Fight Bed Bugs with Essential Oils: Safer & More Effective than Chemicals


Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. These pests can cause significant discomfort, as their bites can leave red welts and itching. Since bed bugs are difficult to eradicate and often require chemical treatments, many people opt for alternative methods to eliminate them. One such option is using essential oils.

Essential oils are concentrated liquid extracts from plants and are known to have insecticidal properties. They are becoming more popular as an alternative pest-control option, as they have few side effects and are considered safer than traditional chemical sprays. This guide will cover everything you need to know about essential oils for bed bugs, including their benefits, how to use them correctly, and their pros and cons.

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on the blood of humans and other mammals. The adult bed bug is reddish-brown in color and grows to about 1/4″ – 3/8″ long. They have flat, wingless bodies, six legs, and a pair of antennae. Bed bugs are nocturnal and typically hide during the day. They are found in cracks and crevices around the beds, furniture, walls, and floors.

Bed bug infestations can be challenging to eradicate, making it important to take preventative measures. Essential oils can be a great tool for controlling bed bugs as they have been used for centuries as a form of pest control.

Overview of Essential Oils for Pest Control

Essential oils are naturally occurring organic compounds found in various plant species. They have been used for centuries to treat medical conditions, aromatherapy, and insect repellent. Essential oils are now gaining popularity in the pest control industry due to their natural insect-repelling ability and environmental friendliness.

Essential oils are typically extracted from plants through either steam distillation or cold pressing. When used in pest control, they are usually diluted and applied directly to the affected area or used as a spray or aerosol.

Essential oils can be effective against various pests, including bed bugs, cockroaches, ants, fleas, and mosquitoes. They work by repulsing insects rather than killing them, offering a more humane solution to extermination.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are plant extracts that contain volatile compounds, which have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine and aromatherapy. They are made by distilling certain plants’ leaves, stems, roots, and petals and can be extracted in water, alcohol, or oil. Essential oils are naturally occurring and provide a variety of benefits.

The compounds found in essential oils have a wide range of therapeutic properties. They can be used to treat physical conditions such as skin irritations, headaches, and digestive issues. They can also be used to treat emotional states such as anxiety and depression. Essential oils can be used as natural pest repellents, as they effectively ward off insects, including bed bugs.

Essential oils are highly concentrated, so they must be used with caution. When used properly, they can provide numerous health and well-being benefits.

History and Background of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used for centuries as natural remedies to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. These oils are extractions made from various parts of plants, such as roots, leaves, bark, flowers, and resins. Through time, different cultures have adopted the use of essential oils for medicinal, spiritual, emotional, and cosmetic purposes.

At this point in time, many people worldwide are turning to more natural and sustainable ways to address infestations such as bed bugs. Essential oils provide a safe, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to repel and kill these pests.

Types of Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated aromatic plant extracts connected to traditional forms of wisdom and healing. It is a complex mixture of volatile compounds extracted from various plants, herbs, and flowers.

They are classified into two main categories:

  • Hydro-distilled Essential Oils: Distillation is achieved by boiling the leaves, stems, flowers, or even roots of the plant with steam or boiling water. This is one of the oldest methods of extracting essential oils.
  • Cold-pressed Essential Oils: The cold-pressed method involves crushing the fruit or peels of the plant, which presses out the oils. This method is more common in extracting citrus essential oils like lemon, orange, and bergamot.

In addition, there are also solvent-extracted essential oils, absolute essential oils, and certain other rare extraction methods.

Benefits of Using Essential Oils for Bed Bugs

Essential oils are an effective pest control tool, offering several benefits when combatting bed bugs. Essential oils have been used for centuries as a natural remedy for pests and are still widely used today.

Using essential oils to control bed bugs is much safer than using chemical-based insecticides or toxic sprays, as there is no risk of harming humans or animals. Essential oils also have a much lower environmental impact than chemical solutions and are a much more natural and sustainable way to get rid of bed bugs.

Essential oils are also versatile and can be used in various ways to target bed bugs. Depending on the oil used, it can be diffused, sprayed onto surfaces, or even applied to the skin to repel bed bugs. This means that many options are available to those who want to eliminate bed bugs without resorting to harsh chemical solutions.


