Bed bugs are notoriously difficult pests to get rid of. They can infest even the cleanest of spaces and quickly spread throughout a property if not properly addressed. Since bleach has a reputation for killing nearly everything, many people wonder whether bleach is an effective method for eliminating these pesky bloodsuckers.
Here is everything you need to know about bed bugs and whether bleach makes an effective solution for getting rid of them.
What Exactly Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, wingless, oval-shaped insects that feed on human blood. Although they are not known to transmit any diseases, their bites leave behind itchy, red welts. These reddish brown insects emerge from their hiding places in bedding, mattresses, furniture, and other crevices at night to feed.
Bed bugs typically live between 10 months to a year and go through three simple stages during their life cycle. All bed bugs start as small, pearly white eggs, which are laid in groups by the female bed bugs. After a few days, the eggs hatch, and the bed bug nymphs emerge.
Nymphs are a little tougher to see with the naked eye because they are smaller than adults and can be translucent or whitish in color. The nymphs continue to grow over the next month or so until they reach their final stage — adulthood. This is when they begin to resemble apple seeds.
Due to their long lifespan and hardy nature, bed bugs are known for being especially difficult to get rid of once they take up residence in your facility.
Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs?
Bleach is known for killing anything in its path, including harmful viruses, bacteria, and mold. So it’s easy to see why many people wonder if this common household cleaner would also kill bed bugs. In short, yes, bleach does kill bed bugs. But that doesn’t mean it’s effective for addressing infestations.
When bleach comes into contact with bed bugs, the chemicals in the bleach immediately begin to oxidize and break down the bed bug’s exoskeleton. This kills the bed bug fairly quickly. However, the bleach must come in direct contact with the insects, which is often hard to achieve.
This is because bleach does not penetrate the surfaces where bed bugs hide, such as mattresses, furniture, and other porous materials. Additionally, if bed bugs smell bleach in the area, they won’t go anywhere near it. But that doesn’t mean they are gone; they will simply move to another room or area of the property and continue to spread.
Does Bleach Kill Bed Bugs Better than Heat?
Heat treatment is one of the most effective bed bug control methods available and ensures that all eggs, nymphs, and adults are killed. Although bleach will kill bed bugs, it is not as effective as extreme heat.
Bed bugs die when they are exposed to temperatures of 119°F or higher, while the eggs require a little more heat — 125°F or higher — to die. It is important to maintain this high temperature for at least 90 minutes to ensure every bug and egg is killed.
When You Should Call in the Professionals
If an infestation is caught early enough, it can be swiftly addressed by washing all affected bedding, clothes, and linens and drying them on the highest dryer setting. However, if the bed bugs have spread to other areas, such as furniture or crevices between the carpet and floorboards, you may need to enlist professional exterminators.
Professional exterminators have the specialized equipment necessary to effectively treat all areas of your property and can give you tips to prevent future infestations. While bleach can technically kill bed bugs, there are other options available that are more effective than using bleach, and a professional can direct you to those solutions.
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