Does Bleach Kill Stink Bugs?

Bill Swank
First Published: | Updated: February 27, 2024

Stink bugs, while seemingly harmless, can quickly become a pesky problem for homeowners due to their unsightly presence and unpleasant odor. Various methods have been touted to control these bugs, and one such solution that often comes up is the use of bleach. But does bleach truly kill stink bugs, and more importantly, is it a safe and effective method?

This article delves into these questions, providing insights on the potency of bleach against stink bugs, how to use it, precautions to take, and if there might be better alternatives. So, if you’re seeking practical advice on combating your stink bug problem, read on!

  • Bleach can effectively kill stink bugs by breaking down their tough exoskeleton and disrupting their nervous system, causing dehydration, suffocation, and eventually, death. However, the process is slow and may allow stink bugs to release their notorious odor.
  • Powerful uses of bleach against stink bugs include the ‘Jar Method‘ and the ‘Bleach + Hot Water Solution‘. However, one must be mindful of the surface they’re applying bleach to, as it can damage certain materials and leaves a harmful residue when dry.
  • While bleach is a powerful killer of stink bugs, it is not safe for humans and pets due to the harmful chemicals it contains. Precautions to take when using bleach include using protective clothing, ensuring good ventilation, never mixing with other chemicals, safely storing and disposing bleach, and rinsing thoroughly after its application.
  • Bleach is not a long-term solution for eradicating stink bug infestations, particularly large scale or hard-to-reach ones. Its harmful side effects and potential damage to surfaces make it an adverse choice for continuous use.
  • Alternatives to bleach include sealing off entry points for bugs, using insecticidal soaps or stink bug traps, vacuuming, and considering professional pest control services. These alternatives present less harmful side effects and may provide better effectiveness in managing stink bugs.

What Is Bleach and How Does It Work?

What is bleach and how is it commonly used?

Bleach is a strong and effective disinfectant, widely used for household cleaning. Its active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, has potent antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties that make it an excellent choice for sterilizing surfaces, whitening clothes, and even purifying water.

You may think of bleach as another product under your kitchen sink, but it’s much more than that. While it’s great for tackling tough grime and stains, it can also serve as a surprisingly lethal weapon against certain pests, including stink bugs.

What is the component of bleach that is lethal to stink bugs?

Bleach’s battle power against stink bugs lies in one key ingredient: sodium hypochlorite. This chemical solute is lethal to stink bugs. It breaks down their exoskeleton and disrupts their nervous system function, which eventually leads to their death.

How does bleach affect stink bugs?

Interestingly, bleach attacks stink bugs in a rather gruesome way. Firstly, it corrodes their protective exoskeleton. Once this shell is compromised, the bleach seeps into the stink bug, causing dehydration, mobility difficulty, suffocation, and eventually, death. It also manages to disrupt the bodily functions in stink bugs by affecting their internal pH levels. This pH imbalance creates a toxic environment inside the stink bug that expedites their demise.

But fair warning, having bleach topple down stink bugs doesn’t mean an instant kill. It takes a bit of time for bleach to penetrate the sturdy exoskeleton of a stink bug fully. This delayed effect might cause the stink bug to release its notorious odor in a defensive reflex before it ultimately succumbs. So, if you’re sensitive to the pungent stink bug smell, brace yourself.

How Can Bleach be Used For Stink Bug Control?

Does bleach kill stink bugs?

Yes, bleach indeed kills stink bugs. Armed with sodium hypochlorite, bleach effectively breaks down the stink bugs’ shield-like exoskeleton and disrupts their nervous system functioning. It seeps inside the stink bugs, forces dehydration, suffocation, and eventually guides them to their end. That said, bleach exterminates stink bugs with a slow, steady pace, giving the stink bug a chance to discharge their infamous scent as a last-ditch defensive move.

How to use bleach to kill stink bugs?

Killing stink bugs with bleach isn’t rocket science. With a few simple tools and a bit of elbow grease, you can bid goodbye to these critters using two handy methods: The Jar Method and the Bleach + Hot Water Solution.

Jar method:

  1. Fill a glass jar halfway with bleach.
  2. Gently knock or drop the stink bugs into the jar. Do this carefully with a popsicle stick, gloved hand, or tweezers to avoid prompt release of the stink bug stench.

Bleach and Hot Water Solution:

Mix equal parts of bleach and hot water. Now, this brew is ready to help you attack the stink bugs residing in your space. There are three ways to apply this solution.

  1. Soak a washcloth in the solution and scrub the washable surfaces where you suspect stink bug activity.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with the solution and spray on areas, like corners, crevices, or other hiding places for stink bugs. Together with the first metho, keep the treated areas untouched for a few weeks.
  3. If you’re dealing with a heavy invasion, make a bigger batch of the solution. Add your captured stink bugs directly into this container. Use tweezers or a vacuum to collect the bugs. Let the critters stay submerged in the solution for several minutes, which allows the bleach to penetrate their shell and thereafter, dispose of the bug-filled bleach solution carefully.

By following these methods, you can turn bleach from a simple cleaning supply into an effective tool for stink bug control!

Safety Precautions and Considerations When Using Bleach for Stink Bug Control

How safe is bleach as a method to kill stink bugs for humans and pets?

While bleach is lethal to stink bugs, it’s not generally a safe or recommended method for pest control. Bleach contains hazardous chemicals that can cause harm to humans and pets when inhaled or come into contact with skin. It’s also important to remember that when dried, bleach can leave behind a toxic residue.

What are the potential risks and drawbacks of using bleach for stink bugs?

