One of the most popular home remedies for insects is tea tree oil. Used to both repel and kill bugs, it is likely the first solution you will hear. But how do you use tea trea oil for bed bugs and how efficient is it anyway?
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is a natural extract from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, native to Australia.
Tea Tree Oil Advantages
- It features a pleasant camphor smell and is comprised of over 100 components.
- While toxic if consumed, the oil has displayed strong antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial qualities.
- Science is currently researching these qualities to determine whether tea tree oil is an effective topical antimicrobial treatment.
- Used to treat both acne and insect bites, tea tree oil is widely available at most health stores.
Tea Tree Oil: How Does it Work Against Insects?
Among the qualities of tea tree oil is its use as a combination insect repellent and natural insecticide against numerous pests. The list includes mosquitoes, ants, bed bugs, and other biting or stinging insects. It has also been used to effectively kill lice and other parasites.
- The solvent properties of tea tree oil soaks into an insect’s exoskeleton upon contact and suffocates them.
- For this reason, tea tree oil is a common home remedy against bug infestations.
- It is also an alternative to chemical repellents on people and pets, and even in protecting gardens.
Tea Tree Oil for Bed Bugs: How Does It Eliminate Them?
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The recommended method of using tea tree oil to combat bed bugs is diluting 20 drops of oil in a spray bottle and spraying the bed sheets.
This simple approach is, unfortunately, ineffective.
- Bed bugs may only be killed by direct contact with undiluted tea tree oil, which is harmful to humans.
- In addition, a small percentage of people are allergic to the oil and may suffer skin irritation upon contact.
Finally, bed bugs tend to hide in tiny cracks within the bed frame or nearby furniture, picture frames, and even electrical outlets. Spraying these may cause staining or create the risk of electric shock without any real chance of eliminating the infestation.
In conclusion, tea tree oil for bed bugs is a partial and temporary bed bug repellent, just like rubbing alcohol is.
Why Are Bed Bugs Such A Big Problem?
Once nearly eradicated in developed countries, they have become more populous than ever and have a high resistance to insecticides.
- Their ability to fit into tiny spaces and their exclusive diet of blood further reduce the effectiveness of many do-it-yourself remedies.
Perhaps the first questions asked after discovering an infestation is what home remedies will work.
There are numerous reasons why you might choose to handle invading bugs on your own, such as cost or avoiding dangerous chemicals.
Unfortunately, bed bugs are a special case and cannot be completely eliminated by these treatments.
Are There Better Options to Repel Bed Bugs?
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There are a wide variety of do-it-yourself treatment methods available for repelling or eliminating insects. Of these, several have been suggested for bed bugs due to their effectiveness on other species.
- It is important to understand that the nature of a bedbug infestation is different from termites, ants, or cockroaches. Thus, these methods are often either ineffective or simply not viable.
For example, diatomaceous soil is a nontoxic remedy used against cockroaches and other insects.
- This substance will absorb the waxy outer layer of an insect’s exoskeleton and lacerates the legs and shells as they crawl across, causing dehydration and death.
- Ingestion of the soil will destroy the digestive systems, also causing death.
- Unfortunately, spreading diatomaceous soil on and around your bed is as comfortable as spreading sand, cancelling out any potential benefits.
Using a Vacuum Cleaner or Steam Cleaner
While this does not sound like an effective solution, bed bugs do not live in colonies or hives like many other insect pests. Thus, eliminating many of the females and their eggs is sometimes as simple as sucking them up.
- Vacuum your mattress, the cracks of your headboard, and the surrounding area thoroughly.
- You will not get all of the bedbugs, but you will reduce their numbers.
- Be sure to remove the bag or canister somewhere safe to avoid any escapes.
- Steam cleaning is even more effective, as bed bugs cannot withstand high temperatures.
Note that these methods will not eliminate your infestation, they will merely reduce the severity.
Using Your Dryer
Another method which has some minor effect on bed bug populations is to place all of your sheets and linen into the dryer on its highest setting for at least 30 minutes. In case you remember, this is one of the EPA’s recommended solutions on how to get rid of bed bugs.
- The heat will kill all eggs, nymphs, and adults.
- Unfortunately, your dryer can only eliminate those bed bugs which are trapped inside. It will not have any effect on those bugs who are hiding in other locations such as in your bed frame.
Hiring a Professional
Bed bugs are a serious problem which spreads quickly if undetected. These pests have become highly resistant to insecticides and can hide in very small spaces due to their tiny, flat shape.
- Hiring a professional exterminator to inspect and remove the bed bugs is the only effective solution.
- They will be able to fully assess your infestation and determine the best method for removal.
Tea Tree Oil for Bed Bugs: Is It Really Efficient?
Just in some particular cases, when the infestation is not severe.
Remember: if you are dealing with bed bugs, there’s a high risk of them hitching a ride to work, a gym, or any other place you frequent to spread to other homes.
Do not rely only on home remedies to completely eliminate the problem! Discuss matters with a professional exterminator and make sure you use a mix of bed bug repellents to be sure you eliminate them completely!
Tea tree oil can be a partial and temporary effective treatment for bed bugs but only if the infestation is limited. Also, you should use undiluted tea tree oil to achieve good results.
Undiluted tea tree oil is harmful to humans. Some people (in a small percent) also develop skin allergies in contact with tea tree oil.
A common belief is that besides tea tree oil, other oils prove to be effective bed bugs repellents: lavender oil, clove, peppermint, cinnamon, or thyme oil. Their efficiency is questionable, however.
Among the most effective solutions, we can count: steaming and cleaning the house, clothing, and bedding; using high heat drying of bedding and clothing; freezing items you cannot heat; using a mix of DIY methods (including rubbing alcohol, essential oils, vinegar, etc.); get professional exterminators’ help; use bed bug monitoring devices to make sure you don’t have an infestation anymore.