What Do Bed Bugs Hate? (Effective And Safe Ways To Get Rid Of Them)

When it comes to infestations that people do not want to ever experience, bed bugs are high on that list. Known for being capable of a very itchy bite and being nearly impossible to get rid of, bed bug prevention is a must in any home.

The biggest way to prevent bed bugs from coming into your house is to keep clean mattresses, do regular vacuuming, and to avoid venues that have active infestations. With that said, a little repulsion can help prevent a lot of infestations.

If you are looking for a way to curb bed bugs, then we have the information for you.

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Can Bed Bugs Be Repelled Away From a Location?

Yes and no. Bed bugs are not as easily deterred as cockroaches or fleas. If they have a source of blood (specifically human blood), they will do whatever they can to stay there. Generally speaking, once bed bugs settled in an area, they don’t want to leave.

The most effective way to get rid of bed bugs is to call a professional pest control company. This is true for bed bug nymphs and adult bed bugs too. Once you have gotten rid of them, you can work on preventing them from coming back.

What Scents Do Bed Bugs Hate?

Bed bugs are a major pest, and they’re one that are often best prevented rather than removed. These are the most common scents and ways to keep them at bay.

1. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Diatomaceous Earth

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Diatomaceous earth is a naturally-occurring powder that is extremely drying and is made of crushed-up microshells. Bed bugs that get into contact with DE will have the dust get inside their exoskeletons.

Eventually, the dust builds up until it dries out the bug and immobilizes them. This is a natural insect repellent that works on all bed bugs and is fairly safe to use. With that said, you should avoid overuse as this can irritate your lungs in large doses.

2. Lemon (Or Any Citrus)


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Like many other animals, bed bugs hate the smell of citrus plants. Citrus, particularly oranges and lemons, will smell gross to them. As a result, most bed bugs will not want to stick around this aroma for too long.

There are several ways to make this work for you if you want to repel insects. The most common ways to use it is to drop some lemon oil or blood orange oil on parts of your home. Even lemon juice can work well in a pinch.

PRO TIP – If you have cats or dogs, be careful when using citrus essential oils around them. They can be toxic to pets.

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3. Mint


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Do you want a more pet-safe option that won’t get Fluffy sick? Look at mint. Mint is a fresh-smelling oil that bed bugs detest. You will need to dial up the smell of mint high to get it working as a deterrent. We suggest boiling mint leaves in a pot or spraying water with some mint oil around the house.

Interestingly enough, mint is actually poisonous to the bed bug nervous system. So, you might also be able to kill them if you add strong enough mint water to a spray bottle. Planting fresh mint around your home can also help deter them.

Many homeowners also swear that a spray of peppermint oil diluted in water can help remove the musty smell of bed bugs in the crevices of a mattress.

4. Lavender


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Lavender oil (though not pet-safe) is a proven bed bug deterrent, and it’s also aromatherapeutic.  The powerful aroma of lavender is actually a natural insect repellent for several species, including fleas, bees, and roaches too.

If you hate the smell of citrus and mint, then this may be an effective solution for you. Lavender can also deter ants, so if you can get a lavender spray for your kitchen, go for it.

5. Pepper Powder

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This is a more alleged deterrent rather than a fully proven bed bug deterrent, but some people swear on cracked pepper or cayenne pepper oil as a way to keep bed bugs at bay. Due to the harsh scent this can have, we suggest avoiding this indoors.

Pepper oil can be harsh and even caustic for people and pets. So, if you use it, use it exclusively on the border of your house in the garden.

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6. Cinnamon Powder

Cinnamon Powder 1

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If you are looking for a way to guard your outside from the presence of bed bugs (such as a case of a next door neighbor having a really bad case of them), you may want to look into cinnamon. Cinnamon plants, cinnamon powder, cinnamon oil, and even cloves help.

The smell of cinnamon drives most pests away, from mice to roaches, to bed bugs. So, if you need to just keep them away from your property in general, you may want to just start sprinkling it alongside some spearmint oil.

7. Neem Oil

Neem Oil 1

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As you can probably tell, most of the ways to avoid bed bugs is to spray around heavily fragranced stuff. Neem oil fits that bill, and is actually a known bed bug killer. If you need to get a little more lethal power against bed bugs, this is a good choice to use.

With neem oil, we strongly encourage you to check with a vet prior to using it in your home. If you have pets, there is a risk for adverse reactions.

8. Tee Tree Oil

Tee Tree Oil 1

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Most skincare aficionados know that tea tree oil can help manage your skin’s health. This pungent and clean-smelling oil is great for skincare, but did you know that it can also kill bed bugs on direct contact? It’s true.

Needless to say, bed bugs are averse to the smell of tea tree oil. They don’t want to be around something that can kill them on contact. They also don’t want to run the risk of biting things that have this oil on them.

If you are currently dealing with a bed bug infestation, you can use this to your advantage. You can prevent or reduce the number of bed bug bites you get. In some cases, it can help prevent the spread of bed bugs from one room to another.

Like with other remedies on this list, you do should not use this around pets as it can make them sick.

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Remember to Clean Infested Areas

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Bed bugs have a natural tendency to congregate towards areas that already have signs of bed bug infestations. This is why one of the first things you need to do when you are aware of an infestation is clean and sanitize your mattress, couches, and rugs.

Any casings, eggs, and stains left by bed bugs can pose a risk to your health and your ability to keep bed bugs at bay. The more thoroughly you clean and vacuum up everything, the less likely it is that they will return.

If your mattress is heavily stained and heavily invested, we strongly suggest that you consider throwing it out. (Ideally, you’ll mark it as infested, too.) If you cannot afford a new mattress, then you should get a mattress encasing for bed bugs.

Mattress encasements also work by keeping eggs that hatch from being able to reach you. Eventually, those bed bugs that are trapped in your mattress will starve to death.

PRO TIP – Bed bugs cannot survive temperatures higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are looking for a highly effective way to kill bed bugs, heat treatments followed by a deep cleaning is the best way to make them go away.

How Effective Are Bed Bug Repellents?

With an exception for diatomaceous earth, most bed bug repellents do not show any major effects against bed bug infestation. They are, for the most part, just there to help curb additional damage or to dissuade them from coming back.

The best way to think of it is like SPF 10 sunscreen. Sure, it does offer some protection, but is it really that effective? Not really. On a hot summer day, you’ll need an exorbitant amount of sunscreen to stay safe. It’s the same with these options.

Certain alleged bed bug repellents, such as dryer sheets, don’t work at all. If you can, try to choose repellents that have some basis in fact—such as DE, tea tree oil, lemon oil, or lavender.

In Conclusion…

Bed bug repellents are best used as a supplement to the main methods of killing them. Due to the rise in bed bug immunity to pesticides, it’s best to try heat treatments, thorough cleanings, as well as heavy pesticide use from a professional firm.

Bed bugs are no laughing matter and they’re rising at a shocking rate. If you want to prevent your home from getting them, use these repellants. However, you should always keep an exterminator on call if you’ve found bugs around you in the recent past.

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