Using bleach to combat stink bugs presents several risks and drawbacks:

  • Health risks: Prolonged inhalation of bleach fumes can lead to respiratory issues, headaches, and more serious health problems.
  • Surface damage: Bleach can damage or discolor certain materials and surfaces, especially when applied directly.
  • Toxicity: Even when dry, bleach can leave a toxic residue that’s harmful to humans and pets.
  • Environmental harm: Indiscriminate use of bleach can damage plants and soil.
  • Inconsistent results: Bleach isn’t an instant stink bug’s killer, and it may not effectively treat a heavy infestation.

What are the precautions or safety measures to consider when using bleach to kill stink bugs?

If you opt to use bleach for stink bug control, keep these safety measures in mind:

  • Protective Clothing: Wear long-sleeve clothes, gloves, and eye protection to minimize skin and eye exposure to bleach.
  • Ventilation: Ensure the room is well ventilated to reduce bleach inhalation.
  • Never Mix Chemicals: Mixing bleach with other chemicals, especially ammonia, creates a potentially lethal gas.
  • Label and Store Safely: Clearly label the bleach solution’s container and keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Careful disposal: Safely and promptly dispose of the dead bugs and bleach solution.
  • Use caution: Avoid spraying bleach solution on colored fabric, wood, or other surfaces that bleach can stain or damage.
  • Rinse thoroughly: After treated with bleach, ensure to rinse all surfaces thoroughly.
  • Cautious Application: Bleach is best used in areas where people or pets don’t frequent or outside your home.

How Effective Is Bleach Against Stink Bugs?

How effective is bleach for killing stink bugs?

Bleach can be a useful tool in the battle against stink bugs. The sodium hypochlorite in bleach effectively breaks down the stink bugs’ exoskeleton and disrupts their nervous system, causing them to slowly die. However, it’s vital to remember that bleach doesn’t kill stink bugs instantly and is only somewhat effective for a heavy infestation.

Does bleach kill stink bugs instantly?

Unfortunately, bleach isn’t an instant killer for stink bugs. It takes some time for the bleach to penetrate the stink bug’s sturdy exoskeleton and lead to their death. Additionally, due to this delayed effect, the stink bug might release its infamous odor before it dies.

How does bleach compare to other chemical stink bug killers?

While bleach does kill stink bugs, it may not be as effective or as efficient as other commercial pest control solutions designed specifically for these pests. These products often work quickly, offer long-lasting protection, and are generally safe to use around your home.

How often does bleach need to be applied to kill stink bugs?

The frequency of bleach application would depend on the severity of the stink bug infestation. For light infestations, a few applications might suffice, while heavier infestations may require regular applications over a more extended period.

Can bleach completely eradicate a stink bug infestation?

Regrettably, bleach may not be the best solution for completely eradicating a large-scale stink bug infestation. While it can kill individual bugs that come into direct contact with it, bleach can’t reach stink bugs hiding inside your walls or other hard-to-reach places.

Is bleach a long-term solution for stink bug infestation?

Bleach is not a long-term solution for stink bug control. Its harmful side effects and inability to completely wipe out a heavy stink bug infestation make it less than ideal for continuous use.

How can I use bleach to kill stink bugs effectively?

To use bleach effectively against stink bugs, follow the ‘jar method’ or the ‘bleach + hot water solution’ method detailed above. Always remember to take necessary precautions when handling bleach, and it’s best used in areas less frequented by humans and pets.

Are There More Effective or Safer Alternatives to Bleach for Stink Bug Control?

What other household items can be used to control stink bugs?

Beyond bleach, there are several household items you can use in your fight against stink bugs. These include soapy water, insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, and essential oils (like peppermint, cedarwood, or lavender).

How do these alternatives compare to bleach in terms of effectiveness and safety?

Compared to bleach, the listed alternatives are generally safer for us and our furry companions, offering less dangerous side effects. While their effectiveness in eradicating stink bugs may vary, these options do not pose the same risks and potential damages as bleach.

What are the safer and more effective alternatives for stink bug control?

To shift from reactive to proactive stink bug control, consider these safer alternatives:

  1. Seal off Entry Points: Stink bugs invade homes through openings around windows, doors, and utility pipes, cracks in the siding, and underneath fascia boards. By sealing off these entry points, you can prevent stink bugs from gaining access to your home.
  2. Insecticidal Soap: This solution destroy stink bugs’ protective coating, leading to dehydration and death. Plus, they’re much safer for the environment than resorting to bleach.
  3. Stink Bug Traps: Commercially available stink bug traps use pheromones to lure the bugs into a one-way trap from which they cannot escape.
  4. Vacuuming: Quick and non-toxic, vacuuming can be a great way to deal with live stink bugs.
  5. Enlist a Pest Control Service: If the stink bug infestation is severe or if you’re unsure of how to handle the situation, it may be best to hire a professional pest control service.
  6. Natural Predators: Certain insects and birds are predators of stink bugs. Attracting these creatures to your yard might help keep the stink bug population in check.

Remember, while bleach can kill stink bugs, it’s best to consider less harmful and more environmentally friendly solutions first. Your spring cleaning cupboard may hold an immediate solution, but an integrated approach targeting stink bugs’ entry points, hiding places, and life cycle is the most effective way to keep your home pest-free.


While bleach can be a weapon against stink bugs, it isn’t the ideal solution given its potential health risks and the damage it can cause to surfaces and the environment. Safer alternatives that offer similar or better effectiveness without the associated drawbacks abound, whether it’s using less harmful household items, sealing off points of entry, or hiring a professional pest control service. At the end of the day, a clear understanding of your pest situation, coupled with well-thought-out strategies, is your best defense against stink bugs. Stay informed, choose wisely, and safeguard your space from these pungent invaders.

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