Does Peppermint Oil Bed Bug Repellent Really Work?

Since the turn of the 21st Century, bed bug infestation has been on the rise in the United States. The reasons for this are three-fold:

  • We now realize that pesticides that eradicate bed bugs are too dangerous to use.
  • Globalization means that more and more people have become globe-trotters, and so have their bed bugs.
  • Because bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) were eliminated in the US during the 20th century, awareness of them has dwindled.
before peppermint oil bed bugs close up

For these reasons, bed bugs are a common problem in homes and public places today. What can you do to prevent picking up bed bugs when you are out and about and carrying them home with you?

In this article, we will discuss peppermint oil bed bug repellent and various other natural ways you can keep these pests at bay, along with basic information on dealing with bed bug infestation in your home. Read on to learn more.

Are Essential Oils Effective Against Bed Bugs?

You may be surprised to know that many benign substances are effective against bed bugs on contact. Bed bugs are harder to eliminate than cockroaches, but they are delicate. You can kill bed bugs and other insects through a variety of substances and conditions. Among them are:

  • Freezing temperatures (below 20 degrees F)
  • High heat (over 100 degrees F)
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hairspray
  • Vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Steam

For bed bug control suck them up with a vacuum cleaner, steamed out of the seams, nooks, and crannies of furniture, washed and dried out of clothing and bedding, and sprayed to death with vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or even hair spray. Furthermore, they do dislike several different essential oils, including peppermint oil.

The problems with these solutions (apart from diatomaceous earth) are that they do not have a residual effect. While both hot and cold temperatures applied for an extended period will kill bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs, they will not prevent a re-infestation.

There are several Bed bug spray on solutions available that will kill bed bugs on contact. Adding essential oils to these solutions can have the effect of deterring bed bugs for a while; however, you must keep in mind that bed bugs are incredibly adaptable. That’s why they are so difficult to exterminate.

Bed bugs have evolved to the point at which many commercial pesticides simply do not work against them, so the key to eradicating them and keeping them at bay in your home is to destroy as many as you can with professional pest control that specifically uses bed bug insecticides.

Follow this up with regular vacuuming, application of heat and cold as needed, consistent use of diatomaceous earth, and regular use of essential oil insect repellents.

You should also keep your bedding and clothing clean with frequent washing and use natural sprays infused with a variety of essential oils, such as peppermint oil, to discourage the return of these determined little pests.

How Do Bed Bugs Spread?

Bed bugs are everywhere, and it‘s easy to pick them up when you travel or just go about your daily business. While you might think they would only be found in places with poor sanitation, you would be wrong.

One in five homes in the US has some degree of bed bug infestation. Additionally, public places and facilities provide sufficient hiding places for them. They are commonly found in:

  • Public transportation
  • Daycare centers
  • Nursing homes
  • College dorms
  • Movie theaters
  • Hospitals
  • Barracks
  • Schools
  • Hotels

Basically, any place people congregate has the potential for spreading bed bugs. This handy graphic makes it easy to visualize just how broadly bed bugs are spread in New York City alone! Many commercial locations use trained dogs to sniff out bed bugs.


Clearly, anyone who travels in any way could potentially pick up bed bugs and carry them home. Since they range in size from tiny nymphs that are small enough to slip through woven fabric, to tiny bugs about the size of an apple seed, they can hide in any tiny fold or crevice.

If you bring just one gravid female home with you in the cuff of your pants or the seam of your suitcase, you will soon have an infestation.

bottle of peppermint essential oil

Protect Yourself & Your Belongings When You Travel

When you travel, you should begin your bed bug due diligence prior to leaving home. Check out online reviews of the establishments where you plan to stay. If there is any mention of bed bugs, that’s an obvious red flag.

Simply steer clear if it’s a current review. If the building appears old, you may wish to check with the management and find out if and how they have responded to the problem. Stay elsewhere if in doubt.

Once you’ve made your reservations, prepare by packing correctly. Pack your belongings in sealed plastic bags inside non-porous luggage. This will prevent bugs from being able to get into your belongings during your stay. Be sure to place your baggage on the luggage rack in your room, rather than on the bed or other soft surfaces. This will help prevent a bed bug invasion.

Perform Your Own Inspection

When you arrive at your lodging, make a thorough inspection of the room and all its fixtures. Examine:

  • Cracks and Crevices
  • Furniture Seams
  • Baseboards
  • Mattresses
  • Wallpaper
  • Bedding
  • Drapes
  • Carpet

Look for bugs, as well as, small, dark blood spots and streaks. If you see any evidence of bed bugs, immediately exit the room and look for accommodations elsewhere.

Make A Peppermint Oil Bed Bug Repellent

Keep in mind that when on bed bug patrol they are tiny, and a visual inspection may not reveal them. Even if you do not find evidence of these pests, it’s a good idea to carry a spray bottle of natural essential oil bug repellent along with you. You can use this to repel bed bugs from your room and keep them off you.

