How to Make a Homemade Bed Bug Killer Spray With Vinegar

Updated on August 28, 2018
Bedbugabscond profile image

Melody is a volunteer for the Center for Disease and Control Prevention. She enjoys sharing her personal experience with others.

Vinegar kills bedbugs, but does not kill eggs. It also needs to be reapplied, as it simply kills on contact and does not linger.
Vinegar kills bedbugs, but does not kill eggs. It also needs to be reapplied, as it simply kills on contact and does not linger. | Source

Does Vinegar Kill Bedbugs?

Yes, spraying vinegar directly on bedbugs can kill them because vinegar is a strong acetic acid that can disrupt an insect's nervous system. While this home remedy is safe and effective, it is not a standalone treatment, meaning you won't be able to eradicate a bed bug infestation with vinegar alone. Use vinegar as a natural ingredient to get rid of and even ward against bed bugs until you can come up with a long-lasting solution.

How to Make and Use a Homemade Vinegar Bed Bug Spray

Homemade vinegar remedies for bed bugs are not pesticides, but they are much safer and will work during early infestation. Here's how to make a vinegar bed buy spray:

  1. Purchase white vinegar such as the Heinz Distilled, Walmart, or Kroger Brand.
  2. Fill an empty spray bottle with vinegar. You can use ULINE bottles, UPC bottles, or something from your local Dollar Tree. Tighten the lid securely.
  3. Soak the perimeter around the infested area with vinegar, including cracks and crevices in the walls and tight spaces underneath and between furniture. This way, when you spray the bed bugs, they will scatter into areas soaked with vinegar and die there.
  4. Spray the vinegar directly onto bed bugs to kill them on contact or send them running into nearby areas you just treated with vinegar.
  5. To prevent further infestation, soak all infested surfaces including window sills, walls, furnishings, mattresses, and carpets. Spray the surface as well as the corners and undersides. You would need to do this every week for several weeks to see a reduction in bed bugs.

Warning

NEVER mix vinegar with bleach. This will cause toxic chlorine gas that can harm your health.

Use an empty spray bottle to make homemade bed bug vinegar spray.
Use an empty spray bottle to make homemade bed bug vinegar spray.

Pros and Cons of Using Vinegar on Bed Bugs

Advantages
Disadvantages
Can be used for short-term relief. The acidic content of vinegar is strong enough to disrupt their nervous systems.
The smell is terrible and long-lasting.
It is cheap and available almost everywhere.
You might not kill bed bugs completely but only push them into hiding.
This method is very safe. You can spray as much as you need and no one will get harmed like they would with toxic chemical sprays.
Some furniture could be damaged due to the low pH of vinegar.
It is safe to use in homes with children, dogs, and cats.
It will have little effect when there is a major infestation.
 
May have a toxic effect on some reptilian pets.

Read the comments section below to see results other readers have seen. The majority of readers agree that vinegar isn't as powerful as Hot Shot (which I've reviewed), Bed Bug Bully, or JT Eaton, but it's an effective, albeit slow way, of killing bed bugs over time. If you are waiting for a pest-control professional to come treat your home or for bug spray to arrive in the mail, vinegar will buy you some time.

Can you stand the smell of vinegar?

See results

The Results of My Experiment Using Vinegar on Bed Bugs

I obtained a couch from someone with a bed bug problem, and a man with a barn was kind enough to let me do my vinegar experiment there. Here is what I did and these are the results of that experiment:

  • We used a 100% solution of pure white vinegar. We filled spray bottles and soaked every inch of the couch. Then we used paper towels to wipe up the excess vinegar and dead bed bugs. This won't work if you can't get every crack, crevice, and surface. (Remember to wear gloves and avoid touching bed bugs because they are stinky, and they may seep blood when they're dead.)
  • This took three people four hours, but the results were promising. We observed only one small bed bug a week later. We missed the eggs, however. Vinegar has nearly no residual effect and does not work on eggs.
  • We learned that in order for this to work as the sole treatment, you will need to use gallons of vinegar and reapply every five days, which is not practically because it wreaks.
  • We also observed bed bugs running away from the couch. One way to kill these bugs after they scatter is to soak the perimeter of the object you are about to spray with vinegar before. Spray around baseboards and windows. Take down curtains and wash them. Spray your TV stand and bookcases. Finally, spray the infested item last. This way, when they try to run, they are going to run into more vinegar.

