Can Bed Bugs Drown? [Water & Washing Machine]

You know the signs.  Waking up with red, itchy patches on your skin is likely to mean just one awful thing: you’ve been infested with bed bugs. 

The next biggest stressor after realizing you’ve become victim to these easily-spread, fabric-feasting pests is how you can quickly and safely get rid of them.  One of the most common methods people often jump to out of ease and convenience is attempting to drown them in water.

It’s true that all bed bugs will drown if left in water long enough, especially if hot water is used in combination with other elements.  They simply do not have the strength or instinct to swim. 

Water is not part of their natural habitat.  However, studies have shown that, while some bed bugs were killed off more quickly, others were still alive in water after almost 24 hours of submersion.  As a result, using water to drown bed bugs isn’t the most effective means of ridding of bed bugs.

Can Bed Bugs Drown In Water?

Although some studies demonstrated the death of some bed bugs after being immersed in water for more than 24 hours, in general, water is not enough to kill a bed bug– at least, not quickly.

Most bed bugs have the strength to live long after being submerged, which makes drowning an ineffective means of ridding of bed bugs.

Can Bed Bugs Drown In the washing machine?

If detergent is added to the cycle, a bed bug is likely to die in the washing machine as a result of the harsh chemicals, particularly when mixed with hot water.  

However, with water alone on a washing machine cycle, particularly cold water, a bed bug may have the strength to survive.  Bed bugs can live for over 24 hours submerged in water.  

While you can use detergent effectively to kill a bed bug, it’s generally not a good idea to intentionally put bed bugs into your washing machine since they can spread and hide easily.  You don’t want to put your clothes at risk in any way.bed bugs on mattress

Can Bed Bugs Drown If They Stop Swimming?

Bed bugs do not know how to swim.  While they are lightweight, they will struggle if placed in water until they run out of strength.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that bed bugs still may have this strength more than a day later.  While this method will work rather slowly, there are more effective means of ridding of bed bugs beyond drowning.

Also, ridding of singular bed bugs by drowning them in water is not likely to rid of an entire infestation that probably lingers nearby.

Can Bed Bugs Drown When It Rains?

Bed bugs do not typically encounter water in their natural habitat.  They prefer to be inside and, even when placed outside, they will work their way back in.  A little rain would only provide some motivation for such.

That being said, being submerged in any type of water will ultimately result in the bed bug’s death, but it could take several days.bedbug

Can Bed Bugs Survive In Water?

Bed bugs do not thrive in water, but they can survive it, depending on the timeframe of submersion. 

For example, if you place a group of bed bugs into a pot of water for a few hours and then remove them from the water, some will have perished while others will have survived.  Bed bugs have been shown to survive for as long as 24 hours after being submerged in water.

Do Bed Bugs Die In Hot Water?

Studies have shown that bed bugs are less likely to survive a combination of detergent and hot water.

If the water is cold, bed bugs are more likely to survive.  Diluting harsher chemicals with hot water is an effective means of ridding of bed bugs on your house, perhaps with bleach or rubbing alcohol.  Rubbing alcohol is a safer option for both you and your fabrics while still killing bed bugs as instantly as bleach does.

What Kills Bed Bugs Instantly?

Rubbing alcohol has been shown to kill bed bugs instantly upon contact.  In order to protect your fabrics or garments, consider diluting rubbing alcohol with hot water before spraying directly on the bed bugs.

Since rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly and the hot water will only expedite this process, this is an easy, safe means of getting rid of bed bugs.  

Bleach also kills bed bugs rather quickly, but it should be diluted and used as a last resort since bleach can also be unsafe for both you and your fabrics.  Alternatively, professional exterminators can perform safer heat treatments that will rid of the infestation rather quickly without harming your surfaces or furniture.

Can Bed Bugs Survive Outside In The Rain?

Bed bugs are indoor pests that thrive best near– you guessed it– beds.  If they somehow make their way outdoors or are placed there, they will find a way back into a house.  

If not, they will perish due to being outside of their natural and preferred habitat.  This would be the case whether it rains or not.  Being submerged in water in any fashion will simply expedite the process.

Do Bed Bugs Die In Soapy Water?

Regular dish soap can kill bed bugs on contact, but not always, so soapy water is not an effective means of killing bed bugs.

Still, all submerged bed bugs will ultimately drown.  It could just take a few days.

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

Although bed bugs can be one of the most frustrating pests to rid of due to their rejection to certain efforts and their tendency to hide and multiply, there are some DIY methods, in addition to the hiring of professionals, that can help rid of bed bugs.

  • Bed bug kit
  • Mix of alcohol and hot water or mattress-safe insecticide
  • Clean the infested area
  • Use preventatives and repellents such as essential oils
  • Diluted bleach solution

Can Bed Bugs Survive In Water With Detergent?

Bed bugs can survive in water with detergent, but, if hot water is used, they are more likely to die.

The harsh ingredients present in detergent, especially in bleach, is usually powerful enough to kill off bed bugs.  However, throwing bed bugs into the washing machine isn’t ideal in case any are able to crawl away and hide prior to the machine’s cycle.  This will keep the infestation in your home spreading.

Can Bed Bugs Swim In Oil?

Bed bugs cannot swim at all, so they certainly cannot swim in oil. Several essential oils have been shown to repel and kill bed bugs.  They can proactively be sprayed on your mattress or be used as a means of direct contact for killing these pests.

Common essential oils with repellant and murderous abilities include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Thyme
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus

Of course, any combination of these can achieve the same effect.  For example, the oil Thieves is a combination of five of these oils and would be an effective repellant and killer on its own.

How Long Do Bed Bugs Live On Clothes?

If you were to take a bundle of bed-bug-infested clothes and leave them in the same spot, 1-4 months later, those same bed bugs will still exist on your garments.

Disgustingly, bed bugs can go this long without any sort of meal and still thrive on your clothes.  If it is cold, the situation is even worse because the frigid temperatures will slow down the bed bugs’ metabolism, allowing them to live up to a year without an actual meal! 

Otherwise, they usually eat every 5-10 days.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Survive In Water?

Studies have shown some bed bugs can live for more than 24 hours submerged in water while others will perish.

It all depends on the weight and strength of the bed bug.  Hot or boiling water has been shown to accelerate a bed bug’s death.

Do Bed Bugs Die In Hot Water?

Hot water has been shown to expedite the killing process for bed bugs.  Not only will all bed bugs eventually die in any type of water since it is not part of their natural habitat, hot or boiling water will expedite the process.

Mixing hot water with an insecticide, rubbing alcohol, or detergent is an effective means of killing bed bugs should you choose to go a DIY route over phoning a professional.

Always be cautious to dilute these chemicals since they can be a little much to tolerate for your own surroundings when sprayed as-is.

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Final thoughts

Bed bugs can be some of the most disgusting pests to discover, especially since they tend to make themselves at home within the fabrics that we keep closest to us and usually make us feel the most comfortable, such as clothing or bedding. 

Realizing that you are cozying up to or dawning bed bug attire isn’t exactly a reassuring feeling.  Luckily, with a few tricks and a lot of consistency, you can eventually rid of these pests on your own. 

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