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What Essential Oils Are Good For Killing Bed Bugs?

Small blood-sucking insects, bedbugs live inside furniture, bedding, and upholstery, biting both humans and animals. Despite their lack of disease transmission, bedbug bites can itch and cause an infection or rash if left untreated.

Getting rid of bedbugs is difficult once they have been discovered. The most common treatment is sprinkling chemical insecticides into the affected area. In most cases, antiseptic lotions and antihistamine creams are used to treat the bites themselves.

Traditionally, bedbug treatments contain ingredients that are unpopular with many people. Bites and infestations caused by bedbugs can be treated with essential oils derived from plant ingredients.

Certain essential oils have been proven to be effective and acceptable alternatives to bedbug treatment in some studies.

What are the best essential oils for treating bedbugs, killing them, repelling them, and killing bedbug bites? Let’s investigate what’s known about essential oils as a bedbug solution.

Why Essential Oils?

Clinical studies suggest that some essential oils may repel bedbugs. Despite not feeding on a host for a long time, bedbugs can survive for several months without feeding.

Bedbug repellents using essential oils may be effective for a short while, but the oils’ effect will likely wear off before bedbugs die. Your home may benefit from these essential oils if you want to repel or kill bedbugs.

Essential Oils To Repel Bedbugs

While essential oils are sometimes suggested as natural remedies for repelling or killing bed bugs, it’s important to note that their efficacy may be limited compared to professional pest control methods.

However, some essential oils are believed to have insect-repelling properties and may be used as part of a holistic approach to bed bug management.

Here are a few essential oils that are commonly mentioned for their potential repellent or insecticidal properties:

Tea Tree Oil

Known for its antimicrobial properties, tea tree oil is sometimes suggested for repelling bed bugs. However, direct contact is usually necessary for it to be effective.

Lavender Oil

While lavender oil is often used for its calming scent, some people believe it may have insect-repelling properties. However, scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness against bed bugs is limited.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has a strong scent that may deter bed bugs. It is suggested that you mix it with water and spray it around infested areas.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil is known for its strong fragrance, and it’s believed to have insect-repelling properties. It may be used similarly to peppermint oil, diluted, and sprayed around affected areas.


Some plants, including oregano, produce essential oils that contain carvacrol. 

The results of a 2019 study determined that carvacrol was the strongest fumigant against bedbugs when compared with 14 other essential oils.

Therefore, carvacrol has properties that repel bedbugs, even if it isn’t always effective in killing them.



The compound eugenol is a phenol that can be found in several essential oils, such as clove. According to a study conducted in 2020, some bedbugs died after they were exposed to a compound containing eugenol.



An effective mosquito repellent is citronella oil, derived from Asian grass plants. Aside from antifungal properties, it is also used as a wound healing agent around the world.

The fumigant citronella has been shown to be effective against bedbugs in some studies.



Geraniol is a terpene alcohol found in several aromatic plants, including citronella, palm, and roses.

Considering geraniol also repels cockroaches, it makes sense that it might work for bedbugs as well.



Insecticide and animal repellent properties of thyme are attributed to its active compound, thymol, which is found in the essential oil of the thyme plant.

Researchers have found that thymol’s scent overwhelms the nervous system of common bedbugs, which makes it an effective repellent ingredient.


What Are Essential Oils?

A liquid extract derived from plants is called an essential oil. It is also said that these extracts retain a lot of the distilled “essence” of the plants from which they are derived.

According to people who swear by essential oils for bedbugs, these strong scents and plant essence are effective at preventing bedbugs from living and laying eggs in your bedding, carpets, clothing, and upholstery.

According to them, certain essential oils overwhelm the nervous systems of bedbugs with their botanical elements.

In addition to healing skin irritation and rashes, some essential oils also contain anti-inflammatory properties. The majority of them are antimicrobial and antiseptic.

The results of this study suggest that essential oils are effective for treating all kinds of insect bites, including bedbug bites.

Study Identifies Essential Oil Compounds Most Toxic To Bed Bugs

Several problems threaten synthetic pesticides used to control bed bug infestations: they are becoming less effective over time, and many consumers are seeking “green” alternatives that they consider safer to use.

