Think Twice Before Using Rubbing Alcohol To Get Rid Of House Spiders

Even though they're generally helpful neighbors to have, spiders are often unwelcome guests. They feed on many household pests, yet they're regularly viewed as such themselves. Even if you don't have arachnophobia, their cobwebs are undeniably a nuisance. When looking for ways to get rid of spiders and prevent them from coming back, a number of household tips and tricks abound. However, one popular solution — rubbing alcohol — is not the complete fix you're looking for. Rubbing alcohol might work temporarily, but it won't keep spiders away for good.

There's a lot of confusion about the role alcohol can play in killing spiders, often because the term "alcohol" applies to multiple different solutions. In general, these solutions can dehydrate and eventually kill spiders, but only in cases of extended contact. Many sources even recommend dunking the spider in the alcohol to kill them. However, while this may be effective, it isn't really convenient or easy, and most people want quicker solutions. Furthermore, rubbing alcohol is diluted, meaning it's not as strong as other options.

How rubbing alcohol actually affects spiders

Rubbing alcohol is a mixture of isopropyl alcohol — a highly-concentrated and hazardous chemical used in manufacturing — and water. As the isopropyl alcohol becomes less concentrated, it is more capable of cleaning and disinfecting. The addition of water allows the solution to permeate bacterial cells and break them down. This also makes it safer for use in and around the home as well as on our skin for disinfecting wounds. 

Similar to the way the strong scent of vinegar can keep pests away from your home, so can rubbing alcohol in some cases. Spiders have very sensitive smell receptors and may be deterred by the scent of rubbing alcohol. However, unless spiders are exposed to a large amount of this liquid for an extended period of time which would dehydrate them and cause motor dysfunction, it's not likely to harm or kill them at all. While the scent or presence of rubbing alcohol may initially repel spiders from your home, it won't work for long, especially when up against all the very alluring smells and conditions that draw them there. Therefore, unless you can completely cover the spider in this liquid for an extended period of time, it probably won't be effective at killing or deterring them.

Home hacks to get rid of spiders

Unless you have a veritable infestation, you probably don't keep spider pesticides in your home. Further, after spotting a spider, most people don't want to take your eyes off of it long enough to head to the store to purchase an applicable pesticide or spider trap. Therefore, it's convenient to have something immediately on hand that can be used to kill spiders instead. While it seems like rubbing alcohol could be used for this purpose, this material is at best a mild deterrent. While you could use it to slow the spider down, it probably won't be effective in killing it.

However, other common household staples like air freshener and hairspray can be used in lieu of traditional pesticides, and they're pretty effective too. Further, household cleaners like Windex are full of chemicals that can ultimately kill a spider. Most households have at least one of these types of items already in their cleaning closets, bathrooms, or bedrooms. If you're one of the few that don't or you'd like a more natural solution, a quick mixture of vinegar and water placed in a spray bottle could also do the trick.