You May Have Heard That Windex Kills Bugs. Here’s the Real Deal

updated Oct 22, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

The internet is a valuable resource for countless time-saving hacks for things like removing lint, attracting ladybugs, 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—the truth is that while Windex 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.

The Truth About Killing Ants With Windex

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.