You can create a basic natural remedy peppermint oil bug spray by combining rubbing alcohol and essential oil at a rate of a dozen drops of oil per ounce of rubbing alcohol. Pull the covers off your bed and spray this solution liberally over the mattress and pillows. Remake the bed and spray the sheets, pillow cases, and spread, as well.

Rubbing alcohol makes one of the best remedies for bed bugs. It kills bedbugs on contact, and it dries quickly, so your bed should be dry (with a light layer of peppermint oil in place) when you are ready to go to bed. Spray your sleepwear with this mixture for additional protection.

You can also make a personal essential oil bug repellent by combining peppermint oil and other essential oils with carrier oils, such as coconut or olive oil at a rate of 6-12 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier. Apply this generously before bed to avoid bed bug bites.

Here is a video that offers general instructions on making natural bug repellents using readily available carrier substances and essential oils.

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Proceed with Caution

You should always perform a small patch test before applying any essential oil concoction over large areas of skin. Some types of oil can cause skin irritation in some individuals.

Luckily, there are lots of good choices when it comes to essential oils with bed bug repelling potential. Among them are:

If you discover that you have a sensitivity to one type of oil, simply avoid it, and use another type. With the choices available, you will surely be able to find an oil, or combination of oils, that will work for you.

When you are traveling, any essential oil that you introduce to your temporary environment will be unfamiliar and potentially repellent to the local bed bugs. For use in your home, remember that bed bugs are highly adaptable, so you will want to vary your repellent recipe from time-to-time to keep them on their toes.

In addition, witch hazel lotion like this and boric acid will protect you from bed bug bites and infestation and can be purchased at your local grocery or drug store.

Consider the Other Benefits of Essential Oils

Because there are so many wonderful oils to choose from, you may wish to select the oils you use by weighing factors such as:

Pleasing scent

A spray bottle of alcohol scented with lemon essential oil can freshen the air and lighten and brighten your spirits while repelling bed bugs.

Aromatherapy benefits

A cool air essential oil diffuser loaded with lavender oil can calm your mood and help you sleep while promoting an unfriendly bed bug environment.

Benefits to your skin

A bed bug repellent made with coconut oil, peppermint oil, and/or tea tree oil has excellent antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and skin nourishing properties. If you are struggling with dry skin, eczema, acne, or other skin conditions, a carefully crafted personal bug repellent product can help!

Cleaning benefits

Eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, and cedar oil are excellent additions to cleaning products, as well as vinegar. A disinfectant surface cleaner made with these ingredients does double duty to help keep your home spotless and bug-free!

It’s easy to see that when you incorporate essential oils into every aspect of your life, you are very likely to enjoy the side effect of repelling bed bugs, as well as numerous other household pests. Repellents made with essential oils can also drive away spiders, wasps, cockroaches, and even mice.

peppermint flowers

Is Peppermint the Best Essential Oil to Repel Bedbugs?

Peppermint oil is one of many essential oils to get rid of bed bugs temporarily. If you use it exclusively, they will eventually get used to it. That’s why it’s vital to mix it up.

It is also important to understand that just keeping bed bugs away from you is not a complete solution. For one thing, if you are keeping them away from you without killing them, they will just go find someone else to bug!

On the other hand, when you are away from home, you cannot possibly hope to kill every bed bug that might bite you or bum a ride to your house in your luggage or on your clothing. That’s why a repellent is a good thing to have when you are traveling or out and about.

Making personal use of peppermint oil and other oils by spraying your temporary surroundings and your belongings with a concoction of rubbing alcohol or vinegar and powerful essential oils can help keep the bed bugs away in the short term.

Remember to also examine and clean all your clothing and belongings thoroughly as soon as you get home (before you go indoors if possible) to prevent bringing hitchhikers into your house.

The Bed Bug Battle is Ongoing!

When you are at home, peppermint essential oil can be a great addition to your arsenal but [G10] don’t forget that it takes a combination of diligence and a variety of products and techniques to keep bed bugs at bay.

Also, keep in mind that it is best to start your bed bug battle with a professional pest control assessment and treatment. This is especially true if you have a heavy infestation because time is of the essence with bed bugs.

These pests reproduce very rapidly, so the minute you notice them, you’ll want to start eliminating them before they take over your home. If you don’t, you may find yourself contributing to a public health problem.

Once you’ve had a thorough, professional home treatment, you will have a lot more success using natural extermination methods. Ongoing use of peppermint essential oil and other natural, effective solutions can help you enjoy a bed bug-free life.

How Have You Battled Bed Bugs?

Unfortunately, bed bugs appear to be a fact of life in today’s world. If you have questions or thoughts to add to the discussion, be sure to chime into the comments section below this article.