Does Lysol Kill Bed Bugs? Exploring Lysol’s Effectiveness in Bed Bug Eradication

Bed bugs are an escalating issue in many households, posing significant challenges to completely eradicate them. These pests are incredibly tiny and flat, making them difficult to detect easily. They often go unnoticed during visual inspections, especially in busy households where unusual signs of pest presence may be overlooked. Described as being the size of an apple seed, bed bugs can hide very well along slits, corners, edges, and gaps, including bed seams, curtains, carpets, and wall skirting.

A close up of a Female Bed Bug. Photo Credit iStock

Bed bug infestations spread easily and quickly as they travel from location to location in search of hosts. In heavily infested homes, food competition can drive them to spread even further. Bed bugs leave unsightly blood stains on furnishings, including bedsheets and mattresses. The most effective approach to combating bed bugs is to eliminate them directly.

While professional pest control services are often necessary, several home remedies can be attempted first. Among these, using Lysol spray has become a popular method. But does Lysol truly work against bed bugs? This article delves into whether Lysol can kill bed bugs on contact and examines the factors influencing its effectiveness.

Common Methods for Killing Bed Bugs

Before discussing Lysol as a bed bug killer, it’s essential to understand the typical methods used to eliminate these pests. The primary strategies include pesticides, vacuum cleaners, and heat treatments, particularly steamers.
Heat Treatments
Heat is one of the most effective treatments against bed bugs. These pests cannot develop resistance to high temperatures. Raising a building’s temperature to 130°F or 140°F for at least an hour creates unlivable conditions for bed bugs. Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 120°F will kill all stages of bed bugs.
Pesticides are chemical agents designed to kill pests. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered over 300 products for use against bed bugs. These pesticides fall into seven chemical classes:
1. Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids: Derived from chrysanthemum flowers and synthetic chemicals, these are the most common compounds used. They are lethal to bed bugs, flushing them out of hiding and killing them. However, some bed bug populations have developed resistance to these chemicals.
2. Desiccants: These work by destroying the waxy, protective outer coating of bed bugs, causing them to dehydrate and die. Desiccants are effective as bed bugs cannot develop resistance to them. Examples include diatomaceous earth and boric acid.
3. Biochemicals: Cold-pressed neem oil is the only biochemical pesticide registered for bed bug control. It is effective against bed bug adults, nymphs, and eggs.
4. Pyrroles: Chlorfenapyr is the only registered pyrrole pesticide. It is a pro-insecticide that, once activated, disrupts certain cell functions, causing the bed bug’s death.
5. Neonicotinoids: These synthetic forms of nicotine affect the nervous system, causing nerve failure. Bed bugs resistant to other pesticides remain susceptible to neonicotinoids.
6. Insect Growth Regulators: These chemicals mimic juvenile growth hormones, disrupting the bed bugs’ development into adulthood.

What is lysol used for ?

Lysol is a well-known brand of disinfectant and cleaning products, introduced in 1889. It is used as a disinfectant and deodorizer in various forms, including sprays, wipes, soaps, and concentrates. Lysol’s active ingredients include ethanol, glycolic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and benzalkonium chloride, which are effective against viruses, bacteria, mold, mildew, and some allergens.

Can Lysol Kill Bed Bugs ?

Lysol’s Effectiveness Against Bed Bugs

Lysol can kill bed bugs due to its active ingredients, such as ethanol and isopropyl alcohol, which are toxic to these pests. When sprayed directly on bed bugs, Lysol can kill them immediately. It can also sanitize infested areas, including mattresses, furniture, walls, and floors. However, Lysol should not be used on people or animals and should be applied in well-ventilated areas to avoid hazardous fumes.

Direct Application Needed
Lysol needs to be sprayed directly on bed bugs to be effective, which makes it challenging to eliminate hidden bed bugs in cracks and crevices. Thus, while some bed bugs may be killed, others will likely remain hidden and survive.

Inadequate Egg Eradication
Lysol can kill bed bug eggs, but it is not completely effective. Some eggs may survive the treatment as they are often hidden in hard-to-reach areas, making it difficult for Lysol to penetrate and destroy them, leading to potential reinfestation.

Lack of Residual Effectiveness
Lysol’s effectiveness diminishes once it dries. Unlike professional pesticides, Lysol does not provide a lasting residual effect, meaning it does not continue to kill bed bugs after the initial application.

Expert Opinions
According to Dr. Dini M. Miller, “The only way that Lysol spray could help you is if you sprayed the bugs directly. The alcohols and propellants would probably kill bed bugs if you wetted them down with the material. However, dried spray on or around the bed would have no effect.”

Risks of Using Lysol

Using Lysol to kill bed bugs carries several risks:

Incomplete Elimination
Lysol may not entirely eradicate bed bugs, as it requires direct contact with the pests, leaving many hidden bed bugs alive.
Health Concerns
Lysol is highly toxic and should not be used near children or pets. It can cause respiratory issues, eye irritation, dizziness, and potentially long-term health risks such as cancer if used excessively.
Damage to Furniture and Surfaces
Lysol’s high acid content can damage furniture and other surfaces, causing discoloration and permanent staining.

Alternative Methods to Kill Bed Bugs

Heat Treatments
Heat is a highly effective and affordable solution to eliminate bed bugs without using harsh chemicals. Bed bugs cannot resist temperatures above 113°F (45°C). Heat treatments involve raising the temperature in a room to above 131°F (55°C) for several hours, effectively killing all bed bugs at various life stages.
Professional Pest Control
For complete eradication, professional pest control services are recommended. They can use a combination of methods, including chemical insecticides and integrated pest management strategies, to ensure thorough elimination of bed bugs and their eggs.