they tolerate such horrible stinks, bleach, essential oils, cleaners or even mothballs are not going to bother them.

There are substances that make bed bugs hide or even move out of a room but only temporarily. These substances include pesticides. They make a bed bug uncomfortable and so it moves to a more comfortable spot. When you're a bed bug, just about anywhere is a comfortable spot. When the pesticide wears off, then the bed bugs just crawl right back and you're back at square one.

cleaning materials
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Too Much Bleach Can Cause Problems

How long does it take for bleach to kill bed bugs? This is a good question and one we do not know the answer to. We know they can drown in bleach but dousing your home in copious amounts of bleach in the hopes of drowning them is not a good idea, according to the University of Florida. You will need to use so much bleach that you run the risk of getting very sick. Just the smell of too much bleach fumes can:

  • Trigger asthma attacks
  • Trigger migraines
  • Cause skin burns
  • Cause damage to the eyes
  • Cause fainting
  • Cause nausea and vomiting

Just how dangerous is too much bleach? Let's put it this way – bleach was one of the chemicals used by Nazis to torture their prisoners at concentration camps. That should be all you need to know.

If you really need to know more, consider that bleach kills bacteria by basically dissolving it. Bleach does not differentiate between bacteria and your body. It will dissolve anything it can get in contact with. This is why bleach manufacturers recommend greatly diluting bleach with water. There is anecdotal evidence that bleach can dissolve bed bugs' exoskeletons if they stay in contact long enough with the bleach, which is unlikely since they can just crawl away. No studies have been done to prove this, however.

Related Question:

Are There Any Natural Solutions to Killing Bed Bugs?

There are some ways to fight bed bugs without synthetic (man-made) pesticides. However, they have varying degrees of success. These include:

Related post: How to get rid of bed bugs naturally 

In Conclusion: Kids, Don't Try This At Home

Do bleach and water kill bed bugs? Yes, in the laundry. However, doing lots of laundries will not get rid of a bed bug infestation. Bleach can play a part in your whole arsenal of weapons in the war against bed bugs. How does bleach kills bed bugs? By drowning, mostly and through contact. You cannot use enough bleach in your home to get into contact with all of the bugs.

Bed bugs are a serious problem that only gets worse over time. You need to attack them by cleaning up, vacuuming, throwing out as much trash as possible, and fixing repairs like cracks in the baseboards. You are not a slob for having bed bugs. Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt or mess (except for dirty laundry.) It's just that a mess gives bed bugs places to hide. You cannot chase the bed bugs out with bleach or other common household cleaners.

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