Can I Spray the Bed With Alcohol to Get Rid of Bedbugs?
Bedbugs are tiny insects that feed on human blood. According to the Mayo Clinic, bedbugs have been drinking human blood for thousands of years. After near-eradication in the mid-20th century, bedbugs have become a problem once again.
While the only way to truly get rid of bedbugs is with professional treatment, isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol can help while you wait for the cavalry to arrive.
Bedbugs are tiny insects that live in the crevices of the bed during the day. At night, these nocturnal creatures come out in search of food. About the size of an apple seed, bedbugs are oval-shaped and flat with a reddish-brown coloration. Bedbug bites appear similar to bites from other insects but appear in a cluster or a straight line. These itchy bites often appear on the face, hands, neck and arms.
Before treating your bed with isopropyl alcohol, dispose of any clutter in your room where bedbugs can hide during the day. Wash any clothes, sheets or bedding you know are infested at the hottest temperature possible (at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry in a hot dryer to kill bedbugs and eggs. Take larger items, such as pillows and bedspreads, to a commercial laundromat if they don't fit in your dryer at home. After the bed is stripped, vacuum it and the carpet, throwing away the vacuum bag when you're finished.
Add the isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to a spray bottle. Dilute the solution with water in a ratio of 9:1 (alcohol to water). Test a small amount of this solution on your furniture first, to see if it stains. Spray your entire bed with the alcohol solution, including the mattress, the braiding of the mattress, the headboard, the box springs, and any cracks or crevices near and around the bed where the bedbugs can hide. Spray nearby furniture and carpets as well.
Alcohol kills bedbugs, their eggs and their nymphs on contact. However, alcohol dries quickly, and repeated treatments are required. Each treatment will help cut down on bites, but it's not a substitute for professional help. When spraying your bedroom, make sure the room has been well-ventilated before you go to sleep. According to American Pest Control, using rubbing alcohol is an effective stopgap measure against bedbugs, but it's only a temporary fix.
David Harris is a writer living in Portland, Ore. He currently is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Spectrum Culture. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.