What Home Remedies Will Kill Bed Bugs?

Before diving into home remedies for bed bugs, it's important to point out that bed bugs are extremely difficult to get rid of. Despite best intentions and efforts, bed bug control is very complex, and not taking the thorough steps for control will likely result in an unresolved problem.

home remedies to kill bed bugs

If you have any DIY experience, it may sound enticing to try home remedies to get rid of bed bugs. But bed bug control is just not something that should be DIY-ed.

The truth is, while some home remedies to kill bed bugs may sound effective, it's very unlikely they'll eliminate the problem. And most home remedies only treat the bed bugs you see - not the bed bugs you don't see, which is the real problem. To eliminate bed bugs, you have to be able to get to where the bed bugs are hiding, and that's why you need professional help.

Before turning to home remedies to get rid of bed bugs, it's important to have all the facts. Let's start with some home remedies that don't work.

Home Remedies That Do NOT Work

There are many commonly-used home remedies out there for killing bed bugs. But some of these are simply unproven, and others can be dangerous. Let's break down these remedies and their issues.

Dryer Sheets

Many homeowners believe wiping down furniture and other infested items with dryer sheets will act as a repellent. However, there's simply no research data to support this as a proven method.


While efficient for killing or repelling insects interested in fabrics, mothballs are ineffective for combating bed bugs. In fact, after one week evaluating two popular mothball products, the moth balls killed less than 50% of the bed bugs, according to Rutgers University's New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. And the mothballs had no significant effect on bed bug eggs.

Mothballs can also be dangerous. They are toxic and come with label instructions that must be followed, and this is not their intended use.

Rubbing Alcohol

It sounds viable that rubbing alcohol could be a deterrent for bed bugs, but there's little proof that it works. According to the Rutgers University study mentioned above, available rubbing alcohol products usually contain 70% or 91% isopropyl alcohol. That same Rutgers University study showed that direct spray of either of these two products killed a maximum 50% of the bed bugs. However, rubbing alcohol only kills the bed bugs directly treated - not the many more hiding, which is the real problem.

Not only does it have low efficacy, but rubbing alcohol is also flammable. When improperly used, rubbing alcohol can be a fire hazard and should never be utilized to try killing bed bugs.

Ultrasonic Pest Repellers

Despite being readily available and in abundant supply from many distributors, these so-called "pest repellers" are completely unproven. They simply do not work on bed bugs. In fact, Northern Arizona State University examined four pest repellers on the market and not a single one affected bed bug behavior. In some cases, they may even create additional bed bug harborage.

Essential Oils

Essential oils have flooded the market recently, with people singing their praises for everything from stress relief to weight management. However, claiming that oils kill bed bugs is another matter. There are some essential oils for bed bug treatment out there in the market, but they require no efficacy testing and are not registered by the EPA. The Rutgers University study referenced above evaluated the efficacy of nine essential oils, and it didn't reveal any as having an impact on bed bug mortality. Similar to rubbing alcohol, essential oils have to be applied directly to the bed bugs, which don't address the bed bugs you don't see, which is the bigger problem.

Foggers, or "Bug Bombs"

Although widely used as a home remedy to kill bed bugs, research conducted by Ohio State University indicates that foggers are completely ineffective. So while some consumers consider foggers a low-cost alternative to professional bed bug control services, they're actually a waste of money. Also, it's important to follow the label instructions, or else these foggers can be misused and become dangerous.

Home Remedies for Bed Bugs That Can Help

Despite the ineffectiveness of the home remedies listed above, there are a few tips to help get rid of bed bugs, or at least reduce the population.

Crush and Flush

If you see bed bugs, simply grabbing them with a tissue, crushing them and flushing them is likely going to be more effective than the home remedies mentioned above.

Hot Laundry

Frequent laundering with hot water and drying on a high heat setting in your dryer (as directed by manufacturers' guidelines) has been shown to effectively kill bed bug eggs and eliminate bed bugs hiding in linens and clothing.


Vacuuming your base boards, carpet, mattress, bed frame and furniture such as sofas and chairs can also help remove live bed bugs that you see. However, it's very important to exercise caution when vacuuming bed bugs to help keep your vacuum from becoming infested. When finished, be sure to double-bag the vacuum bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash bin.


Also, you should remove clutter that's on or next to your bedroom furniture.

Hire the professionals

But again, all of these tips only help with the bed bugs you can see. And they aren't enough to completely eliminate a bed bug infestation.

The most effective way to kill bed bugs? Professional services. Before attempting to kill bed bugs yourself, remember how difficult they are to control. Even if just a few survive your DIY efforts, the infestation can quickly rebound. To save yourself time, money and stress, let us help eliminate bed bugs where they live and breed. Get started today with a FREE inspection.


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