12 Surprising Home Remedies to Prevent Bed Bugs

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Some of the most effective home remedies to prevent bed bugs include the use of rubbing alcohol, baking soda, cayenne pepper, talcum powder, caulk, tea tree oil, thyme, mint, lemongrass, clove, lavender oil, and steam cleaning.

Home Remedies to Prevent Bed Bugs

Home remedies to prevent beg bugs include:

Steam Cleaning

One of the best ways to eliminate these irritating little parasites is with extreme heat. Therefore, steam cleaning your bedding or other fabrics that may be infested with bed bugs is a great strategy to kill the critters quickly. Any temperature above 150 degrees Fahrenheit makes it impossible for them to survive, which makes steam cleaning one of the most effective and surefire ways to clear up the issue. [1]

Lavender Oil

Through endless trial and error and generations of trying to eliminate these pesky creatures, it has been found that bed bugs absolutely despite the smell and taste of lavender oil. The same is true of all other essential oils as well, but lavender oil is the most effective. Sprinkle some on your sheets and pillows, and the bed bugs will literally run the other way. [2]

Extreme closebup of a bed bug.

A bed bug bite can be highly infectious. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


While this isn’t a direct treatment for the bed bugs, it is a wonderful way to prevent the bugs from ever entering (or returning) to your home. You can put extra caulk on the door frames, cabinets, and any other entry points into your home. That way, bed bugs won’t be able to find their way in in the first place! [3]


The smell of mint leaves is also a natural insect repellent, so many people have traditionally sprinkled crushed mint leaves around their sleeping area to ward off the bugs, or they store their bedding with mint leaves stored between the sheets and blankets. [4]

Tea Tree Oil

As one of the strongest and most potent essential oils, tea tree oil has been turned to for many home remedies. For bed bugs, this natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal acts quickly to eliminate the infestation. It can be sprinkled on the sheets or mix it in with your cleaning products and use it throughout the house, to prevent them from ever entering. [5]

Rubbing Alcohol

One of the best things about alcohol is that it is a drying agent. The alcohol quickly dehydrates the bed bugs and effectively kills them, ending the infestation. However, then your sheets have been sprayed with a mist of alcohol, so they should be cleaned immediately. [6]

Baking Soda

Similar to rubbing alcohol, baking soda has a remarkable ability to soak up any liquids near it, acting as one of the most effective drying agents on the market. Spreading this substance on the floor near cracks in the wall, or sprinkling some on your bed, can quickly eliminate the problem. [7]


This herb works in two ways to eliminate bed bugs. Not only do they seem to hate the smell and flee from it, but lemongrass also increases the acidity levels of the bugs, which they cannot tolerate. Either way, this home remedy is highly effective and widely used. [8]


Just like lemongrass, the high acidity of clove essential oil makes it intolerable for bed bugs, who would much rather flee from the high pH then suffer, even at the loss of a good meal. Sprinkling clove oil on your bedding and pillows should do the trick. [9]

Cayenne Pepper

By combining ginger and cayenne pepper, you can create a solution that is extremely potent and unpleasant for bed bugs, so they will not be able to stand in the presence of the solution. Problem solved! [10]

Talcum Powder

Talcum powder, a particularly powerful drying agent, acts to suffocate the bed bugs right between the sheets, so an easy sprinkle should clear up your problem quickly. At that point, you can wash the sheets or steam clean them to eliminate the bodies and get your sleeping back to normal. [11]


This herb has a very powerful smell, particularly when burned, and is capable of clearing out an infestation of bed bugs in no time. Also, thyme can be spread or disseminated near the borders of the home or the door frames, to prevent the bed bugs from entering. [12]

How do you get rid of bed bugs?

You’ll need to kill bed bugs using a chemical spray, and by fumigating the rooms in which bed bugs have been detected. Bed bugs are nocturnal, and during the day they’ll hide in crevices around the bed and walls – ensure you expose as many surfaces, cracks and crevices as possible to the chemical spray and fumigation process.

What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bugs are brownish-colored, and adults grow to about 4.5 mm in length. To help you visualize this, they are about the same size as an apple seed. However, you’re more likely to notice bed bugs if you are bitten and react to the bites, rather than by seeing them.

How do you kill bed bugs?

To kill bed bugs, you’ll need to use chemicals. This will probably be in the form of a spray, and may also include fumigation. Because these are harsh chemicals (that will need to be applied to all the nooks and crannies where bed bugs could be hiding), it’s important to check whether it’s safe to use these products on your bedding.

Where do bed bugs come from?

Bed bugs generally ‘arrive’ in homes, for example in your luggage. They’re small, and their thin, flat bodies allow them to hide easily in tight spaces. A single female bed bug can lay up to 5 eggs a day, so at such a rate, it doesn’t take long for an infestation to begin.

What causes bed bugs?

It’s easy to move bed bugs from place to place, by bringing along bedding or luggage containing bed bugs from one place to another. Their small size makes it easy for them to hide in luggage, for example; so, it really isn’t only ‘dirty’ hotels or homes that can get bed bugs.

How do you treat bed bugs?

Launder your bedding in hot water, then place a dryer on the highest possible setting. Scrub your mattress to dislodge any bed bug eggs, then vacuum it; after this, wrap it in thick plastic to prevent bed bugs getting in or out, and leave it wrapped at least a year (because bed bugs can survive up to this long).

How can you prevent bed bugs?

To prevent bed bugs, it’s important to regularly vacuum your bedroom, including the area around your bed; launder your bedding frequently, minimize mess and clutter in the bedroom. Clean regularly, and remember that bed bugs can hide in walls, bed frames, and other nooks and crannies – not just your mattress.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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