Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs? (or Repel them?) 

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

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a natural solution to bed bugs? Many people are uncomfortable using harsh chemicals in their homes and are turning to essential oils. Does tea tree oil really work to get rid of bed bugs?

What is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil is a plant extract, from a plant native to Australia. It has antibacterial and antifungal qualities. People have used it to soothe skin issues. It is available in health food stores and online.

Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

Tea tree oil will kill bed bugs. Unfortunately, the oil has to have direct contact with the bed bug to kill it. We all know that bed bugs are great at hiding, so applying tea tree oil directly to each bed bug is almost impossible.

The oil is most effective for bed bugs if it is undiluted. However, handling undiluted tea tree oil is dangerous for humans, too.

Tea tree oil kills insects by soaking into their exoskeletons, blocks their airways, and essentially suffocates them. Bed bugs breed extremely fast. Killing a few of them with tea tree oil probably won’t be fast enough to completely get rid of them.

Also, since the tea tree oil requires direct contact with the bug’s exoskeleton, if the bed bug just walks through the oil, it won’t harm the little pest. Once you spray the oil, it will absorb and evaporate, unlike pesticides. This means you will have to reapply the oil solution many, many times.

Bed bugs dislike the smell of tea tree oil (you may, too!). Applying the oil to one room of the home may just drive the bugs to another part of the house and create a new problem.

How Can I Use Tea Tree Oil?

Soothing Bites

Tea tree oil is a fabulous insect bite remedy! Dilute tea tree oil with a neutral oil. Apply a very small amount of the diluted oil to a test patch of skin. Watch for an allergic reaction for 24 hours. If no reaction occurs, place the diluted oil on the bites to soothe the skin.

To treat your home for bed bugs with tea tree oil, follow these instructions. I recommend this tea tree oil. If you are going to treat your bad bug problem with tea tree oil, it would be best to combine this treatment with another method.

Clean the Room

Bed bugs are great at hide and seek! Clean up piles of clothes or blankets, and anywhere else the bugs may be hiding.

Make a Spray

For every 10 mL of tea tree oil, add 90 mL of water. Since oil and water don’t mix, you’ll need to add a component to help them mix. A few drops of dish soap, rubbing alcohol, or glycerin should do the trick. Mix well, and place the mixture in a spray bottle.

Spray Your Room

Make sure every inch of the room is covered.

  • Furniture
  • Closets
  • Baseboards
  • Bed frames
  • Mattress (front, back, and every seam)

If you see any living bed bugs, make sure to spray them, too!

Launder Everything

Launder all bedding, clothing, and window treatments in hot water to kill any bed bugs. Keep all clothing out of the infested room until all signs of bed bugs are gone.


Because tea tree oil isn’t as effective against bed bugs as other measures, this process will need to be repeated. Follow these steps at least once a week until you are certain the bed bugs are gone.

Is Tea Tree Oil Safe to Use?

Undiluted tea tree oil is harmful for humans. Some people may develop an allergy to it. Always wear gloves while handling the oil. Never ingest it! If someone ingests tea tree oil, call for medical attention immediately.

If you develop an allergic reaction or have skin irritation from the tea tree oil, stop using it, and speak to a medical professional.

How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

No matter how diligent you are, tea tree oil may not solve a bed bug problem. Try some of these other methods in addition to the oil.


A good vacuum is a great way to clear out bed bugs! Make sure to vacuum around baseboards, closets, and carpet seams. Flip your mattress and make sure to get around all the seams.

Mattress Encasement

A zippered mattress encasement will seal off the mattress from your biting bed mates. I recommend this one.

Steam Clean

Steam clean all carpets and rugs. Make sure to use a cleaner that can reach a high temperature. Bed bugs will die instantly with temperatures of 300 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Call a Professional

Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to defeat! A trusted exterminator can clear your home of bed bugs quickly and thoroughly.

Final Thoughts

Though tea tree oil may kill bed bugs with direct contact, it still isn’t the best solution to a bed bug infestation! Try combining tea tree essential oil treatment with other methods for a more effective and long-lasting solution against bed bug infestation.

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