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Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

Are you struggling with an infestation of bed bugs? It can be a nightmare trying to get rid of them! You might have heard that Tea Tree Oil could be the answer.

But does it really work in killing off bed bugs? In this blog post, I’ll let you know what science says about using tea tree oil to get rid of bed bugs for good.

bed bugs on a mattress with bed bug eggs

What Exactly Is Tea Tree Oil, And Where Does It Come From?

Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. This small tree is native to Queensland and New South Wales in Australia.

The indigenous people of Australia have used tea tree oil for centuries due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Its main components are terpene hydrocarbons, sesquiterpenes, and monoterpenes, which contribute to the oil’s effectiveness as an antimicrobial agent.

Pure tea tree oil exhibits both antibacterial and antifungal activity, making it a popular choice for treating skin conditions, such as acne, athlete’s foot, and toenail fungus.

In the extraction process, the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree undergo steam distillation, resulting in the production of the highly concentrated oil.

This clear to pale yellow oil has a strong, distinct scent, which some find medicinal and therapeutic.

Less Known Methods To Repel Bed Bugs

Various essential oils are known to be effective in repelling bed bugs, such as lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, thyme, and clove. 

Firstly, lavender oil has a strong scent that bed bugs find unpleasant, making it an effective repellent.

To use this oil, simply dilute a few drops of it in water, and spray it on your bedding, furniture, and other areas where you suspect bed bug presence.

Peppermint oil is another essential oil that has shown efficacy in repelling bed bugs. Like lavender, its strong fragrance is disliked by these insects.

Just mix a few drops of peppermint oil with water, and spray it on the surfaces where bed bugs may hide.

Cinnamon oil can be similarly useful in keeping bed bugs away. This essential oil has a repellent effect and acts as a natural insecticide against these pests.

To use cinnamon oil, combine it with water in a spray bottle and apply it to the affected areas.

As well as these essential oils, thyme and its active compound, thymol, have been found to be effective in repelling bed bugs.

You can use thyme oil in the same way as other essential oils mentioned earlier – dilute it in water and spray it onto bedding, furniture, and other surfaces.

Clove oil is another essential oil that can work wonders in repelling bed bugs. It has a strong aroma that these pests dislike, and its natural insecticidal properties can help eliminate them.

Using it in a diluted form as a spray is an effective way to keep bed bugs away.

Besides these essential oils, mint oil and cedar oil are also known to help repel bed bugs. These oils have strong scents that deter pests, and cedar oil has the added benefit of killing bed bug eggs.

Mix these oils with water and spray them on affected surfaces, and you will likely see a reduction in bed bug presence.

bed bug infestation over the top of a mattress

Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are notorious for being difficult to get rid of and can cause significant inconveniences for those dealing with them.

Tea tree oil is indeed a popular natural insecticide and has been used to combat household pests like lice, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and ants.

However, its efficacy against bed bugs is mixed. For instance, although tea tree oil may be able to mask the scent of carbon dioxide and human blood that attracts bed bugs to their host, it doesn’t guarantee an instant kill.

It has been found that while tea tree oil may work on younger bed bugs, it is less effective on the mature ones.

This limited effectiveness is primarily due to bed bugs’ exoskeleton, which is more resistant to the oil’s effect.

The key would be direct contact with undiluted tea tree oil, which unfortunately is not safe for humans.

In terms of application, you might be wondering about the use of diluted tea tree oil on bedsheets to deter bug infestations.

However, my research shows that this method is largely ineffective. Spraying diluted tea tree oil on bedsheets may not yield the desired results, as only direct contact with undiluted oil effectively kills the pests.

Benefits Of Using The Tea Tree Oil And Bed Bugs Infestation Method

Due to its antimicrobial properties, tea tree oil can help eliminate various pests, including bed bugs. When used correctly, this essential oil offers several advantages in combating bed bug infestations.

Firstly, I find tea tree oil to be an organic and eco-friendly solution. Tea tree oil is derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant and does not contain harmful chemical compounds found in some commercial insecticides.

Many people, including myself, prefer using natural remedies like tea tree oil to reduce the environmental impact and potential health risks related to chemical-based products.

In my experience, tea tree oil is an efficient repellent for bed bugs. It masks the scent of carbon dioxide and human blood, which are known to attract bed bugs to their human hosts.

When disrupting these scent signals, tea tree oil helps deter bed bugs from infesting your bed and living spaces.

Besides repelling bed bugs, I have noticed that tea tree oil is effective in killing them upon direct contact.

The oil appears to penetrate the bed bugs’ exoskeleton, causing disruption to their airways, ultimately leading to their death. This makes tea tree oil a practical solution for controlling bed bug populations in your home.

Lastly, I believe using tea tree oil is quite cost-effective. A small amount of the concentrated essential oil can be diluted with water to create an effective bed bug spray.

This spray can be applied to various surfaces, such as bed linens, mattresses, and furniture, to combat bed bug infestations.

up close photo of a bed bug crawling on a mattress topper

How To Use Tea Tree Oil Essential Oil For Bed Bug Control

For bed bug control, I recommend diluting the tea tree oil with water or even alcohol. Begin by mixing 20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle with water or rubbing alcohol. 

Please ensure that the mixture is well-blended. Using water or alcohol as a carrier helps increase the effectiveness and safety of this natural remedy.

Once the mixture is ready, it’s essential to focus on spraying the bedsheets, mattress, box spring, and any other areas where bed bugs may hide. 

Direct contact with undiluted tea tree oil is harmful for humans, so always dilute it before using it on the bed or nearby areas.

Here are a few more points to consider:

  • For proactive bed bug control, you can regularly spray the mixture on your sheets, pillows, and mattress as a preventative measure.
  • When treating an active infestation, wash all your linens in hot water and vacuum the entire area before using the spray.
  • While tea tree oil is effective against bed bugs, it’s essential to be diligent and persistent to eliminate the infestation.

does tea tree oil kill bed bugs

Can You Use Tea Tree Oil For Bed Bug Bites?

I’ve found that tea tree oil can be an effective remedy for bed bug bites due to its natural antiseptic properties. When applied to the skin, it can help reduce irritation and itching caused by insect bites, including those from bed bugs.

To use tea tree oil for bed bug bites, I usually dilute a few drops of the oil in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil.

This is essential, as undiluted tea tree oil can be too harsh on the skin and may cause even more irritation.

After mixing the oils, I gently apply the solution to the affected areas using a cotton swab or my fingertips. 

In my experience, tea tree oil helps in relieving itchiness and promotes faster healing of bed bug bites.

Its antiseptic properties can keep the bites clean and free from bacteria, reducing the chances of infection.

Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory effects can help soothe the skin and alleviate redness caused by the bites.

It’s worth noting that while tea tree oil can provide relief from bed bug bites, it may not be suitable for everyone.

Some people may experience an allergic reaction to tea tree oil, so it’s essential to perform a patch test before applying it to a larger area of the skin.

Bottle of tea tree oil


As you can see, there’s a mixed verdict when it comes to using tea tree oil for bed bug control. While some studies show that this essential oil may be effective in repelling and killing these unwanted pests, its efficacy is limited due to the bugs’ exoskeleton.

Using tea tree oil as a spray on surfaces like bedsheets is mostly ineffective. Making direct contact with undiluted tea tree oil appears to be more successful in eliminating bed bugs, but this is not safe for humans.

If you’re dealing with an infestation of bed bugs, I recommend seeking professional help and avoiding DIY methods as much as possible.

Tea tree oil can certainly help reduce the effects of bed bug bites by calming inflammation and relieving itching; however, please do patch test before applying it to your skin.