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What Scents Keep Bed Bugs Away?

Bed bugs are parasitic animals that survive solely on blood. They feed on humans and animals while they sleep. Getting rid of bedbugs requires an extensive cleaning process. However, there are some preventive measures involving scents that can keep them at bay. Keep on reading to find out what scents keep bed bugs away.

As the name suggests, bed bugs reside in mattresses, box springs, or headboards, which makes it easier for them to find prey when night falls. Bed bugs are nocturnal animals, which means that they will only attack you at night. To prevent them from feasting on your body, you can make use of essential oils and other scents that can keep them away. Here, in this article, we will talk about 13 ingredients whose scent can prevent bed bugs and keep them away from you.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a known disinfectant. It not only kills bacteria but can also eliminate bed bugs if it comes in contact with their bodies. Spraying it all over the bed can get rid of more 50% bed bugs in one go. Even if it doesn’t kill them, its scent is repulsive to bed bugs. Either way, you can rest assured that they will leave your bed and run for their lives.

The smell of rubbing alcohol also prevents bed bugs from laying eggs. Using the liquid can halt their reproductive process, stopping them from ever coming back. However, rubbing alcohol is known to cause fire hazards, so be careful when using the spray. Ensure there are no naked flames anywhere near the room you spray with alcohol.

It is always a good idea to call professional pest control instead of using potentially harmful home remedies. However, if you’re looking for some immediate relief, you can use rubbing alcohol (carefully) and get rid of the bed bugs in your home.

Lavender Oil

Bed bugs are known to hate 100% pure lavender essential oil. Using 6 to 10 drops of lavender oil in an atomizer can rid your bed of these pests for good. Lavender oil’s strong scent repulses these insects and sends them running in the opposite direction from your bed.

We suggest you get multiple atomizers and leave them running in different parts of the house. It will ensure that they stay away not only from your bed but also from your furniture and sofa cushions. Plus, the smell of lavender oil may be overpowering for the bugs, but it is pleasant to humans.

Make sure to keep your pets away whenever you use essential oils. Neither you nor your pet should ingest them as they are hazardous, and some may even prove toxic.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is one toxic essential oil. It may prove deadly if your pet ingests it or if you are exposed to unusually high amounts of the oil. However, it is one of the most effective essential oil. Its strong lingering scent provides you with prolonged relief from these pests.

You can easily apply this oil to the headboard and the bed frame. The strong antibacterial properties of tea tree oil can keep the bed bugs away for a long time. You can use this oil in the same way you’d use the lavender oil, or you also pour it in a spray bottle and spritz it all over the bed and furniture.

It is not only the scent of tea tree oil that the bed bugs hate, but the oil can also damage their exoskeletons. Once their external protective covering gets damaged, these pests dehydrate and dry up. For many people, the scent of tea tree can become unbearable and annoying. However, you won’t find a solution as simple and effective as this one.

Blood Orange Oil

Blood Orange is a variety of Sweet Orange. Thus the scents of the two are strikingly similar. However, blood orange is slightly tartier and a bit more acidic than sweet orange. Its somewhat more complex aroma gets enhanced when turned into an essential oil.

100% pure Blood Orange essential oil is a certified bed bug repellant. You can use the oil to get rid of the pests in multiple ways.

Pour a few drops in a diffuser and leave it on overnight.

Mix a few drops of the oil with water in a spray bottle. Use this spray all over the headboard and mattress and leave it to dry. You can also use the mixture in areas where you see the most bed bug traffic.

You can also apply the oil directly to the bed frame and on doors and windows as an added precaution.

Just because essential oils are naturally made doesn’t mean they’re safe for ingestion. Make sure you keep children and pets away from areas where you apply the oil. Consumption of the oil can prove to cause significant harm or can even prove to be deadly.

Neem Oil

Neem is a popular herb in ayurvedic medicine. The plant has known antibacterial properties and is a known pest repellant. It is the only United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved bio-pesticide for indoor use. The EPA conducts various tests before approving the safety and effectiveness of products.

