12 Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most insidious infestations a home can have. They’re irritating, leave large swathes of itchy red bites and are almost impossible to get rid of. Unfortunately, there seems to be an epidemic of them in urban areas these days. Professional exterminators can be really expensive, and potentially ruinous to furniture.

Before you consider professional exterminators, why not give these home remedies for bed bugs a try? They’re much cheaper, involve no harsh chemicals or intense heat and you won’t have to throw out all your furniture.

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is one of the most popular home remedies for bed bugs. According to government health reports, diatomaceous earth is effective at killing more than 90% of bed bugs. This is because it removes the waxy outer layer of their exoskeletons, causing the bugs to dry out. While very effective, this treatment may take up to two weeks to fully work. If you have pets, it’s best to keep them away from diatomaceous earth, as it can be toxic to dogs and cats.

Necessary Items

– Diatomaceous Earth

Sprinkle a fine layer of diatomaceous earth around baseboards and on affected furniture. Do not get it wet, or it won’t work. Apply every three days. Vacuum after one week and apply again.

2. Tea Tree Oil

While tea tree oil will not kill bed bugs, they hate the very strong smell. Spraying diluted tea tree oil around furniture is a great short-term remedy to keep the bed bugs from biting while more lasting remedies take effect. Undiluted tea tree oil will kill bedbugs, but it is also harmful to humans and animals in great quantity. Therefore, it’s essential to be careful when using this home remedy, and keep the tea tree oil away from pets and children.

Necessary Items

– 20 Drops Tea Tree Oil – 3 Cups Water

– Spray Bottle

Add the water and tea tree oil together in the spray bottle. Shake well to mix. Spray mixture on soft furnishings, including bed sheets, mattresses, couch cushions, chairs, etc. Repeat daily.

3. Heat

One of the few things that kills bed bugs quickly is extreme heat. Research has shown that bed bugs start to die off when exposed to temperatures of 113 F, while the eggs die at 118 F. While it might be difficult to heat the whole house to those temperatures, it is possible to harness this power in different ways. For bed linens and clothing, a very hot setting on a washing machine or dryer is sufficient. For furniture, floors and baseboards, steam treatment is effective.

Necessary Items

– Washer/Dryer with High Heat Settings – Carpet/Clothing Steamer

– Plastic Storage Bags

If you’re already in the throes of an infestation, quarantine all washable items in plastic bags, then wash and dry them on the hottest heat settings. Use a carpet or clothing steamer at the highest setting to heat-treat all furniture, floors, baseboards and cracks in walls. Repeat once a week.

4. Lavender

In addition to being one of the most pleasant home remedies for bed bugs, using lavender oil or powder will help you get a good night’s rest. It makes bed bugs nauseous and keeps them from biting you, while at the same time providing a relaxing, stress-free environment for you. While lavender oil is generally the most popular method, using dried lavender or powdered lavender is also effective, though they may not be as easy to procure.

Necessary Items

– Dried or Powdered Lavender – 15 Drops Lavender Essential Oil – 2 Cups Water

– Spray Bottle

Sprinkle dried or powdered lavender around bed, under sheets and inside pillowcases. Mix lavender essential oil with water in spray bottle. Shake well, and then spray clothing, linens, pillows, floors, baseboards and furniture.

5. Seal Cracks

Bed bugs are very small, and can squeeze themselves through tiny openings. By sealing up any cracks in walls, floors and around doors and windows, you limit the points of entry for these pesky intruders. While many choose to hire a professional to do this job, there are many safe and easy to use sealants on the market. As a home remedy for bed bugs, this one is best at the beginning of an infestation, or as a preventative measure.

Necessary Items

– Rubber Caulking

Follow the instructions on the caulk packaging. Use it to seal up any cracks or holes in walls, around baseboards or near doors and windows.

6. Calamus

Calamus, also known as Sweet Flag, is an herb with inherent antimicrobial properties, as studies have shown. It’s a great remedy for killing bed bug eggs, and is safe to use in the home. While you can buy dried calamus, it’s more popularly used in home remedies for bed bugs in its powdered form. This makes it much easier to dissolve in water, and therefore more easily applied to your home surfaces.

