How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: Bad Idea #9–Use Flammable Chemicals

TOP 10 LIST-flammable chemicals

I’ve said it before, one of two things usually happen when someone attempts DIY bed bug extermination: either they poison themselves and their family, or they start a fire intentionally or not. Using flammable chemicals to fight bed bugs is our Number 9 in our–

Top 10 Bad Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Smoking while using flammable chemicals adds stupid to this already bad idea.

Sad, but True Stories From the News

A fatal fire in Bracken County, Kentucky, that killed five members of a family, was determined to be the result of an attempt at home bed bug treatment that turned into a tragedy. According to Kentucky State, arts of the house was treated with a flammable product with residual fumes for an infestation of bedbugs and was not adequately ventilated. As a result, something in the house ignited the remaining fumes, causing the house to explode and catch fire, police said.

In East Columbus, Ohio, a couple tried to rid their home of bed bugs and accidentally set their living room on fire.

An Ohio man in found bed bugs on a pull out couch. He sprayed them with an alcohol-based bug spray that claimed to kill them on contact. Later, when his wife entered the dark room and lit a lighter, whoosh! The couch caught on fire. The family of six made it out safely, but the house was destroyed.

A Kentucky woman accidentally set fire to her apartment while trying to get rid of bed bugs in her home. Firefighters in Carlisle, Kentucky say a woman doused her couch in alcohol in an attempt to kill bed bugs.  Then, she accidentally dropped a cigarette onto the couch, which started a fire at her apartment complex. Everyone who lived at the complex was able to make it out okay but about 30 people lost their homes. Four people were treated for smoke inhalation.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, one adult and seven children were displaced after an apartment caught fire while a resident was treating a couch for bed bugs. An open flame came into contact with the couch and sparked the fire.

Medical Daily reported:

A New York City building collapse left 12 injured, including four firefighters. Insect pesticide canisters, also known as ‘bug bombs,’ were found inside the Chinatown apartment that exploded. A fire followed the explosion, and eventually the five-story building partially collapsed….

‘Bug bombs’ are a form of pesticide used to fumigate an area infested with cockroaches, fleas, or other insects. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that although they are ineffective at killing bed bugs, they can be damaging to a person’s health. When used, all people and pets must be cleared, and if used in an apartment building, all tenants must be notified, even if they aren’t close to fumigation area.

The eight civilians and four firefighters were brought to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and burns.


About the Author:

Garrett Thrasher is Vice President and General Manager of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal, Inc., Chairperson of the San Diego District of the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), a member of the bedbugFREE network, and a member of the National Pest Management Association. Author of The Bed Bug Battle Plan: Field Tested Solutions for Bed Bug Extermination and Prevention (ISBN: 1500838209), Garrett’s solid understanding of bed bugs, their behavior, current outbreaks, and experience on camera has made him a leading contact for news and media outlets. He is also a sought after speaker on the topic of managing online reviews for positive impact. He has spoken at PestWorld and PestTech, and was featured in PCT Magazine and the PCT Podcast. Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal is accredited by QualityPro–the mark of excellence in pest management.


  1. Brian October 9, 2014 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Please continue this list! Attempting to annihilate bed bugs on your own can spell some disastrous results, and I’m looking forward to hearing what outranks the severity of explosive house fires.

  2. Brian January 16, 2015 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Some people misconstrue the fact that bed bug extermination requires heat to mean that they should burn their house down. This definitely isn’t the case, and I’m glad to see pest control professionals taking the time to clear that up.

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