Updated: March 30, 2023

Earwigs are fascinating creatures with a distinctive appearance that will make anyone take a second look. They have elongated bodies, pincers at the end of their abdomens, and are often found lurking in dark, damp areas like under rocks or in rotting wood. These insects are mostly nocturnal and feed on other insects, plants, and even other earwigs. However, there have been reports of earwigs dying from exposure to detergents, which has left many people wondering about the cause.

The Science behind Earwigs Dying from Detergents

Earwigs have a thin protective layer on their exoskeleton that helps them retain moisture and protect against external threats. Detergents contain surfactants that can break down this protective layer and cause dehydration in the insect’s body. When this layer is compromised, the earwig’s body loses water rapidly, leading to death.

In addition to dehydration, detergents can also interfere with an earwig’s respiratory system. The surfactants in detergents can coat the insect’s spiracles (small openings on their abdomen used for respiration) and make it difficult for them to breathe. Prolonged exposure to detergent fumes can lead to suffocation and eventually death.

Why are Earwigs Attracted to Detergents?

Earwigs are attracted to damp environments and can be found in areas around our homes where moisture levels are high such as bathrooms or kitchens. Detergents can also contain ingredients that are attractive to earwigs such as fragrances, oils, and other additives used for cleaning purposes. This attraction can lead earwigs to come into contact with detergents, exposing them to the harmful chemicals contained within.

Additionally, many detergents contain ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, which are known to be toxic to insects. These ingredients can be lethal to earwigs that come into contact with them, leading to their demise.

How to Prevent Earwigs from Dying from Detergents

To prevent earwigs from dying from exposure to detergents, it is important to take certain precautions. One of the best ways to do this is by keeping your home clean and dry. This can be achieved by regularly cleaning and drying areas where moisture tends to accumulate, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

It is also important to store detergents and other cleaning products in a safe place where they cannot be accessed by pets or children. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using cleaning products and avoid using them in areas where earwigs are likely to be present.

If you notice an infestation of earwigs in your home, it is best to contact a pest control professional who can help you safely eliminate the problem without harming your family or pets.


Earwigs are fascinating insects that play an important role in our ecosystem. However, exposure to detergents can be harmful and even lethal to these creatures. By taking the necessary precautions and following best practices when using cleaning products, we can help protect these insects and ensure their continued presence in our environment.


Q: Are all detergents harmful to earwigs?

A: No, not all detergents are harmful to earwigs. However, many contain ingredients that can be toxic or lethal to these insects.

Q: Can exposure to detergents harm other insects?

A: Yes, exposure to detergents can harm other insects as well. Many cleaning products contain ingredients that are toxic to a wide range of insect species.

Q: Can earwigs cause harm to humans?

A: Earwigs are not known to cause harm to humans. While they do have pincers at the end of their abdomens, they are not strong enough to cause any significant injury.

Q: How can I safely eliminate an earwig infestation in my home?

A: The best way to eliminate an earwig infestation is to contact a pest control professional who can help you safely and effectively eliminate the problem.