Here’s the Truth About Using Windex to Kill Bugs

published Oct 1, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

The internet is a valuable resource for countless time-saving hacks for things like removing lint, getting rid of fruit flies, and making laundry day easier. Unfortunately, the internet is also a breeding ground for misinformation and Pinterest fails. Case in point: the popular “tip” that Windex is a bug-killer that you already own.

The truth? Using Windex to kill bugs is a popular internet hack that falls somewhere in the middle. While it can technically kill small insects like ants, it’s not a suitable swap for tested insecticides, says Dr. Angela Tucker, manager of technical services for Terminix.

When you spray a cleaning solution like Windex onto a bug, you’re probably applying enough of the chemical to drown the insect, but “it doesn’t really have anything to do with the chemical itself,” Tucker says. 

Although this method may drown the one bug in sight, you’re not addressing the root of the problem: how bugs are getting into your home. For example, ants can squeeze through very tiny openings in window frames or door jams and use odor as a way of communicating, Tucker says. “When one ant finds the food, they take it back to their colony, and then they leave an odor for the rest of the sisters,” she explains. Moral of the story: When there’s one, there’s usually more to come. 

Because Windex doesn’t work as a repellent, it’s no more effective at getting rid of the occasional bug than using a broom to shoo the critter outdoors or a paper towel to squish it. You’re better off saving the cleaning solution for its rightful use. 

If you suspect you have an infestation, Tucker recommends getting a professional to inspect your home. He or she can identify the type of bug, treat your space based on the insect’s biology, and give you tips to prevent more creepy crawlies from entering your house in the future. 

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: You May Have Heard That Windex Kills Bugs. Here’s the Real Deal