- Many of us wonder how to keep bed bugs away. These insects can turn our nightlife into a nightmare, inhabiting mattress, sheets, and bed crevices—leaving bites all over our skin. They are almost invisible to the eye during the day. Bed bugs can hide in clothes and furniture, only to come out when we sleep, making bed bug infestation hard to defeat. Luckily, people developed more than one solution to repel bed bugs from our bedding.
- If you search for an efficient bed bug repellent, you’ll come across these safe to use natural solutions: oil lavender, diatomaceous earth, or eucalyptus oil. There are also strong, and toxic pesticides used to repel bed bugs. Another method for killing bed bugs pests is the heat.
- If we want to repel bed bugs does lavender essential oil actually help? One of the homemade methods is spraying oil for bed bugs with a few drops of lavender oils. So let’s explore and discuss how to use lavender oil and other available ways to kill bed bug infestation.
Bed bug infestation
These bedding related bugs have been functioning among human societies already in Egyptian tombs.
Our ancestors mentioned these insects in the texts dating back to the time of Aristotle.
Yet, we still struggle to get rid of bed bugs from our houses efficiently.
Earlier, we nearly eradicated these insects in the United States thanks to the widespread use of pesticides such as DDT.
The current bed bug outbreak in the United States began in the 1990s when hotels stopped using these invasive and toxic means so often.
In the meantime, these bedding pests also became resistant to many pesticides.
This article researches the most effective professional ways in the pest control department—to kill bed bugs and help keep our sheets and mattress free of bed bug infestation.
We will also find out if lavender oil can help overcome the bed bugs pest.
How to repel bed bugs?
Once introduced to your house, it often takes several months to realize that the itchy welts and bites on your skin come from bed bugs.
These insects hide during the day. Also, the bite itself is painless.
A small, invisible introduction quickly becomes a severe infestation in your room and bedding that is hard to repel.
The main reasons these insects are so hard to eliminate are:
- resistance to chemical treatments,
- their cryptic lifestyle (they are hiding during the day in the tiniest crevices of the furniture), and
- their rapid rate of reproduction;
These characteristics combined create a situation where bed bugs are hard to repel.
Typically, from the time you realize you have these insects to a worry-free sleep, it can take up to 4-6 weeks.
To get rid of bed bugs and sleep peacefully, we can:
- use scientific advancements (like an insect repellent provided by a licensed exterminator or other related solution), and
- deepen a biological understanding of these insects (find out what are the bed bugs lifestyles and how natural oils could help keep them away);
Out of many treatment methods utilized to kill bed bugs, pick your favorite—weighing the benefits and negatives—and try it out.
Bed bugs may be hard to get rid of, but it’s not impossible with a currently available solution choice.
Mind that reaching for the can of roach spray you keep under the kitchen sink is not enough. With bed bugs, we need to be a little more persistent than that.
Important: Consider that even professional pest control companies believe at least two treatments are necessary to eliminate bed bugs.
Bed bugs have a secretive lifestyle—being active at night and congregating together in small cracks and crevices of furniture during the day.
Also, their flat bodies enable them to fit into a crevice no wider than a toothpick.
They like to stay around the meal source (meaning your bed or sofa). These insects often gather in:
- the tufts and folds of a mattress,
- box springs,
- bed frames,
- joints in your bedside table.
- side tables, and
- behind wall plates and baseboards;
They don’t have any central “nests” like ants or termites—free wandering is natural for them.
Getting rid of bed bugs is a process that takes some time depending on:
- the elimination method you choose—for example, a natural solution like essential oils can take longer,
- the severity of the infestation, and
- the thoroughness of the treatment;
Important: Bed bugs multiply quickly. The number of eggs a female bed bug will lay in her life depends upon her access to blood meals. An average bed bug lives one year and eats (our blood) every 3-7 days. Therefore, one female can lay about 113 eggs in her lifetime.
Under optimal conditions—i.e., a present host and comfortable air-conditioned temperature—bed bug populations can double every 16 days.
Here’s a table of contents with three groups of methods to repel these awful insects:
Traditional Insecticide Treatment
After a pest control company conducts the first bed bug repellent treatment in your house, they will plan a follow-up for about 2 weeks later.
Pyrethroids (pesticides) are chemicals commonly used in pest management applications.
1. have low toxicity to mammals (people and pets) and birds,
2. act fast, and
3. require low doses of active ingredients to kill insects;
Unfortunately, many bed bugs have developed resistance to this class of chemicals.
