Does Peppermint Oil Kill or Repel Bed Bugs? – Detailed Answer

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Waking up with mysterious welts or redness on your arms might have made you realize that there’s something on your bed. You might have noticed some stains or even something crawling on the bedding. Yes, bed bugs!

To fight bed bugs, you’ve probably read about the use of peppermint essential oil somewhere. But…

Does peppermint oil actually work in killing or repelling bed bugs? The fact is, peppermint oil is primarily used as a repellent for bed bugs owing to its high menthol content that generates a strong smell which bed bugs dislike.

It’s also effective as a contact insecticide when applied directly on bed bugs. The one major con is that peppermint oil doesn’t have any long-lasting effect on bed bugs, so peppermint oil isn’t a long-term solution for your bed bug problem.

Why Peppermint Oil is Used to Treat Bed Bug Problems?

There are hundreds of different essential oils out there and each has its own unique properties. They are a holistic alternative to products that contain harmful additives that you really should be avoiding.

This is probably why you want to use peppermint oil for your bed bugs instead of spraying insecticides or calling an exterminator. However, there are a few different factors to consider before you completely rely on peppermint oil to get rid of these pesky creatures.

Check If They are Really Bed Bugs

Before you do anything else, you need to check if you are dealing with bedbugs or their lookalikes. Bat bugs, carpet beetles, and spider beetles are some common pests that are mistaken for bed bugs. Check to see if it is actually a bed bug crawling around before you take any steps.

Bed bugs will be more active during the night and they also leave fecal stains that look like brownish-black dots. When you get some visible evidence to prove that they are indeed bedbugs, you can work on getting rid of them in the right way.

When you know they’re there, you need to isolate the bed or anything that has bed bugs. This will prevent further spread. You can wrap things up in plastic sheets or vacuum bags or just close off the room depending on the extent of the infestation.

Effectiveness of Peppermint Oil against Bed Bugs

If your bed or any other furniture already has bed bugs, peppermint oil is not the most powerful solution to get rid of them. Although peppermint oil has been used for quite some time and is still popular, it is better for repelling them rather than eliminating the bugs completely.

You can use a peppermint oil spray such as this one to spray around your bed or any other areas prone to bed bugs. In my experience, it worked quite effectively to kill the bugs on contact and repelling them for a while, and as a bonus, leaves a pleasant aroma.

If you’re wondering why exactly peppermint oil is effective against bed bugs, it’s mainly due to menthol, the primary ingredient of peppermint oil. Menthol has biocidal properties, which means that it’s effective against not just bed bugs, but a myriad of other pests.

Its other ingredients like pulegone also have insecticidal properties. So, all in all, peppermint oil can be a good natural solution for your bed bug problem, though it’s certainly not the most powerful weapon out there against those annoying bugs.

Alternatives for Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

Apart from peppermint oil, there are quite a few different ways you can kill or repel bed bugs.

Method 1: Bring in Professional Help

 Your best bet to completely get rid of bed bugs is getting professionals to deal with it. They are up to date with the best ways of dealing with bed bugs and will usually ensure that every last one is eradicated.

A lot of the insecticides that you get from the hardware store don’t kill all the bugs. Even if you miss out a few, the problem will soon get worse.

They will usually use some of the following insecticides alongside other steps:

  • Pyrroles
  • Pyrethrins and pyrethroids
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Desiccants

If your infestation is serious, a pest control operator should be contacted as soon as possible.

Method 2: Use Heat

Bed bugs cannot survive when subjected to a temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Using heat or steam is one of the best ways to kill bed bug eggs, nymphs, and adult bed bugs.

You can treat the bedding with hot water above that temperature for a couple of hours to kill them off.

However, increasing the heating in the room will not be an effective solution since the bed bugs can simply hide in cooler nooks around the room to protect themselves.

For the mattress, you can vacuum and steam clean. Use a powerful vacuum cleaner that will suck up any bed bugs and then use steam cleaning to kill the rest.

Some steam cleaners are powerful enough to penetrate through thick surfaces and this is how you can use heat for killing the bed bugs in your mattress. I personally use and recommend this McCulloch steam cleaner. It’s quite powerful and effective, especially for the money.

Method 3: Encasement

You can invest in bed bug proof covers that are the closest fit for your mattress and box spring. Make sure that the cover encases the mattress on all sides and that it has a zipper that won’t allow any bugs to slip in or out.

Covers like this one from Linenspa are a much cheaper option than having to replace that expensive mattress.

Method 4: Diatomaceous Earth or Silica Gel

Diatomaceous Earth is a non-chemical option that is extremely popular for pest control. The sand-like grains are very abrasive and can be sprinkled around the bed or any possible spaces that might be housing bed bugs.

P.F. Harris offers an effective DE product that I personally use for repelling not just bed bugs, but a host of other pests. This is the exact product, in case you’re interested in trying it out.

Silica gel works similar to DE. You can get a few of the silica gel pouches that are kept inside packages. Grind it and then sprinkle the powder over any affected areas.

Both products will damage the skin of the bed bug and cause dehydration. This desiccation process will soon kill the bugs.

To Use Peppermint Oil or Not?

You can use it either as a precautionary measure or when the infestation is light. When the infestation is serious, I don’t recommend it since it’s neither very powerful nor has any residual effects on bed bugs.

Once you have cleared out the infestation, take a few preventive measures like using a bedbug cover and cleaning your home frequently. If peppermint oil doesn’t prove to be a reliable solution, you can always try out some more effective methods of controlling bed bugs and start sleeping peacefully again on a clean, pest-free bed.

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