Disinfectant Duel: Does Lysol Kill Bed Bugs?

Lysol is a popular disinfectant and odor-killer, but can it win a match against bed bugs? The quick answer is that while yes, it can kill bed bugs if sprayed on them directly, it's not a recommended strategy for dealing with an infestation. Learn more about the popular question, "Does Lysol kill bed bugs?"

By Pest Advisor Editors (Updated on Jul 07, 2023)

Fact Checked by Jason Chapman

Disinfectant Duel: Does Lysol Kill Bed Bugs? photo
If you see one bed bug, chances are good that your house is on the verge of an infestation, if it’s not already infested. The question has been asked: Does Lysol kill bed bugs? Let’s take a look at some of the facts:
  • It’s vital to address a bed bug problem promptly, and Lysol can, in fact, kill these insects on contact.
  • Understanding how bed bugs hide, feed, and procreate is paramount to knowing how to eliminate them.
  • Lysol is not adequate for tackling an infestation, and it’s important to understand why.
  • Health concerns surrounding using large amounts of Lysol should be considered.
  • A professional exterminator is going to be your best bet when it comes to dealing with bed bugs.
Read on to learn about how Lysol might play a part in the bed bug extermination process.

Lysol’s Knockout Punch: Bed Bugs Beware!

The good news: Lysol can kill not only germs and viruses but also various types of insects and creepy-crawlies, including bed bugs. So yes, if you spray Lysol directly on live bed bugs or their eggs, it will indeed kill them on contact. Bed bugs have a hard exoskeleton, but Lysol is strong enough to penetrate that tough outer shell. If you see these creatures in your home, you can certainly try spraying them; it will likely kill any the spray contacts. Similarly, if you spray in the areas where eggs are located, you will kill most, if not all, of the eggs. So, if you were to have only a couple of bed bugs in your home in the first place, the question of “Does Lysol kill bed bugs?” could be answered with a “yes.” However…

Beyond a Spray: Lysol vs. Bed Bug Infestations

Unless you’ve just transported one or two bed bugs into your home on your luggage or clothing, seeing one bed bug is almost certainly a guarantee that you have many bed bugs you’re not seeing. While using Lysol spray to kill a few bed bugs might seem like you’re making a dent, it’s likely you’re not. Unfortunately, a topical solution like Lysol isn’t going to be enough to kill all of the bugs. And since female bed bugs can lay eggs each day, leaving even just a few behind will probably result in a re-infestation pretty quickly.

Bed Bugs Unmasked: Masters of Hide-and-Seek

So, why can’t you just spray Lysol on all of the bed bugs? One reason is that these insects are excellent at hiding. Remember, despite their name, bed bugs aren’t limited to the bed… or even the bedroom. It’s likely you have bugs not only in and around your bed, but also around the rest of your bedroom. They might also be hanging out in the living room and in other rooms where humans spend time. They’ll enjoy their meals anywhere they can get them. Bed bugs will hide in the tiniest of crevices. One popular spot is along the seams of your mattress. Another is in the carpet right up against the baseboards. If there are any nooks and crannies in your headboard, walls, or elsewhere in your bedroom, you can count on bed bugs hiding there during an infestation. They’ll also hide in piles of clutter, including clothing, papers, books, and various personal belongings. Since you’re not likely to be able to spray inside of every crevice, using Lysol isn’t going to be enough to rid your home of a large number of bed bugs.

Health and Safety: A Disinfectant Dilemma

While Lysol is safe to use around the home to kill germs, the amount you’d need to use to battle bed bugs would be more than a quick spritz, like you’d use on hard surfaces. You’d also need to use it on pillows, on your mattress, and on your sheets and blankets. This isn’t necessarily safe, particularly if you’re doing this regularly in an effort to prevent or fight an infestation. Here are a few potential hazards of using Lysol to kill bed bugs by spraying it on the soft surfaces you’ll be sleeping on:
  • Respiratory irritation. Inhaling fumes, particularly over a long period of time (such as overnight), isn’t good for your lungs. It could result in coughing, a sore throat, or even exacerbation of wheezing or asthma.
  • Skin irritation. Lysol isn’t meant to be used on the skin. Wetting down your sheets or pillowcases with the disinfectant could result in skin irritation when it transfers to your face and body.
  • Eye irritation. Spraying your pillow and pillowcase could transfer the spray to your eyes, causing redness, watering, itching, and burning.
  • Pet health concerns. If you sleep with your pets, they could be affected by getting Lysol on their fur or skin. Remember, pets often lick their fur; if they ingest even a small amount of Lysol, this could lead to mouth burns or digestive issues.
In addition to health concerns from using Lysol to kill bed bugs, you might also discolor your bedding or weaken the fabric. Keep this in mind when using this type of spray on fabrics.

Calling in the Pros: When You Need an Extermination Expert

If you happen to have just a few bed bugs in your home and no female bugs have laid eggs yet, you can probably use Lysol to kill them. Also, if you happen to know where any eggs are laid and you can manage to coat them all with Lysol, you can kill them that way. Most of the time, though, the question of “does Lysol kill bed bugs” isn’t going to be answered in the affirmative. Since bed bugs spread quickly and can cause a heavy infestation in a relatively short period of time, DIY methods aren’t likely to work very well. And the longer you wait to properly address the problem, the greater your chances of having a large infestation on your hands. When you see insects or see signs of bed bugs, it’s best to call in a professional exterminator promptly. They’ll be able to use chemicals that are safe for your bedroom and effective at killing both the live bugs and their eggs.

Final Thoughts: Does Lysol Kill Bed Bugs?

The final answer to “Does Lysol kill bed bugs?” is “yes, but….” Yes, you can use it to kill bed bugs that you see walking around. No, you probably cannot use it to safely contain and eliminate an infestation. In short, if you have bed bugs, the best course of action is to contact an exterminator to remove them quickly and without harming health or property.

Citations and Credits

Featured image by Mike Mozart / Flickr

Article image by Gilles San Martin / Flickr

Article image by Lauren / Flickr

Article image by Mara 1 / Flickr

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