Essential oils used for pest control are generally considered to be safe when used correctly and as recommended. As with any pest control option, precautions should be taken to ensure safety. Depending on the oil type and concentration, vital safety considerations include monitoring for any potential skin or respiratory reactions, ensuring areas that may come in contact with the oil are well-ventilated, and avoiding eye contact. Essential oils should not be ingested or applied directly to the skin without first being diluted.

It is also important to research the specific oil being used, as not all oils will be effective against bed bugs. Some of the more commonly used essential oils for bed bug control, including citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and tea tree, are all generally safe to use.

Low Environmental Impact

Essential oils are a great option for pest control because of their low environmental impact. Unlike traditional chemicals, essential oils are plant-based and biodegradable. They are not as toxic to other animals and plants. Additionally, they break down quickly in the environment.

Moreover, since essential oils are natural, they do not leave behind hazardous residues or noxious fumes that can harm humans or animals. This low-risk approach to pest control means you can use them in enclosed spaces without worrying about any short-term or long-term effects.

How to Use Essential Oils?

Essential oils are a natural pest-control option. They can be used to help get rid of bed bugs without the need for harsh chemicals. There are some things to consider when using essential oils, including safety and environmental impact. Here are some tips on how you can use essential oils to help combat bed bugs:

  • Make sure to read all labels and instructions before using any essential oils.
  • Mix the essential oil with a carrier oil such as almond or olive oil before applying it to areas affected by bed bugs.
  • When using essential oils for bed bugs, avoid applying them directly on your skin. Instead, dilute the oil with carrier oil and spray the solution in the affected area.
  • You may also diffuse essential oils in the room or use a vaporizer to help drive the scent of the oil through the air.
  • Be sure to keep the area well-ventilated when using essential oils.
  • For best results, you may also want to combine essential oils with other pest-control methods, such as vacuuming, cleaning, and sealing up cracks and crevices.

Tips on How to Use Essential Oils

Using essential oils for bed bug infestation is easy and straightforward. Depending on the product, they can be applied in different ways. Some essential oils come as sprays that can simply be sprayed on affected areas, while others are best used as a room or linen spray. It may also be possible to use essential oils as a wash or dip solution to treat items or furniture.

It’s important to check the directions on your product before applying the essential oil. Additionally, make sure to pay attention to the safety information and the instructions for proper dilution. By following the product specifications correctly, you can ensure that it is properly used for effective results.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Essential Oil

When choosing an essential oil to use for bed bug control, it’s important to take certain factors into consideration. Not all essential oils are suitable for pest control, and the type of oil chosen can make a difference in the treatment outcome. Here are some of the important things to consider when selecting an essential oil to treat a bed bug infestation:

  • Safety: Essential oils can be potent, so it’s important to choose one that is safe for humans, pets, and the environment.
  • Potency: Different essential oils have different potency levels, so choosing an oil that is strong enough to deal with the infestation is important.
  • Cost: Some essential oils can be expensive, so picking an oil that fits your budget is important.
  • Scent: Some essential oils can have strong smells, so selecting an oil with a pleasant scent that won’t linger in your home for too long is important.

Considering these factors, you can choose an essential oil that will most effectively treat bed bugs in your home.

Pros and Cons of Using Essential Oils for Bed Bugs

Essential oils can be an effective way to treat bed bugs, but there are pros and cons to consider before using them. One of the main advantages is that essential oils have a lower environmental impact than chemical pesticides. They also have the advantage of being safer for pets and humans when used according to directions. On the other hand, essential oils may not be as effective in eliminating all bed bug eggs due to their limited residual effect.

Essential oils can be a good option for controlling bed bugs. However, discussing the pros and cons of using essential oils with a professional is important to ensure they are the best option for your particular situation.

Popular Essential Oils for Bed Bugs

For treating bed bug infestations, there are a number of essential oils that can be used. Popular essential oils include citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and tea tree. Check our article Best essential oils for killing bed bugs.

Best Practices for Using Essential Oils

Using essential oils to combat bed bug infestation requires knowledge and caution. Certain steps must be followed to ensure safety and effectiveness. It is always best to consult with a professional pest control expert to discuss the best treatment options for your situation.

