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Can You Kill Cockroaches With Rubbing Alcohol?

Cockroaches are always hard to deal with. They are not only disgusting to think about but also carry harmful bacteria that can make you really sick.

If they enter your home, you are likely looking for the best way to get rid of them.

You can use rubbing alcohol (also known as isopropyl alcohol) to kill roaches – it will clog their spiracles, and they will suffocate – but it’s a pretty ineffective and potentially dangerous pest control method.

First, you would need excellent accuracy to fully coat the roach in alcohol for it to act as a pesticide. Secondly, isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable and can ignite if it comes into contact with electricity or pilot lights.

How Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Roaches?

A bottle of isopropyl alcohol between two tissue rolls on a brown wooden table.

Alcohol kills cockroaches by suffocating them. 

Roaches don’t breathe through their mouths or noses like humans and other animals. 

Instead, they have tiny openings all over their bodies, called spiracles, that intake air and allow them to breathe. 

Spraying rubbing alcohol on a roach covers their bodies and clogs the spiracles, preventing them from getting the oxygen they need.

The alcohol will eventually evaporate, but the roach will have died by the time it does. 

Is it Safe to Use Alcohol to Kill Roaches?

While isopropyl alcohol is technically an effective roach killer, it is definitely not the safest option. 

Firstly, rubbing alcohol may be potentially harmful to other animals. It’s primarily used to kill germs and remove sticky substances, so it’s inherently corrosive and toxic.

Human exposure to rubbing alcohol can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, mouth, and throat. Inhaling its fumes can also lead to difficulties breathing.

Secondly, and most importantly, rubbing alcohol is extremely flammable. You could easily start a fire if you accidentally spray it on electrical sockets, pilot lights, or any other ignition point. 

In its attempt to escape, an alcohol-covered roach can also come in contact with any of those and create a bigger problem.

Ultimately, while isopropyl alcohol can be used to kill roaches, it’s not a good idea to use it.

What is the Best Way to Kill Roaches with Alcohol?

Woman spraying directly on a cockroach on the floor.

The best way to use rubbing alcohol to kill roaches is to spray them directly with a lot of it. You will have to fully coat the insect in ​​isopropyl for it to kill them. 

But again, this is a risky move considering the chemistry and logistics mentioned above.

Also, they may not die immediately, as roaches can live up to 30 mins without air. 

You will have to catch the cockroaches you’ve sprayed and wait for the alcohol to take effect.

Your other option is to catch the roaches first, seal them in a jar of alcohol (or water), and wait for them to drown, but that will take a lot of effort.

Once the roaches are dead, remove the carcasses so they don’t attract more insects to the area.

Will Alcohol Deter Roaches?

Roaches don’t really mind the scent of rubbing alcohol, so it’s not likely to work as a deterrent. 

Other scents are more effective for preventing cockroaches, such as citronella, peppermint oil, tea tree oil, or eucalyptus oil. 

You can buy products containing these scents or mix your own in a spray bottle with warm water and a little white vinegar. 

Apply these scents liberally around your windows and doorways every 3-5 days to keep the roaches away.

Does Alcohol Kill Roach Eggs?

Close-up photo of two roach eggs on a white surface.

Isopropyl alcohol is not a pesticide, so spraying it on roach eggs won’t kill them.

The eggs are also protected by their casing, and the alcohol won’t penetrate deeply enough to clog the air holes of developing roaches. 


While isopropyl alcohol can be used to kill cockroaches, it’s not the best choice. 

Rubbing alcohol is an irritant that can harm humans and other animals, and it is extremely flammable, so misuse can be dangerous.

There are much more effective (and safe) ways to deal with a cockroach infestation, including essential oils, bait traps, pesticide sprays, and, of course, calling a professional exterminator.