As proven by research, cold-pressed neem oil not only repels bed bugs but can also kill their larvae and eggs, providing you with the ultimate protection. Spray neem oil all over the bed and the room – be extensive as bed bugs are very tiny and can fit in even the smallest of cracks. If a credit card can fit through them, then so can a bed bug, so be extra rigorous. You can also use the leaves of the neem tree and spread them under the mattress to prevent the bugs from ever coming back.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is widely used for multiple purposes. The high menthol content in the oil provides a cooling sensation and calms muscles when used in combination with warm baths. It is used in soaps and foods because of its strong aroma.

Peppermint oil proves very effective against bed bugs. The high menthol content gives the oil a strong scent that irritates the pests. Bed bugs just cannot stand the stand of Peppermint and will scramble as far away from it as possible. Use a diluted peppermint spray on the mattress and headboard; it should help keep the parasites away, even if for a short while.

Spearmint Oil

Spearmint and Peppermint differ only in their menthol percentage. Where Peppermint has over 40%, menthol spearmint has only 1%, giving Peppermint a stronger “minty” flavor. Both of them prove effective in the removal process of bed bugs. Their strong menthol scent adds to their effectiveness.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a certified insecticide and works well against all creepy crawlies. The powder has a pungent smell, which is bearable for humans but not for pests. Besides acting as a repellant, diatomaceous earth also kills pests by damaging their exoskeletons. Without their protective covering, bed bugs dehydrate and die.

Diatomaceous earth is potentially dangerous for pets, so keep them away from the house for as long as you leave a sprinkling of the powder around. It is quite hard on traditional filter vacuums and can potentially burn their motor, so take care when sucking it up. Make sure to wear gloves when spreading or removing them as a safety measure.

A drawback of using diatomaceous earth is that it is only effective on adult bed bugs and that too when they come in contact with the powder. Bed bugs only come out at night, which limits the scope of this powder’s usage. You will also have to leave it on long enough for the eggs to hatch into adults.


Citrusy smells are particularly unpleasant to bed bugs. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice as a spray and watch it work its magic on these pests. The scent is quite pleasant and can leave your room bug free and smelling fresh.

Since lemon is readily available in all kitchens, it is one of the fastest available scents that can aid your bug extermination process.

Powdered Pepper

Another readily available ingredient that can keep bed bugs away is powdered pepper. It is available in every household as it is a staple ingredient in cooking. It can also come in handy in your fight against bed bugs.

Sprinkling powdered pepper on your mattress and headboard will have the pests running for their lives. Its aroma proves extremely useful when it comes to relieving you of this pest infestation.

A note of warning, though; always wear protective clothing when dealing with pepper. It can sting and burn if it comes in contact with the eyes or naked skin. Also, make sure to keep your pets and children away from the powder.

Cinnamon Sticks

Cinnamon is another aromatic ingredient that can aid you in your war against bed bugs. Cinnamon acts as an excellent repellant against these pests who can’t stand its sweet and spicy smell. Cinnamon is family, environment, and pet-friendly, making it a very popular choice.

Cinnamon, lemon, pepper powder, and most essential oils are useful as preventive measures. They may prove to be very effective temporary solutions but are not very useful as long term solutions. According to research by Rutgers University and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), only Blood Orange Essential Oil showed exceptional results in the bed bug extermination process. Most essential oils only repel these pests, whereas blood orange, spearmint, and some others also proved deadly. Other oils that have shown visible results as per the research include:

  • Paraffin Oil
  • Silicon Oil

Paraffin Oil

It is a white or colorless, odorless, and tasteless oil. It has varied use, from lubricating ball bearings in machinery to moisturizing dry skin. Paraffin oil also has antibacterial properties, making it an ideal tool in the fight against insects.

Paraffin oil is insoluble in water and has to be used on its own. Since it is a light oil, you can easily pour it into a spray bottle and spritz it directly over mattresses and furniture. It won’t stain the bed and will leave the house bed bug free.

