Bed bugs may be one of the most difficult household pests to get rid of. These small, brownish-black insects are expert hitchhikers, and they usually make their way into homes by stowing away in luggage, backpacks, purses and other personal items. And while bed bug populations had dwindled in the United States by the 1940s and 1950s, increasing travel has led to a resurgence in their numbers.

Once bed bugs are in your home, they'll make themselves comfortable anywhere you do. That includes your furniture and, of course, your bed. They're often found in cracks, crevices and seams in upholstered furniture, mattresses and box springs. Bed bugs may also be found hiding in your carpet or rugs, wall décor, books, nightstands or even electronics. Keep reading to learn what kills bed bugs.

Bed bugs feed on blood. They use signals, including body heat, warmth and carbon dioxide, to find hosts. Usually, they emerge from their hiding places to feed at night, then retreat after their meals are complete.

If you have bed bugs in your home, you may be tempted to try to get rid of them yourself. There are several DIY methods, including rubbing alcohol, that supposedly kill bed bugs. But do they actually work?

Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs Instantly?

It might seem like rubbing alcohol is a good way to get rid of bed bugs. In fact, many DIY blogs claim that it works. However, it's not all it's cracked up to be. Here's why:

  1. Most rubbing alcohol contains around 70% or 91% of isopropyl alcohol. In a study conducted by Rutgers University, scientists sprayed rubbing alcohol directly on bed bugs, and it was only effective in killing a maximum of 50% of the insects.
  2. It's important to note that even when rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs, it only kills the ones that are visible — that does not include those that may still be hiding in your mattress, or their eggs. So the odds of rubbing alcohol actually eliminating a bed bug infestation are pretty slim.
  3. Additionally, rubbing alcohol is flammable, so it's not really a good idea to spray it or soak upholstered surfaces or fabrics with it.

What Kills Bed Bugs Naturally?

While DIY methods are largely ineffective against bed bugs, there are a few things you can do to help the situation if you find these unwelcome pests in your home. Some proven methods include:

Using high heat

Frequent laundering can help kill bed bugs. Collect any infested clothing or linens and run them in a wash cycle at the highest temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Then dry them at the highest allowed temperature. Be sure to follow all manufacturers' instructions.


Your vacuum is an effective method of getting bed bugs out of your furniture, upholstery or carpet. However, you should take care to protect your vacuum so it doesn't become infested while you get rid of the insects. Try using the nozzle attachment and covering it with a stocking. When you've finished, be sure you empty the vacuum container or bag into a sealed bag, and then dispose of it in a sealed garbage can.

Steam cleaning

High temperatures are extremely effective against bed bugs. According to Rutgers University, steam, which is around 212 degrees Fahrenheit, will kill bed bugs instantly. Consider purchasing a steamer and using it to treat cracks, crevices and seams in your furniture, bedding or other upholstered surfaces.

Purchasing a mattress encasement

Bed bug encasements are protective liners for your mattress and box spring. They help with bed bug problems by sealing your bed and preventing the insects from hiding and/or nesting there. They can also trap any bed bugs already present, helping you identify an infestation and seek further treatment.


Although it won't kill them, you can help deter beg bugs by eliminating their hiding places. Keep items off the floor, keep clutter away from your bed and store items in sealed plastic containers.

What Does Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Because bed bugs are so difficult to get rid of, eliminating them is a job best left to the professionals. Trying DIY methods like rubbing alcohol will only leave you frustrated when the bugs initially disappear but return days — or weeks — later.

The bed bug control professionals at Terminix® will do a free inspection of your home, checking for signs of bed bugs in common hiding places. From there, they'll treat affected areas to eliminate hidden bed bugs and their eggs. Our technicians use a variety of methods to help get your problem under control.

Don't let bed bugs keep you up at night. Schedule your free inspection with Terminix today.