How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs with Vinegar (2023)

There are a few kinds of vinegar that are sold in the market. The differences come from the acidity level and the purpose of the vinegar. Some are for food while others are for industries. To kill bed bugs, you need vinegar that contains high acetic acid.

Here, before I share more about this topic, make sure you understand the risk of high-acid vinegar. I do not recommend you to do this treatment with people or pets around. Vinegar with a high acidity level is corrosive and smelly.

how to get rid of bed bugs with vinegar
How to get rid of bed bugs with vinegar

Do bed bugs like vinegar?

No, bed bugs hate vinegar. In this case, so far, it is only wood vinegar which is well-known that makes bed bugs stay away. A study shows that wood vinegar is used as a pest insect repellent during the study.

In another source, it is clearly mentioned that wood vinegar is used as an active ingredient in pest repellent product that is used to get rid of bed bugs. So, this is clear that bed bugs do not like vinegar, specifically wood vinegar.

However, there is still development to make bed bugs repellent products from wood vinegar to make sure it is completely effective and not harmful to people.

Check other guides at How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Will vinegar and water kill bed bugs?

Vinegar and water will kill bed bugs if you use a high-acetic acid vinegar it. To kill bed bugs, you only need white vinegar without water. It is because vinegar itself consists of 90-95% water. So, there is no need to mix it with water.

Here, the point is that the higher of acetic acid concentration, the higher effectiveness to kill bed bugs. While on the other side, the higher of acetic acid concentration means the more harmful it is to human health.

The only reasonable condition for using the vinegar is that the treatment is applied in an empty place where people do not live there for a while. And then, after the treatment, the stuff is cleaned well to avoid poisonous residue.

What kind of vinegar kills bed bugs?

Vinegar has different acid concentrations depending on the raw material used. In vinegar, there are other elements besides acid that make different types of vinegar not have the same acid level.

The higher the acidity of the vinegar, the higher its effectiveness in getting rid of bed bugs. Make sure to use vinegar with at least 5% acetic acid. So, here is some vinegar that typically contains at least 5% acetic acid as follows.

White vinegar

The vinegar that kills bed bugs fast is white vinegar or spirit vinegar which contains higher acetic acid. This vinegar has 5-20% acetic acid and is commonly used as a cleaner while some people may use it in pickling.

It is the most common vinegar that people use because it contains the highest acetic acid that you can get easily in the market. Also, it leaves less smell once it is used and some people even recognize it as a sweet scent.

In addition, it doesn’t have any color which makes people worry about the stains or residue left. Often, it is used in washing clothes too,

Apple cider vinegar

Although it doesn’t have as high an acid content as white vinegar, apple cider vinegar can be used to get rid of bed bugs too. However, some people may not like the smell of this vinegar.

Well, does apple cider vinegar kill bed bugs? Apple cider vinegar with at least 5% acetic acid can be used to kill bed bugs. So, you need to read the label carefully or even search the acidity level first before using apple cider vinegar for bed bugs.

Notes: be careful of the stains left on your stuff.

Balsamic Vinegar

The other vinegar that you can use to get rid of bed bugs is balsamic vinegar. It has a higher acetic acid which means more effective to kill bed bugs than apple cider vinegar. It contains 6% acetic acid.

However, you should make sure that there is no residue left since it has a quite dark color. Sometimes, it needs more effort to clean the stains. So, make sure you consider it well before using it.

Rice vinegar

The next vinegar you can use to kill bed bugs is rice vinegar. It has a higher acetic acid level which varies from 6.6-7.8%. So, it is stronger than balsamic vinegar to kill adult bed bugs in a direct application.

Rice vinegar also has a distinctive smell and stains that some people may not like. So, make sure you can handle these problems before applying this vinegar.