The solution to both problems may lie in plant-based essential oils. It was discovered that some essential oils can be extremely effective in controlling bed bugs by entomologists Ameya Gondhalekar and Sudip Gaire, a doctoral student at Purdue University.

A Rutgers University study revealed that few essential oils-based products were effective against bed bugs, despite the claims of dozens of products on the market.

An analysis was conducted by Gondhalekar and Gaire to determine whether 15 essential oil compounds from aromatic plants are toxic to bed bugs and capable of disrupting their nervous systems.

In the journal Scientific Reports, they published their findings. People want chemicals that are safe for humans to use since bed bugs can be found in beds and sofas. It is not possible to spray most insecticides directly on furniture infested with insects.

Because these compounds are considered to be low-risk options for bed bug control, you may have that flexibility with essential oils, according to Purdue researcher Gondhalekar.

People are increasingly looking for products with minimal risks, including green products. Despite varying amounts needed to kill bed bugs, all of the chemicals were effective when applied directly to them.

There was a high degree of effectiveness in carvacrol, which is derived from oregano and thyme; in thymol (thyme); in citronellic acid (lemongrass); and in eugenol (clove).

As fumigants, thymol, carvacrol, linalool (derived from basil), and camphor (originating from the camphor tree) are most effective. Over a 24-hour period, four of the compounds failed to kill bed bugs.

A bed bug can be killed by contact with the most effective compound about 70,000 times more than with a synthetic insecticide used as a control. This difference was only 400 times with fumigants.

However, this doesn’t mean plant essential oil compounds are ineffective, according to Gondhalekar. It is now possible to formulate effective products based on the knowledge of toxicity levels.

The researchers also found that linalool stimulated the bed bug nervous system, while thymol and carvacrol depressed it.

It’s likely you’ll use higher concentrations of the compounds we show to be most effective when formulating a product, Gaire said. There is still research to be done on combining them, but that could lead to better efficacy.”

A combination of multiple strategies for eliminating bed bugs, including pest monitoring, heat treatments, botanical compounds, and synthetic insecticides, is the best way for consumers to eliminate bed bugs, according to Gondhalekar.

This research was funded by the Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management and the O.W. Rollins/Orkin Endowment. 

Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-532-0233,

Source: Ameya Gondhalekar, 765-494-3839,

Potential Risks Of Using Essential Oils For Bedbugs

In using essential oils for bedbugs, the biggest risk is that it won’t work. Your life will be less disrupted by bedbug infestations if you treat them as soon as possible.

Consequently, when using essential oils, you need to exercise extreme caution. It is not recommended to ingest them or to use them near your eyes.

Before applying essential oils to your skin, you should dilute them with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil).

It’s not a good idea to apply large amounts of essential oils to your skin during sleep to repel bedbugs due to their potency and fumes. (This is unlikely to work).

Essential Oil For Bedbug Bites

If you’ve already experienced bedbug bites, you might consider using essential oils to soothe and treat them.

The oils you use for repelling and killing bedbugs are different from those you should use for repelling and killing bedbugs. Bedbug bites may be soothed with the following oils:

  • Peppermint and mint oils are cooling and insect repellent, respectively
  • Lavender oil is known for its calming and healing properties
  • There is also evidence that tea tree oil promotes healing and has antimicrobial properties
  • Infections can be prevented and redness and itching can be soothed with rosemary oil

Applying essential oils to your skin after dilution with a carrier oil (such as jojoba oil or coconut oil) is important for getting rid of bug bites. If itching symptoms reappear, repeat the application.

Final Words

It’s important to keep in mind that the effectiveness of essential oils for bed bug control is not well-established through scientific research, and their use should not be considered a standalone solution.

If you have a bed bug infestation, it’s generally recommended to seek professional pest control services, as bed bugs can be challenging to eliminate completely.

If you choose to use essential oils, make sure to dilute them properly, as they can be irritating to the skin in their concentrated form.

Additionally, exercise caution and follow safety guidelines when using essential oils, especially around pets and children.

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