Top 10 Common Scents That Keep Bed Bugs Away

bed bug crawling on a surface

Bed bugs can be a nuisance to humans once they successfully invade homes, cars, and other environments. Several solutions have been proposed for repelling these pests including the use of insecticides and killing them manually.

Many folks battling bed bug infestations begin to wonder how easy their lives could be if the insects could be repelled successfully by certain scents. Well, no need to worry anymore because those daydreams can become a reality.

What scents keep bed bugs awat? Scents such as Diatomaceous Earth, Blood Orange Oil, Spearmint Oil, Paraffin Oil, and Silicone Oil have shown various degrees of success in repelling bed bugs and other insects. Rubbing Alcohol, Powdered Pepper, Cinnamon, and Lemon are additional scents that can also keep even the most resistant bed bugs at bay.

If you’ve found evidence of bed bugs in the home, these scents can come in handy in not only repelling but killing them as well. Shall we take a detailed look into the most popular scents for keeping bed bugs away?

Extended list of Scents that Keep Bed Bugs Away

Here are a couple of scents that bed bugs find so repelling that they stay away from your bedroom and other areas of the home once they smell it.

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is one of the most popular chemicals in the insect control industry. It comes in a white powdery form with a distinct smell that repels all manner of insects such as bed bugs.

Apart from repelling, this powder can also kill insects upon contact due to its abrasive and physico-sorptive properties. It absorbs lipids from the exoskeletons of bed bugs which inhibits the loss of water vapor from their bodies.

This leads to uncontrolled evaporation of water from the insect’s body which inevitably results in excessive dehydration and eventually death.

Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth on a mattress, bedroom floor, car seats, and floor mats can eradicate thriving bed bug populations while keeping the others at arm’s length.

2. Rubbing Alcohol

couple holding a colorless spray bottle each

Rubbing alcohol comes with a strong odor that can keep bed bugs and other insects at bay. Even a few drops of the substance diffuses rapidly in a specific environment leading to a dominant smell that is hard to miss.

Rubbing alcohol may also have a dehydrating effect on the bodies of bed bugs resulting in their eventual death. This is why these crafty insects avoid areas they can smell the powerful substance.

Spraying rubbing alcohol in the bedroom or pouring a few drops into cotton balls are a few ways to keep bed bugs away from any environment.

3. Blood Orange Oil

Blood orange oil has shown some efficacy in repelling bed bugs from any part of the home. This essential oil is derived from the sweet orange variety of the same name and offers a medium-strong scent many insects cannot stand to breathe.

Like other essential oils, you can either spray it in a plastic spray bottle or spread the scent across a specific room via an electronic diffuser. However, be aware that some of the most resistant bed bug species may get used to this scent quickly at which point you’ll have to come up with an alternative.

The Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser and Essential Oil Set from Amazon offer essential oils that keep bedbugs at bay. The sweet-scented aromas reduce anxiety and stimulate the brain to reduce sleep-boosting melatonin. It is highly recommended for everyone with sleep troubles.

4. Garlic 

Serious about keeping bed bugs at bay? Garlic can come in handy in the battle against these troublesome insects. It is no secret that few vegetables have scents that are as strong as garlic. 

Hence, eating garlic at dinner can keep these insects away from the body during the night as long as you do not brush the teeth, floss, or take other active steps to get rid of the strong scent. A few cloves of garlic can also be left in various vantage points in the bedroom such as on the nightstand and around the foot of the bed.

5. Spearmint Oil

Are you aware of the insect-repelling properties of spearmint oil? Renowned for being the oldest herb in the mint family, Spearmint secretes a powerful odor that can keep bed bugs and other insects away from the bedroom.

The trick is to mix a few drops of the oil with water into a plastic bottle and spray the resultant mist across the bed and other areas you may have spotted bugs in the past. Areas such as under the carpets, under the bed, and various cracks and crevices can also be important during spraying.

