Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs? (And How To Use It)

Tea tree oil is regarded as a natural form of bed bug control.

And although it may not be the magic cure, use it right, and it can provide you some relief and slow down an infestation.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how tea tree oil kills bed bugs, how to use it, how effective it can be, and what else you can do to fight against a bed bug infestation.

Can Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes, tea tree oil does have the power to kill bed bugs.

In this study by RSP, they also found tea tree oil can kill bed bugs when applied directly, even if it may not be as effective as commercial pesticides.

One study conducted on spray known as EcoRaider (containing a variety of essential oils, one of which being tea tree oil), was found to be effective at killing bed bugs.

How Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

A long time staple ingredient in insecticides and repellent, a direct hit of tea tree oil can cause death by suffocation.

This essential oil disrupts the permeability barriers of the cell membranes within the bed bug, causing a loss of chemiosmotic control and death.

In other words, it penetrates the inners and kills it from the inside.

This ability to damage the membrane makes tea tree oil an effective natural insecticide against bed bugs.

Does Tea Tree Oil Repel Bed Bugs?

Yes, tea tree oil can help repel bed bugs by disrupting its sense of smell.

Bed bugs use a combination of CO2, body odor, and heat to identify you as their blood host. Therefore, by applying tea tree oil, you can slow the progress of a bed bug down.

However, you would be required to continuously apply.

How To Use Tea Tree Oil On Bed Bugs

It’s very simple to make a tea tree oil spray to kill bed bugs.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Water
  • Dish soap or ethanol (see step 1)
  • Spray bottle

Step 1. How To Make Tea Tree Oil Spray For Bed Bugs

You’ll want to use a concentration of tea tree oil between 1 – 10%.

  • 1% concentration = 1ml tea tree oil mixed 99ml water
  • 5% concentration = 5ml tea tree oil mixed 95ml water
  • 10% concentration = 10ml tea tree oil mixed 90ml water

5-10% concentration is what you should aim for.

You may run into some issues making water mix with oil. They don’t tend to like to do that.

Here are two methods you can use:

  1. Add some drops of dish soap to your solution and shake it up. Soap molecules will help the mixing process
  2. Add 1ml Ethanol to your mixture

If you don’t do one of these, your spray will not work

Step 2. Spray The Infected Area

  1. Clean the infected room
  2. Bed bug proof the room by shutting doors, windows, and blocking gaps between floors. You should fill any cracks, holes, or gaps between walls and baseboards
  3. Spray down known infected areas
  4. Proceed to spray all furniture, mattress, bedding and all other areas in the room
  5. Launder everything and dry your sheets for at least 30 minutes on a high temperature.

Step 3. Follow Up

Tea tree oil isn’t effective at eliminating every single bed bug in one go, so you’ll have to constantly repeat this process in order to slow down an infestation and bites.

Is Tea Tree Oil Effective At Exterminating Bed Bug Infestations?

It’s not very effective at treating an infestation but it can help control an outbreak.

Even though it will kill individual bugs, it’s not going to wipe out a whole infestation. This is because you must have a direct hit in order for tea tree oil to be effective at killing a bed bug.

What Is The Risk Of Using Tea Tree Oil?

Undiluted tea tree oil can propose a risk to humans. Potentially causing skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis

What Else Can You Do To Kill Bed Bugs?

There are so many DIY methods discussed when it comes to killing bed bugs. And here are just a few:

  • Using lysol oil to kill bed bugs
  • Using cold to kill bed bugs
  • Using baking soda to kill bed bugs
  • Using bleach to kill bed bugs
  • Using alcohol to kill bed bugs

But the best way will always be to hire a professional exterminator. They’ll use a combination of tactics, involving heat (steamers) and pesticides to help eliminate the whole problem. Not just slow it down.

But, that being said, it can be costly, so here are some more tactics you can use with tea tree oil to help protect yourself against bed bugs:

  • Add bedding and clothing to a dryer at high temperatures 120ºF for 30mintues (generally washing will not kill bed bugs).
  • Heat items (furniture, luggage, anything that can’t go in your dryer) or rooms to at least 120 ºF (approx. 49 ºC) for 90 minutes to ensure that eggs are killed (higher the temperature the more effective and faster results).
  • Vacuum infested areas to trap bed bugs in the bag and dispose of
  • Steam vacuum clean carpets, curtains.
  • Cold treatments (below 0 ºF (-19 ºC) for at least 4 days) can exterminate infestations.
  • Use mattress, box spring, and pillow protection/encasements to trap and detect bed bugs.
  • Use bed bug monitors to ensure extermination is complete.
  • Use an EPA registered product to fight against bed bugs.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to bed bugs, the quest to find the ultimate home solution has been a long hard-fought battle.

We still don’t have the perfect method, but tea tree oil can be used to help slow down an infestation, when used in tandem with the other tactics I have discussed in this guide.

Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham
Hello, Andrew is the co-founder and lead editor for DailyPest.

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