Anyone suffering from a bed bug infestation is probably willing to try just about anything to end it. That’s especially true if they have already tried a number of other strategies but haven’t yet seen success. What about ammonia? Does ammonia kill bed bugs like you sometimes hear or is it just a popular myth?
Ammonia is certainly a strong, toxic chemical and one that many have readily at hand at home. It’s also a cheaper way to fight the bed bug war. But if it does work, does it work alone or do you need a multi-pronged approach?
Are there any dangers to using ammonia as an insecticide? And what are its pros and cons? Read on to find the answers to all of these pressing questions.
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Will Ammonia Kill Bed Bugs?
On the one hand, bed bugs sometimes are immune to even pesticides designed specifically with them in mind, and you never know which particular bed bugs will or won’t be immune to what. It’s a trial and error process.
But yes, ammonia can kill bed bugs. We don’t think those who say it kills them are lying anymore than those who say it doesn’t are lying. It depends on the bed bugs and on how you use the ammonia solution, which takes us to the next point.
How to Use It
First, dilute the ammonia in water. Exactly how much water to add to ammonia is up to you, but try to balance the need to keep down the strong, toxic odor with the need for a potent bed bug killing spray.
Second, many mix ammonia with alcohol for an even more powerful anti-bed-bug weapon. Alcohol alone or ammonia alone can do the job, but together they are a sort of “dynamic duo.”
You should definitely use a spray bottle to avoid getting any ammonia on your hands. And choose a good bottle (having a great solution that barely squeaks out of the bottle with each squeeze is an exasperating and unnecessary annoyance!)
Not only can ammonia kill bed bugs, but it can also be applied to bed bug bites to help calm the itch. Be careful about concentration levels and keep ammonia away from your face. And you could also opt for hydrogen peroxide or vinegar if you don’t want to use ammonia on your bites.
Spray along the seams of your mattress, behind the base board, in the carpet under your bed, and anywhere else you would spray any other bed bug killing liquid. Be thorough and diligent, and ammonia can do its part. But don’t expect ammonia alone to win the war: it needs to be just one part of a multifaceted approach.
Is It Dangerous?
Ammonia is not especially more dangerous, in itself and by itself, than other bed bug killing chemicals. There are less toxic options, and there are more toxic options.
The danger to especially watch out for with ammonia is that it cannot be mixed with bleach without producing toxic fumes that can be lethal to human beings.
When you mix ammonia with chlorine, it causes a chemical reaction that produces chloramine vapor. Chloramine is extremely toxic and dangerous.
If breathed in, it can cause such symptoms and conditions as these:
- Coughing and chest pains.
- Being short of breath.
- Feeling nauseous.
- Having watery eyes.
- Irritated eyes, nose, and throat.
- An onset of pneumonia.
If you have breathed in chloramine and are suffering such symptoms, do not hesitate to get immediate medical aid.
Lysol and some other cleaners will have “ammonium-chloride” on their ingredients list, which might scare some into thinking that’s the same as chloramine. But it’s not. Some other household cleaners will contain ammonia, however, and also must not be mixed with chlorine.
Finally, ammonia also presents the danger of staining the finish on furniture. It may not happen, but it’s an added risk.
Ammonia for Bed Bugs: The Pros and Cons
To bring clarity and bring it all together in one easy to scan spot, let us list out the pros and the cons about using ammonia as a bed bug killer.
- You save money. Calling in an exterminator could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to do a whole house thoroughly (with no guaranteed result.) Buying sprays, bombs, and other products at the store can get expensive as well when the bed bug problem continues for a time. Ammonia mixed with water in a spray bottle is certainly pretty cheap.
- Ease of application. It’s not hard to just spray some ammonia solution around your room now and then. It doesn’t require you to leave the house like after fogger bombs or to feel in danger of contacting the bug spray (as long as chlorine does not mix with it.)
- Free anti-itch solution. Ammonia, if the solution is not too strong, can be used to alleviate itchy bed bug bites. Test it first, but likely you have a bonus use of your solution.
- Not the most powerful product. Products made specifically to kill bed bugs may cost more, but they will be more effective and powerful, overall.
- No residual effect. Other bed bug killers not only kill on contact right when you apply them but will keep on killing any bed bug that touches them later on, perhaps, even weeks or months later. This simply isn’t a virtue of ammonia-based bed bug killer.
- Danger of chloramine gases. If you forget where you sprayed and later clean with bleach, look out. Or, if there is bleach in other products and you don’t check the product labels, the danger is there. The danger of toxic chloramine gas may be enough to keep many from even trying ammonia as a bed bug killing agent.
There is no one-bed bug killer that you just use once and, boom!, it’s all solved. Ammonia can be used in concert with other bed bug control and extermination products and practices as part of a good overall plan. But it’s not the best product, even if it is one of the cheapest, and it does require caution to prevent any contact between ammonia and bleach.
If you’ve heard that ammonia can kill bed bugs, that’s not a myth. If you’ve heard it doesn’t, that may be a reflection on bed bug immunity, wrong use of ammonia, or an attempt to use it just once and by itself and expect immediate and total victory.
Ammonia can be used as part of your bed bug eradication arsenal, but it does pose certain dangers and it can’t be your “star player” much less your only player.
You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.