Does Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs?
Dealing with pests in your home can be costly and unsettling. Pests such as bed bugs replicate rapidly by laying 2 or 3 eggs every day, and if not tackled properly, they can spread all around the house. How then do you remove such infestation? Could you have a similar problem?
Well, the question at hand is, does baking soda kill bed bugs? The direct answer is YES – including baby bed bugs. Usually, the sodium carbonate salt found in this powder composition destroys the bed bug’s exoskeleton upon contact. In addition, the bug is instantly dehydrated, thus leading to its sudden death.
When ingested, baking soda causes abdominal swelling (due to carbon dioxide generated), which ends up suffocating the bug to death eventually. Indeed, baking soda has a sharp crystalline structure that can cut the bug’s alimentally canal (abrasion) thereby killing it.
During bed bug extermination, you can either sprinkle the powder, prepare a paste, or pile the compound into layers for effective killing action. Related: Bed Bugs compared to Roaches
Details: Does Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs?
1. By Dehydration
When a bed bug comes into contact or gets covered with baking soda, the salt will continuously absorb water from its body, thus causing sudden dehydration.
Usually, salt is a desiccant that absorbs water from its environment upon exposure. The process of dehydration may take a maximum of ten hours to sufficiently kill a bedbug.
2. By Destruction of Exoskeleton/Abrasion
The crystalline structure in baking soda injures the bedbug’s digestive system (if swallowed), which eventually leads to an involuntary death.
Abrasion due to body contact with baking soda crystals wears and tears the bug’s exoskeleton – exposing internal tissues and leading to death.
3. By Ingestion
The chemical reaction that occurs when a bed bug ingests baking soda makes its stomach swell, which causes death with time.
- At times, the bug’s stomach may burst (due to excess gas pressure) or just die of suffocation instead.
Methods of Baking Soda Application
The following are common baking soda application methods that you can use:
- Baking soda
- A mixing container
- Mix sufficient volume of baking soda with water to form a honey-like dense paste
- Using a hand brush, smear the paste onto the mattresses, sofas, armchairs, or other bed bugs’ hideout
- Further, use a toothbrush to precisely apply baking soda paste into cracks in your bed or furniture, walls, as well as holes that might be housing bed bugs
- Wait for 2 days – effective paste action time
- Then, vacuum all the areas where you smeared the paste – use a vacuum cleaner/machine
- Inspect your items once more – see if there are bed bugs that were not killed
- Repeat the above steps until the entire infestation is destroyed.
Sprinkle raw baking powder on any suspicious bed bug-infested surface – it could be your clothes, bed, closets, sheets, or carpet. Crucially, the powder should form a sizable layer on all surfaces. Ensure that cracks are well covered with baking powder during application.
Moreover, it is recommendable that you vacuum up items a day or two after sprinkling to suck out dead bed bugs and baking powder remains.
- Piling/Laying pile
Piling kills crawling bed bugs by causing impediments along the way. Actually, the baking soda layer forces all bed bugs that want to access your bed to inadvertently climb or crawl over, thus leading to a death trap.
In addition, you can pile baking soda on any other item that provides an option for a fine undulating gradient, which prevents downflow upon use – the surface should allow bed bugs to climb over without challenges.
Advantages of using baking soda
Advantages of using baking soda to exterminate bed bugs include:
- No chemical intoxication – no dangerous chemicals involved. Baking soda is a natural substance that has neither additives nor fillers
- Environmentally friendly – no pollution or environmental hazards
- Safe for both humans and pets – won’t affect your pets, skin, or items upon contact
- It’s affordable – meets the budget. Not expensive as compared to chemical spray alternatives.
What are Alternative Ways of Killing Bed Bugs?
In case you have a bed bug infestation in your home or office, consider using either of the following elimination methods:
1. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth contains a toxic chemical formulation that kills bed bugs instantly upon contact. The rough nature of this compound will rip bed bugs’ fragile exoskeletons and dehydrate their cuticles, thus causing sudden death.
For the best outcome, sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth on bed bugs-infested areas overnight or for a couple of days before you clean off the lifeless bugs and denatured eggs.
Note: Ensure Diatomaceous Earth is kept away from children and pets, as it can be toxic if ingested.
2. High Heat Treatment
By washing bed bugs infested beddings and clothes in hot water (60 degrees Celsius) for about half an hour, you will actually kill and destroy adult bed bugs and hatched eggs altogether – or other life stages.
All you need is to ensure that infested clothes/items are completely soaked and fully immersed in the hot liquid so that the bed bugs cannot crawl out.
3. Bedbug Spray
Commercial bed bug sprays contain toxic chemical formulation that either kills bugs on contact or by suffocation.
- Pyrethrins, pyrethroids, and pyrroles found in spray destroy bed bugs’ exoskeleton and weaken the immune system as well.
During application, spray infested clothes, items, sheets, or closets gently and leave them for two hours before vacuuming. You need to further wash the items in hot water in order to remove any toxic chemical remains sufficiently.
Note: Some bugs may develop immunity (mutation) against sprays; therefore, it’s advisable to invite a professional exterminator to assess any prevalence. Alternatively, use neonicotinoids if you sense the bugs aren’t responding to the current spray brand.
