Home Bed Bugs Bed Bug Repellents -Natural Homemade, Creams, Electronic & Reviews

Bed Bug Repellents -Natural Homemade, Creams, Electronic & Reviews

Use of repellents is just one of the many available ways to do away with bed bugs. One factor to keep in mind is that this method won’t act as instant killer but it is only a means to deter the bugs from approaching or settling in your home. Read on to find out how these repulsive products work plus reviews of best natural and homemade repellents

What are Bed Bug Repellents & How do they work?

What they are?

Repellents are just but one of the indications of pesticides. They discourage and prevent infestations or harmful effects of bed bugs among other critters such as mosquitoes, ticks, lice, etc. Did you know that ‘pesticides’ is a term that is used to refer to not only something that is indicated to kill insects but is a broader term than you might know?
bed bug repellents natural homemade reviews
Repellents are one of the two types of pesticides which do not kill the insects but simply prevents them from approaching its host. Therefore, it is not wise and expected that you use repellents to kill the offending insect. In other words, insects dump you for the better repellent as they are more attractive or scare the critter away from you. All this can be confirmed by this statement in the pesticide law as registered by EPA: that pesticides are substances that have been intended for preventing, repelling, destroying or the mitigation of any pest. There are various formulations in which repellents come in including:
  1. Spatial repellents such as some heating mechanisms used in candles, coils, torches and lanterns.
  2. Clip-on repellents from which the repellent chemical is dispersed near your body to prevent approach.
  3. Creams and ointments applied topically on the skin
  4. Electronic devices such as ultrasonic repellents
  5. Sprays
Bed bug repellents are formulated in a variety of ways that you will get to know of as you read this article.

How they work

Bed bug repellents contain specific chemicals that keep bed bugs away or from entering your space. There are very limited options to the chemical you can use to keep bed bugs away. According to the Journal of Economic Entomology’s 2013 Ed., DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide)  has been listed as the best chemical product for repelling bed bugs. Other chemicals that are in the wait list but have shown significant efficacy are 3-methyl-5-hexyl-2-cyclohexenone, propyl dihydrojasmonate and Y-methyl tridecalactone. The above chemicals need to be used in the dosages indicated in the instructions and directions for purposes of your skin’s safety. DEET, for instance, has shown strong efficacy when used in concentrations of 25%. According to the Journal of Medical Entomology, in a publication by Davis EE et al, (1985), the repellent DEET targets the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. There are however five propositions concerning the mechanism of action of the repellents. They:
  1. Inhibit response of the critter to chemotactic stimuli by the host
  2. Stimulation of a competing response that masks stimuli to host attractants.
  3. Acts as a highly concentrated attractant hence shifting focus of the insect to it rather than to the host.
  4. It literally ‘jams’ the sensory circuit by increasing the noise/signal ratio
  5. Stimulation of natural avoidance receptors hence resulting in disinterest in the host.
Another theory to the mechanism of action of the bed bug repellents has found an association with olfactory receptors. DEET suppresses the bed bug reception of the smell of particular chemicals the host produces.

Natural & Homemade bed bug repellents


Homemade bed bug repellents are also options you can opt for. If you can access diatomite, then you have a good repellent, diatomaceous earth. This material can be placed on the ground and used to repel and at the same time kill bed bugs. It works by dehydrating the exoskeleton of the bed bug and hence preventing molting and therefore growth. You can also make a vinegar solution then spray it directly on the bugs. This will help repel the bed bugs for some time while you think of doing something long-term about them. In order to make this happen, you can purchase some vinegar then fill a bottle with a 1:1 ratio mixture of vinegar and water. Sprinkle in areas with bed bugs including their hiding spots to prevent their coming out.

Natural bed bug repellent-Scents & Oils


There are repellents that are scented. Most of these are essential oils such as eucalyptus or lavender oil. Note that most of these oils mentioned in this section have some menthol in them and hence this similarity raises the possibility of its acting to repel bed bugs. One good example is the lemon eucalyptus which has a derivative of menthol, p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) as the active compound. Some of the scented oils that you can acquire and use include:
  1. Eucalyptus oil
  2. Tea tree oil
  3. Lavendar oil
  4. Neem oil
  5. Lemon grass
  6. Lemon eucalyptus


Much of the oils that are used as repellents of bed bugs are scented as mentioned in the previous section.
scents, oils to repel bed bugs at home
Tea tree oil
Lavender, peppermint and tea tree oils are the most commonly used oils. They have a cooling effect when applied on the skin and to add, are also effective in the treatment of bed bug bites. Other oils that can be used include:
  1. Catnip oil with the active principle, Nepetalactone
  2. Fish oil in combination with the Birch tree back
  3. Citronella oil
  4. Cinnamon oil
  5. Clove oil
  6. Thyme oil
A blend of the essential oils will go a long way to providing you with a stronger repellent action against bed bugs as seen with a mixture of lavender and lemon grass or peppermint oil.

