Essential Oils For Bed Bugs

  • Written By Dan Edwards on December 18, 2017
    Last Updated: December 23, 2020

You aren’t crazy about the idea of spraying chemicals in the room where you sleep. You’re the type who pursues natural solutions to problems whenever you can. You know essential oils can be great for the body and mind, and you’d feel a lot better about inhaling them than chemicals you can’t even pronounce. If you’d like to use essential oils for bed bugs, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll let you know which essential oils you may want to try when getting rid of bed bugs and how to use them. This article will also tell you about some of the other benefits you may experience while using essential oils to fight your bed bug problem. It’s always nice to use products that offer more than one benefit and essential oils definitely fit that bill.

Because essential oils are so highly concentrated, they can be dangerous if you don’t know how to use them properly. Even though they are natural, people still have to exercise caution when using them. If you use them improperly, they can cause rashes, and some can be poisonous if ingested or if too much is absorbed through the skin.

If you decide to use essential oils, you should make sure you understand the best way to use the particular oil you’re considering. Always have respect for their potency. It’s best to treat them as if they are a type of medication rather than a more harmless product like lotion. The key to using something safely is to have respect for what can happen if you don’t.

Do Essential Oils Work Against Bed Bugs?

This question is a bit controversial. Some exterminators will tell you that essential oils used as a homemade bed bug killer may be somewhat effective, but that it’s not nearly as effective of a treatment as heat or chemicals. But some believers in essential oils and more herbal-based medicines and therapies claim essential oils can kill bed bugs naturally, thus allowing them to abstain from using toxic man-made chemicals.

The evidence about the effectiveness of essential oils on bed bugs hasn’t been studied extensively so it’s hard to say which party is correct. But while essential oils likely will kill some bed bugs, it won’t be 100 percent effective. If you’re dealing with a heavy infestation, it’s unlikely you’ll take care of it with essential oils alone. Essential oils may be better used more as a repellent than a lethal bed bug weapon.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

But if you’ve only seen a few bed bugs and don’t think your infestation is that bad yet, you still have time to try essential oils. But if you notice the situation spiraling out of control during the time you’re trying to treat your house with oils, you should call your exterminator or try some traditional treatments.

The best course of action, however, is trying to use other methods that work as far as exterminating your bed bugs, whether you use heat or chemicals. As you’re waiting for those methods to work, you can use essential oils to protect you from bed bugs biting you while you’re sleeping.

While the essential oils won’t likely kill bed bugs, they may bring you some much-needed relief until the other methods knock them out of the picture. If you’ve been bothered by the itchiness of bed bug bites, essential oils might be worth a try if they even prevent a few of those bites.

Let’s look at some of the essential oils that are believed to work against bed bugs.

Tea Tree Oil For Bed Bugs

Tea tree oil is a good all-purpose essential oil. It’s earned a reputation as a good insecticide, fungicide, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic oil.

Because it’s also good at treating and healing wounds, if you’re suffering from bed bug bites, you may want to apply some of this topically to your skin. That’s in addition to treating your room with this oil.

Tea tree oil has grown in popularity in recent years because of how good it is for the skin. It’s in some acne medications, face wash, massage oils, shampoos, and nail creams. My recommended tea tree oil.

Bed bugs don’t like tea tree oil, but in order to kill them, you’d have to use tea tree oil in its undiluted form. You can’t do that, however, without taking the chance of harming yourself too. That’s because undiluted tea tree oil is toxic if you ingest it, even to humans. That means you don’t want to be spraying it around your room if it’s undiluted.

Tea tree oil works against bed bugs when it is absorbed by an insect’s exoskeleton. The oil ends up suffocating them. That may sound harsh, but maybe they should have stayed out of your home.

There is a limitation to spraying tea tree oil in an attempt to kill bed bugs. You won’t be able to spray it near one of the hiding places they frequent – electrical outlets.

Lavender Oil For Bed Bugs

Lavender oil can kill bed bugs, just like tea tree oil. But in order for it to kill them, it has to be sprayed on them directly. But like tea tree oil, lavender oil is really strong. That’s why it’s recommended you use a diluted version of this oil as well.

