Well, many essential oils have been in use for pest control for decades. These include, lavender, tea tree oil, thyme, peppermint among others.
Let’s get started!
Essential Oil For Bed Bugs: Which One Works?
1. Lavender oil for Bed Bugs
As an essential oil, lavender has been in use for many years for pest eradication. Although this floral herb has a pleasant fragrance to humans, it is disgusting and toxic to bed bugs.
It works in two ways: When sprayed directly on bed bugs, lavender essential oil will kill bed bugs. The scent will repel and deter bed bugs.
The effectiveness of lavender essential oil depends on the type of oil you use and how well you use it. Since there’re different species of the lavender herb, it’s possible to get fooled into buying ineffective products.
There’re four lavender oils commonly used in pest eradication. You can distinguish them from the synthetic substitutes using their botanic names. They include:
- French Lavender (Lavandula dentata)
- English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas)
- Dutch Lavender (L. angustifolia x L. latifolia)
All these differ in their applications. For example, the ideal lavender oil for your skin is the English one. When applied on the skin, this oil can repel bed bugs. So, applying the oil on your skin before you sleep can prevent these critters from coming near you.
However, this is only a temporary relief from bed bug bites. To kill bed bugs, you will need to spray the oil directly on the bed bugs. Since it’s not possible to saturate every bed bug with the oil, they might find their way into other places in the house.
Therefore, when using lavender essential oil, it is important to spray every corner of your house.
2. Tea Tree Oil for Bed Bugs
Tea tree essential oil has natural insecticide and insect repellent properties which make it an ideal remedy for eradicating insects including bed bugs. Tea tree oil is a natural solvent.
When it gets into contact with the insects’ exoskeleton, it dissolves into the internal fluids and suffocates them to death. When sprayed directly on bed bugs, tea tree oil will kill bed bugs and repel them from the area.
To use it on bed bugs, dilute about 20 drops of the oil and spray directly on the infested area. Spray around your bed, curtains, carpets and other infested place. This will effectively repel bed bugs.
To kill bed bugs, you need to spray directly with undiluted tea tree oil. However, undiluted tea tree oil is toxic when ingested by both humans and pets. Thus, it’s not advisable to use the undiluted form inside the house.
3. Thyme oil for Bed Bugs
Thyme essential oil has characteristic antimicrobial properties that make it an effective substance for eradicating bed bugs. In addition, it is a natural repellent which can be used repel bed bugs and deter them from coming to your house.
To use the thyme essential oil, dilute about 10 drops with water and spray directly on the infested area. Or you can put the leaves in a net and place them in the affected places.
Set the leaves under the mattress, cushion or inside the cupboard to repel the bed bugs. Alternatively, you can burn thyme sticks near the infested area.
To completely repel bed bugs, you need to apply these procedures for at least 30 days. To kill bed bugs, you need to spray the bed bugs with undiluted thyme essential oil.
However, it is not safe to use undiluted thyme oil near your kids or pregnant women. In addition, the oil can increase the blood pressure to dangerous levels in some individuals.
Therefore is advisable to consult your medical doctor before you use it on your skin.
4. Peppermint Oil for Bed Bugs
Peppermint essential oil has a pleasant smell that has seen its use in food flavouring, soap production and in aromatherapy. However, its strong scent is quite unbearable to pests including bed bugs.
This makes it a safe substance for getting rid of bed bugs from our premises. To repel bed bugs, spray them with diluted peppermint. It works best when applied directly on the infested places.
You can also soak cotton balls in peppermint and place them around the infested areas. This will only help repel bed bugs and deter them from the area. When applied directly on the bed bugs, undiluted peppermint essential oil will kill them instantly.
However, concentrated peppermint oil can cause a severe burning sensation when it comes into contact with your skin. To reduce the burning effect, peppermint can be diluted with an appropriate oil such as carrier oil.
Related: Vinegar will kill bed bugs?
5. Lemongrass oil for Bed Bugs
Lemongrass essential oil kills bedbugs by creating unfavorable conditions around the insect. When sprayed directly on the insect, lemongrass oil raises the level of acidity inside the body of the bed bug. This causes an imbalance in the insect’s internal fluids causing it to die.
In addition, the scent of lemongrass is quite unbearable to bed bugs. This makes it a good remedy for repelling bed bugs and deterring them from your house. To use lemongrass oil on bed bugs follow the following instructions.
- Mix 20 drops with of water to dilute.
- Pour the oil in a spray bottle and spray on the infested places. Spray directly on the bed bugs to kill the bed bugs and repel them from your house.