Bed bug repellent creams, Sprays & Electronic


Creams that show efficacy in repelling bed bugs include those that are herbal such as those made form neem oil or other oils mentioned earlier. Lotions are more popular as they do not adhere to the skin as much and causing discomfort when you apply right before bed time. They therefore get positive reviews. The creams and lotions confer protection from bed bugs for a few hours and they die out before the night is over hence may still allow bed bugs into your space. This will therefor force you to reapply the oil or lotion for added protection. Those that have some petroleum jelly have also been shown to be effective in repelling bed bugs.


Sprays can be indicated as a formulation in administration of the repellent chemical. However, this formulation has been shown to be ineffective as when the liquid has dried out, bed bugs win. Therefore, sprays do exist as bed bug repellents though the entomologist do not find it effective.

Rubbing alcohol

This method is mostly used in the elimination of bed bugs though has been discouraged due to the high possibility of potential fires when care not taken. It is possible to kill the critters with alcohol upon contact but this is not considered an option in repelling bed bugs. Its aqueous nature allows it to dry up hence not offering any benefit to the host.

Electronic repellent

This is not a new method. It has been hyped and used in a bid to repel not only bed bugs but other insects such as mosquitoes and cockroaches. The efficacy of this method has been questioned severally and studies relating to the same have been published. Comically, a study showed that instead of the ultrasonic repellent doing its job as expected, it led to an increase in the biting rates of mosquitoes. According to the Journal of Economic Entomology, this method does not work well as it has been advertised by its manufacturers. It was further found that there is not difference between the changes in behavior when bed bugs were exposed to the electronic repellent and when not. Therefore, they do not work.

Ultrasonic bed bug repeller

Ultrasonic bed bug repellent is an electronic repellent that is meant to keep bed bugs away. Just one of the methods that are currently filling the market in the name of helping people do away with bed bugs or prevent their adverse biting and discomfort.
ultra sonic bed bug repeller
Ultra sonic
Of course, people need a solution and they will indeed purchase them. As mentioned earlier, a study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology showed that sound waves have no implication in the change of behavior of bed bugs and they simply will not go away when you are using this device. They may be effective for insects that fly and bed bugs do not. Moreover, a Flagstaff research study compared the effect of using the device with a control involving no use of the device. There was not significant change in the change of population of the two groups of bed bugs in either areas they resided. This shows that ultrasonic repellents do not work. Good thing, the manufacturers of these devices have been warned and informed to provide evidence based claims for their products by the Federal Trade Commission.

Repellent mattress cover

There are two types of such covers depending on whether they are just encasements or fortified encasements with a chemical impregnation to them. Both of these are commercially available. What is the difference between these two options? They are commonly a source of confusion. In the case of encasements, these are covers that completely cover the mattress including the box spring. This provides a barrier to the entry or escape of bed bugs and will prevent any impending bites from a bed bug. This method is particularly good when you have sprayed your dwelling or use some other elimination or treatment method and you have bought a new mattress. In the first two weeks when you are monitoring the effectiveness of the treatment method, you can encase your mattress to prevent a secondary infestation of a new mattress and box spring. This is a highly recommended method by experts and professional pest services. Mattress covers that have been impregnated are not complete encasements meaning that they do not cover the mattress completely. Neither do they cover the box spring as does the mattress encasement. They simply fit the mattress at the top and the sides. The advantage to this type of cover is that they are impregnated with an insect repellent such as permethrin. Bed bugs are therefore not able to reach you or the host as when it comes into contact with the cover, they are killed.

Best Natural bed bug repellent for skin & Body

What to consider when selecting

It is important to select what works and what will be worth you expenditure. It will be disappointing spending lots on a repellent that does not work. Therefore consider doing the following:
  1. Do some research on the reviews of different repellent methods to make you make an informed choice.
  2. Seek some advice from a professional pest control on the best repellent to purchase. They most definitely know with which you could do better.
  3. Expense and economics is a considerable factor that may influence your purchasing power. You can get something natural and less expensive that will work.
  4. If you have any allergic reaction to particular chemicals such as DEET or pyrethrin, then it would be wise to avoid using repellents that contain them.
  5. Make sure that what you are selecting from the shelves is approved for use and has not been associated with toxicity in its trials.

Which is the best?

The best natural bed bug repellent is that with a mixture of lavender and peppermint oil. Zen Garden™ contains the two ingredients. It is considered the best natural bed bug repellent as it does not contain any synthetic ingredient. This can thus be used by those who would simply want to avoid chemicals or are allergic to them. Apart from the lavender and peppermint, it contains Roman chamomile and organic eucalyptus. It can be applied on the skin, linen, pillows, blankets and other bedding.

How to use

This is an easy process.
  1. Spray the natural home bed bug repellent onto your bare body.
  2. Rub the formulation to spread it over your skin.
  3. Spray the repellent onto bedding such as blankets and bed sheets including your pajamas. Don’t forget your pillow. You can also spray into the pillow case.
  4. Spray the corners of your bed and the mattress to prevent passage of bed bugs from the corners of the bed onto the corners of the mattresses.
You can also use these steps for your travel protection while in public service transport to prevent bed bugs from crawling onto your body. When you have got to your destination during travel, simply pull back the bedding and spray before entering. Further reading Further Reading