Conclusion: Using vinegar is not a good longterm solution for bedbugs. I understand that some people have no other choice but to use this method, but I recommend you do whatever it takes to come up with the funds for profession help. Remember, you are not alone. Do not be ashamed and try to hide an infestation. Face it, and do whatever it takes to eliminate the bed bugs.

Spray the areas where bed bugs will scatter to when you spray them directly with vinegar. This way, they'll run into more vinegar.
Spray the areas where bed bugs will scatter to when you spray them directly with vinegar. This way, they'll run into more vinegar.

Other Natural Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

There are several other natural DIY ways to get rid of bed bugs without an exterminator, and below are just some of the methods that have worked for other people.

  • Use caulk to seal cracks: Bed bugs live deep inside walls, so sealing with caulk denies them an easy place to hide, and it will prevent them from coming into your home via spaces in the walls.
  • Vacuum: Vacuum everything. Bed bugs tend to hide under furniture and lay their eggs on hard surfaces with crevices in them. Vacuuming up the eggs and the bed bugs themselves will significantly reduce their numbers.
  • Clean your entire house!: Bed bugs are attracted to clutter, warmth, and carbon dioxide, so de-clutter the room by removing unnecessary items and putting things away neatly.
  • High Heat: Bed bugs love to cozy up and hide in fabrics but will die when exposed to high heat, so throw all fabric items (i.e. sheets, pillows, rugs, curtains, stuffed animals, etc.) into the washer and wash on the highest heat setting. This will kill them immediately. Some people swear by using steamers to effectively get rid of bed bugs.
  • Use diatomaceous earth: For items you can't toss into the washing machine, use D.E. Diatomaceous earth kills bed bugs by tearing through their bodies. Sprinkle your mattress, soft furniture, and carpet with diatomaceous earth, leave it for a few hours or even a day, and then vacuum it all up.
  • Spray with alcohol: Like vinegar, rubbing alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact. It is a stronger chemical though and is not healthy for humans when inhaled.

White vinegar works better as a homemade bed bug spray, but apple cider vinegar is better to treat bites.
White vinegar works better as a homemade bed bug spray, but apple cider vinegar is better to treat bites.

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

While white vinegar works better as a bed bug repellant, apple cider vinegar is what you should use to treat the bites. Most people report intense itching after being bitten, but the low pH in white vinegar is too abrasive to treat itching. ACV is milder and has antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties.

Recommended Brands

  • Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Walmart Great Value Apple Cider Vinegar
  • VitaCoast Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Trader Joe's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is all natural and healthy. An apple a day will keep the doctor away, and applying this type of vinegar will keep the itching away. The best way to use this anti-itching treatment is to apply the ACV to a cotton ball and apply directly to the bite.

Other Natural Remedies to Stop Itching:

  • Witch hazel
  • Juniper berries
  • Oatmeal paste
  • Green tea bags
  • Aloe vera
  • Tea tre oil

For Severe Bed Bug Infestations

Give vinegar a try, but just remember that heavy infestations will need a professional. This solution works best for infestations that are caught early.

Questions & Answers

© 2014 Melody Trent

Comments

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    • profile image

      Jack 

      6 weeks ago

      We were using essential oils mixed with cheap carrier oils but it got too expensive, i.e. lavender or lemon grass oil mixed with olive or coconut oil. It was working. However we have found a much cheaper (although not as nice smelling) option. Mix white vinegar with the carrier oil. This way it stays on task for at least a week. We're working our way through a very infested old 5 bedroom home.

    • profile image

      HelperMan 

      8 months ago

      Katie, that's because they are small and require very little air, they will die eventually but that's because of the lack of blood and not air. If it was, say a rat, then it would die in almost a day as it uses up way more air than the bedbugs.

    • profile image

      katie 

      9 months ago

      I caught some bedbugs put them in a sealed

      jar they have been there 6 days with no air and they are not

      dead yet.

    • profile image

      NoraHudson 

      9 months ago

      Thank you for sharing this informative blog with us. People who opt of getting rid of bed bugs on their own, this would be more helpful for them. Bed Bugs hitch rides with unsuspecting individuals by hiding in clothing, books, luggage even used furniture. They then disembark at their next breeding location and the whole process can begin again. There are some people who take help of some professionals to get rid of them. One should not let the infestation start. One should consult a Professional pest controller like Pest Control Ridgefield CT from Yale Termite & Pest Elimination Corp or similar which could be found Online for Help. They offer very less amount. One can also check Online and Compare prices and go with what prefers them the Best.