Silicon Oil

Silicon oil is an odorless bed bugs remedy (like paraffin oil). Mix one part water and three parts of silicon oil in a spray bottle. Use this mixture on areas where you witness the most bed bug traffic. For this remedy to work, it is essential to use silicon oil 1, which is the only water-soluble variant of the oil.

Both silicone and paraffin oil gave long term results against bed bug infestation, not because of their scent but because of their toxicity to the pests. Essential Oils and certain smells can be used as repellants but are not poisonous.

If you’re looking for a peaceful solution for your war against the bed bugs, continued use of essential oils can be it. However, you can also use chemical sprays or opt for professional pesticide removal for a permanent solution. You can also follow these five simple steps to bug-proof your house:

  • Seal entry points
  • Use steam cleaners
  • Wash all fabric
  • Thoroughly vacuum your home
  • Repeat as needed

Bed bugs are tiny and can gain entry into your house through the smallest of cracks. Once inside, they are hard exceptionally good at hiding, and they reproduce very quickly. Since they’re nocturnal creatures, you will barely ever see them during the day. So, the first step to avoiding an infestation is to establish a good defense.

Seal off all entry points and cracks in your wall doors and windows. As a rule of thumb check, if your credit card can fit through an opening or not, if yes, then so can a bed bug. Install a door sweep on all doors as additional protection.

Bed bugs search for cold, dark places. Heat and soap are their enemies. You can get rid of the pests lurking in your bed by cleaning your mattress with a steam cleaner. For better results, add a little bit of dish soap to the steam cleaner and use that on all the furniture and mattresses.

Similarly, you can also wash your bedsheets, pillow covers, and even curtains with detergent. As we said, detergent or soap is a bed bug’s worst enemy. Combine that with hot water, and you have the perfect concoction to kill not only adult begs but also their larvae and eggs.

For added protection, use a powerful vacuum to suck up these creatures from even the deepest fibers of your sheets and mattress. Combining vacuuming with either pepper or diatomaceous earth can improve results tenfold.

What Chemicals Kill Bed Bugs

You can also use chemical sprays that are readily available on Amazon. These sprays combine repellant scents and poison to give you the ultimate coverage. Many people looking to go green do not prefer the use of chemical sprays. However, there are quite a few natural or organic options that they can opt for instead.

There are over 300 registered pesticides that are widely used for bed bug control. They fall under the following categories:

Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids are the most commonly used compounds to get rid of bed bugs and most indoor pests. A pyrethrin is a form of botanical insecticide derived from chrysanthemums. Pyrethroid, on the other hand, is a synthetic chemical insecticide that acts like pyrethrins. They are known to flush out even the last remaining traces of the bugs.

Desiccants work by destroying the natural protective coating of the pests. As mentioned earlier, damaged exoskeleton dehydrates the pests, eventually killing them. Diatomaceous Earth and Boric acid are two very popular desiccants, and they are both natural and environment-friendly to use.

Cold-pressed neem oil is the only registered biochemical that can be used as treatment against bed bugs. It is also another natural remedy for those against the use of harsh chemical treatments. Similarly, the only registered pyrrole for use against bed bugs is Chlorfenapyr. It works by disrupting the function of specific cells in the bed bugs body.

A neonicotinoid is a synthetic form of nicotine. It works by attacking the nicotinic receptors of a bed bug’s body. It comes in handy to use against those bed bugs that have developed a resistance to pesticides.

Related Questions

What kills bed bugs instantly?

Rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs as soon as they come in contact with the liquid. The scent of alcohol is also particularly repulsive to the pests. You can also use blood orange essential oil to kill bed bugs. Their effectiveness is scientifically proven in research by Rutgers University and USDA.

How to get rid of bed bugs fast?

A steam cleaner is the fastest solution to your bed bug problem. These pests can’t handle temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also use a vacuum to get rid of them quickly. It will not kill them but will get rid of a significant amount of bugs for the time being.

How to get rid of bed bugs for good?

Practicing hygienic practices can significantly reduce bed bug traffic in your house. Wash your linens regularly, and let sunlight into your home. For a permanent solution, you should get professionals to come in and get rid of the bugs.