The nice thing about lavender is that it’s one of the essential oils that seems to have a universally-liked scent. That can make it more pleasant to spray it around your bedroom.

As another perk, the scent of lavender is known to promote sleep because of how relaxing it is. Since bed bugs can be a source of stress and they can keep people awake at night wondering if they are crawling near you, it would be the perfect time for a little bit of relaxation. My recommended lavender oil.

Thyme For Bed Bugs

Thyme oil works as an insecticide and can kill and ward off bed bugs. But, like some other essential oils, thyme is not safe in its undiluted form, especially for pregnant women and children.

If you’re spraying your bedroom for bed bugs with thyme oil, there are some other benefits you may experience from the oil. It is believed to boost the immune system, kill bacteria, relieve anxiety, and even increase circulation. While that won’t help with your bed bug problem, it’s nice to know you’re getting extra benefits while trying to protect yourself from pests.

One word of warning, if you plan to use thyme oil mixed in a lotion or carrier oil so you can ward bugs off of your skin, you should ask your doctor about it first.  Because it can raise your blood pressure, if you already struggle with elevated blood pressure, you should skip this kind of oil and opt for another. My recommended thyme oil.

Lemongrass For Bed Bugs

Lemongrass, the plant, is often used in Asian cooking, and it is a popular ingredient to put in tea too. While it may taste delicious, bed bugs don’t share our enthusiasm for lemongrass.

Lemongrass oil can be fatal to bed bugs and it is believed (although not confirmed) to stop their eggs from hatching. If new bed bugs can’t hatch, they can’t repopulate as the older bed bugs die off.

Bed bug eggs – CC Image courtesy of British Pest Control Association

The smell of lemongrass oil is nice but it is really strong – as you may have suspected from the name it has a lemon-like, citrus odor.

You may notice some other benefits to you if you use lemongrass to tackle your bed bug problem. The smell of lemongrass is known to help relax you and relieve small aches and pains, like headaches, stomachaches, and muscle pain.

If bed bugs aren’t the only pests in your household, you can use it to get rid of other insects too. It is supposed to repel mosquitos and ants, as well as any fleas or lice bothering your dog. But don’t use it on your cat – over time it can cause liver damage for them. My favorite lemongrass oil.

Peppermint Oil For Bed Bugs

Peppermint oil is known to have a very strong scent. Some people can’t tolerate the scent of it. But people aren’t the only ones to mind the smell of peppermint oil – bed bugs also don’t like it.

If you use peppermint oil as a bed bug solution, you may notice other benefits. If you’re using it mixed in with lotion or with a carrier oil, it can help relieve tension from sore muscles. My recommended peppermint oil.

How To Use Essential Oils Against Bed Bugs Effectively

Remember your basic safety rules about diluting the oils before you begin using any in your home. And if you’re pregnant or someone in your household is pregnant, you should exercise caution while using essential oils, especially if you are using them topically.

When it comes to tea tree oil, since you can’t use it undiluted, put 20 drops in a spray bottle mixed with water and spray down your bedsheets. But remember, that concentration won’t be enough to kill bed bugs. It may keep them off your skin however, buying you a little relief at least.

For lavender oil, it’s recommended that you mix one drop of oil to every ounce of water you use. You can combine them in a spray bottle and spray your mattress, sheets, and even your clothes with the mixture.

You might even find a little benefit from mixing a drop of essential oil in with any unscented lotion you have at your house. It might protect your skin from those hungry bed bugs who might be convinced to stay away from the scent.

While you can reap the medicinal benefits of lemongrass oil when using it in massage oils or by adding a few drops to your bathwater, you’ll have to create a spray for your bedroom if you want to repel bed bugs.

You can’t use lemongrass in its undiluted form because it may burn your skin because of how highly concentrated the citrus is. For that reason, you’ll need to blend it with a carrier oil, like olive oil, or mix a few drops with water to use in a spray bottle against those bed bugs. With thyme oil, you’ll want to use it this same way – in a spray bottle mixed with water.

To encourage bed bugs to stay away, you might have some success with drenching cotton balls with peppermint oil and keeping them close to your bed. Or you could put undiluted peppermint oil around the legs of your bed – as long as you don’t have any pets or children who would get into it and possibly be harmed.

