Bed bugs are tiny parasites that feed on human blood. They bring with them many negative effects, including sleep deprivation, rash, itching, and allergies. The number of bed bugs is growing, as many become resistant to common insecticides. As a number of insecticides can be harmful to humans, many consumers are looking for greener alternatives, including the use of essential oils. So, on that note, does tea tree oil kill bed bugs? The answer is yes and no. Tea tree oil contains insecticidal properties that can kill both bed bugs and their larvae. However, using tea tree oil for bed bugs will only work if they come in contact with undiluted tea tree oil. In this article, we will debunk the myths and facts about tea tree oil and bed bugs, and try to answer as many of the common questions as we can!
What is Tea Tree oil?
Tea tree oil comes from the tea tree, which is botanically known as Melaleuca alternifolia. This is where it gets its other common name, which is melaleuca oil. Tea tree oil is native to Australia, where it is very common in traditional medicine. In addition to using tea tree oil for bed bugs, anecdotal evidence indicates it can be effective in treating certain skin conditions, lice, insect bites, and other bacterial infections.
Tea Tree Oil and Bed Bugs
As mentioned, studies show tea tree oil offers insecticidal properties. While this sounds promising, the downfall is that it is necessary for tea tree to come in direct contact with bed bugs to kill them. Unfortunately, they tend to hide inside mattresses and furniture and breed and multiply very easily. However, before we discuss other methods of repelling bed bugs, let’s take a closer look at tea tree oil and how it actually works.
Chemical Components of Tea Tree Oil
- Terpinen-4-ol: Terpinen-4-ol is the subject of studies looking at natural pest control. Research tells us that it is an effective botanical insecticide, and can even be more effective when in combination with other terpenes.
- 1,8 Cineole: Studies done on 1,8 cineole, which is a major component of eucalyptus oil, also indicate its insecticidal properties. Cineole shows effectiveness against the carriers of both dengue fever and the white fly plague.
- Gamma-Terpinene/Alpha-Terpinene: Gamma-terpinene is listed as a bio-pesticide, as it appears to work against certain types of fungal pathogens. Other terpenes show similar traits, which is likely part of their role in the plant itself.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs actually breathe through little holes on the underside of their bodies. These holes are called spiracles. The spiracles take in air and oxygen, which then move through their body through a series of tubes. When the bed bugs come in direct contact with tea tree oil these spiracles and tubes become blocked and the bugs actually suffocate to death. This is what makes using tea tree oil for bed bugs ineffective, as you have to spray each one directly. As this is virtually impossible, using tea tree oil alone is not going to be the cure-all for your bed bug issue.
Using Tea Tree Oil for Bed Bugs: The Safety Issue
Tea tree oil is not safe to use directly on the skin. It is very highly concentrated, and can cause irritation and burning. Furthermore, many people are sensitive or have allergies to tea tree. The oil is also very toxic if ingested, particularly to children or those with weakened immune systems. You should never use tea tree oil on or anywhere near your mouth in spite of contrary advice online. Last but not least, tea tree oil is very toxic to pets!
Can Tea Tree Oil Still Have a Role in Treating Bed Bugs?
Absolutely! While tea tree oil alone may not be the most effective way to rid your home of an infestation, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a role to play. Tea tree oil happens to be a great option when it comes to treating and reducing symptoms of bug and insect bites. As tea tree does have antibacterial and antifungal properties, it can also help to reduce the risk of infection in open sores (like itchy, scratch bed bug bites!). To use tea tree oil for bed bug bites safely, you must dilute it first. We recommend following the dilution guidelines set out by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists (NAHA), which you can find here.
Other Common Methods of Repelling Bed Bugs
Heat is another effective method, but similar to tea tree oil it is almost impossible to reach bugs that hide deep in mattresses, cracks and crevices. Without killing all the bugs they will continue to breed, and the infestation will continue. You can, however, wash clothes and sheets on high temperature settings to help kill any leftover bugs, as well as use a steam cleaner on carpets, drapes, and other furniture.
Use Vacuum Cleaner
While using a vacuum cleaner won’t actually kill bed bugs, it is a good way to suck them up and dispose of them elsewhere. Keep in mind that vacuuming alone is unlikely to cure an infestation, but only reduce the number of bugs in your house.
Hire A Professional
This is the best course of action, though sometimes it isn’t the easiest. Hiring a professional can cost money, and it can also take time. Depending on how bad your infestation is, you may even have to temporarily leave your home. That being said, this is the one way to efficiently and effectively make sure that your bed bugs get gone.
Why Choose VINEVIDA for Tea Tree Essential Oil?
All of our oils come in amber glass bottles, complete with leakproof caps. This helps to protect the integrity of the oil, and means you don’t have to worry about spills!
At VINEVIDA we aim to offer some of the most competitive pricing on the market. Our essential oils come at wholesale prices, regardless of the quantity you order. We believe in helping everyone live their very best life!
All of VINEVIDA’s oils are 100% pure. Our tea tree essential oil is no exception, and we source it straight from its native Australia!
If you are a fan of clean, natural alternatives to chemical insecticides, it's likely you’ve heard talk about using tea tree oil for bed bugs. While tea tree oil does kill bed bugs, it unfortunately isn’t the most effective method as it relies on direct contact. As bed bugs tend to hide in cracks and crevices, this makes them almost impossible to eradicate using this method alone. However, tea tree oil still has an important role to play! Following NAHA guidelines, dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil and apply it to bed bug bites. It can potentially help relieve itching, as well as prevent further infection.