Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill Bed Bugs?

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In a survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), about 76% of pest professionals agree that bed bugs are among the most challenging to eradicate. People who have experienced dealing with a thriving bed bug population will know how important having a well-equipped bed bug arsenal when it comes to combating these pesky parasites.

Does hydrogen peroxide kill bed bugs? Yes, it can. Like other types of bleaching agents or products, hydrogen peroxide can kill adult bed bugs as well as their larvae and eggs. It is a cheap substitute for various sprays and other chemical-filled insecticides.

However, hydrogen peroxide has its downsides. It shares the same issue when using other types of bleach — it can cause discoloration when sprayed on fabric including bedding, pillowcase, clothes, carpet, etc.

Brown Bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill Bed Bugs?

Direct application of hydrogen peroxide to bed bugs can kill them. It works by oxidizing the body of bed bugs because of the peroxide. However, direct contact is needed to make hydrogen peroxide effective. It is impossible to eliminate the entire population because bed bugs can hide in places where the bleaching solution can’t reach them.

How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Yellow Glove Holding White Spray Bottle

To prepare a spray solution of hydrogen peroxide, fill a spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and hot water at a 1:1 proportion. Be sure to spray the solution on cracks and crevices. You may also wipe the floor surface with the bleach solution.

Since it’s a bleaching agent, you can’t use it on just any surface, furniture, or fabric as it can cause discoloration. Also, you should not listen to the ‘old wives’ tale’ about applying hydrogen peroxide on your skin to get rid of bed bugs. This won’t kill bed bugs, and it’s also hazardous.

What Is a Bed Bug?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are so-called because they have the habit of taking residence in beds and mattresses and having a blood meal while humans are sleeping. They thrive on regular blood meals for survival and development. They can be found anywhere humans tend to gather in, such as hotels, dormitories, residences, schools, public transportation, etc. Humans are not the only targets of bed bugs; these pesky parasites will also feed on many warm-blooded animals, like poultry.

Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers. These 6-legged insects can easily latch on to clothes, linens, and are transported to wherever these items end up. This is one particular reason why bed bugs can easily spread and why they are so hard to control and eliminate. Many bed bug populations tend to go unnoticed until they start feeding and causing sleep disruptions as they feed on their hosts.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Woman With Magnifying Glass Detecting Bed Bug

Bed bugs are oval-shaped, wingless insects. They possess three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae. Adults can grow to a length of about 3/16th of an inch. Before a blood meal, they appear brown and flat. But after feeding, they become engorged with blood, making them appear reddish in color and elongated. Even with their small size, bed bugs are visible to the human eye. If they are present, you can see them within the seams of the mattress and box springs.

Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation

Several signs often indicate the presence of a thriving bed bug population in your home:

  • You can spot bed bugs on your mattresses, walls, or furniture upholstery. They appear as small reddish-brown spots. 
  • You may notice bites on any part of your body, particularly on your arms and legs. The bites are tiny, but they can swell and become very itchy.
  • There are traces of the bed bugs’ presence, such as their empty eggshells, molted skins, or eggs. These appear pale white and can still be visible to the human eye.
  • You may spot red/rusty stains on the bedsheets, pillows, carpets, etc.
  • You may notice bed bug poop that looks like black dots and stains. Their poop is actually a combination of fecal material and the skin they shed off during molting.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

There are so many available products in the market that can be used to kill bed bugs. These are usually available as a powder, spray or aerosol, and insecticide solutions. But these products generally contain chemicals that could be potentially dangerous to the health and well-being of both humans and pets alike. Fortunately, there are various home remedies for bed bug eradication, and one of these is using hydrogen peroxide and other bleaching agents.

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Bug Vacuum Cleaner on Bed Mattress

There is a very long list of home remedies for bed bugs. But NOT all of these natural methods of pest extermination are 100% effective. You should know how to separate the ‘chaff from the grain’ so to speak. If you ask the question, “does peroxide kill bed bugs”, be sure to try other methods as well. So what home remedy will kill bed bugs?

