By 5 WS
Can spraying alcohol on your mattress effectively disinfect it and eliminate bed bugs? We conducted extensive research to uncover the truth behind the power (or lack thereof) of alcohol in dealing with bed bugs. In this article, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to disinfect your mattress and control pests using a homemade alcohol spray.
Table of Contents
Reasons to Use Alcohol on Your Mattress
People choose to spray alcohol on their mattresses for two main reasons: disinfection and the elimination of bed bugs and other pests like bed worms.
When it comes to bed bugs, we have reviewed university studies and discovered that alcohol should be considered a last resort. Even 91% alcohol will only kill less than half of the bed bugs and their eggs. We understand that this can be disappointing.
However, alcohol is still effective in disinfecting your mattress. Surgeons regularly use alcohol to disinfect their instruments, so why not use it to kill microorganisms on your mattress? This is especially useful if you have encountered accidents involving food, vomit, or other unpleasant substances.
Killing Bed Bugs
Spraying alcohol will only repel bed bugs for a short period, so if you need a quick fix before finding a permanent solution, follow these guidelines:
- Make a DIY spray – Mix equal parts of 91% rubbing alcohol and water.
- Spray it – Transfer the solution to a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the entire surface of the infested mattress.
- Dry the mattress – Use white cotton cloths to blot the alcohol and allow it to evaporate for 15 minutes. Repeat steps 1 and 2 several times depending on the level of infestation.
- Make your bed clean and fresh – Put clean bedding back on the mattress after washing and drying them on high-temperature settings.
It’s important to note that rubbing alcohol only works on bed bugs and their eggs in direct contact. It evaporates quickly, leaving any untreated eggs and bugs unharmed. It may temporarily deter them, but they will likely return. Rubbing alcohol is also ineffective in getting rid of ants in your bed.
If you are concerned about encountering bed bugs during a trip or move, refer to our guide on bed bug statistics by state.
Disinfecting the Mattress
Rubbing alcohol is an excellent disinfectant that can eliminate microorganisms, germs, bacteria, and dust mites from your mattress. It also helps eliminate unpleasant odors. Follow these steps to successfully clean and freshen your mattress with alcohol spray:
- Strip your bed completely – Remove the mattress cover, sheets, and pillows.
- Vacuum it – Use a vacuum cleaner to remove visible dirt, dead skin, and dust mites.
- DIY alcohol spray – Combine 91% alcohol with essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, wintergreen, or peppermint in a spray bottle. Spray it on the mattress.
- Sprinkle baking soda – To remove moisture and odors, lightly sprinkle baking soda on the mattress and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Dry it – Use a clean cotton cloth if needed to dry the surface, then vacuum again to remove any remaining moisture and baking soda. Allow the mattress to air out before replacing the sheets.
Reasons to Avoid Using Alcohol on Your Mattress
While alcohol can kill bed bugs and their eggs on direct contact, its effectiveness is questionable. Moreover, alcohol is highly flammable, which can pose a significant risk when treating a mattress.
It’s not completely effective
Most rubbing alcohol contains either 70% or 91% isopropyl alcohol. Studies conducted by Rutgers University demonstrated that even 91% alcohol could only kill around 50% of bed bugs when directly sprayed on them. Another study from Ohio University reported that 70% alcohol was able to kill as little as 15% of the bugs.
Alcohol can only kill organisms on the surface of the mattress. Any organisms hidden inside the mattress will remain alive. Additionally, if you miss any spots during the spraying process, those areas will not be disinfected.
Alcohol is highly flammable, so it is crucial to avoid spraying it in closed rooms while smoking or near open flames. There have been numerous reports of incidents and official warnings urging people not to use alcohol to combat bed bugs. A simple Google search on “alcohol and bed bugs” will provide you with various cases.
In one incident in Detroit, a man sprayed alcohol on his sofa and accidentally lit a cigarette, causing a fire. Although he managed to escape, he suffered severe burns, and the fire destroyed his apartment along with four other units in the building.
It only works on bed bugs with direct contact
As previously mentioned, research has shown that alcohol only works when directly applied to bed bugs and their eggs. It dissolves the bed bug shells and dries out their insides.
However, alcohol cannot exterminate bed bugs and their eggs if they are hidden in cracks and seams of the bed, upholstered furniture, the box spring, or inside the mattress. Comparatively, even a hammer can kill bugs in direct contact, which raises doubts about the long-term effectiveness of alcohol against these bloodsuckers.
What the EPA Recommends
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests using a combination of chemical and non-chemical methods.
Non-chemical remedies include using a quality mattress cover or bed bug interceptor to improve bed hygiene. For infestations, professional services can be employed to apply extreme heat to the entire room.
- Wash and dry – Ensure that your clothes, bedding, and fabrics are washed and dried on high-heat settings.
- Heat – Heat each room in your house to 120°F (49°C) or above for at least 90 minutes. This method is commonly used by bed bug removal specialists.
- Freeze – Items that cannot be washed, dried, or heated, such as shoes, belts, leather bags, and books, should be frozen at temperatures below 0°F (-18°C).
- Cover – Use zippered, bug-proof covers on your pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
- Bed bug interceptors – Prevent bed bugs from climbing up your bed legs by placing bed bug interceptors under the bed posts or in other strategic locations.
For a more aggressive approach to bed bug problems, the EPA recommends using these chemical methods:
- Use EPA-approved pesticides – Refer to the EPA’s interactive list to find the specific bed bug pesticide that suits your needs. Using a common pesticide will not be effective, so choose one specifically labeled for bed bugs.
- Follow product instructions – Adhere to the recommended dosage and timing indicated on the product label. Failure to apply sufficient amounts of pesticide may result in bed bugs developing resistance.
- Contact a pest control expert – If you are unable to control the infestation on your own, seek professional assistance. Many people tend to overapply pesticides when dealing with bed bug infestations. This can lead to dangerously high levels of pesticide residue in areas where adults, children, and pets spend time and sleep.
While alcohol can effectively disinfect your mattress, its highly flammable nature requires extra caution to avoid turning mattress disinfection or bed bug elimination into a fire hazard. In terms of bed bug eradication, if you cannot find an effective chemical agent solely intended for this purpose or call a professional exterminator, alcohol spray can serve as a short-term solution.
Next step: Check out our list of copper-infused mattresses. Copper is a naturally antimicrobial material that helps keep your mattress clean and free of infestations. If you’ve tried everything without success, investing in a new mattress may be worth considering.
Psst… The sleep review industry is full of dishonesty, unscrupulous practices, and thieves. It’s like being ripped off at your local mattress store. So, why should you trust us?