How to Fight Stink Bugs in Your House

by John Barry, Site Admin


If your home is infested with stink bugs, you already know how difficult they are to eliminate. This article offers advice for how to deal with the problem.

Stink bugs invade homes and sheds as they look for warm places to hibernate for the winter. There is a two-part method for dealing with stink bugs:

OUTSIDE: Stop stink bugs from coming into your home

INSIDE: Kill stink bugs that are already in your home

Once stink bugs have discovered your house, it is very hard to get them to leave permanently, especially outdoors where they lay their eggs. But here are some methods to try to keep them out of your home and live in peace again.



OUTSIDE: Stop stink bugs from coming into your home

How do they get in? Stink bugs can enter through open doors and windows, but they also creep in through the cracks and crevices of your house. They can squeeze through the tiniest openings: cracked siding, holes in window screens, the space between a window screen and window, the space around window-unit air conditioners, window-unit air conditioners vents, the space between siding and windows, outdoor electrical outlets, chimneys, attic vents, dryer vents, door thresholds... the list goes on. They also find comfort in rotted wood, which may be on your window sills, siding, or outdoor deck.


The best way to keep stink bugs out of your home is to seal up every possible opening. The same things that you would do to weatherize your house will keep stink bugs out. Yes, this is a time-consuming, difficult, and expensive process. But physically sealing out stink bugs is the most effective way to keep them out, especially once they’ve discovered your house. This is called the exclusion method.


Put weather stripping around your windows and doors, and replace any stripping that is worn. Use silicone caulk around window sills and siding. Install screens over your chimney and attic vents. Replace any rotten wood on your house, especially on the sides that face the sun. Fix any holes in your window screens, and make sure there’s no tiny space between the screen and the window. If there is, use tape to seal it up. (Click here for a much more detailed article about how to seal up your house.)


Stink bugs are attracted to light. In the evenings, it’s best to keep any outdoor lights off, and turn off as many lights inside your home as possible. Pull down window shades and blinds to keep the light from spilling outside at night.


(You may be thinking, “If they’re attracted to light, I’ll hang a bug zapper light outside.” That will work, but at a cost: the light may attract more stink bugs than would’ve come to your home in the first place, and the smell of the dead stink bugs will be intense.)

INSIDE: Kill stink bugs that are already in your home
For individual stink bugs, you can grab them in toilet paper and flush them down the toilet alive. You may have the urge to squash them, but that will just release their stink. Hide rolls of toilet paper throughout problem rooms to grab them with, as tissues or paper towels aren’t safely flushable. If you throw them in and don’t flush them right away, they will crawl out of the toilet. Flushing them uses a lot of water if you do it all day, so if you have more than a few bugs, read on.

It’s very easy to vacuum up stink bugs in your home, but there are some things to keep in mind. Dead stink bugs leave a residue inside your vacuum cleaner, which can stink up your home. Once you suck them up, their smell clings to engine parts, and any vacuum attachments you used. It’s best to have a “stink bug only” vacuum in the house, as to not ruin the one you use for general carpet vacuuming. A small, handheld vacuum might be best, and empty the bag as soon as possible once you’re done. Put the vacuum bag in a thick plastic bag and tie it tightly before throwing it out as far as possible from your house. Then spray some air freshener or deodorizer into the vacuum while it’s running. 

The best way to kill individual stink bugs is cheap and easy. Get a jar and fill it about halfway with water, and mix some dish soap into it, like Dawn. Flick the stink bugs into your jar with a sheet of paper or a paper towel (a paper towel will eventually get stink bug residue on it, so you’ll need to replace it occasionally throughout). Stink bugs don’t like water, and the dish soap helps penetrate their armor. The soapy water is a surfactant which reduces the surface tension of their membranes so the water can penetrate their bodies. You'll see them die after a few minutes of struggling, and they won’t leave their lingering stink.


We recommend having jars of soapy water hidden throughout your house, so they're near when you need them. Twist the lid off, flick them in, twist the lid back on. If you have a serious problem and plan to kill many at one time, use a bucket full of the soapy water. Or you can cut the top off of a plastic milk jug, which will give you a bucket with a handle. 

You can also combine vacuuming with this soapy water method. If you have a wet-dry shop vac, you can put the soapy water in the bottom of the vacuum bucket. When you suck them in, they'll plummet into the water and die. 

Even though it would be better to keep your windows closed, if you have them open and see stink bugs outside on the screen, put the soapy water solution into a spray bottle and spray the underside of their bellies. It won't be enough to kill them, but it'll send them flying off of your screen.

If stink bugs gather on the side of your house, you can hose them off with water, or attach a hose sprayer (like the kind used for fertilizer) full of the soapy water solution. Spraying them will send them flying and drop a lot of them to the ground, but this method is only effective if you plan to scoop up the fallen bugs into your soap bucket, or vacuum them up with a wet-dry shop vac.



There are some insecticides that members of this website recommend, but we've chosen not to list those products in this article. You can check out the “What’s Working for You” forum where insecticide suggestions have been posted by members. As new methods of prevention and treatment are discovered, we’ll be sure to update this article.


Are these methods working for you? Do you have additional details to offer? Please let us know in the comments below!

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Comment by BT on March 28, 2010 at 5:54pm
Inside I use a water bottle about 1/4 filled with dish detergent, Jake Rawl recommends Dawn brand. I just scoop them up and shake the bottle once the cap is on and bang ..............they all must die. I also use a spray bottle with the same dish detergeant and it does stop them, but you still have to mess around removing their little stinking asses.
I do not have the infestation near as bad as some I have read about, but I will support getting rid of those stink bugs.
Comment by elizabeth hrtrick on March 22, 2010 at 12:59am
We live in southwestern PA. Last year we had a few stick bugs but this year it has been horrible. All winter I have been finding them in the house. Last fall I had to have caught ,I SWEAR hundreds! I too was using a bucket with either soap or bleach, both were effective. I kept an old covered cool whip container with soapy water in the house and caught them in it when they were found inside. They love sunflowers. I read on another web site that bats will eat them. Where can I get a bat?!!!

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