    • profile image

      That guy 

      12 months ago

      Also using alcohol works very well it kill on contact plus kills eggs and it is non toxic to animals you can go to the dollar tree and get 15 bottles of isopropyl alcohol and a spray bottle for 16 dollars do not mix with water the stronger the better and soak every nook and cranny also kills roaches spiders ants and all their eggs

    • profile image

      Scott stockigt 

      14 months ago

      Can vinegar kill bed bugs what step too take

    • Bedbugabscond profile imageAUTHOR

      Melody Trent 

      14 months ago from United States

      Hulk: While some people have claimed to have success with it. More and more people are complaining about the effectiveness of the product. The problem is that bed bugs can grow immune to chemicals. So the overuse of this product could be its own downfall. Honestly, If I were a Hot Shot executive, I would modify the formula to something the bed bugs are not immune of. In the mean time, I am recommending Temprid SC as an alternative bed bug removal product.

    • profile image

      Hulk Hogan 

      15 months ago

      HOTSHOT doesn't kill them.

    • profile image

      Cheri 

      18 months ago

      REVOLUTION I recommend for pet problems FreeBrrd. It works really well on ear mites.

    • profile image

      firsttimer 

      22 months ago

      the best way to get rid of bedbugs is high and i mean extremely high heat. i bought a propane heater put it on for 11 hrs and everything in my bedroom got extremely hot. i used a thermometer and the room reached 180 degrees. i left it on for 11 hrs while i was home to monitor it. the bedbugs were only in my bedroom and i was determined to keep and kill them in here before they spread though out my home. this inexpensive method worked and i can use this heater to continue to heat my home in the winter. the heater cost $100 and the propane $12. If you had to call in a pro quadruple this amount. I cant afford a pro and after much reading on the net on how to rid my home of these unwelcome invaders,, i found this inexpensive yet effective method to work.

    • profile image

      So Over This 

      2 years ago

      My family and I had a small(compared to what I've read) but very annoying problem with the bed bugs. After taking all of the clothing, and curtains out of the house and washing them and having a professional company to come and do a treatment. By tge time night fall we got bit worse than we ever had. That is when we tried the vinegar and that is the first time I can honestly we were in control. We've found only 1 cluster of about 5 eggs, 1 bed bug when it first hatched, and 1 fully grown bed bug, and not traces of feces any where. However we could feel them if we did not use the vinegar every 4 or 5 days. We've been dealing with this for about 1 month. I don't see them getting worse....but they aren't getting better. Hot shot bug spray has a flea and bed bug spray. I find that it helps to keep the problem under control. The bed bugs hate the vinegar thats how we actually saw the first hatched bed bug. It couldn't take the vinegar so it landed on the table. That is when we came up with the idea, one will spray the beds with vinegar and some one would spray the floor with the Hot Shot. I'm not sure if it actually works or if it's safe or not, we've decided to fight back.

    • profile image

      Freda summars 

      2 years ago

      Honestly have to say the smell of vinegar does not bother me at all, I grew up eating turnip greens with vinegar maybe it's just a southern food

    • profile image

      FreeBrrd 

      2 years ago

      The smell of vinegar does not last long. It does not smell worse than commercial cleaners. Everyone reacts differently to pretty much everything. Vinegar is one of the safest and most effective things you can use for many things. It is edible. It is even a cure for several things.

      I can't use most commercial cleaning or sanitizing products. Most now have some sort of ethanol in them. Ethanol is a neurotoxin. I am disabled by it. Currently looking for a treatment for a kitten's ear mites. The "safe natural" one that I ordered on Amazon is mostly denatured alcohol which is another name for ethanol. Just opening the bottle kicked my butt. With all of the names used, it is difficult to find something that I can tolerate. Reading the reviews, it seems that many of the cats can not tolerate many of these either. So ear mites are not bed bugs, but I'd bet most things that kill one are likely to kill the other. I am going to put the bedding that I can into a vinegar soak. Probably over night. Than I will wash my normal way with baking soda dissolved in boiling water to wash. Rinsing with vinegar and water. This is how I do all of my laundry. My clothes do not smell of vinegar. I have had people sniff them. I also use vinegar to rinse my hair. I can use conditioner, but many people can not tolerate the scents in most so I use vinegar for them.

    • profile image

      jkc133 

      2 years ago

      Hi, I think vinegar is a wonderful household tool. But please be advised to provide adequate ventilation while spraying with vinegar. I believe I accidentally suffered lung burn from using vinegar in a closed bathroom. I then had a nasty episode of Bronchitis that took weeks to heal!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      I am glad I do not have this problem but its good to know what works should one run across it. Funny how vinegar works so well for almost anything, except for this.

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