Can Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs? (And how to use tea tree oil to eradicate bed bugs)

By Landon Easton •  Updated: 03/01/21 •  6 min read

Tea tree oil, a natural extract from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, has been shown to be effective in getting rid of bed bugs. This essential oil soaks the insect’s exoskeleton on contact, suffocating the insects. With this in mind, tea tree oil is often used as a home remedy against bed bugs and also a great alternative to chemical repellents

Like other insects, bed bugs do not breathe (not in the actual sense of the word). They don’t have lungs to absorb oxygen from the air. Instead they have numerous ducts that lead to the bed bug’s exoskeleton where air flows through, which is how they breath.

Since tea tree oil blocks the ‘air ducts’, the bed bugs suffocate, pretty much on contact. Therefore, tea tree oil is an effective contact insecticide.

Bed bugs can be killed through direct contact with the undiluted essential oil. The only issue with tit is that undiluted tea tree oil is unsafe to humans.

Tea tee oil doesn’t, however, match up to conventional pesticides. Most of the store-bought pesticides sold today boast longer-lasting residual effects of thanks to their formulation with pyrethroids and pyrethrins, as well as inhibitory growth factors that not only kills adult bugs, the eggs, and larvae. Their residual effects last for weeks or even months, meaning any remnant bugs will die, even days after the space is sprayed down. There’s also the fact that although the smell of the essential oil sticks for weeks after the initial use, the oil won’t have any potency, and no bed bugs will be killed, which is why the store-bought pesticides are a preferable option at the end of the day. And tea tree oil only a short term remedy where there are no serious infestations.

How to use tea tree oil to get rid of bed bugs

Tea tree oil helps you combat bed bugs, but only if you use it the right way.

You’d want to take undiluted tea tee oil in a spray bottle, then spray it on the affected areas, including your bedsheets.

One caveat, though; some people are allergic to undiluted tea tree oil, and you may suffer from skin irritation when in contact with the skin. With this in mind, it’s often recommended that you and dilute 20 drops of undiluted tea tree oil with water but with tea tree oil in higher concentrations.

And since bed bugs often hide in tiny cracks in the bed frames, picture frames, furniture, and electrical outlets, spraying with tea tree oil may not just cause staining but also create a risk of electric shocks.

How to make the bed bug spray from Tea Tree Oil?

While the undiluted tea tree oil is more effective, it’s not the safest option for your skin, which is why you may want to mix oil and water in lower concentrations from 1% to 10%.

Tea tree oil concentrations Tea tree oil Water concentration
10% 10mls tea tree oil 90mls water
5% 5mls tea tree oil 95ml water
2% 2ml tea tree oil 98ml water


Why do bed bugs hate tea tree oil?

Bedbugs don’t like the feel or the smell of tea tree oils. They are attracted to carbon dioxide produced by the human body and also attracted to human blood. With essential oils on your beddings, the bed bugs would be attracted to something other than you, which increases the effectiveness of the oils. There is also the fact that the smell of tea tree oil is unpleasant to bed bugs, which makes it hard for the bugs to find human hosts. It also kills bugs rather quickly.

Pros and Cons of Tea Tree Oil for Bugs



Using Tea Tree Oil

To get rid of bed bugs using tea tree oil, you’d have to follow these steps:


Theoretically, tea tree oil works great in killing bed bugs, as long as the bugs come in contact with the tea tree oil. But in the case of infestations, tea tree oil might not be the best option, and store-bought pesticides might be the best option for you if you need the bed bugs to be killed instantly.

Also, tea tree oil is only effective in killing bed bugs if you use the essential oil at its highest concentration, also in its pure form.

There’s also the fact that tea tree oil only works if the bed bugs come in contact with the oil immediately, and it won’t work anymore once the oil dries out. The pesticides, on the other hand, will kill the bugs instantly when you first spray them, but the effects of the pesticide will be residual, and it will still kill the bugs days or weeks afterward.


Does tea tree oil kill all bed bugs?

Although tea tree oil kills bed bugs on contact, when applied directly, it isn’t as effective as store-bought insecticides, which contain permethrins, pyrethrins, and pyrethroids.

How long do the effects of tea tree oil last?

Tea tree oil doesn’t work for extended periods, unlike the commercial pesticides that kill insects on contact, while offering long-term preventive, bug-killing effects.

Landon Easton

Landon is a veteran in the Pest Control industry, with over 15 years of experience and has helped thousands of homeowners. He started Your Pest Guide in 2020 as a way to help spread his knowledge to the general public, so they can get rid of all of their creepy-crawlies in their homes without spending an arm and a leg.