Does Vinegar Kill Ticks? Is It A Natural Tick Repellant?

It seems like vinegar pops up on every “life-hack” list I see. It’s mainly used for cooking and cleaning, but I’ve seen people claim that it can be used for many things around the house, including bug control and maybe even killing ticks.

If ticks have popped up in your house or on your skin, you might be looking for some easy ways to get rid of them with at-home solutions.

But does vinegar kill ticks and can vinegar make a tick back out?

Vinegar is corrosive and its acidity is capable of breaking down the membrane of a tick and eventually killing it. Dropping a tick in a cup of vinegar is likely to kill it, however it should not be used as a tick removal method as it can cause the tick distress which can increase the chances of infection.

You should always remove ticks manually with fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool.

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Ticks are nasty little parasites that can spread disease and infection, so you definitely want to deal with them as soon as possible.

Vinegar is not the most effective way to kill a tick and there are lots of other substances around your household that can kill ticks.

If ticks are getting into your house then using something natural like Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can kill the ticks through dehydration and is safe for humans to use as long is it's not calcined DE (which can be carcinogenic to humans).

While drowning a tick in vinegar has a good chance of killing it, I wouldn’t really recommend using vinegar when there are much better options (that you probably already have at home). 

Many people also suggest using vinegar to make a tick back out, but this method has some potential risks and you should instead use the safe way that’s covered below.

Can You Use Vinegar to Remove a Tick?

I’ve seen people suggest putting vinegar on a cotton ball and dabbing it on a tick in order to get it to back out on its own.

Not only is this method not guaranteed to work, but it can also present health risks. Ticks are major disease carriers, and are known to carry a number of different bacteria and illnesses (most notably Lyme Disease). 

While dabbing vinegar on a tick could irritate a tick enough for it to back out, ticks have been known to regurgitate their stomachs in response to distress (gross). 

This is something you obviously want to avoid, as it will present all sorts of bacteria, blood, and nasty stuff that you don’t want injected into a bite spot. Because of this, you should never attempt to irritate or kill a tick while it’s still latched on.

Vinegar is also relatively weak in acidity, and using it as a method to kill or irritate ticks is not as effective as stronger solutions like rubbing alcohol or bleach.

If it’s all you have at your disposal, dropping a removed tick in a cup of vinegar will probably be enough to kill it, but you should not attempt to remove a tick from you or a pet using vinegar.

How Do You Properly Remove a Tick?

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There’s only one CDC reccomended way of removing a tick.

You’ll want to grab a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool to start. If you’re constantly in tick infested spots (woods, grassy areas), it might be more convenient to pick up a tick-removal tool on Amazon

One of my favorite products is the Tick Key, as it’s smaller than most tick-removal kits and can easily fit onto a keychain. This makes it super convenient for hiking or camping since it’s small and you’ll never forget to pack it.

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Once you have your tool of choice, grab the tick’s head as close to the skin as you can. Steadily grasp and pull upwards. Make sure you don’t twist or jerk, as this could cause parts of the tick to break off in your skin. 

If this happens, you can attempt to remove mouth pieces with your tweezers. If you can’t get it out, clean the area with rubbing alcohol or other disinfectants, and let the skin heal on its own.

Once a tick is removed, you can kill it by dropping it in a cup or rubbing alcohol (or vinegar if you have no other options). 

If you want to be extra cautious about infection, keep the tick in a sealed bag or tape it to an index card. If you do start to feel ill, doctors can trace any bacteria using the tick’s body. 

Can Vinegar Be Used for Ticks on Dogs?

I’ve seen complaints about the reactions that some dogs have to antiparasitic products, and people have been looking for more natural ways to get rid of pests on their pets.

Many people claim vinegar can be helpful in keeping dogs tick-free. I’ve seen people suggest using vinegar spray, have dogs drink vinegar water, and even coating bedding in vinegar solution. Apple cider vinegar is another natural solution recommended to prevent ticks that really lacks any proof of effectiveness.

Unfortunately, there’s really no evidence to suggest any of these methods work. While vinegar can irritate a tick and can even kill them when soaked, it’s not strong enough to act as an effective repellent.

Instead, you should always take precautions to avoid getting ticks on your dogs, and to be extra protected you can use specialized tick-repellents that are designed for dogs.

If you do spot a tick bite on your furry friend, you should use the same method discussed above for removing ticks on humans. You can even get specialized tick removal devices for dogs – which I highly suggest if you take your dogs on the trails with you.

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Ticks can transmit diseases to dogs and even consume enough blood to cause anemia, so it’s important that you check for ticks on your dog routinely and take care of any that you find.

What’s the Best Solution for Killing Ticks?

Rubbing alcohol is the most balanced solution for killing ticks when it comes to effectiveness and safety. 

Dropping a tick in rubbing alcohol will kill it instantly, and it’s also not as dangerous to humans as powerful solutions such as bleach or permethrin.

When it comes to the best ways to repel ticks from your body or clothing, permethrin is without a doubt one of the most popular products.

The major downside of permethrin is that it’s dangerous before drying and cannot be applied topically for ticks, so it really only works as a clothing repellent. It can also be lethal to cats so if you have a cats then you need to be really careful with this product.

If you don’t have any rubbing alcohol on hand, you can substitute it with a cup of bleach, flush the tick down the toilet or squash it.

Hopefully you’re aware of the high toxicity of bleach (unless you live under a rock), and for this reason you shouldn't use it on your skin and always be very careful in using it to kill ticks.