  • When deciding to use essential oils as an option to eradicate bed bugs, it is important to remember that only certain essential oils are effective in controlling bed bugs. Some essential oils, such as peppermint, have been shown to be particularly effective against bed bugs. It is also important to remember that essential oils should not be used directly on the skin or eyes.
  • Before using any essential oil, it is important to research and become informed about its properties, safety considerations, and possible effects on humans and animals. It is also important to check with your local health department, as some states may have regulations restricting the use of certain essential oils.
  • When applying essential oils, it is important to note that it is strongest when applied directly on the bed bugs or their hiding places. It is also important to remember to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil before use to reduce skin and eye irritation. It is also important to avoid the over-application of essential oils, which can cause adverse effects such as skin irritation and sensitization.
  • Finally, it is important to remember that essential oils take time to work and may take several applications over several days or weeks to make a difference. Additionally, essential oils are not a stand-alone solution for bed bug infestations and should be combined with other treatments for optimal results.

How to Safely Apply Essential Oils

Using essential oils for bed bugs requires some caution and the correct procedures in order to be effective and safe. Always use pure essential oils that have not been diluted. When using essential oils, always consider your safety and the safety of those around you, such as pets or children.

  • When applying essential oils, paying attention to concentration levels is important. Too strong of a concentration may cause skin irritation or damage fabrics or furniture. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil such as almond, jojoba, or grapeseed.
  • A general rule of thumb is to mix 10-20 drops of essential oil in 30ml carrier oil. Test the mixture on your skin before using it; it is better to be too weak than too strong. Additionally, if possible, avoid breathing in the essential oils directly and ventilate the room when applying them.
  • To apply, the essential oils can be sprayed or wiped onto surfaces where bed bugs may be hiding, such as mattresses, furniture, bedding, and carpets. Essential oils can also be diffused in the air using a diffuser. However, be aware that this may only be effective in smaller rooms.

Legal Considerations

Knowing the relevant legal considerations is important before beginning any essential oil treatment for bed bugs. Different countries, states, and local governments may have regulations or laws regarding using essential oils for pest control. It is essential to research the legal requirements, as using certain substances in certain places can be an offense.

  • In some countries, such as the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the use of pesticides, including essential oils, and requires registration of any product before it can be used. It is important to check what active ingredients a product contains, to ensure that the use is legal. It is also important to check for any restrictions on product use in a particular area. The EPA also has regulations regarding labeling products and the proper disposal of containers when the product has been used.
  • It is also important to check local legislation regarding the use of essential oils in dwellings or other public places, such as parks where children may be playing. Some areas may require a professional exterminator, even if the infestation is minor. It is always best to check with local authorities first to ensure the user complies with all relevant laws.

Outcome of Treatment and Additional Follow-up Options

After using essential oils, the bed bug infestation should be reduced or eliminated. It is important to watch for any signs of a resurgence of bed bugs and use additional treatment methods if necessary. You can use the same essential oil treatment or seek help from a professional exterminator.

Inspection is also key in making sure the entire infestation is eradicated. If you notice any eggs or bed bugs, you can treat those specific areas with essential oils. Keeping the area clean and free of debris will discourage the return of bed bugs.

Checking and sealing any cracks or crevices in walls and furniture will also help prevent a potential return, as these are common hiding spots for bed bugs. Vacuuming floors and using a steam cleaner on carpets can help remove any bed bug eggs or larvae that may have survived the initial treatment.

Alternate Solutions for Bed Bug Infestation

If you’ve discovered a bed bug infestation in your home, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. While utilizing essential oils can help you control the infestation, there are additional options you should consider:

  • One of the most effective ways to combat bed bugs is to hire a professional exterminator. A professional will have the expertise, tools, and resources to eliminate the infestation quickly and effectively. They will typically use chemicals and specialized tools to help them effectively tackle the problem. The type of treatment used will depend on the size and severity of the infestation.
  • Another option is to purchase diatomaceous earth, a powder substance made up of the fossilized remains of tiny organisms that can help kill bed bugs on contact. This powder should be sprinkled in all the areas where the bed bugs are present. It can help absorb the oils on their exoskeletons and cause them to desiccate and die.
  • You can also try creating a barrier around your mattress, box spring, and furniture using special bedbug-proof covers to prevent them from entering and spreading. Additionally, regular vacuuming can help remove bed bugs from carpets and other fabrics.