- To increase the efficiency of lemongrass, you can mix it with peppermint or lavender essential oils.
- Use lemongrass oil regularly to keep bed bugs at bay.
6. Cedar oil for Bed Bugs
Cedar oil spray has been in use as an insect repellent for many decades. Many insects including bed bugs dislike the scent from cedar oil.
So, when sprayed along the areas affected by bed bug, it is possible to repel them. However, you won’t kill bed bugs with cedar oil. To prepare your cedar oil spray, dilute one teaspoon of the oil with one cup of water.
Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray directly on the infested places. This will repel bed bugs from their hideouts and deter them for a few days.
Cedar oil can also be applied using a steamer to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Steam treatment will effectively kill the bed bugs and their eggs. At the same time cedar oil will repel bed bugs that survive steam treatment.
Alternatively, you can sprinkle the diluted cedar oil directly on the infested places especially the hard-to-reach crevices. You can also treat your bedding, clothes and furniture with dilute cedar oil. Remember that undiluted cedar oil can damage your clothes and bedding.
7. Neem oil for Bed Bugs
Two types containing neem oil have been approved as biochemical remedies for bed bug control. TER-TRU1 (5.5% neem oil) and TER-CX1 (22.0% neem oil) are cold pressed directly from the seeds, bark, fruits and leaves of neem tree.
It is commonly used in the manufacture of products such as soap, shampoo, cosmetics and toothpaste. Research has also shown that the compounds found in neem oil have the potential to destroy bed bugs, nymphs and eggs.
Direction for application:
- Pour a few drops of neem oil in a spray bottle and Add a little water and shake thoroughly to mix the ingredients.
- Spray directly on the infested area to repel bed bugs and To destroy bed bugs, nymphs and eggs apply undiluted neem oil directly.
- Neem oil is safe to use on the skin. So, you can apply the oil on body before you go to sleep and You can also apply undiluted oil on the frame of your bed to repel the bed bugs.
8. Eucalyptus Oil for Bed Bugs
Eucalyptus essential oil is valued for its energizing scent and antiseptic properties. When combined with other essential oils, eucalyptus oil can be used to kill and repel bed bugs.
Directions for use:
– Mix 20 drops of eucalyptus essential with a few drops of tea tree oil and lavender.
– Pour the mixture in a spray bottle and add water. Shake thoroughly
– Spray on the infested area including your bed, bedding and couch. The smell from this combination of essential oils can keep bed bugs at bay.
– An undiluted mixture of eucalyptus and lavender essential oils can kill bed bugs when applied directly on the insect.
– This mixture of essential oils might work to some extent in repelling bed bugs. However, it’s not an effective method for combating a bed bug infestation.
Alternatives of Essential Oil for Bed Bugs
1. Bed Bugs Steamers
Steam treatment is one of the best remedies for eradicating bed bugs, including their nymphs and the eggs. However, not all steamers will get the job done.
You need a high quality steamer, preferably a commercial steamer. They’re capable of achieving the required temperatures for destroying bed bugs.
Cloth steamers and carpet cleaners won’t reach sufficient temperatures to kill bed bugs. Normally, a commercial steam cleaner is too expensive to be bought and used by a single household (up to $1200).
But, you can hire from local pest exterminators. A steamer works by raising the temperature of the infested area to extreme levels (160°F-180°F).
How to use a bed bug steamer.
1. Get yourself an effective steamer from your shop or online. It should produce high quality steam to create unbearable conditions for the bed bugs.
2. Follow the user manual included in the package to set your apparatus. Remember, this is an expensive gadget. If you don’t follow instructions carefully, you might end up destroying your expensive gadget, or ruining your floor or carpet. Wrong use might even result to steam burns. But no need to worry; most steamers are quite easy and safe to operate.
3. Begin your operation and bombard your infested places with high temperature steam. Treat your floor, carpet, bed, bedding, curtain and any crevices that bed bugs might hide.
4. Remember, the intention here is to kill all bed bugs, nymphs and eggs. Therefore, try to expose all the affected places to the steam. Do not soak the place with steam. You should also be keen not to cause electric short circuits.
2. Bed Bug Sprays
Bed bug sprays are perhaps some of the most commonly used insecticides. They tend to work best when sprayed directly on bed bugs.
There’s a `common misconception that bed bug sprays are not as effective as some alternatives. This can be attributed to the current bed bug resistance to many insecticides.
However, with the right spray, it is possible to control bed bug infestation in your house. Normally, there’re three types of bed bug sprays depending on the form of the chemical used.
These include, aerosol sprays, liquid concentrates and liquid sprays.
