Does Using Boric Acid Work to Kill Bedbugs?

A graphic of a bedbug with the title "Does Using Boric Acid Work to Kill Bedbugs?"

Bedbugs. What else can set your skin crawling so badly? Contrary to their name, bedbugs can infest more than just beds! They’re attracted to dark crevices in human domains – this means they can be found in many different places throughout your home.

When you spot a bedbug, it can be understandably unnerving. These little vampires feed on blood, leaving itchy red bites on their unfortunate victims. These bites can be potentially dangerous for your health. And let’s face it, they’re just plain gross!

If you want to avoid introduce harsh chemicals into your home and save the $500–$1,500 for an exterminator, using natural home remedies is an appealing option. Boric acid is one do-it-yourself solution which many people claim be effective. But what are the facts?

Although using boric acid can’t hurt, exploring other solutions is well worth your time too. Below is some information on how to keep the bedbugs from biting and keep them far, far away too.

What Is Boric Acid?

Boric acid is a white powder derived from the chemical boron and water. It’s what’s called an “oxygen-bearing acid” and it occurs naturally in some minerals, hot springs, and volcanic waters. It’s known to be useful in many household, health, and medical applications.

Boric acid powder.

While it should of course be used with caution, boric acid is much less harsh than some harmful chemicals. We keep this brand in our kitchen cupboard.

Boric Acid for Pests

Among its many household uses, boric acid is an effective and natural pest controller. Boric acid is mainly known for being an extremely effective roach and ant killer. It can be found as the key ingredient in many common insecticides.

It’s very toxic to most pests, causing severe abrasion to their hard outer shell on contact. It will also kill them if eaten – it disrupts their stomach and metabolism.

Is Boric Acid Safe for Humans?

Boric acid affects the body of an insect in a different way to that of a human, thankfully! For the human body, the powder is slightly more toxic than table salt (when compared in large doses). The smaller the body, the more toxic boric acid will be.

A "Safety First" sign.

While it would require a large dose to be lethal, this does not mean that boric acid is necessarily safe for humans. Always store it out of reach of children and try to avoid breathing in the powder.

Like anything, just use common sense when it comes to boric acid. Don’t ingest it, try not to inhale it, and make sure it doesn’t come into contact with broken skin.

Is Boric Acid Effective Against Bedbugs?

Many people attempt to use boric acid to eradicate bedbugs, but most industry experts advise against it. Boric acid is not the most effective solution for bedbugs, and here’s why.

In order to effectively wipe out bedbugs, the creatures must ingest something to kill them. Boric acid may kill some by damaging their exoskeleton, but it doesn’t seem to work as a whole. Boric acid is not really an effective bait for bedbugs, whereas human blood is.

The jury is still out on whether boric acid is harmful when it comes into contact with human skin. If you do decide to use boric acid, make sure to err on the side of caution. Applying boric acid to locations which come into direct contact with the skin, like mattresses, is not recommended.

Sprinkling boric acid on all areas of the bed except for the mattress may kill some bedbugs, even though it’s not the best option.

What are Bedbugs and How Can You Identify Them?

Bedbugs are notorious “travelers”. They can be transmitted via used furniture, clothing, bedding, luggage, theater seats, etc. Despite their small size, they’re an incredibly aggressive and dominant parasite.


With these characteristics, bedbugs have the ability to infest entire buildings. They are a reddish-brown color and have an appearance similar to ticks. Like ticks too, their size changes depending on how much blood they’ve sucked.

Bedbugs count as true bugs in that they have a hinged beak and a so-called stylet, which is used to break the skin and find a blood vessel. The bug sucks enough blood until it’s full, and then goes into hiding to digest the blood. Yum.

The best way to know if you have bedbugs is if you notice unexplainable itchy bites that look like red welts in zigzag trails or clusters. Once you spot this, identify where they are coming from by looking in the small places you usually don’t pay attention to.

Why are Bedbugs so Hard to Eliminate?

To say the least, bedbugs are extremely durable. They can go for long periods of time without feasting on blood. These dry spells surprisingly don’t take a toll on them. They are tolerant to changing environments and reproduce very quickly.

While the battle against bedbugs may seem hopeless, they can be beaten. There are many different natural ways to get rid of bedbugs, most of which are better than boric acid. Below are 12 more effective (but still natural) ways to get rid of these unwanted intruders.

13 Effective and Natural Ways to Kill Bedbugs

1. Launder All Bedding Before Doing Anything

As soon as you suspect you have bedbugs, launder everything that can be washed in the hottest water possible, and dry on high heat. The extreme heat will kill whatever bedbugs happen to be on your bedding.

Person in a laundromat.

