Updated: February 8, 2023

Earwigs are small insects with pincers on their abdomen that can cause concern for many homeowners. These bugs are not harmful to humans, but they can damage plants and gardens, making them a nuisance. One possible solution for controlling an earwig infestation is the use of bleach. In this article, we will explore the theory behind using bleach to repel earwigs, the advantages and disadvantages of using bleach, how to use it effectively, and other methods for controlling these pests.

Definition of Earwigs

Earwigs are insects that belong to the family Forficulidae. They are elongated and flattened with two pairs of wings, although they rarely fly. The most prominent feature of earwigs is their pincers or forceps-like appendages that emerge from their abdomen. Earwigs prefer moist environments and are active at night.

Concerns about Earwigs

Although earwigs do not pose a direct threat to humans, they can be a nuisance. They feed on plants and can cause damage to gardens and crops. They may also enter homes looking for shelter and can be found in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.

The Use of Bleach as a Possible Solution

Bleach is a common household cleaning product that is often used to sanitize surfaces and remove stains. There is also a theory that bleach can be used as an insecticide to repel earwigs. Let’s explore this theory further.

The Theory Behind Using Bleach to Repel Earwigs

There are several reasons why bleach might work as an earwig repellent. Bleach is highly alkaline with a pH level of around 12.5, which makes it an effective disinfectant and cleaning agent. It also has a strong odor that may deter insects like earwigs.

The scientific basis for the theory is less clear. There is limited research on the effectiveness of bleach as an insecticide or repellent. Some studies have shown that bleach can kill certain types of insects, but it is not clear if this applies to earwigs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Bleach

Before using bleach as an earwig repellent, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons.


  • Inexpensive: Bleach is relatively cheap compared to other insecticides.
  • Easy to use: Bleach is readily available and easy to apply.
  • Readily available: Most households already have bleach in their cleaning supplies.


  • Toxicity concerns: Bleach is toxic and can be harmful if ingested or inhaled.
  • Risk of damage to surfaces: Bleach can damage surfaces like fabrics, carpets, and wood floors.
  • May not be effective for all types of earwig infestations: There is limited evidence to support the effectiveness of using bleach as an earwig repellent.

How to Use Bleach to Repel Earwigs

If you decide to use bleach as an earwig repellent, it is essential to follow proper preparation and precautions.

Preparation and Precautions

  • Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling bleach.
  • Avoid mixing bleach with other chemicals as this can create toxic fumes.
  • If using bleach indoors, ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Test surfaces for colorfastness before applying bleach.

Steps to Take When Using Bleach as an Earwig Repellent

  • Mix one part bleach with ten parts water in a spray bottle or bucket.
  • Spray or pour the mixture around areas where earwigs are present, such as gardens or entryways.
  • Repeat the treatment every few days until the infestation subsides.

Other Methods for Controlling Earwigs

If you are not comfortable using bleach or want alternative methods for controlling earwigs, there are several options available.

Natural Remedies

  • Diatomaceous earth: This natural substance can be sprinkled around plants or entryways to deter earwigs.
  • Cedar oil: Cedar oil has a strong odor that may repel insects like earwigs.
  • Boric acid: This powder can be sprinkled around areas where earwigs are present to kill them.

Commercial Insecticides

There are several commercial insecticides available specifically designed for controlling earwig infestations.

Professional Pest Control Services

If all else fails, you may need to consider hiring a professional pest control service.


In conclusion, while there is some theoretical basis for using bleach as an earwig repellent, its effectiveness remains uncertain. Before deciding on whether or not to use bleach for controlling earwig infestations, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Additionally, there are several other natural remedies, commercial insecticides, or professional pest control services available that may be more effective in controlling these pesky insects.