6 things bed bugs hate, smells, & essential oils: Best repellents

Some insects are well known to bother us, especially at night when our sleep should be unbothered. Mosquitos are the most common ones, especially in humid areas where they thrive and find ideal living conditions. But lately, there has been another insect invading our home. 

Bed bugs are a big problem nationwide. You will find them both in residential and commercial buildings. If you check in at a hotel infested with bed bugs, chances are you will take some of them with you back home. And once they reach your precious bedroom, they will multiply and spread like crazy.

Before you know it, you are already dealing with a large-scale infestation, and you can’t explain where they came from. Many effective solutions will help you get rid of them. Still, research is important. You should learn more about your enemy before you eradicate it.

Continue reading this article if you are interested in this topic. We will talk about 6 things bed bugs hate, what smells and essential oils they despise, and which are the best repellents.

bed bugs on white cloth

How big are bed bugs?

Before making assumptions about the new insect you found in your sheets, it is important to guess their species accurately. There are a couple of things to look for, and you can easily tell whether you are dealing with bed bugs or something else.

Although they are very small in size, these insects are visible to the naked eye. Because they are brown in color, you can easily spot them, especially if you have white bed sheets. But these insects feed on the blood of humans and animals. If they are full, their color might change to red once they are filled with blood.

Their shape resembles an apple seed, and bed bugs can range between 0.15 to 0.27 inches. If you spot them, do not worry about these bugs taking off and roaming around your room. They have wing pads, but they are unable to fly. They move at speed similar to ants which can be slow or fast, depending on how you look at it. 

Places where bed bugs hide
BackpacksChairsLight fixtures
Box springBooksBrick walls (holes)
CurtainsHardwood floors (cracks)Moldings

What do bed bug eggs look like?

Bed bug eggs resemble tiny grains of rice, which are harder to spot on a white background. You will notice a cap on the front end of the egg, and this is where the bed bug will emerge after it grows. These eggs are only 0.04 inches long, which is less than the thickness of your credit card.

You can see these eggs with your naked eye, but you might be unable to distinguish certain features. Nowadays, our smartphones are equipped with performant cameras. You can use the macro mode to get a better view. If you decide to touch them for some reason, you will notice that their eggs are soft and smooth on their surface.

Depending on the pressure you apply, you can squash these eggs easily. But eggs that have already hatched will feel dry to the touch, but this is not a pleasant experience for most people. However, touching a bed bug egg is the most effective way of telling whether you are dealing with bed bugs or another species. 

Differences between bed bug & flea bitesFleasBed Bug
Size and colorBright red and smallerLess colorful and bigger
Time of the biteThey don’t discriminate as to when they’ll biteThey’re nocturnal, so biting happens at night.
LocationLower extremetiesUpper torso

What do bed bugs hate?

If you are dealing with a bed bug infestation, you can do a couple of things to get rid of them. These methods are relatively easy, and the ingredients can be found everywhere, maybe even in your own house.

person looking for bed bugs

1. Blood orange oil

While the name raises suspicions, this substance is simply an essential oil that is considered the most effective if you want to keep bed bugs away. All you have to do is spray some oil on the surface of your mattress or directly on the infested area. The scent released in the air eliminates any hiding bugs if you have a diffuser.

2. Powdered pepper

While the strong smell of pepper is disturbing to us, it can be fatal to bed bugs. Every household has this ingredient, as it is essential for most dishes. The active ingredients in pepper will drive them away, and you will no longer have to endure the inconveniences they create.

3. Lemon

Strong citrus smells are another good solution in driving beg bugs away, as it can be fatal for them. They can’t resist this strong smell, and they will quickly leave the infested place. Spray some lemon juice around the affected area, and it is guaranteed that bed bugs will no longer gather there.

4. Cinnamon

You can use raw cinnamon or products containing this ingredient to drive bed bugs away. Because it can stain your sheets, sprinkling cinnamon directly on the affected area is not recommended. Either way, bed bugs will not like this substance and seek to run away.

5. Tea tree oil

Another highly effective oil is this tea tree oil, a popular choice for those struggling with bed bug infestations. The strong smell will drive them away and cause severe damage as well. All you have to do is spray it where the bed bugs are often active. For humans, this oil is also used to treat bacteria and acne and has a pleasant smell.


  • We use this product, not even for its effects on critters.
  • It’s a great price for the product.
  • Higher quality than other products.


  • Some people can have rashes from essential oils.
Tea tree oil
77,827 Reviews
Tea tree oil
It smells so good.

6. Rubbing Alcohol

The smell of alcohol is very strong, and these insects seem to hate it. The good news is that this proves to be a highly effective solution if you want to get rid of them. The alcohol will dry out on their bodies which will eventually incapacitate them. The strong smell also prevents them from laying eggs, so the problem is eliminated once and forever. 

bed bugs

Essential oil to repel bed bugs

Essential oils are the most common choice for people that want to get rid of bed bugs. It is because these oils have multiple purposes, making them highly effective. The strong smell will drive insects away and sometimes even cause some damage to their bodies.

For humans, these oils smell wonderful, so they can also be used to enhance the atmosphere in any room. For example, lavender oil is well known for its strong smell and high efficiency in driving insects away. But most humans appreciate this smell, and as you spray it around your house, you can ensure a pleasant smell to your guests and a deadly one to your pests. 