2. Vacuum and Steam Clean

The mattress, box spring, and area around the bed should be thoroughly vacuumed with a tube attachment. Make sure the vacuum bag is disposed of somewhere outside your home. Thoroughly steam cleaning the mattress and/or box spring is also helpful.

3. Disposing the Infested Furniture

If at all possible, replace whatever items are carrying bedbugs. While this is expensive and inconvenient, sometimes the bugs and eggs are located in places that are virtually impossible to reach. In this case, disposal is your best option.

A room with furniture.

4. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a powder that comes from a type of soft and sedimentary rock. If the environment is dry, it is very successful in controlling bedbugs.

The dusty component can get on the bedbugs’ outer skeleton, disrupting the layer and eventually dehydrating the bugs. They can also pick up the diatomaceous earth by walking through it.

When they lick their legs, the silica is so sharp that it damages their insides, which will kill them. You can purchase diatomaceous earth here.

5. Rubbing Alcohol

Using rubbing alcohol can be effective. Spray it on and around the infested area to kill the bugs and dry out the eggs. Just remember that alcohol can damage wood that’s been finished with varnish or lacquer. Test a small portion on the wood before spraying/wiping the whole area.

Rubbing alcohol with bandages.

6. Invest in a Bedbug-Proof Cover

Sealing your mattress and boxspring properly is crucial. A mattress cover keeps the bugs from leaving or entering your bed. This will also ensure protection for your bed even if you don’t have bedbugs.After all, who knows what your next houseguest may unknowingly carry in? A great option for a mattress cover can be found here.

7. Seal All Crevices and Cracks Bedbugs May Like

In order to wave goodbye to a pest, it’s logical to get rid of its home. Locate any cracks in walls or gaps between baseboards and walls and fill them in.While this may sound tedious, it will definitely be worth it when your bedbug foes stop coming around.

A person sealing cracks in the wall.

8. Essential Oils and Lavender Sachets

Spraying certain essential oils are useful for bedbugs, like tea treecedar, and orange oil. These essential oils have the ability to essentially suffocate the bugs. They block the outer openings of the bugs’ respiratory system, thus shutting everything down.

Something that’s important to know about this technique, though, is that essential oils are only effective when in direct contact with the little vermin. If the bugs are not in direct sight, then, this isn’t the best method.

A lavender sachet.

Lavender sachets are not only lovely to have around, but the scent of lavender is repulsive to bedbugs. Keeping some of these sachets around would be a win-win.

9. Pyrethrum

Pyrethrum is a natural extract found in chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethrum goes after the bedbugs’ nervous system, acting toxic to them.

10. Kidney Bean Leaves

This is a popular bedbug-ridding technique that was first used in Eastern Europe. The leaves are spread out in an area where the bugs are. When the bugs step on the leaves, the hooked hairs attached to the leaves impale the bugs, successfully trapping them.

Kidney bean leaves can be hard to locate. If you can’t find any for sale, you could always plant the beans yourself while using other techniques as the plant sprouts.

11. Thoroughly Clean and Disinfect

Poor sanitation is not a direct cause of bedbugs. However, de-cluttering places where they may like to hide out is beneficial. Again, wipe down everything with alcohol and/or bleach and launder, launder, launder!

12. Heat Treatment

Direct heat will kill bedbugs and their eggs after about 30 seconds of straight contact. Many items cannot be put in washers or dryers, so moving them outside (if the weather is hot and the sun’s out) is a good alternative.

A room heater.

You can also invest in a space heater or two and place them directly where the bedbugs are. This may be a good idea since space heaters will cover a larger area, unlike steamers that may not be able to reach those tight spots.

13. Invest in Natural Bedbug Products like Ecoraider

This spray by the name of EcoRaider receives wonderful reviews as an effective bedbug killer. It is used and preferred by exterminators and is made up of natural and organic ingredients, making it safe to use around kids and pets.

Here’s the link if you’re interested in buying EcoRaider.

The Last Word

If you’ve found bedbugs, you’re most likely feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. While it may sound silly, asking the question “why me?” is completely understandable.

The stubborn little pests have the power to take up loads of time, disrupt a peaceful sleep, and turn your whole house upside down. They can almost take over your entire life.

After doing research (and if the infestation is severe enough), you may find it’s worth just hiring a professional exterminator to take care of the problem. If you do this, make sure you air out the room(s) that were treated for at least an hour if possible.

If hiring an exterminator is too pricey or just plain undesirable for you, these 13 treatments that have been listed will be worth your time. Don’t be afraid to try out a variety of the treatments, especially since they’re all cost-effective and easy.

It doesn’t take much research to see that boric acid is not very successful in getting rid of bedbugs, although it can’t hurt. Do some investigating and decide which method will be the best for you.

Feel free to comment if you have any questions, as bedbug extermination is a tricky business. Good luck in your quest, and may bedbugs never plague you again.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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