What smells do bed bugs hate? Are there scents that repel bed bugs? It’s a tempting thought, to be sure. And it does make sense. After all, we will quickly evacuate a room and actively avoid areas that are stinky.
So could it be that we could repel these bloodsuckers in the same fashion? Let’s dig in.
What Smells Do Bed Bugs Hate?
Sometimes, you have to find something nice to say. Even when you don’t really want to.
At a wedding of someone you’re not too keen on, or when discussing a new parent’s ugly baby. Consider it part of the social contract. Without white lies, society would crumble.
But when it comes to bed bugs, it’s difficult, to say the least, to find anything nice to say. These are one of the most feared pests in the world for a reason.
Bed bugs don’t spread disease, and can’t cause any real harm beyond the itchy red bites they leave on people’s skin.
But they inspire more fear and disgust than almost any other pest out there, simply because these little red parasites are so disgusting, invasive, and hard to get rid of.
So if called upon to give the eulogy at a funeral for bed bugs – something most of us would eagerly look forward to – about the nicest thing you could find to say in their favor is that they never directly killed anyone.
That’s some seriously faint praise. But when you’re talking about creatures that live in your bed and steal your blood night after night, it’s probably the best you can do.
Among the many terrible aspects of bed bugs is the fact that they are extremely hard to get rid of.
Often, treatment ends up requiring a pesticide spray. But for obvious reasons, not everyone is cool with having their house soaked in toxic chemicals.
So you may find yourself wondering if there’s a gentler, kinder way to protect yourself and your family from bed bugs. After all, you’ve seen those citronella candles that keep mosquitoes away. Is there anything similar that you can use against bedbugs?
Well, that’s what we’re here for…
Are There Scents That Repel Bed Bugs?
The Internet is an amazing thing. It allows you to read masterpieces like this article, for instance.
But it’s also a den of pseudoscience, outlandish rumor and outright lies. If you go looking for scents to repel bedbugs, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments for and against the use of essential oils for this noble purpose.
But does it work? Can you use essential oils to repel bed bugs?
Luckily, we’re here to cut through the noise and give it to you straight.
In a study conducted at Rutgers University, superstar entomologist ( yes, there is such a thing!) Changlu Wang conducted a study on the efficacy of essential oils for killing bed bugs.
The good news is, essential oils can indeed kill bed bugs. The bad news is, they generally have to be applied directly to the bed bugs to be effective.
Whereas essential oils have been shown to be effective at repelling other pests – like mosquitos – they’re not enough to function as scents that repel bed bugs.
So that’s the bad news. Bed bug prevention takes more effort and time than simply setting up some scents that repel bed bugs.
The good news? You can use your supply of essential oils to kill bed bugs quite effectively. So in the interest of education, here’s a breakdown of some of the most commonly used and effective essential oils for killing bed bugs.
Cedar Oil for Bed Bugs
There’s a reason that cedar trees grow so big and live so long. Partly, it’s down to the oil that they produce.
Cedar trees are almost immune to the insect infestations that trouble other trees, and it’s because the oil these trees produce repels and kills a wide variety of insects.
Cedar oil kills bed bugs too. In fact, most oils will when applied directly to the bed bug. But will making your house smell like an old wooden chest chase the bedbugs away? Science says no.
Lavender Oil for Bed Bugs
Lavender smells great. And it’s never a bad thing to have your house feeling like a field in Provence. But does lavender oil kill bed bugs?
Potentially. Like any oil, it will kill bugs if you apply it directly to them.
But while there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that bed bugs don’t like the smell of lavender, it’s not going to clear an infestation by diffusion.
Still, lavender is supposed to help with sleep, so it may help you get some much-needed rest while dealing with a bed bug infestation.
Tea Tree Oil for Bed Bugs
Tea tree oil has a multitude of uses around the home. So if you buy a bottle of this stuff, you probably won’t come to regret it.
However, if you planned to put it in a diffuser and use the smell of the tea tree oil to drive the bed bugs away, you’re out of luck. Bed bugs don’t like the smell of tea tree oil, but they don’t hate it enough to pass up on a meal or a decent place to hide.
The truth is, bed bugs are survivors. They will put up with a lot to get what they want. They’re not physically capable of holding their noses, but they are quite capable of tolerating a smell they find unpleasant if it gets them a delicious blood meal straight from your veins.
Tea tree oil isn’t useless in the fight against bedbugs, however. Not only will the oil kill any bed bugs it’s applied directly to, but tea tree oil is also good for the skin.
Applying it topically to bed bug bites may give you some relief from the itching they cause.
Blood Orange Oil for Bed Bugs
In Dr. Changlu’s study, blood orange oil was the most effective essential oil at killing bed bugs.
Again, though, the oil needs to be applied directly to the bugs themselves. This means you’re going to need to take your time tracking down each and every bed bug and spraying it with some of the oil.
If you’re going to do that, you could also spray the bed bugs with bleach, an over-the-counter insecticide, or if you really want your treatment to be effective, steam.
Unfortunately, essential oils are effective against bed bugs only as a contact killer.
How To Use Essential Oils for Bed Bugs
If you’re dead set on using essential oils for bed bugs in your home, you want to make sure you go about it in the right way.
Because essential oils are so heavily concentrated, many of them can be harmful to humans if misused. Tea tree oil, for instance, is not safe to use undiluted.
But mixed at a ratio of approximately one drop of oil per ounce of water, tea tree oil and lavender oil can be poured into a spray bottle and used to spray down your bed sheets and bed frame.
While it’s not going to stop bedbugs from biting you, it might lessen the number of bites you receive in a night.
No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. It would be great if you could simply set up an aromatherapy diffuser and chase bed bugs out of your home while simultaneously making the place smell great.
But that’s just not the world we live in.
Although essential oils have some ability to kill bed bugs, they are no better at it than any other kind of oil or pesticide that you apply directly to the bugs.
A better use for essential oils during a bed bug infestation is to help calm you down and improve your mood while you focus on more effective methods of killing bed bugs.