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 tricky to get rid of. Unfortunately, professional exterminators can be really expensive and use strong artificial compounds which can damage our health. Before considering them, give these home remedies for bed bugs a try. They’re much cheaper, involve no harsh chemicals, and you won’t have to throw out all your furniture.
1. Double-Sided Tape
Using double-sided tape for bed bugs 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.
- Double sided tape.
Bed bugs tend to crawl up furniture legs, hence you can catch them by wrapping several lines of double-sided tape around the bed, couch, and chair legs and check for bed bugs daily. Replace the tape once every two days at most.
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2. Tea Tree Oil
While this tea tree oil remedy will not kill bed bugs, it will repel them as 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 bed bug 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 tea tree oil solution for bed bugs, and keep the tea tree oil away from pets and children.
- Tea tree oil.
- Spray bottle.
Mix one cup of water and about 20 drops of tea tree oil together in the spray bottle, shake well, and spray this tea tree oil solution on soft furnishings including bed sheets, mattresses, couch cushions, and chairs daily.
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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. While lavender oil will not kill bed bugs, it will repel them as 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.
- Dried lavender or lavender essential oil.
- Spray bottle.
Sprinkle dried or powdered lavender around the bed, under the sheets, and inside pillowcases for a natural bed bug repellent.
Alternatively, mix 15 drops of lavender essential oil with one cup of water, pour the solution in a spray bottle, and shake well. Spray this solution on clothing, linens, pillows, floors, baseboards, and furniture at least once every two days.
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One of the few things that kill 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 use this in different ways. For bed linens and clothing, a very hot setting on a washing machine or dryer is enough. For furniture, floors, and baseboards, steam treatment is effective.
- Washer or dryer with high heat settings.
- Carpet or 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 highest heat settings for a surefire bed bug killer. Use a carpet or clothing steamer at the highest setting to heat-treat all furniture, floors, baseboards, and cracks in walls. Repeat at least once a week, before or after spraying the area with our aforementioned tea tree or lavender solutions or any other home remedies for bed bugs on this list.
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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 number of access points 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.
- 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.
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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 at home. While you can buy dried calamus, it’s more popularly used in home remedies for bed bugs in its powdered form because it’s much easier to dissolve in water and apply on all surfaces.
- Powdered calamus.
- Spray bottle.
Mix ¼ cup of powdered calamus and one cup of water in spray bottle and shake well. Spray on mattress, pillows, around baseboards and floors, and over furniture. Repeat every other day.
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7. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is one of the home remedies for bed bugs that works in two ways. It both repels the bugs when vaporized AND kills them and their eggs on contact. Because of its drying properties, spraying a rubbing alcohol solution directly on bugs causes them to dry out and 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.
- Rubbing alcohol.
- Spray bottle.
Mix one cup of rubbing alcohol and water each in the spray bottle and shake rigorously to make a potent alcohol solution to kill bed bugs. Spray this on all surfaces in your home, including soft furnishings and around baseboards. Repeat daily.
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- Rubbing alcohol can be used in small amounts on affected areas one to three times daily
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Pro tip: You can also combine tea tree oil, lavender oil, and alcohol for an effective bed bug repellent and killer.
8. Black Walnut Tea
As far as home remedies for bed bugs go, black walnut tea is very effective. Due to its 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.
- Black walnut tea.
- Spray bottle.
Boil 2 cups water with 3-4 tablespoons of tea for 5 minutes, then turn off heat and steep for another 15 minutes. Fill the spray bottle with tea and spray on all affected areas every two days.
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9. Baby Powder
One safe and effective home remedy for bed bugs is baby powder or talcum powder because it coats bed bugs easily thanks to its fine grit. When the fine baby powder and bed bugs interact, the powder gets stuck in the cracks in their exoskeletons, the bed bugs are unable to breathe, and they suffocate.
- Baby powder.
Sprinkle baby powder liberally over mattresses, inside pillow cases, and around baseboards. Leave it for one week, then vacuum and apply again. Be extra careful when applying it around pets as baby powder can be harmful to dogs or cats if ingested.
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While many different essential oils work as 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 kill their eggs. According to one study, it is just as effective as commercial pesticides, just without the harmful chemicals.
Warning: If you have pets, be careful not to apply lemongrass around their feeding or sleeping areas. While not fatal, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats.
- Lemongrass essential oil.
- Spray bottle.
Mix 2 cups of water and 20 drops of lemongrass oil in a spray bottle, shake well to mix, and then spray all surfaces, furniture, floors, and clothing. Repeat this treatment every other day.
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Cloves have both an intense smell and a highly acidic nature which repel bed bugs. They cannot breed or thrive in acidic environments and do not tolerate the strong smell. Using clove oil or whole cloves will help keep bed bugs away from your home, and stop them from breeding, eventually getting you rid of them completely.
- Whole cloves, powdered cloves, or clove oil.
- Spray bottle.
Mix 20 drops of clove oil and 2 cups of water in spray bottle and then shake vigorously. Alternatively, boil a handful of cloves or two spoons of clove powder in 2 cups of water. Spray the bed bug clove oil solution on linens, around floors and baseboards and on furniture. You can also sprinkle whole or ground cloves under mattresses, couch cushions, and rugs.
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Note: Cloves are also effective in getting you rid of cockroaches. If you are battling an infestation at the moment, see the best home remedies for roaches.
12. Diatomaceous Earth
According to government health reports, diatomaceous earth is effective at killing more than 90% of bed bugs 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 in large amounts.
Sprinkle a fine layer of diatomaceous earth around baseboards and on the affected furniture; do not get it wet, or it won’t work. Reapply every three days, vacuum after one week, then repeat the process.
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13. Baking Soda
Just like the previous home remedy for bed bugs, baking soda works by drying out the shells of adult bed bugs and their eggs. In addition, baking soda can also be used to clean spots left by their nests and activity.
- Baking soda
Sprinkle baking soda powder on areas that seem infested with bed bugs, leave it overnight or for 1-2 days, then use a vacuum cleaner to get it and the bed bugs which should be dead by now out of crevices and hard to reach spots.
- A natural and gentle cleaner
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If you think you might have bed bugs or already seen proof of them around your house, these home remedies might just do the trick. 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.