1. Killing Bed Bugs in the Dryer

This is one of the most effective bed bug treatments around. They are very sensitive to high temperatures (more than 140F for at least 90 minutes) and won’t be able to survive on a washing machine’s highest setting.

2. Steam Treatment

When applied correctly, steam is hot enough to kill bed bugs. Use a high-pressure steamer (view on Amazon) to reach bed bugs hiding in places that a vacuum cleaner can’t reach. Steam application is ideal for hard-to-reach spots such as cracks in the floor, wall, or furniture. A steamer can also be used to get rid of bed bugs in carpets and baseboards. Be sure to follow the steamer’s operating instructions to avoid causing damage to furniture and other household items.

3. Freezing

Bed bugs are also extremely vulnerable to freezing. For this method to be successful, the temperature must be maintained at or below 0°F, and the items must remain in the freezer for at least four days.

4. Washing All Clothes and Bedding

Unmade Bed With Pillows and Blankets in Room

Before putting everything that’s been exposed to bed bugs, make sure to check whether the fabrics can tolerate a combination of hot water and tumble drying.

5. Silica Gel

Have you ever wondered what those little packets you find in shoe boxes and certain food products are? They actually contain silica gel. You can grind up the beads and spread the powder around areas where bed bugs can possibly hide in. But this is not advisable if you have kids or pets because direct exposure to silica is harmful.

6. Vacuum

strong vacuum cleaner (view on Amazon) combined with a powerful hose can easily suck up these pesky creatures. Vacuuming removes all the life stages of bed bugs — adults, nymphs, and eggs. During an infestation, it is recommended that vacuuming be done at least every few days. Be thorough and systematic when vacuuming the mattress, bedding, sofas, etc. Start vacuuming on elevated surfaces, gradually making your way downward while paying particular attention to carpets, floors, and cracks in the floors or walls.

Bed bugs may also hide in electronic equipment like fans, laptops, and even speakers. Be sure to check household items for tell-tale signs of infestation. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag tightly and dispose of it properly in an outside garbage bin to help reduce the possibility of bed bugs returning to your home. With a strong vacuum cleaner, you can efficiently get to bed bugs that are hiding in hidden spots that are hard to reach when you use hydrogen peroxide or other types of bleaching agents.

7. Double-Sided Tape

Wrap the bedposts and other furniture with double-sided tape so any bed bug that tries to climb can get stuck on the tape. For the method to be effective, make sure that you keep blankets, pillows, clothing, the floor because bed bugs can easily hitch a ride. But if double-sided tapes don’t effectively prevent bed bugs from climbing up to your bed, try using an insect interceptor.

8. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is used as a natural method of eliminating heavy flea populations. But it could also be used to combat bed bug infestation. The fine powder is made of naturally-occurring sedimentary rock. The powder is spread all over the floor, nooks, crannies, cracks, and crevices. The fine powder contains glass-like shards that kill the insects. It may take about ten days for the powder to work its magic. But avoid applying diatomaceous earth on your mattress, pillow, or furniture because the microscopic shards can be inhaled and could cause damage to the lungs.

9. Ironing Fabric

Being highly vulnerable to heat, bed bugs can be killed instantly when exposed to direct heat. This technique applies to clothes, bedding, and pillowcases. You could also use hydrogen peroxide for the purpose, particularly if these are pure whites.

For items that cannot be laundered or steamed, such as books, papers, and dry-clean-only items, there are portable bed bug heaters (view on Amazon) that can be used for the purpose.

Each of these techniques is not a fool-proof solution to complete eradication of the bed bug population in your home. To ensure that you wage a successful battle against bed bugs, all these techniques should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive bed bug combat plan.

Conclusion – Does Hydrogen Peroxide Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide and bleach kills bed bugs. It is a cheaper substitute to commercial bug sprays and healthier, too, because it does not contain the strong and toxic chemicals that are present in insecticides. But always remember the limitations regarding the use of hydrogen peroxide to prevent causing discoloration and damage to your things and furniture.

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