How to get rid of bed bugs using vinegar

To use vinegar as a natural bed bug control spray, you need to do the following steps:

  1. Prepare one of the types of vinegar available around you. It is better to prepare white vinegar since it is the most effective.
  2. Then also prepare an empty spray bottle. Pour vinegar from the original bottle into the spray bottle.
  3. Build a perimeter by soaking vinegar around the treatment area. So, even though they escape, there they will die in the vinegar.
  4. Spray directly on the bed bugs on the surface. It can take about 4 hours before you can clean your stuff.
  5. Clean your stuff so you will not smell any bad scents.
  6. Repeat it per 5-7 days because there may be some bed bugs’ eggs left around.
  7. Do it every week until all the bed bugs disappeared.

Notes for this treatment.

  1. Always protect yourself by using gloves and google.
  2. You have to soak or reach difficult spots around such as crevice and crack.
  3. It is not an instant process. You need to repeat it until all the bed bugs disappeared.

The bad side of vinegar treatment for bed bugs

I have to write this section because you need much more consideration before applying it. It is because you may use another way that is much safer and healthy for you and your family.

Vinegar doesn’t kill bed bugs’ eggs

Will vinegar kill bed bug eggs? Based on this study, vinegar cannot kill bed bugs because even insecticide which is more harmful to bed bugs cannot kill bed bugs’ eggs. So, do not apply vinegar to bed bug eggs.

Like other insect eggs, bed bugs’ eggs are resistant to insecticide. It is because bed bugs’ eggs have multiple layered shells that protect them from dangerous substances which penetrate from the outside. In contrast, vinegar is only effective for adult bed bugs with a direct contact application.

So, you will need more treatments if there are some bed bugs’ eggs that have not hatched and are ready to continue the cycle. As soon as the new bed bugs generation emerged, you need to repeat the treatment.

It has a strong and unpleasant smell

Since the only effective vinegar that can kill bed bugs is the one with a high acidity level, you may experience an unpleasant smell during and after the treatment. This is why some people avoid it.

On the other side, you need vinegar in a big amount to kill bed bugs effectively. The more vinegar you use means the more unpleasant smell produces.

Here, you need more effort to remove the smell from your furniture, mattress, carpets, and bed linens after the treatment. It is because the smell is long-lasting. So, you need to consider it carefully.

High acetic acid is corrosive

Bed bugs can spread anywhere for as long as it is possible and reachable. This is why in a large infestation, you need to deal with so much stuff inside your room.

Now, is it alright to apply a high acetic acid to that stuff?

Please be careful. Vinegar with a highly-concentrated acetic acid can damage stone, wood, ceramic, etc. It means that your furnishings are at the risk. So, be wise and find out more before you apply it.

If you have much space, it will be much easier and more organized to gradually treat your stuff one by one and isolate the others to the other space to prevent the spread.

It is only applied in an empty area

Vinegar with a highly-concentrated acetic acid is also harmful to humans and animals. It is toxic, corrosive, and dangerous for us. So, be wise before using a vinegar with high acidity level while you live in the same place.

The application of vinegar as a bed bug treatment is limited. We cannot let people around while the treatment is in progress. Even after that, we still have problems with smell and residue that might be left.

Other methods to get rid of bed bugs

If the method of using vinegar as a bed bug repellent doesn’t work, then you need to try other methods such as:

  1. Using heat. Bed bugs cannot survive and will die within 10 minutes if the temperature is above 44-46o C. Make sure you know how much heat your stuff can stand.
  2. Putting objects into a freezer. Even though they can withstand cold conditions, bed bugs cannot survive more than four days if they are in a room with a temperature below -18o C.
  3. Vacuuming is the easiest and optimal way to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
  4. Spraying essential oil, essential oil is poisonous for bed bugs because of its acidity level.

Well, that is how to get rid of bed bugs with vinegar. Like other natural ways to get rid of bed bugs, you need to do the treatment frequently until all the bed bugs are dead. It is because sometimes there are nymphs and eggs left, waiting to hatch and grow up, and then starting the cycle again.

Related post: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs with Oils