Other similar oils include tea tree oil which can negatively affect the exoskeleton of bed bugs, so it is best if you spray this substance directly on them. 

Best bed bug repellents

While some home remedies will help you get rid of bed bugs, some products will help you solve your problem quicker and better. See below, where we show you 2 must-have products if you are dealing with an infestation.

adult bed bug

BONTIGA Ultrasonic Pest Repeller (6 Packs) Indoor Plug-in Gadget

This ultrasonic pest repeller will get rid of the bed bugs that are present in your home. Still, this device is also effective against spiders and flies. If you live in a humid area, you will find this product can also keep mosquitoes away. 

All you have to do is plug it into a power socket, and it will start working immediately. It can cover an area of 1,200 square feet, but the manufacturer recommends installing one in each room. However, always use this device at room temperature and keep it away from heat sources. 


  • Easy to install
  • An immediate effect on bugs.
  • Tested in the bug-filled South East!


  • Need to be plugged in.
BONTIGA Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
212 Reviews
BONTIGA Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
It's a great first way to start.

HARRIS Traps – Parent (20-Pack)

Another useful product is this pack of traps which eliminates all kinds of insects, including bed bugs. Keep in mind that this product is not a permanent solution but a prevention method. Once you notice bed bugs in your trap, it is a sign that there are many more in that environment. You should use one of the many things bed bugs hate.

To use the traps, all you have to do is to peel off the protective paper and fold the trap together. Place these traps near your bed or in places where this insect is known to gather in large numbers. 


  • Used by professionals
  • They’ll catch other bugs, also.
  • Very effective.
  • Easy to use


  • Hard to deal with if they accidentally stick to something they shouldn’t,
2,670 Reviews
These traps can help you out!

What can I put on my body to prevent bed bug bites?

These annoying insects always feed on us when we sleep, so we must take preventive measures before we go to sleep. They hide in your bed frame and under the mattress, but they will come out at night and bother your sleep. 

To prevent their bites, apply a repellent on your body before you head to bed. The strong smell will keep them away from your skin, and they will have to look elsewhere for feeding. Natural remedies are often more than enough to get rid of this problem. 

bed bug bites

Natural bed bug killers

Diatomaceous Earth is a great option if you are looking for a solution that doesn’t contain chemicals. It is a natural powder that can dehydrate bugs and absorb their fat and oil. It is fatal to them, and the effects are guaranteed to drive them away. 

All you have to do is spray this solution on the infected area. While it has high efficiency, you might have to wait up to 10 days to notice a significant result. Either way, this is a good choice if you want to get rid of bed bugs forever. 

What kills bed bugs and their eggs?

bed bug hanging on to paper

Unhatched eggs are highly sensitive to extreme temperatures, and they will not be able to withstand heat or severe cold. If you notice eggs, the most effective way of destroying them is by using the elements of nature against them. If you live in a hot area, place the sheets and items with the eggs in a black bag.

Put this bag outside in the sun, and the temperature generated inside will be high enough to kill them. Additionally, you can place the same items in the freezer. Both of these methods will ensure a 100% mortality to the insects. However, it is recommended to wash these items after you bring them back to room temperature. 

Most effective bed bug treatment

The most effective bed bug treatment is the one where you spray the infested area with essential oils. This solution has multiple benefits since you can also get your room to smell nice while eliminating these insects at the same time. From tea tree oil to lavender oil, there are various aromas you can choose from.

Pick the one you like most, as this is how your room will smell like. The bed bugs will notice the strong and intense odor and try to run away as quickly as possible. You can also spray this solution on your skin before you go to bed to prevent bites at night. 

bed bug in petri dish

Have you made sure to check these places for critters?

  • Shoes
  • Moldings
  • Beds
  • Sofas
  • Luggage
  • Drawers
  • Chairs
  • Curtains


Does lavender kill or repel bed bugs?

Lavender oil is a well-known solution against bed bugs. This oil destroys these insects and their eggs, which is why it is also one of the most effective. You won’t have to worry about these bugs relocating to a different area in your room after you spray them with lavender oil. 

What color do bed bugs hate?

If you want to prevent an infestation in the future, the green and yellow colors should be present throughout your room. These insects hate green and yellow because they resemble areas of intense lighting and prefer darker ones with less light. 

Why do bed bugs smell when you kill them?

Because they don’t have mouths and ears as we do, bed bugs use pheromones to communicate between them. It is also how they alert other bugs about an imminent danger. Upon their death, these insects release all of their pheromones at once. It creates an unpleasant smell. 

Does Vicks VapoRub stop bed bug bites?

The itchy feeling can sometimes be too irritating if you are dealing with bed bug bites. You can apply Vicks on your skin to prevent these bugs because the strong scent will keep them away. But this is a temporary solution, and it won’t be able to stop your itchy feeling. Check with a dermatologist and seek professional help if this insect has bitten you. 

Can bed bugs kill you?

They are not considered to be fatal to humans. Even in large numbers, bed bugs don’t have the ability to kill an animal yet a full-sized human. Their bites will only cause discomfort to us, but some people might develop an allergic reaction to this event. They require medical attention. So far, there are no reported cases of death by bed bugs. You should not worry about it for now.