The first thing you do (hopefully) when you find bed bugs in your home is to call in a professional exterminator. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the sooner you take action the sooner you can get back to a bed bug free life.
But bed bug removal does take time. Even under ideal circumstances it may take a few days for your exterminator to get you the schedule. Then it may take more than a single treatment to fully eradicate the infestation. In the meantime you’re going to be spending your days and, more worrying, your nights in the company of hungry bed bugs.
So while you’re waiting to be bed bug free how can you keep these mini-vampires from crawling and feeding on you and your family? Fortunately, there are some DIY topical repellants that can help you keep the bed bugs at bay – at least for a while.
Bed Bug Repellants
Topical insect repellants are nothing new. We’re all familiar with mosquito and tick repellants. This is the same concept. There are currently no commercially available repellants that will keep bed bugs at bay or kill them But there are some home remedies that can keep them from crawling over your skin and feeding on your blood.
So let’s dig in and see what we can find.
Essential oils are one of the most popular do-it-yourself bed bug repellants. These are home remedies that have likely been passed down through generations but are only now being more generally recognized as effective.
Some of the most common essential oil repellants include:
- Lavender – Lavender is a well known bed bug repellant. Unfortunately, it’s not a strong enough repellant to keep bed bugs out of your home. So planting a garden-full isn’t an option. However, when applied directly to the skin lavender oil can help to keep bed bugs off your body. They don’t like the scent. Which deters hungry bed bugs from crawling all over you. Lavender oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that help ease the itch of bed bug bites if some brave specimens do manage to bit you.
- Peppermint – Peppermint oil has a strong clinical odor that tricks bed bugs into thinking your skin is covered with an active insecticide. It can be used to deter bed bugs from choosing you as feeding host.
- Tea Tree Oil – Tea tree oil is a powerful bed bug repellant. Like peppermint and lavender it has a scent that irritates bed bugs and keeps them from climbing on a potential host. Tea tree oil also possesses an anti-microbial quality that helps to keep bacteria from bed bug bites getting into your system.
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil can be used to repel bed bugs and keep them from biting. The fatty acids irritate the bed bugs and disrupt their feeding. The acidic compounds also help to prevent bed bugs from biting.
Essential oils aren’t perfect and there’s no guarantee they’ll work for everyone. Body chemistry also plays a part. But they can help to minimize exposure to hungry bed bugs while you wait for your exterminator team to eradicate the infestation. The oils can be applied directly to the skin or diluted with water and used with an atomize as a spray.
Vaseline and Petroleum Jelly
Some do-it-yourselfers contend that petroleum jelly can be used as a personal bed bug repellant. But there really isn’t even much anecdotal reporting to back up the claim. Vaseline and similar products have little or no scent. This makes them unlikely to deter bed bugs from feeding.
Petroleum products may be used as a different kind of repellant. Coating the legs of your bed with vaseline can make it difficult for bed bugs to crawl up the bed frame. Since bed bugs can neither fly or jump climbing is their only option. If you can keep them from reaching you, you can minimize the biting.
Still, as repellants go vaseline, or even Vick’s Vapor Rub, offer little real protection.
These few DIY tricks can help to keep bed bugs off of you and your family for a short time. But they are only a stopgap. If you are being bitten by bed bugs the most important thing to do is call in professional help. Contact a licensed bed bug removal service at your first opportunity and set up a plan to eradicate the infestation.
Home made bed bug repellants can buy you some time and bring some small relief. But in the end you need to address the real problem and get rid of those bed bugs.