Natural Bed Bug Repellent Considerations

Problems from bed bugs and concerns over human-insecticide exposure has created an interest in developing a natural product alternative to synthetic chemical bed bug control materials. While some of these natural materials are attractive to both manufacturers and consumers, often they don’t qualify as effective bed bug repellents or control options since testing for bed bug repellency, effectiveness and safety is not as extensive as required for approval of EPA-registered bed bug products. When using natural bed bug repellents, always read and follow the product’s use directions.

DO ESSENTIAL OILS REPEL BED BUGS?

Many essential oil products have received a good deal of interest and testing for effectiveness on bed bugs. While some essential oils show some toxicity against bed bugs, the effectiveness of essential oil products vary a great deal and require the product to be sprayed directly on bed bugs. Anyone who has experienced bed bug problems knows how difficult direct spraying is since bed bugs are cryptic and prefer to hide in tiny cracks and crevices.

CAN RUBBING ALCOHOL REPEL BED BUGS?

A popular, non-registered bed bug repellent for skin application is rubbing alcohol. Alcohol can kill bed bugs when applied directly on the insect; however, alcohol dries very quickly on human skin and probably won’t be effective enough for a full night’s sleep without being bitten by bed bugs. Using alcohol alone won’t stop bed bugs from reproducing so don’t expect alcohol alone to resolve a bed bug problem.

USING DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (DE) AGAINST BED BUGS

DE is a powder made from silica that damages the bed bug’s protective “skin” and eventually causes the bed bug to dehydrate. DE is registered as a crack and crevice treatment, so application must be done carefully and any DE that is in open spaces and not in a crack or crevice must be removed. Do not apply DE to a bed, furniture, or clothing if this use isn’t permitted by the label. Do not overapply DE thinking that if a little works, a lot will do a better job. If you over-apply or spill DE, then you will need to know how to clean up and dispose of the product. Avoid DE used as a purification agent for swimming pools, which can harm people or pets if inhaled.

ALTERNATIVE BUG REPELLENTS

Insect repellents are intended only for use against the specific pests listed on the product label. Currently there are no insect repellents registered for use against bed bugs that can be applied to human skin. So, using a repellent against bed bugs when that usage is not permitted on the label is a violation of the law and may not effectively repel bed bugs.

DO DRYER SHEETS REPEL BUGS?

There is no scientific evidence to determine the effectiveness of dryer sheets alone in repelling bed bugs.

WILL PETROLEUM JELLY KEEP BED BUGS AWAY?

Petroleum jelly spread on the headboard, bed frame or bed legs will cause bed bugs to get stuck and prevents them from moving through treated areas. However, using petroleum jelly is messy and not easily placed in most areas that shelter bed bugs.

LAUNDERING ITEMS TO KILL BED BUGS

While not a repellent in the typical sense of the word, a good way to combat bed bugs is to launder appropriate infected items with hot water and dry them using the dryer’s hot setting. Check the product’s label before washing and drying and make sure to follow laundering and drying instructions.

Often homeowners who travel will accidentally bring bed bugs back home with them. Make sure to launder and dry all clothing transported in suitcases and inspect and place suitcases outside the living area of the home when returning home to prevent bringing bugs home too.

From handling a bed bug infestation or tips on what to do when returning home from traveling, schedule a call with an Orkin specialist who will inspect your home and provide information related to elimination of bed bugs.