The Internet is full of fun and creative ideas for solving problems with everyday household items. You can often save a lot of money and time by using common materials in new ways for various cleaning, repairs, and other duties around the home. However, not all advice is good advice, and many people are steered in the wrong direction by myths and false remedies spread through online discussion.
Our bed bug forum has grown into a rich and thriving resource for people that need answers related to bed bugs, whether they are in the middle of their treatment or are just trying to confirm if they have bed bugs or not. So far, the most popular thread revolves around a very simple question: Can salt kill bed bugs?
Salt has been used for centuries to kill other pests, such as slugs and snails, by absorbing fluids from their body and causing them to succumb to dehydration. Today, it’s a common remedy for gardens, since it can deter some harmful pests without affecting the plants or more helpful critters. Some people believe that the same kill method used for those pests will also work on bed bugs.
Salt is affordable, available to everyone, and is almost definitely present in your home already. If it can be effective against bed bugs, it would prove to be a big help to low-income households or people who don’t want to resort to using chemical treatment methods.
The way that salt works on slugs and snails is drastically different than what would be needed to kill bed bugs. Mollusks have thin skin that allows easy transfer of fluids in and out of the surface of their bodies. This makes it easy for something that comes in contact with their skin to dehydrate them. While bed bugs have some fluid on their shell, salt won’t be able to go past that to do any real damage.
Some comparisons can be made between table salt and diatomaceous earth, a loose powder that is proven to kill bed bugs by sticking to their waxy exoskeleton and causing dehydration. However, the method of absorption is very different for diatomaceous earth than it is for salt. Diatomaceous earth is a form of silica, and is up to 5 times more effective at absorbing water than salt. It’s also much better at absorbing more viscous fluids such as the waxy lipids found on bed bugs.
It’s worth noting that even diatomaceous earth isn’t a strong answer to a bed bug infestation by itself. It takes a day or longer on average for bed bugs to die after being exposed to the powder, and it’s mostly effective in certain cracks and crevices rather than when scattered around open areas. These limitations mean that it’s unlikely that you’ll stop an infestation entirely just by using diatomaceous earth.
The Bad News
Like most ideas that sound too good to be true, the suggestion to use salt to kill bed bugs simply doesn’t pan out. Bed bug experts on the Bedbugger forum went as far as to run trials with live bed bugs exposed to salt to see what would happen. After a few days of observation, it became abundantly clear that the table salt was having no adverse effects on the bed bugs in the testing area.
Not only will salt not work on bed bugs, but neither will most of the other home remedies you hear about on the Internet. We hear about them every day: rubbing alcohol, cedar oil, eucalyptus, and even household cleaners like Fabuloso are thought to work against bed bugs. These are recommended all the time, but they are not the answer to your bed bug problems.
Be very cautious when people tout a simple, cheap method of getting rid of bed bugs. Bed bugs are not easy to treat — you need the right products and the right steps to get the job done. Our 4-step solution uses professional-strength products that are tested for and proven at killing bed bugs.