6. Paraffin Oil

Paraffin oil aka Kerosene can be another key player in the battle against bed bug infestations. The oil which is a by-product of the petroleum distillation process is colorless. But spraying it across a specific catchment area has shown promising results in insect repellence.

This is thanks to the pungent smell that keeps insects and bugs away. Continuous inhaling and ingesting of the oil can cause death in a wide array of insects. As long as you can stand the smell of kerosene in your bedroom, you’ve got another solution to keep bed bugs away.

7. Silicone Oil

Silicone oil is probably the most effective essential oil for killing bed bugs alongside Blood Orange oil. According to studies, it kills 92 percent of bed bugs upon contact but beyond that, these insects stay away from the smell.

No wonder silicone oil is an active player in the bed bug insecticide industry in North America and other parts of the world. Like other types of oils, the application process is easy and simply requires diluting with water.

The resultant solution can then be sprayed across specific target areas to annihilate or at least keep the bugs away.

8. Powdered Pepper

3 different powdered spices

Have you noticed how uncomfortable walking into a kitchen with powdered pepper can be? This is because the ingredient offers a strong aroma that is uncomfortable even for humans.

Spraying a mixture of powdered pepper and water in a specific area can decimate bed bug populations.

Alternatively, you can pour a few drops of powdered pepper into small uncovered containers and leave them at various spots in the bedroom. The strong smell of the pepper could linger in the bedroom for extended periods, keeping bed bugs firmly away.

The good news is that powdered pepper is common in every home and affordable too.

9. Cinnamon 

Bed bugs suffer a lot of discomfort when they come into contact with cinnamon. The strong aroma from the popular herb repels these bugs without problems as long as you make them available in the bedroom.

A few cinnamon sticks can be left on plates throughout the home to force the bugs into oblivion. Alternatively, cinnamon powder can also come in handy when you pour a few teaspoons on a plate and leave it in areas such as under the bed or around the foot of the bed as well as entry and exit points to the bedroom.

10. Lemon 

Have you noticed how strong the scent of lemon peels can be? Well, lemon can serve as an equally effective solution for repelling bed bugs. You can either use fresh lemon peels or lemon-scented oils across the bedroom.

When it comes to lemon oil, you must mix it with water and spray across the entire length and breadth of the bedroom.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are a few popular questions about scents that repel bed bugs and other insects.

What can I put on my body to repel bed bug bites?

Vaseline is one of the most popular body lotions for repelling bed bugs thanks to the petroleum jelly component. Using Calendula lotion and bathing with chamomile soap are other options to keep these troublesome bugs at arm’s length.

Additionally, mixing peppermint oil with carriers such as coconut oil can also result in a lotion that prevents all kinds of insect bites.

How do bed bugs die naturally?

Bed bugs die naturally when starved for long periods. However, be aware that they can survive without food for up to 12 months. These bugs also struggle to survive in extremely cold temperatures.

Steam cleaning or exposing bed bug-infested areas to over 113 degrees Fahrenheit can also prove fatal in most cases.

Can you get rid of bed bugs with dryer sheets?

Dryer sheets are one of the most popular solutions for repelling bed bugs. But, the insects do not die upon direct contact with these items. If the goal is to kill the bed bugs then you’ll have to opt for more effective solutions such as Diatomaceous Earth.

Will washing clothes kill bed bugs?

Bed bugs hiding inside clothes can die from a washing cycle. Even if they miraculously survive, the heat from the dryer should finish them off. If you suspect that clothes in your closet are riddled with these bugs, do not hesitate to put them in the washer immediately.


Scents ranging from Diatomaceous Earth to Spearmint Oil as well as Blood Orange Oil and Kerosene can keep bed bugs away successfully. These substances may either prove fatal upon contact with the bugs or repel them from afar.

The strong aromas of popular food ingredients like garlic and powdered pepper have also proven to keep these troublesome bugs away.

Either way, there’s no reason why bed bugs should become a mainstay in your home as long as you’re ready to give these oils and substances a chance.

Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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