– Bed Bug Aerosol Sprays
Bed bug aerosols are rather meant for residual killing than for instant kill. Unlike contact sprays, aerosol sprays won’t kill bed bugs rapidly. However, since they have a longer residue effect, they can continue killing even after weeks.
They are easy to use. You just need to shake the can to build up pressure. Then you can spray directly on the infested place. Normally, aerosol cans do not experience pulses between triggers. Plus when you spray, the insecticide tends to foam on the surface. This gives you a visual display of how the insecticide is spreading.
Aerosol sprays are manufactured using various compounds to allow their application on a number on a number of surfaces. For instance, some bed bug aerosols are ideal so use on your upholstery. Others are meant for use on wooden surfaces.
3. Liquid Bed Bug Sprays
Unlike aerosols, liquid sprays are meant to kill bed bugs on contact. The insecticide evaporates quickly meaning it has no residue activity. Its trigger mechanism operates just like the sprayer you use to spray your plants.
Liquid sprays gives you an efficient way of reaching bed bugs that hide in narrow cracks such as along floorboards and baseboards. This is because the nozzle can be adjusted to make the insecticide come out in sharp streak.
The fact that they don’t leave any residual effects makes them ideal for surfaces such as upholstery, bedding, mattresses, sofa set and kitchen. It’s advisable to saturate the infested place with the insecticide, then allow it to dry.
4. Concentrated Insecticides
The last type of bed bug spray is the concentrated insecticide spray. They are available as residual compounds, contact killers or one that serves both purposes.
Unlike aerosols and liquid sprays, concentrated sprays take sometime to prepare since they require to be mixed with water. Concentrate insecticides are applied with the help of a tank sprayer.
The usage and safety manuals for these sprayers vary depending on the model. They all come with a hand pump for building pressure.
Most of the sprayers come with an adjustable nozzle. This allows you to achieve a narrow stream of the insecticide for use in cracks or crevices. The concentrate insecticide comes with a guide for diluting depending on the intended application.
Once your insecticide is ready, pump a few times until the handle becomes hard. Press the trigger and spray evenly on the infested place.
5. Bed Bug Mattress Encasements
Mattress encasements are intended to vacuum your entire mattress and box spring. It’s made of tightly-woven material to prevent bed bugs from getting inside or out of the encasement.
When you zip your mattress inside the encasement, bed bugs that get trapped inside will neither escape nor breed.
They will eventually starve to death. Bed bugs that are locked outside won’t be able to get inside. Since the encasement has creases, the bed bugs become easy to find and remove.
Advantages of mattress encasements in bed bug control:
They Keep Bed Bugs Off The Bed. If new bed bugs come to your house, they won’t have a chance of hiding in the mattress or in the box spring. The bed bugs can only crawl on the surface where they’re easy to spot and remove.
Protects New Beds From Infestation. When you replace your bed, bed bugs that are trapped inside the encasement won’t come out to hide in your bed.
Allows You To Retain Your Infested Mattress. You don’t have to dispose your infested mattress. Just zip it inside an encasement and your mattress will be as good as new. This can also prevent the spread of bed bugs to other places through discarded mattresses.
Bed Bug Control Becomes Easier. Mattresses and box springs happen to be the most preferred hiding places for bed bugs. A mattress encasement traps some bed bugs and exposes others for easy eradication.
6. Bed Bug Powders
Bed bug powders provide an easy and effective way to eradicate bed bugs. They are also cheap and safe to use. For this reason, powders are among the most commonly used bed bug treatments.
Bed bug powders vary in their effectiveness and strength. When selecting a powder for bed bug treatment look for the following qualities.
Effectiveness: Consider, powders that kill bed bugs rapidly and work for a wide range of surfaces.
Toxicity: Many of the commonly used bed bug powders are safe for humans and animals. Be sure to buy non-toxic powders because they don’t present to healthy risk to your kids and pets.
Durability: Most bed bug powders tend to have a long residual activity. So, when you apply the powder, it can kill bed bugs for a long depending on the brand. For instance, diatomaceous earth kills bed bugs for a long time if kept dry and as long as it’s not swept.
Cost: Usually, bed bug powders are not expensive. You can save a lot in the cost if you buy in bulk.
Bed bug infestations differ in their severity. So, it’s stands out that no single treatment can successively eradicate bed bugs on its own. Although some essential oils can used to repel and kill bed bugs, they will not eradicate an infestation.
They are however effective when combined with other treatments such as steam treatment, bed bug sprays, powders among others. More importantly it’s advisable to consult a pest expert for advice.