Does Hairspray Kill Insects? [The Complete Guide]

Tired of insects crawling and flying around your house every now and then? Wondering if a regular hairspray will do the job in finishing them off? Well, fret not; your answers can be found below.

Hairspray effectively kills insects because most insects do not breathe through their mouths. Instead, they have a respiratory system with spiracles, which are valvular apertures. These can be found in every area of the insect’s body. Hairspray works by closing down these gaps or apertures.

Most insects found inside the house will be suffocated to death by the hairspray. Their wings and legs will stick to the body when the spray is applied, making them immobile.

They die within a few hours due to the wings and legs blocking the breathing apertures (although the bug will become immobile in seconds). 

Let’s dig into this process in detail and see what hairspray is, how it works, and how many insects it can kill. 

What Is a Hairspray?

Hair spray is an oily liquid that immediately solidifies to hold firm human hair. It is made of polymers used for making different hairstyles or holding the hair strands in a particular shape. They are readily available at drug stores, dollar shops, gas stations, etc. 

The chemical dangers of hairspray have decreased over time. The chemical vinyl chloride typically added to most aerosol sprays before the 1970s, is no longer used in most hairspray formulations.

Because of its detrimental effects on both people and the environment, this chemical is no longer used. However, several compounds in hairspray could be harmful if inhaled.

Hairspray ingredients like denatured alcohol and hydrofluorocarbons can be hazardous if inhaled or consumed.

Additionally, hairspray frequently contains a small number of chemicals in the scent used to make it smell good. These chemicals and holding agents effectively ward off and kill most insects.

How to Apply Hairspray Over an Insect?

Usually, spraying the room with a conventional insecticide spray containing neurotoxins will finish the insects. However, unlike insecticides, hair spray should be administered directly to their bodies.

Make sure you have a whole spray bottle handy because some insects keep flying away, which may affect your shots and take longer than usual to kill them. 

Usually, crawling insects freeze within seconds and immediately when you spray on them. 

Did you know that you can also Use Ajax to kill insects?

How Does Hairspray Kill Insects?

When hairspray is sprayed directly onto the spiders and cockroaches, it will make their bodies sticky. These objects will adhere to the cockroaches’ bodies, including those of spiders, and obstruct their respiratory apertures. The insects will slowly choke to death around 12 hours after most openings have been closed.

Hairsprays are a simple substitute for gel for maintaining hairdos for extended periods. Stickiness is produced by methylcellulose, which is an active component.

As I have already mentioned, insects, as opposed to mammals, have an open circulatory system that does not rely on the lungs for respiration. Breathing is done through apertures on the thorax and abdomen.

The insect will perish if these entrances are somehow shut.

You can also kill the insects by squashing them after spraying hairspray on them. This will avert a torturous death.

Note: Hairspray can kill cockroaches and insects, but it shouldn’t be used on an infestation because it will leave your home sticky and difficult to clean. 

Types of Hairspray That Can Kill Insects

Although a hairspray’s ability to kill insects depends on two main conditions, it can be rather effective in doing so:

  1. Hair spray type
  2. Amount of hairspray being applied

So basically, the degree of hold that hairsprays can give determines how they are rated. 

The grade of something could be low, medium, or high. 

The best hairspray for eradicating insects is the one with the greatest holding capacity. This is because clinging and respiratory hole-blocking power increase with the holding capacity.

The amount utilized is the second element that affects the hairspray’s ability to kill. Spraying more hairspray will boost its holding capacity. Most kinds of bugs and insects will soon be eliminated thanks to this.

How Long Does a Hairspray Take To Kill Insects?

It is amazing how long some insects can survive without oxygen. This is accomplished by reducing their oxygen requirements and metabolic rate. For instance, a cockroach will take 6 to 12 hours to die if the hairspray successfully closes the spiracles that allow air to enter.

An insect bug will also take longer to kill if some openings on its body are still unblocked. 

Note: While hairspray immediately renders the insect immobile, this does not indicate that it has died.

Smaller-bodied insects die more slowly than larger-bodied insects do. Considering that larger bodies require more oxygen. Thus, a spider will be killed by hairspray in two to three hours.

What Insects Can Be Killed With Hairspray?

I have listed below some of the most common flying and crawling insects that can be eliminated through hairspray.


Hairspray kills all varieties of cockroaches. However, it works more quickly in some cases. Their size improves a hairspray’s capacity to kill cockroaches. The larger the cockroach, the quicker it will die.

The cockroaches differ in size, shape, color, texture, and flying prowess. Most cockroaches prefer to stay outside and only occasionally infest homes.

Out of the 3600 species of roaches recognized worldwide, about 85 are present in the United States. 

All cockroaches are categorized as insects and share similar respiratory systems with other insects. 


Hairspray can be very effective against common flies around the house. To kill them, Thoroughly spray the area of air around the fly. When the fly settles or is still in the air, spray it. Spray directly into the air surrounding the fly while maintaining pressure on the trigger to release the spray. 

The fly should be well covered with hairspray. 

The hairspray will coat the fly’s wings and prevent it from flying. Even without chemicals, the fly will die, just not as swiftly.


Wasps cannot be directly killed by hairspray. However, it will cause them to stick to one another and bind their wings together. After they have been immobilized, finish them with a fly swatter or something heavy.

As you know, wasps can be quite dangerous if they have built a nest close to your house. If they attack in a swarm, they may be deadly.

You must perform a two-step operation for the hairspray to be effective against wasps.

People naturally ask if a common hairspray may be used to kill wasps as insects are inherently more sensitive to chemicals. 