4. Using Isopropyl alcohol/Rubbing Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol kills bed bugs within 30 minutes upon contact with help of cuticle destructive additives, which not only causes suffocation but also disintegrates the exoskeleton.
The best approach when using this method is by direct spraying the solvent into bed bugs’ hideouts and infested items. Then, leave them for 10-15 hours – killing action time
NB: When using Isopropyl alcohol, wear hand gloves – it has a burning sensation that may irritate your skin upon contact.
5. Hot Water/Steaming
Steam (vapor) kills bed bugs instantly – the high temperature destroys the exoskeleton and denatures the hormonal system, which is a protein in nature.
- First, connect and adjust your steamer to optimal gauge and jet the nozzle over infested items. Common hiding spots for bed bugs like mattress folding, crevices, and cracks should also be well steamed.
Alternatively, you can lock your bed bugs-infested item in a tight-sealed room and run the steamer for one or two hours – this method may be a bit expensive, but very effective. The steaming method is also suitable for commercial places like hotels, university hostels, or guest houses.
Which Methods Won’t Kill Bed Bugs?
The methods highlighted below won’t kill bed bugs whatsoever:
1. Placing Infested items Outdoor
Removing bed bug-infested furniture from your house and placing them outside may seem like a good fix though the solar heat only drives bugs into their hideouts.
Usually, solar-heated bed bugs seem dead, which is just but a “fake death” – the bugs recover when the temperature subsides.
Moreover, bed bugs hiding in crevices and cracks may never be killed by this method whatsoever.
2. Hand Picking Bugs
Bed bugs are pretty tiny little creatures – hand-picking them may not be easy as per se.
Besides, bed bugs spend most of their time hiding and only discretely come out to feed (especially at night) on your blood meal, which makes it difficult to see them. In addition, bed bugs run very fast upon danger onset – this makes it more difficult to hand pick them.
3. Flushing them Into the Drain
Bed bugs are crawling insects; when you flush them down the drain, they are likely to cling onto the inner pipe surfaces – later, they may crawl back into your house.
- On other hand, when the drainage dries out, the swept bed bugs recover and crawl back to your house.
4. Vacuuming Alone
Vacuuming is not a standalone method of killing bed bugs because bed bugs hide well within areas that are difficult for the vacuum to reach unless you make use of a vacuum hose.
- Moreover, sucking live bed bugs with a vacuum would require you to seal the plastic bag or the container they are landing after being sucked, and then dispose of it appropriately.
Although vacuuming can greatly paralyze bed bugs, you may have to combine this method with other effective ones like steaming, sprays, or heat treatment.
It’s advisable to place vacuumed bed bugs in a plastic bag and freeze them (guarantees that bed bugs are dead) before proper disposal.
5. Making Sharp Noise
Making sharp noise or vibrations in your house may scare out rodents, but unfortunately, it won’t kill bed bugs.
6. Sweeping Bed Bugs
Some of the methods we have discussed above may involve sweeping the dead bed bugs; however, it should be known that sweeping live bed bugs do not lead to their death.
- First, it may not be possible to sweep bed bugs from their hideouts, and even if you manage to sweep, some bugs may actually hide in the broom or brush that you are using for sweeping.
Instead of killing bed bugs, sweeping will actually transfer them into other sections in your home.
What are the Best Ways of Preventing Bed Bug Infestation?
Removing bed bugs from your home is often a lengthy and costly undertaking. Consider the following alternatives as a way of preventing bed bug infestation:
- Inspect infested areas (upon treatment) on a weekly basis
- Surround your bed with bed bug interceptors around its stand/legs. These devices will ensure bed bugs are trapped well before they crawl onto your bed. Keep on monitoring the interceptors for any bed bug activity for several months
- Cover your mattress with a zippered cover and ensure it is fully zipped – bed bug proof
- Seal any crack/crevice in the house with caulk to block bed bugs from hiding. Pay attention to cracks/openings around electric sockets and baseboards as well
- Regularly wash beddings, curtains, and carpets. It is also recommendable to vacuum them from time to time – dirt is a key bed bug attractant or hideout
- Do not leave magazines, newspapers, or clothing on the ground – ensure they are neatly kept in their appropriate places
- When checking in hotel rooms, inspect them for bed bugs to avoid transferring bed bugs into your home
- Call a professional bed bug exterminator (including using peppermint oil) if you try out several bed bug extermination methods unsuccessfully
- Avoid buying second-hand furniture or other household items where possible – inspect them thoroughly in case you opt to purchase one
In conclusion, on the question does baking soda kill bed bugs, the direct answer is YES. If baking soda is used in the right measure and conditions, it can effectively kill adult bed bugs and their eggs as well.
- Usually, the sodium carbonate salt found in the chemical and structural composition of baking soda destroys the bed bug’s exoskeleton upon contact. In addition, the compound causes instant dehydration, thus leading to death.
- When ingested, baking causes bed bugs’ abdomen to swell (due to the generation of carbon dioxide), which ends up suffocating the insect to death. Indeed, the sharp crystalline nature of this powder compound can cut the bug’s alimentally canal (abrasion), thereby killing it.
Please note, that the baking soda method of killing bed bugs may be time-consuming and relatively less efficient, especially when a little amount is used.