The lab-reared bed bugs have a 100% death rate when they contact a pyrethroid insecticide, while the field-collected bed bugs showed near immunity from the pyrethroid pesticides.
Many insecticide treatments, primarily designed to eliminate bed bugs, don’t kill the bed bug eggs.
It’s currently the quickest way to kill bedbugs—these insects and their eggs die immediately at 122°F (50°C). To be precise:
- bed bugs cannot survive at temperatures above 119 °F, while
- the eggs die at temperatures above 125°F;
Steam is a very effective method that you can buy at Walmart for a homemade killing process.
Steam is excellent for killing bed bugs in all stages of development, especially when bed bugs are on the surface of clothes, sheets, or furniture.
Tip: Maintain the steamer working on this temperature for at least 20 minutes, preferably 3 hours.
A pest control company with a licensed exterminator is the best solution to conduct the process.
Licensed professionals with specialized equipment will steam heat your room to between 135°F (57.2°C) and 145°F (62.7 °C).
They will heat the air enough to kill bed bugs but not hot enough to cause damage.
This treatment takes 6-8 hours and gets done in one sitting.
There are a handful of homemade methods to treat bedbugs by ourselves.
Consider that it will inevitably take longer to eliminate pests without professional help.
If you decide to proceed on your own, there are some handy instructions and video guides online.
Important: Remember that if you miss just one spot during your bed bug treatment, you may have to start the battle over from the beginning.
One homemade method that has to do with natural oils is the essential oil of English lavender.
We’ll get to know this solution in the following paragraph.
Does lavender repel bed bugs?
We believe lavender has special powers in dealing with bed bugs.
But does it really?
Some homeowners came up with the idea of trying using lavender oil to repel bed bugs.
People love the lavender smell—it’s a pleasant scent for us. We use it for aromatherapy sessions to bring a soothing atmosphere. Lavender and other essential oils have different medicinal and household uses.
For bed bugs, lavender is like various other scents and chemicals that we commonly use to eliminate these insects.
One compound of lavender that bed bugs find nasty is linalool. Over 200 species of plants and fruits naturally produce linalool. Other scents of a kind are mint, cinnamon, basil, and citrus.
Humans utilize it in many pesticides.
Lavender has a toxic effect if ingested or applied in sufficient quantities on bed bugs.
This toxic effect in other essential oils can kill bed bugs on direct contact and help repel them.
Sprinkle lavender oil or spray lavender scents in areas where pests are hiding.
These natural bed bug repellants don’t outright kill pests, but they will drive them to flee their nest, making them exposed to any bed bug traps or other insecticides you have applied there.
Lavender oil isn’t the only oil that people use to repel bed bugs.
The best to use is tea tree oil. It’s highly toxic if ingested and can even cause death.
It’s found in many cleaning products because it kills bacteria and fungus (a disinfectant).
Tea tree oil kills our bedding insects on contact, just like lavender oil.
Tea tree oil smells almost a little like strong pine.
Here are other botanical names that you could also use:
- Geranium oil
- Wintergreen oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Cedar leaf oil
Each of these oils is toxic and should never be ingested—at the same time being great to work against bed bugs.
Make your homemade lavender bed bug repellent.
You need to get the oil to mix with the water.
It’s hard since oil is hydrophobic (which means ‘afraid of water’). You can shake oils and water together, but they will always eventually separate.
To turn the oil ‘hydrophilic’ (i.e., ‘water-loving.’), you need to reach for dispersants—even the essential house dish soap.
Mix just a drop of dish soap with lavender oil in your water—this could be enough. Ammonia and bleach are also commonly available dispersants.
If you use dish soap, go for a ratio of 20 parts water to 1 part essential oil for a roughly 5% mixture. It’s enough to kill a bed bug. Then, just add a few drops of dish soap and mix.
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and start spraying your dangerous scent weapon!
Consider that using lavender oil is not an ideal method.
You have to commit yourself to spray oil around your mattress and home every week for the rest of your life.
Lavender oil only kills on contact—and bed bugs are masters at avoiding confrontation.
Your way to win this battle is a mix of consistent application of lavender oil and using other procedures designed for pests killing—to keep an infestation under control.
Consider combining lavender with these options:
- regularly spread diatomaceous earth across the floor,
- fit a mattress encasement—they’re mattress protectors designed explicitly so that bed bugs can’t get in or out,
- regular vacuum cleaning and tidying is never a bad idea—to prevent the spread of infestation, vacuum the mattress and box spring;