A Minty Menace: Does Peppermint Oil Kill Bed Bugs?

Peppermint is used for various aromatherapy and sometimes medicinal uses, but does peppermint oil kill bed bugs? Yes, it can, if applied correctly. Still, it's not likely to be what you need if you have a bed bug infestation. Get to know more about how peppermint oil works (and doesn't work) in the fight against bed bugs.

By Pest Advisor Editors (Updated on Jul 15, 2023)

Fact Checked by Jason Chapman

A Minty Menace: Does Peppermint Oil Kill Bed Bugs? photo

With so many uses, peppermint oil is a powerhouse when it comes to reducing various physical maladies and cleaning. But does peppermint oil kill bed bugs? Let’s take a look at some of the things you should know:

  • Peppermint is a good insect repellant.
  • When applied directly, peppermint oil can indeed kill bed bugs.
  • It’s important to use vital safety rules when using peppermint.
  • There are limitations to what peppermint oil can accomplish.
  • Combining peppermint oil with other bed bug-busting strategies might be the best way to get rid of them for good.

Let’s delve into these a bit more deeply!

Creating a Bug-Free Zone With Peppermint Oil

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you want to prevent bed bugs from settling down and making themselves at home in your bedroom, finding a way to repel the critters in the first place is going to be easier than having to wage a full-out war on them later.

Peppermint oil is a strongly scented substance that can dissuade many types of insects, including bed bugs, from entering the home or getting too comfortable if they do find their way in.

The way bed bugs get established is generally to climb into luggage or bags when you’re out and about. They can also be carried into your home when you buy used furniture from a yard sale or thrift store. If you’re able to use some diluted peppermint oil to treat potentially contaminated items before bringing them in, it’s possible to repel the bugs from the get-go, causing them to abandon their mode of transportation.

You could also treat your bedroom with peppermint oil in an effort to cause any who wandered in to wander right back out again. If they don’t enter the bedroom or other spaces where they can hide and where people spend a lot of time, they might not get very far in terms of starting a full infestation.

Once you have an active infestation, though, you’re past the point of repelling them, since they’re already there. The next consideration is whether peppermint oil will kill existing bugs.

Peppermint Oil’s Lethal Touch on Bed Bugs

Peppermint oil is toxic to many insects, and bed bugs are included in that. Because of its high menthol content, it can seep through their shells and kill them with direct contact.

The main issue, of course, is that you can’t really apply enough peppermint oil to exterminate a large number of bed bugs, and you definitely can’t apply enough in the right places to wipe out all of the eggs that the live bed bugs have laid in various areas of the bedroom and other rooms.

This makes it difficult to eradicate an infestation with peppermint oil alone. With that being said, it does make a good complementary approach to controlling a bed bug population if you keep its limitations in mind.

Understanding the Limitations of Peppermint Oil in Bed Bug Infestations

As already stated, the main limitation of using peppermint oil to get rid of bed bugs is that it simply cannot get into all of the spaces where bed bugs can congregate and lay eggs. Remember, bed bugs nest in the tiniest of spaces, and you won’t be able to get the liquid oil into those spaces most of the time.

The other major limitation is also a caveat: Peppermint oil in general does come with some warnings. It’s common for people to assume that a natural oil would be safer than pesticides, and in many cases, this is correct. However, that doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

Peppermint oil is an essential oil and it can cause skin irritation or even allergic reactions like hives in some people. This is particularly true when it’s used in its undiluted state, which is potentially dangerous. This oil should always be mixed with a neutral carrier oil or water to dilute it. You only need a few drops of peppermint oil mixed with another oil or water to make a difference and create a strong scent.

In addition to skin irritation, peppermint oil can cause eye irritation, and it shouldn’t be taken internally, especially in its undiluted form.

Also, remember that peppermint oil (sometimes called menthol), is toxic to cats and dogs. If you have pets, consider not using this remedy for bed bugs. Instead, choose something pet-safe.

Best Ways to Apply Peppermint Oil for Bed Bug Execution

While you’re not going to be able to eliminate a full infestation of bed bugs with peppermint oil, you can certainly use it in ways that can repel them from the bedroom and also that might kill some bugs that are out in the open.

One way to use peppermint oil to kill bed bugs is to dilute it with carrier oil (usually people use coconut or almond oil, but other oils can also be used) and carefully apply it directly to the areas where the bed bugs are nesting. This might be around cracks and crevices, on the edges of a bed frame, or on the legs of a night table. Always check for potential damage with a small amount of oil in a hidden area first.

Another way to apply to these and other areas is to make a homemade peppermint spray. Just fill a spray bottle with water and add a few drops of peppermint oil. You can spray this wherever you want; since it’s heavily diluted, it should be safe to use where you’ll be, as long as you’re not allergic or sensitive to it. You’ll have to reapply frequently, since the scent will dissipate.

Finally, you can create a steam treatment if nobody in the house is sensitive to the scent of peppermint and if you don’t have pets who can get into the area where it’s used. You can fill a steam cleaner with water, add a few drops of peppermint oil, and use it on your carpets and furniture. The scent will deter bugs, the oil itself could kill some, and the heat will also be a helpful factor.

Combining Peppermint Oil With Other Bed Bug Control Strategies

If you’re seeing signs of bed bugs, chances are good that you have an infestation on your hands. In that case, you’ll want to hire a professional to take care of the problem quickly. That being said, you can still use peppermint oil as a complementary measure to boost the efficacy of the treatments they’ll be using.

You can steam-clean your carpets or otherwise use peppermint oil scents in your home to help repel the bed bugs. Ask the exterminator if you can use peppermint spray; you don’t want it to interfere with the chemicals they’re using.

Peppermint oil can be helpful in your war against bed bugs, and it will certainly help deter them from making themselves at home. Your house will smell nice and fresh, too. Just be sure to use other measures, too, so you can eliminate the problem promptly.

Citations and Credits

Featured image by Tiara Leitzman / Unsplash

Article image by Lucas van Oort / Unsplash

Article image by Giorgio Trovato / Unsplash





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