Hairspray is naturally sticky; it helps hair keep the style that has been applied to it. The same characteristic prevents wasps from flying by causing their wings to adhere to one another.

Also read: Does Raid Kill Wasps?


Just like with the flies, you can use hairspray to kill mosquitoes with ease. They are usually lighter and thinner than flies, so a good dosage finishes them fairly quickly.

Just spray the mosquito with the hairspray and the immediate area of its flight. It will soon freeze over due to the sticky nature of the hairspray and drop dead.

A mosquito repellent is more effective than a hairspray. Hairspray can help to keep mosquitoes away from your head and face, but it will not repel them effectively. A mosquito repellent will help to keep mosquitoes away from your entire body and will provide protection for a longer period of time.


Since spiders cannot “hold their breath” to avoid specific chemicals or odors, they intentionally take in the hairspray content in their bodies.

Spiders go through a long process to get oxygen. They don’t “breathe” as people do; a spider’s body doesn’t actively pump air into and out of it.

Instead, oxygen enters an organ known as the “book lungs” through a network of tracheae.

They serve as filters. They are delicate organs with thin walls that passively permit air to enter and exit the body through diffusion. 

All of this indicates that spiders regularly breathe in and out of their bodies, making them vulnerable to any material that could be harmful to inhale. 

First comes paralysis, and then comes death!! (Pretty creepy, considering we’re dealing with one of the creepiest insects out there.)


If it’s a bug you’re dealing with, it might not be poisoned by the hairspray, but the mere weight of being sprayed renders its wings ineffective.

A bug’s legs and body may become caught when hairspray dries, obstructing its airways and causing death. 

If hairspray does prove fatal to bugs, it usually happens in this manner. If all else fails, it can still help you catch and squash it afterward.


For the most common ants, hairspray works well for a day or two but then loses its effectiveness. Contrarily, pharaoh ants can only be eliminated by feeding them a hormone that stops them from reproducing.

According to most experts and exterminators, the effectiveness of hairspray against ants usually depends on the type of ant that you are dealing with. In most cases, Raid is a better option to kill ants.


Hairspray will not kill moths but can be used to keep them away from clothing. Hairspray creates a sticky barrier that moths cannot penetrate when applied to clothing. This will not kill existing moths or their eggs, but it will prevent new moths from being able to lay eggs on the clothing.

An insecticide will be a better way to get rid of moths.

Also read: Best Moth-Proof Food Storage Containers


Hairspray is an effective insecticide that can kill scorpions. The spray works by suffocating the scorpion and causing it to die.

Spraying hairspray on a scorpion is an effective way to kill it, as the chemicals will suffocate the insect and prevent it from breathing.

To use hairspray as an insecticide, spray it directly on the scorpion. Make sure to cover the scorpion completely, as even a small amount of air can allow it to survive.

Is Hairspray Better Than Insecticides In Killing Insects?

Insecticides are better at killing insects than hairsprays. Insecticides are generally more toxic than hairspray. Hence they are quicker at choking an insect to death than hairsprays. 

Insecticides work by attacking an insect’s nervous system to cause death. For most bugs, a modest amount of D-Fensa or Permethrin is sufficient. 

This is due to how quickly and effectively the neurotoxic acts. An insecticide applied on one side of the room will kill a bug in another corner thanks to its swift diffusion capability.

On the other hand, hairspray physically obstructs respiration, killing insects like flies, cockroaches, spiders, and palmetto bugs. For hair spray to work, the bug must be sprayed directly with it.

Some Safety Measures

While using hairspray in dealing with common insects is good and pretty effective, it is always good to keep some precautions in mind.

I have listed below some safety measures that can help you and your household:

Avoid Flames

When using hairspray to kill insects, ensure you avoid spraying it near flammable areas like stoves, Bar-B-Q Grills, fireplaces, ovens, sources of ignition, or simple hot surfaces.

While not all hairsprays are flammable, some, according to the FDA, include flammable propellants or solvents.

So even though your hairspray might not be flammable, prevention is better than cure!

Maintain Distance

Keep a safe distance when spraying your hairspray on an insect. Make sure that you don’t inhale it accidentally while being too close.

It is better to wear a protective mask around your face and safety goggles around your eyes if you do need to spray nearby.

Keep Your Children Away

Ensure any child is not around or near when using your hairspray. The chemical might harm the child’s skin or be sensitive to its eyes.

If your child is small and crawls around, then the residual hairspray left on surfaces might come into contact with your baby’s hands. 

This may then enter into his/her system through facial openings like the mouth, eyes, ears, or nose.

Ventilate Your House

Preferably open your windows or turn on the ventilation when spraying to remove chemicals remaining in your house. 

Although the hairspray itself is not that harmful, if you have been extensively using it for a short period, it is better to ensure fresh air enters the areas where it is applied.

If you wish to let the hairspray contents remain for effective killing of insects, or if ventilation is not possible, it is recommended to remove yourself from that area for a while. 

You can plan in such a manner so that after spraying, you can do something important like grocery shopping, jogging, exercising, or just hang out with your friends for a while.


Hairsprays might not be the ideal solution to kill off all insects in and around your house effectively.

They are nonetheless an immediate, emergency, go-to remedy that can take care of most of the tiny little problems lying and floating around your home.

Faizan Khan

Hey! This is Faizan. I love to explore different ways to control pests. PestCircle is where I share my knowledge by writing articles on different pest control techniques. I always enjoy giving out my knowledge and experience with people to help people deal with pests effectively.

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