Pest Resources

What Scent Keeps Bed Bugs Away?​


Did you ever get tucked into bed by your mom or dad and hear the phrase “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”? Well, we’re here to help you do just that.

Bed bugs are a common pest found in many homes across America, clean or messy (despite the common belief). They are also commonly found in hotels, public transport, and motels, so keep an eye out when on the road!

This article will address things like what bed bugs are, how to find them, and how to keep them away.

1. What are bed bugs?


Firstly, we’ll take you through a quick introduction to these blood suckers. They are tiny, 6-legged bugs that look somewhat like ticks. They are red/brown in color and do not have wings.

They can be found in many pieces of furniture, but are most commonly found in beds, hence the name. This is because they are commonly brought into the home on clothing and bags. And, if you’ve come from a hotel and put your bag on your bed to unpack, the little insects will make their way into your comfy-looking seams.

One last thing: they are nocturnal creatures. Meaning you’re less likely to see them during the day, but they’ll be out-and-about when you’re asleep!

2. How do you know if you have bed bugs?

bed bugs-hiding-in-the-corner-of-a-room

There are some tell-tale signs that let you know you have bed bugs. The first and most common indication is itching on the arms, back, and legs.

If you inspect the itchy areas of your skin, you may find small red markings often in a line. These are your insect bites. They tend to bite, feed, and then move a few steps ahead. This is why you tend to find bed bug bites in lines.

Other signs that you have bed bugs include:

• Allergic reaction
• Red stains from squished bugs
• Brown stains from bed bug excrement
• Skin-shed from bed bugs that have grown and shed their skin
• Red bug groups around the seams of mattresses

To see if you have bed bugs, you should strip your bedding and inspect your mattress. If you have a memory foam mattress, you will not have bed bugs. This is because the foam is too dense for them to fit into, and there are no dark and cozy seams for them to make a home in.

If you have a standard spring one, then you should look directly at every seam around the mattress, moving it around to identify movement or black spots.

If you see any bugs, it’s time to call the bed-bug-busters.

3. What smell keeps bed bugs away?

When you’re looking at home remedies for bed bugs, you should only use indoor pesticides that are registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency. They will also be labelled to kill bed bugs. It is important to find this as they will be the products that offer you safety while killing the pests.

After you have taken care of the bed bugs, you don’t want them coming back. There are ways to do this that involve a bug spray for beds, or the IPM methods mentioned earlier. However, it should be noted that bed bugs are deterred by particular scents.

For example, male bed bugs are known to be repelled by the scent of the pheromones secreted by baby bed bugs. There are even products on the market that offer a spray with this scent. But unfortunately, we’re here to tell you that it will not help with female or infant bed bugs.

There are other methods for bed bugs you may want to consider:


• Blood Orange Essential Oil
• Paraffin Oil
• Silicone Oil
• Spearmint
• Rubbing Alcohol
• Lavender
• Tea Tree Oil
• Diatomaceous Earth
• Lemon
• Neem Oil
• Pepper Powder

Please note that research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology has shown that essential oils do not deter bed bugs as effectively, but can affect their bodies. The most useful of the above ingredients is silicone oil, as it results in a 92% bed bug death rate.

So when asking “what smell keeps bed bugs away”, we would highly recommend following leading research and adding silicone oil to the seams of your mattress and other affected areas in your infestation.

4. Which scents attract bed bugs?

Almost just as importantly, we should all familiarize ourselves with the scents and smells that can attract bed bugs. That way, we can avoid using them in particular areas.

Luckily, there are no particular perfumes, scents, or foods that would attract bed bugs. So you don’t have to give up your favourite dessert, but there are some smells from ourselves that will attract them.

The biggest smell that will attract any bed bug is the smell of blood, as this is their life source. They feed on the blood of humans and animals. However, it is easier with humans as we have mattresses that they can hide in during the day, and then when they are awake their food is laid out on a platter! (Disgusting, we know).

Another thing they are attracted to is the smell of each other. This is because when bed bugs feed on human blood, they then excrete poo with histamine from our systems. This smell attracts other bed bugs. So, it’s likely that if you have one, you’ll have more.

Finally, there is the carbon dioxide that we produce when we respire. Insects as a whole prosper in high concentrations of CO2. So, when we produce it all in one space over a long period of time (bed), then they will be attracted to the area to make a home.

Now, of course we are not in the business of telling you to hold your breath while you sleep, but we are here to advise you to keep your house well ventilated.


So, to sum everything up, you know how to identify bed bugs, how to exterminate them and how to deter them from returning. Or, to deter them from ever entering your house at all.

Don’t forget to check in with your local professional pest control service, as they will be able to conduct a thorough investigation of your house and let you know what the best plan of action would be to eliminate the pests.

 Learn more about Bed Bugs

If you are looking for other bed bug related articles – be sure to check out our other guides to help rid you of your pests:

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively. 

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