Necessary Items

– ¼ Cup Powdered Calamus – 1 cup water

– Spray Bottle

Mix powdered calamus and water in spray bottle and shake well to mix. Spray on mattress, pillows, around baseboards and floors and over furniture. Repeat every other day.

7. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is one of the home remedies for bed bugs that works in two ways. It both kills the bugs, and acts as a deterrent. Because of its drying properties, spraying a rubbing alcohol solution directly on bugs causes them to dry out. It will also kill stubborn bed bug eggs. These pests hate the strong smell of rubbing alcohol, so applying it to furniture directly should help keep them away from your body.

Because it’s flammable, do not use this remedy near open flames, and keep away from children.

Necessary Items

– 1 Cup Rubbing Alcohol – 1 Cup Water

– Spray Bottle

Mix rubbing alcohol and water in spray bottle and shake rigorously. Spray on all surfaces in your home, including soft furnishings and around baseboards. Repeat daily.

8. Baby Powder

One safe and effective home remedy for bed bugs is baby powder, or talcum powder. It’s very fine, and coats bed bugs easily. It also gets stuck in the cracks in their exoskeletons. This means that the bed bugs are unable to breathe, and they suffocate. If you do use this remedy, be careful applying it around pets. Baby powder can be harmful to dogs or cats if ingested. However, cleanup is easy with a vacuum.

Necessary Items

– Baby Powder

Sprinkle baby powder liberally over mattresses, inside pillowcases and around baseboards. Leave one week, then vacuum and apply again.

9. Black Walnut Tea

As far as home remedies for bed bugs go, black walnut tea is very effective. In addition to having antifungal and astringent properties, it’s shown to be toxic to bed bugs. Unlike other herbal remedies, it’s completely safe for humans in all concentrations. However, if you have pets, it’s best to keep it away from them.

Necessary Items

– 2 Tbsp. Black Walnut Tea – 2 Cups Water

– Spray Bottle

Boil 2 cups water with tea for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and steep 15 minutes. Fill spray bottle with tea and spray on all affected areas, including furniture, floors, baseboards and clothing. Repeat application every two days.

10. Lemongrass

While many different essential oils are suggested for home remedies for bed bugs, lemongrass is one of the most potent. In addition to killing the adult bugs, it’s one of the few remedies that also kills their eggs. According to one study, it is just as effective as commercial pesticides, without the harmful chemicals. If you have pets, take care not to apply lemongrass around their feeding or sleeping areas. While not fatal, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats.

Necessary Items

– 2 Cups Water – 20 Drops Lemongrass Essential Oil

– Spray Bottle

Mix water and lemongrass oil in spray bottle. Shake well to mix, and then spray all surfaces, furniture, floors and clothing. Repeat every other day.

11. Clove

Clove has both an intense smell and a highly acidic nature. Like most other strong smells, bed bugs can’t stand to be around it. In this way, it acts as a deterrent. However, bed bugs also hate acidic environments, as they cannot breed or thrive in them. Using clove oil or whole cloves will help keep bed bugs away from your home, and stop them from breeding. It’s also safe to use and has a pleasant, if strong smell.

Necessary Items

– Whole Cloves – 20 Drops Clove Oil – 2 Cups Water

– Spray Bottle

Mix clove oil and water in spray bottle and then shake vigorously. Spray on linens, around floors and baseboards and on furniture. Sprinkle whole cloves under mattresses, couch cushions and rugs.

12. Double Sided Tape

This is one of the most ingenious and simplest home remedies for bed bugs. While it won’t kill or deter the little pests, it will trap them and keep them from biting you. It’s also a great way to get confirmation if you suspect you may have an infestation. This is usually seen as a first step remedy, but can also be used in conjunction with others for extra security.

Necessary Items

– Double Sided Tape

Bed bugs tend to crawl up furniture legs. Trap them by wrapping several lines of double sided tape around bed, couch and chair legs. Check tape daily. If you see a bed bug, replace the tape.

Bed bugs are awful, and can be surprisingly difficult to get rid of. However, if you suffer from an infestation, or suspect you might, these home remedies might just do the trick. The best part is, they’re far more cost effective and safer to use than commercial chemicals.

Do you have any favorite home remedies for bed bugs that have worked for you? We’d love to hear about them! Tell us all about your experiences in the comments below.

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