After WWII, bed bugs seemed to all but disappear in the United States thanks to the introduction of modern insecticides. They’ve made a resurgence, though, coming back in force with infestations now found across the United States. Reasons for the rapid spread are still unclear, but increased travel is one solution that has been explored by experts. With such risk on the rise, it’s natural to search for an effective bed bug repellent just as you would to combat other pests such as mosquitoes, ants and roaches. But bed bugs aren’t your average bug. Their need to feed and breed is fierce, and their close contact within your home can be alarming.
We already know inspection and early identification are key for putting a stop to these pesky parasites; now let’s talk about prevention using some popular bed bug repellents. Whether you’re interested in natural bed bug repellent, store-bought products or a bed bug repellent that’s homemade, it’s important to understand what works and what doesn’t and risks involved with each method.
1. Essential Oils
Most skin-applied pest repellents must be registered by the EPA before they can be marketed, but that hasn’t stopped people from concocting their own remedies. Essential oils have gotten a lot of press for pest prevention in the last few years and have been especially touted as effective treatment around pets and kids. Even though consumers may deem essential oils safer to use as a pest repellent for skin than other options, it doesn’t make it true, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re more efficient.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
In terms of the most widely talked about bed bug repellents, homemade options often include diatomaceous earth. Because of its abrasive properties, it works by absorbing water-protecting fats and oils from the outer layer of a bed bug’s exoskeleton. The hope is that once sprinkled on a mattress or applied to cracks and crevices, bed bugs will come in contact with the powder and ultimately dry out and die from dehydration. It can be easily evaded, though, and bed bugs are notorious for spotting and avoiding such traps.
3. Peppermint Leaves and Oil
When people search for information about how to get rid of bed bugs naturally, peppermint likely comes up as one of the options. Supposedly, its scent keeps bed bugs away, and people are thus encouraged to utilize it throughout their homes. One specific method indicates that the leaves should be crushed and spread throughout infested areas to distribute the oil, and the process should be repeated until all signs of bed begs are eliminated. Not only does it seem to be a time-consuming process but also a messy one likely to yield minimal results.
4. Black Walnut Tea
It is said that black walnut tea offers bed bug repellent properties. Consumers are told that placing used tea bags throughout their homes and attempting to cover bedding and any open cracks can help eliminate both bed bug eggs and adults. However, there is no data to support this claim and you’re more likely to waste time than get rid of parasites.
5. Petroleum Jelly
There are purportedly many ways to use petroleum jelly as a bed bug repellent. A popular method is to smear it across a bed frame and headboard and down the bed legs. The thought is that pests will get stuck when crawling up the bed in search of a host, but what if bed bugs are already hiding in the mattress? Not many things will stand between beg bugs and a blood meal, and petroleum jelly isn’t one of them.
6. Rubbing Alcohol
There’s little evidence that rubbing alcohol is an effective bed bug repellent, but there is plenty of proof that it’s flammable. When misused independently or mixed with other ingredients to increase efficacy, it can quickly become a fire hazard and put your home and family in danger.
7. Baby Powder
Unlike diatomaceous earth, baby powder has minimal impact on bed bugs. Its properties are simply not strong enough to pierce the outer layer of these pests, and it’s subsequently unlikely to have the same dehydrating results. While it might do a great job masking their musty scent, baby powder is not an effective homemade bed bug repellent.
8. Dryer Sheets
Some consumers rub furniture down with dryer sheets or place them around their home in hopes they act as a bed bug repellent. Unfortunately, there’s simply no evidence to indicate that these products aid in prevention or deterrence.
Laundering linens in the hottest water as instructed by the manufacturer to maintain good hygiene is a harmless step one can take toward reducing current infestation. Good, old-fashioned soap on skin or around your home doesn’t go a long way in repelling bed bugs.
It’s never recommended to use homemade bed bug repellents when trying to control a pest issue in your home. Though some options may help reduce the spread of parasites, the most effective long-term bed bug treatment is professional pest control. Contact Terminix® today for a FREE inspection.