Finding a bed bug can be devastating; not only are the effects of bed bug psychological, but they also have a social stigma associated with them. Many of my readers write to me about their bed bug issues. They all have one thing in common: they are traumatized. Their life as they know it is over; their sleep is disturbed. Many are having nightmares about bugs crawling into their hair, or on their bodies.
All of them, besides asking me questions like ‘what should I do to trick bed bugs?’ or ‘what kills bed bugs instantly?’ also want to know what lies ahead. And rightly so: getting rid of bed bugs is not easy since they spread so fast. They multiply quickly and within a day, their population can rise from hundreds to thousands. I always recommend an integrated pest management approach for dealing with bed bugs. One of the weapons in your arsenal against bed bugs is bleach. Today we will address the question: Can bleach kill bed bugs? We will also study different ways in which you can use bleach to keep bed bugs out of your apartment.
A clean house and bed bugs
Most of you who are regulars on this website know the importance of keeping a clean house while fighting a bed bug infestation. There is no doubt that bed bugs love messy and cluttered houses. Of course, it is also important to note that bed bugs are also found in spotlessly clean hotels and upscale homes. The point I am trying to make is that when you reduce the clutter, you automatically reduce the hiding places for bed bugs. Therefore, one of the first steps of dealing with bed bugs is cleaning the house.
The reason why you should use bleach while cleaning is because it has a strong smell. Bleach kills germs and the scent also repels bugs. Young bed bug larvae and eggs are also destroyed by bleach. Bleach also eliminates blood stains and rust-colored stains left behind by bed bugs when they discard their exoskeletons. Check out my guide on how to remove bed bug stains from the walls, wood, and sheets.
Does bleach kill bed bugs instantly?
Bleach can kill bed bugs upon contact but naturally, you cannot go around dumping bleach all over the house. For one, bleach can discolor your mattress and sheets. Secondly, its fumes can be harmful to humans and pets. Therefore, one can only safely use bleach in its diluted form. Unfortunately, diluted bleach may not be strong enough to kill bed bugs. Also, you’d have to see the bug and its eggs/larvae in order for it to be effective. This way, you can spray the bug directly. Unfortunately, bed bugs are sneaky creatures. They rarely come out during the day and mostly pop out at night to bite sleeping humans. Also, you might not have bleach handy at night to spray the bed bugs.
You can always make a spray of bleach and vinegar and keep it near your bed. Should you happen to see the bug, you can spray instantly. But you need to be very careful and cover up your nose with a hanky to prevent the fumes from irritating you. You must also make sure that the solution does not discolor your clothes, sheets, and anything else it comes in contact with. All these precautions can be a bit tricky to remember when you are in deep sleep and bitten by bed bugs.
So how do you use bleach to get rid of bed bugs?
There are a few ways in which you can use bleach to kill bed bugs:
Spraying the bugs directly with bleach spray
As stated above, bleach is one of the solutions to kill bed bugs instantly. The chemical formula of bleach is CaOCl2. This chemical oxidizes the outer covering of the bed bug’s exoskeleton and suffocates the bed bugs with its noxious fumes. As stated above, you can keep some bleach spray handy to spray the bed bugs. You can also use color-safe bleach to spray on the bugs and all over the mattress to prevent them from coming out to bite you. However, it isn’t safe to sleep in a room where you have just sprayed bleach. The toxic fumes can irritate your eyes and lungs. So avoid sleeping in treated areas.
In the laundry
Another powerful way of using bleach to eliminate bed bugs is by laundering all bedclothes, sheets, linen, pillowcases, comforters, etc. Add the bleaching powder or liquid bleach to the washing machine and toss all infested clothes in it. Make sure the bleach you use is color-safe in case of colored fabrics. Alternatively, use bleach only if you are washing white or light-colored linen. The bleach will destroy all of the eggs, larvae, and adult bed bugs. After washing, dry all of the washed clothes/linen on the hottest setting of the dryer. The heat will eliminate remaining eggs and larvae of bed bugs. For more information, check out my guide on how to get rid of bed bugs in clothes.
Use bleach to wipe down countertops and furniture
Dilute the bleach with water and/or vinegar in equal measures. Use this spray all over the furniture, legs of beds, headboards, etc. You can also sprinkle bleaching powder beneath the mattress box springs. This will suffocate all the newly hatched bed bugs. Make sure you cover up your mattresses using mattress encasements. This will prevent bed bugs from coming out to feed or bite you. As stated above, avoid sleeping in the treated area.
Wipe down the walls with bleach
If your walls are white or light in color, you can wipe them down with diluted bleach. The fumes will suffocate the bed bugs and also remove bed bug stains. You will also eliminate germs using this method and end up with a cleaner home.
Use bleach on all infested items
Collect all of the items that may be carrying bed bug eggs. Such items include books, pens, jewelry, non-electronic goods, knick-knacks, etc. Place them inside a plastic bag. Sprinkle or spray bleaching powder or solution. Allow the chemical to work on the items. After a couple of days, remove the items and wipe them clean. You can also toss the non-delicate items in a washer-dryer, or freeze the items to kill newly hatched bed bugs. Discard the bag you have used for keeping infested far away from your home.
Integrated pest management
Bleach is a great option to get rid of bed bugs. However, it is not the only option to kill bed bugs instantly. First of all; you cannot douse each and every bed bug with bleach; in case of a large infestation, that just isn’t practical. Secondly, bed bugs multiply rapidly, so you’d have to keep using bleach over and over, night after night, to see results. Thirdly, bleach can irritate your eyes, lungs, and skin, which makes it harmful for use around elderly people, babies, pets, and pregnant ladies.
The only thing that kills bed bugs instantly is an integrated pest management approach. You’d have to use several methods like bed bug sprays, diatomaceous earth powder, bed bug traps, and mattress encasements. Do wash all of infested fabrics, linen, and upholstery with bleach/detergent. You can spray bleach all over the walls, mattress, etc as long as it won’t discolor them. You can also spray bleach on the rugs and carpets to get rid of larvae and eggs. Vacuum all rooms thoroughly and de-clutter all areas to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
Can bleach kill bed bugs? The answer may surprise you. Yes, bleach can kill bed bugs instantly. But you need to spray each bug with concentrated bleach for it to work and this may not be a feasible solution when you have a massive infestation. Bleach can certainly kill bed bug eggs, larvae, and adults when you wash infested clothing, bed sheets, pillow covers, comforters, blankets, pet bedding, etc. But you need to use integrated pest management in order to get rid of all of the bugs. Do contact a pest management company if needed so they can assess the extent of the infestation and suggest the right steps for the complete elimination of bed bugs.
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