Does bleach kill bed bugs? Sure. Is it the smartest solution? Probably not. Bleach is a multi-purpose disinfectant and sanitizer. Adding water to bleach and spreading it along bed bug hot spots such as baseboards and other possible bed bug hovels will deter bed bugs and possibly kill any that come in contact with the chemical mixture. However, there are more practical solutions out there.
There are more ways in which bleach can be harmful to your lungs and skin than ways in which it can be useful for killing bed bugs. While direct contact with the chemical is deadly to the bugs, bleaching your furniture may harm the fabric and your family’s health. Dishwashing soap can also be mixed with water and applied to cracks and crevices where bed bugs may be hiding. But just like with bleach, you wouldn’t want it on your furniture, much less where you sleep.
A safer, powder-based approach is diatomaceous earth. Food grade DE is non-toxic and is even fed in small quantities to farm animals to ward off parasites. The majority of DE is made of silica, the same material that makes up glass. Carefully laid out DE is akin to scattered, ultra-sharp shards of glass through which bed bugs walk and can get fatal lacerations.
The downside to this is that laying out DE is a somewhat meticulous, time-consuming process best left to those knowledgeable about the substance. Piling on DE against your baseboards and on your furniture will simply make bed bugs avoid the large pile of razor-sharp particles. If, however, it is applied carefully and in select quantities to key locations, including your mattress, DE can be a useful mitigation agent. It will also be far safer to breathe in (in small quantities) than bleach or dishwashing soap.
So, does bleach kill bed bugs? Yes. A bleach mixture, if laid out in all the areas where bed bugs might be hiding, will certainly kill off some bed bugs. However, that much bleach will most likely be detrimental to the air you breathe. DE, on the other hand, is a healthier and equally effective bed bug killing agent.
Be aware, though, that both substances only mitigate a bed bug problem. More proactive measures have to be taken: washing clothes, steaming furniture, sealing items, and ultimately, a complete solution like a full-on heat treatment. According to Sniff K9s’ FAQ page, bed bugs cannot withstand temperatures of 122 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
While food grade DE and bleach do work at deterring and killing individual bed bugs, only a complete bed bug solution, like a professional heat treatment, can guarantee the extermination of all bed bugs in a home. Remember: Only one egg is required to start an infestation, so eradicating a handful of bed bugs simply won’t solve the problem of an infestation. If you are unsure whether you have bed bugs or the level of the infestation present, it’s best to call a professional for an inspection.
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