Essential oils can be a great choice when used correctly for those looking to treat a bed bug infestation. They are safe, natural, and have a low environmental impact. While essential oils may not always solve an infestation, they effectively keep bed bugs away. When used alongside other treatments, achieving a holistic approach to bed bug elimination is possible.

It is important to follow the best practices for using essential oils, including considering factors such as diluting them and avoiding contact with skin or eyes. Additionally, it is important to obey any legal considerations and understand the outcome of the treatment and what alternate solutions and follow-up options may be necessary.

With the right information and careful consideration, anyone can use essential oils to address their bed bug problems in a safe and effective manner.


Finding accurate information about essential oils and how to use them to control bed bugs can be challenging. There are several reputable resources available that provide helpful information about this topic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a great resource for reliable, up-to-date information about bed bugs and how to treat them effectively. They provide detailed information about bed bug biology and behavior and tips for prevention and control. It’s important to note that the CDC does not recommend using essential oils to treat bed bugs, but their website is still an excellent source of information.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also provides helpful information about bed bug infestations and how to treat them. They offer detailed guidance on the approved pesticides and other methods to remove bed bugs from your home. The EPA also advises how to avoid pests and maintain healthy home environments.

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) is another great resource. They provide up-to-date information about pesticide products and their safety and effectiveness against bed bugs. They also provide detailed information about the risks of using pesticides and other methods, including essential oils, to combat bed bugs.

Finally, several online forums and websites provide information about essential oils and their uses for pest control. These sites are excellent resources for finding information on particular essential oils, as well as recipes for homemade mixtures and recommendations on which essential oils may be best for your particular problem. However, it’s important to remember that online sources are not always reliable, and you should always seek professional advice before attempting to use essential oils to treat bed bugs.

Essential Oils for Bed Bugs Questions and Answers

  • What are bed bugs?
    A: Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. These pests can be found in mattresses, bed frames, furniture, corners, and even carpets. They come out at night when it’s dark and quiet to feed on your blood.
  • What are essential oils, and how are they used for pest control?
    A: Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants, including flowers, stems, leaves, branches, and roots. They are often used as natural pesticides and insect repellents as they contain active chemical components that are toxic to certain insects. An essential oil spray could be made at home or purchased online, usually with a few drops of the desired oil mixed into a base liquid and applied directly to the desired areas.
  • What are the benefits of using essential oils for bed bugs?
    A: The main benefit of using essential oils for bed bugs is that they are a safe and natural alternative to chemical pesticides. Additionally, they have a low environmental impact as they don’t contain any harmful chemicals or synthetic ingredients. Finally, using an essential oil spray in combination with vacuuming your mattress, bed frame, and furniture may help to reduce the severity of an infestation.
  • Are there any tips on how to use essential oils for Bed Bugs?
    A: When utilizing essential oils for bed bugs, choosing an oil that has proven effective against the pest is important. Additionally, it is important to test the oil on a small area of fabric before applying it to a larger surface. Furthermore, when mixing an essential oil spray, always follow safety instructions. Finally, storing the oil in a cool, dark place and using it within 12 months for the best results is important.
  • What are the pros and cons of using essential oils for bed bugs?
    A: The pros of using essential oils for bed bugs include being safer than chemical-based pesticides, having a low environmental impact, and being affordable compared to traditional treatments. The cons include potential skin or respiratory irritation if oils are not used properly and the fact that essential oils do not always provide the same level of effectiveness as chemicals.
  • What are some popular essential oils for bed bugs?
    A: Some popular essential oils for bed bugs include citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil. These oils have been shown to repel or kill bed bugs and are generally more cost-effective and less toxic than synthetic pesticides.
  • What are the best practices for using essential oils?
    A: The best practices for using essential oils for bed bugs include following instructions on product packaging, using protective gloves when applying essential oils, following safety guidelines such as avoiding eye contact and inhalation, referring to the safety data sheet provided by the manufacturer, and keeping essential oils out of reach of children and animals.

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