Can baking soda kill bed bugs? Pest experts have a definitive answer

Baking soda has its cleaning benefits – but how does it perform against bed bugs? Professionals answer our questions

A white bedroom idea with orange headboard, taupe curtains and brown furniture
(Image credit: James Balston)

Can baking soda kill bed bugs? If you're faced with this question, it is likely that you're tackling this notorious pest in your home. If this is the case, it's vital to follow the most effective extermination method possible – and the solution is not baking soda. 

Bedbugs are among the most detested and dangerous pests homeowners can face, and it's essential to take action against them as soon you have a sighting. If not, this insect may feed on your blood as your sleep – prompting a host of health problems such as skin rashes and blisters. And, while there are many things you can clean with baking soda, its uses are most effective beyond the bedroom. 

Here, pest experts decode the myth and share what to do instead. 

Can baking soda kill bed bugs?

No, baking soda will generally have no effect on bed bugs. They will not ingest it, and if they do walk through it, it will not cause them any problems. 

'Bed bugs may avoid areas with baking soda, but they would just relocate to hide in cracks and crevices or find another path to get to the occupants of the bed.' explains  Tim McMahan, the Owner of The Pest RX

Green painted walls in bedroom, large upholstered headboard with floral fabric, blue, green and white patterned bedding, wooden beside table with wall lamp with fabric shade

(Image credit: Future)

The expert adds that bed bugs can hide for over 18 months without feeding, so you need to opt for another, more powerful solution that will ensure your bedroom ideas are pest-free for good.

What can kill bed bugs faster?

'The best way to kill bed bugs (if you are at the beginning of an infestation) is heat,' Tim says. He recommends using a handheld steamer [such as this one from Amazon] before steaming areas where bedbugs hide. These are usually in cracks and crevices in your best mattress. You should, therefore, steam around the edge, between the mattress and the headboard, and between the mattress and the box springs.  

It is also worth steaming your bed frame or anywhere where any two materials meet (for example, where two pieces of wood are screwed together). However, the steam can damage your glue and wood veneers, so it's worth taking extra care during this step. 

bedroom with grey panel and wallpaper in cottage bedroom style

(Image credit: Sanderson)

After steaming your best bed sheets, it is always a good idea to know how to clean your bedroom thoroughly, so you can sleep knowing you are in a safe, freshly-cleansed space. Mike Duncan, the National Technical Director, and Entomologist at Truly Nolen of America, also urges you to dust all cracks with diatomaceous earth [also available on Amazon here] with a nylon paint brush. 

'This will create a static charge to the product to adhere to the surrounding material,' he says.'Missing any cracks or crevices could cause a reoccurrence. Please be aware that 100 percent elimination is the only way to correct the issue with bed bugs.'

What kills bed bugs permanently?

The method above should help kill bed bugs permanently, but there are some reasons why it may not work. If your infestation is growing, or you've lived with the pest for a longer time, you will need to call in a professional. They have the specialized equipment to take care of the pest – quickly and efficiently. 

Grey bedroom with grey scallop headboard and wall lamp

(Image credit: Future)

Can bed bugs walk through baking soda?

No, as the experts warn, bed bugs are unable to walk through baking soda, so placing it as a deterrent would do no good. It is far more efficient to follow the steam-cleaning method for a recent infestation – or seek help from professionals for a larger-scale problem. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.