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Does Petrol Kill Bed Bugs?

Getting rid of bed bugs can be difficult and expensive, so people look for anything they may have around their home or garage to eliminate them. 

But will common toxins, like petrol, kill bed bugs?

Petrol will kill bed bugs on contact since it is a highly poisonous substance. However, it is not wise to use petrol to get rid of your bed bug problem because it smells bad, is highly flammable, and can make you sick. 

What Is Petrol? 

A red canister of petrol is on grass.

First of all, what is petrol?

Petrol is another word for gasoline, and it is what we typically use to fuel our cars. 

(Thus, in this article, I will be using the terms petrol and gasoline interchangeably.) 

It is also a highly flammable and volatile liquid. 

Why Does Petrol Kill Bed Bugs? 

Petrol kills most insects within 10 minutes, while virtually every bug doused with it dies within 24 hours. 

But why is petrol such a potent killer?

Petrol kills insects by interacting with their cells and organs, eventually causing death. 

More specifically, petrol absorbs into the insect’s tissues before making its way into their nerve cells. 

This internal disruption causes bugs to lose their motor control, and they start to spasm. 

Later on, usually after just a few minutes, the petrol begins to bring about necrosis, which is when bodily tissues die. 

The death of tissue and loss of control ends up killing the bug. 

In gasoline, it is primarily the volatile hydrocarbons that produce these deadly results because they can penetrate deep into an organism’s body and break down its cells. 

Should I Use Petrol to Kill Bed Bugs?

A red all-purpose gasoline can on the ground.

Even though you can kill bed bugs with petrol, it is not a good idea to do so, as it can lead to a myriad of problems. 

Health Effects of Breathing Gasoline

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t stand too close to gasoline fumes, and there’s a good reason behind that advice. 

Gasoline vapor, even in small amounts, can lead to adverse health effects. 

Some of the less severe symptoms of exposure to gasoline fumes include headache, nausea, dizziness, throat irritation, and nostril and sinus pain. 

If you breathe in gasoline for too long, you may vomit, experience confusion, or have difficulty breathing. 

Gasoline can also damage your lungs and nervous system when inhaled. 

Health Effects of Touching Gasoline

Since bed bugs primarily live on the bed, this is the place where you’d need to apply the gasoline. 

However, petrol is not good for your skin, and too much exposure can lead to redness, a rash, swelling, and a burning sensation. 

Those with sensitive skin are even more prone to the effects of gasoline on their bodies. 

Gasoline Is Flammable 

Since gasoline is such a common liquid, it’s easy to forget how dangerous it really is. 

Yet, you need to remember that petrol is a highly flammable substance. 

In fact, petrol fumes are volatile enough that even a static spark can cause a flame or explosion. 

Gasoline vapors can also travel long distances, so it’s more than possible that a fire can erupt far from where you placed the fuel. 

And since electronic devices often create tiny sparks we don’t even notice, it is very easy to light your home on fire with gasoline. 

Gasoline Smells Bad 

Yes, this reason is far from the worst on this list, but petrol does smell pretty bad. 

Anyone who has ever been in a poorly ventilated auto garage knows that the smell of gas can be overwhelming. 

So, dousing your bedroom with petrol may not be the wisest idea unless you want to live with a perpetual, potent stink. 

Will Diesel Fuel Kill Bed Bugs?

Diesel fuel probably will kill bed bugs, and exterminators recommended using diesel as a way to eliminate them all the way up until the 1940s. 

However, there is a reason that people no longer use diesel for bed bugs. 

Diesel fuel, like petrol, is flammable, can cause adverse health effects, and doesn’t smell too great. 

Thus, you should not use diesel fuel to kill bed bugs since the cons greatly outweigh the pros. 

Will Kerosene Kill Bed Bugs?

Photo of kerosene in a gas station.

Kerosene will kill bed bugs, and pre-WWII, it wasn’t uncommon for people to douse their mattresses in it. 

But, kerosene is a similar substance to petrol and has a lot of the same downsides when using it to kill bed bugs. 

For one, kerosene exposure can potentially be dangerous. 

In mild poisonings, kerosene may cause dizziness, headache, and nausea. 

More acute poisonings can lead to disorientation, weakness, and convulsions. 

Kerosene can also irritate the skin, especially if it remains on you for long periods, like if you are sleeping on a mattress covered in it. 

Additionally, although not as flammable as gasoline, kerosene can still easily cause and fuel a fire. 

Plue, kerosene has a distinctive oily smell that most people find unpleasant. 

Read More > Can You Use Kerosene to Kill Bed Bugs?

What Should I Use to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

By far, the best products you can use to get rid of bed bugs are those that manufacturers have made specifically for bed bugs. 

These insecticides usually contain pyrethroids and pyrethrins, which work best at eliminating bed bugs because they target the insect’s nervous system, leading to death. 

And you can find many options that aren’t too expensive. 

For example, you can get a gallon bottle of bed bug spray for less than $20. 

Plus, it’s easy to use bed bug pesticides as you just need to apply them to the places bed bugs like to hide, such as on your mattress, bed frame, drawers, and the corners of your walls. 


You can kill bed bugs with petrol, but it isn’t a great idea to do so. 

Petrol is not only highly flammable and smells awful, but it also can cause negative health effects like dizziness and nervous system damage. 

You shouldn’t use similar liquids either, such as diesel fuel or kerosene.