You can try spraying a mixture of peppermint oil and water on your sheets to try to discourage bed bugs from biting you.

Some of these oils, including tea tree, lavender, and thyme can be used on any bed bug bites that develop on your skin. They can soothe the pain with their anti-inflammatory properties. If your bites are bothering you, these essential oils can give you much-needed pain and discomfort relief.

If you have more than one type of oil at your disposal, you could opt for double the protection by making an essential oil blend. Certain kinds of oils pair together really well, including thyme and lavender.


While essential oils for bed bugs can be an appealing option, they aren’t the most effective tool in your arsenal against them.

They can be used to help with your bed bug issues, but it’s hard to kill bed bugs with them without harming yourself in the process. They may offer some protection though when it comes to making the bed bugs stay away from you while you sleep or to help soothe bites after they happen.

My Favorite Bed Bug Treatment Products

While getting rid of bed bugs without buying any additional products can be done with very small infestations, I believe that by purchasing just a few additional products, you’ll be so much better equipped, and will be able to stamp out an infestation before it gets worse. Below is my list of essential products.

Bed Bug Patrol Natural Bed Bug Killer Spray, Child & Pet Friendly, Non-Toxic, Suitable for Home, Office, Vehicles, Mattresses & Furniture, 1 Gallon - 24oz (1 Pack) - Bug Spray Bed Bug Spray - Bug Bye

Bed Bug Patrol Natural Bed Bug Killer Spray, Child & Pet Friendly, Non-Toxic, Suitable for Home, Office, Vehicles, Mattresses & Furniture, 1 Gallon - 24oz (1 Pack) - Bug Spray Bed Bug Spray - Bug Bye

Bed Bug Patrol Bed Bug Killer – One of the best bed bug sprays that I’ve yet to personally use. Not only does it have a reported 100% kill rate against live bed bugs in controlled tests, but it’s also child and pet friendly. This product can be used against both light and heavy infestations, and most importantly, it’s laboratory tested and completely chemical-free.

Studies conducted using the treatment showed an impressive kill rate of 83% within just 30 minutes after application, and 98% within the first four hours, leading on to an eventual mortality rate of 100% over time.

Queen (13-16 in. Deep) SureGuard Mattress Encasement - 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic - Premium Zippered Six-Sided Cover

Queen (13-16 in. Deep) SureGuard Mattress Encasement - 100% Waterproof, Bed Bug Proof, Hypoallergenic - Premium Zippered Six-Sided Cover

SureGuard Mattress Encasement – It’s thick, durable, and is certain to help stop bed bugs of all sizes from getting to, or from, your mattress.

The protector prevents bed bug transportation by using SureSeal technology, and by using an extremely fine zipper that not even bed bug nymphs can impregnate.

ECOPEST Bed Bug Interceptors – 8 Pack | Bed Bug Blocker (Pro) Interceptor Traps (Black) | Insect Trap, Monitor, and Detector for Bed Legs

ECOPEST Bed Bug Interceptors – 8 Pack | Bed Bug Blocker (Pro) Interceptor Traps (Black) | Insect Trap, Monitor, and Detector for Bed Legs

In my experience, the best and most effective bed bug traps are usually the ones that are designed to work in the simplest of ways. I’ve used the Bed Bug Blocker Interceptor Traps extensively and I find they do the job better than any other trap I’ve tried. You also get a very generous 8 interceptors per pack.

Simply place them directly underneath the bed/table/chair legs you’re trying to protect, and watch the bed bugs fall into the traps time and time again with no chance of escape.

ZappBug The Oven 2 XL Large Bed Bug Heater | Real Reviews | Time-Tested | Excellent Customer Service

ZappBug The Oven 2 XL Large Bed Bug Heater | Real Reviews | Time-Tested | Excellent Customer Service

ZapBugg Bed Bug Heater – Specially designed to kill all stages in the bed bug life cycle, including eggs, without the need to purchase expensive pest control heat treatment solutions.

Simply place infested items into the ZappBug heater and it will automatically reach the all-important bed bug killing temperature, so you can be sure the items will come out free from all life stages of bed bug once the process is complete.

Large and small versions are also available.