Most people use a combination of bed bug sprays and bed bug powders to kill off bed bugs fast. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of and finding the right spray to eliminate bed bugs is not always easy. Many natural residual bed bug sprays contain natural ingredients that have a proven repellent and insecticidal action against these infesting bugs. Some feel that they have to resort to commercial bed bug sprays to completely get rid of an infestation of bed bugs.
Contrary to popular belief, having bed bugs in your home is not a sign of a dirty home. Bed bugs are commonly found in clean hotel rooms, on public transportation, and movie theaters. They can easily be brought into the home in luggage, backpacks, or by purchasing used furniture. They can also travel between apartments in large complexes.
Although there are many ways to eliminate these tiny crawling bugs from your home, this article focuses on the best bed bug sprays to exterminate bed bugs effectively. You will also learn if natural bed bug insecticide sprays really work and what the precautions when using chemical bug sprays are.
What are Bed Bugs
The scientific name for bed bugs is Cimex lectularius. They are small creatures that grow up to 5 mm in size, or about the size of an apple seed. They have a flat oval-shaped body and will become significantly larger if they have fed. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs start life as a tiny egg, then grow into a nymph before becoming an adult.1
According to the Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky, bed bugs are more active at night when they come out to feed. They feed on the blood of humans and pets, however, in cooler temperatures, can go up to 6 months without feeding.
The best places to use bed bug sprays are in the tiny crevices around bed frames, in seams of mattresses, box springs, and headboards where bed bugs like to hide. The University of Kentucky says that unless the first signs of a bed bug infestation aren’t dealt with quickly, bed bugs can migrate to other rooms and infest those.
What are the Signs of Bed Bug Infestation?
To use sprays effectively to eliminate all traces of bed bugs, you need to know the signs of a bed bug infestation. The first sign that you may have bedbugs are some itchy bite marks on your skin when you wake up in the morning. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the bites from bed bugs cause red itchy bumps on the skin. You can learn about their other signs and symptoms in my articles on what do bed bug bites look like.
To check for signs of a bedbug infestation, Dr. DerSarkissian says that you may notice rusty-colored spots on bed linen and mattresses. These spots could be either blood stains or bedbug excrement. You may also find shed skins around bed frames, mattresses, and other hiding places. Also, a musty smell is usually present where a large number of bed bugs are living.
Other common places where you will have to use a bedbug insecticide spray are behind headboards, in furniture joints, inside books, the edges of carpets where they join with the baseboards, in closets, and behind torn wallpaper.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs with Sprays
Bed bug sprays usually act as an insecticide and repellent. The best kind of bed bug sprays should kill bed bugs on contact and need to be used repeatedly to help eliminate your bug problem. According to the Texas A&M University, bed bug sprays are best used in combination with other bug control methods like natural bed bug powders. This is because bed bugs don’t build up resistance to natural bug powders and products like diatomaceous earth which kills bed bugs as long as the powder is dry.
Apart from spraying insecticidal liquid on bed bugs, other ways of getting rid of bed bugs for good include freezing items, using heat treatment, hot steam, and vacuuming. For more detailed information, read my article about the top 10 ways to get rid of bed bugs.
Natural bed bug sprays or chemical bug sprays?
There are many commercially produced natural and chemical bed bug sprays. It is important to be careful when using chemicals around the home in case they come into contact with children or pets.
According to the Texas A&M University, there are no “magic” insecticide sprays for bed bugs. However, both natural and chemical sprays have a measure of effectiveness against bed bugs. One of the benefits of chemical sprays is that they are stronger and will kill off bed bugs quicker. However, the drawback is that many populations of bedbugs have become resistant to pyrethrins and pyrethroids – the 2 main chemicals in many chemical bed bug sprays. Therefore, they may not be effective in reducing many bed bug populations.
One of the reasons that many people choose natural bug sprays instead of chemical ones is that they are less toxic to use around the home. Also, bed bugs don’t build up resistance to natural oils and other ingredients in natural bed bug sprays.
As with all sprays – chemical sprays and natural sprays – you need to spray the liquid directly on the bed bugs to kill them and repeat the application frequently. However, many of the best bed bug sprays have a residual effect and will continue to be toxic to the bed bugs for a certain time after spraying.
The Best Homemade DIY Bed Bug Sprays
Let’s look first at some effective bed bug sprays that you can make at home. There is also scientific research to back up the insecticidal effect of these sprays to use as part of your battle against bed bugs.
Tea tree oil bed bug spray
One of the many uses of tea tree oil around the house is to use it as a DIY natural bed bug spray. Tea tree oil contains compounds that have an insecticidal effect against insects as well as their larvae and eggs. Although no direct studies have been published on the effect of tea tree oil on bed bugs, research has shown that it has a lethal effect on many bugs and insects.
A study in the journal Veterinary Parasitology reported that diluted tea tree oil effectively kills off fly eggs and also helped to repel larvae.6 Another study published in the journal BMC Dermatology found that tea tree oil was more effective as an insecticide than pyrethrins-based products in getting rid of mites.7
How to use:
To easily make your own natural tea tree oil insecticidal spray for bed bugs, this is what you should do:
Put 20-30 drops tea tree oil in a small spray bottle, fill with water, and shake well.
Liberally spray in all crevices in your bed frame and furniture where you think the bedbugs are.
Repeat 2 times a day and continue using the spray until all signs of the bed bug infestation have gone.
If you don’t see any improvement, you could try to increase the concentration of tea tree oil. Remember to always shake the bottle well before use.
Essential oil bed bug spray
You can also make your own homemade bed bug spray by mixing other essential oils that are proven to kill off bed bugs. The mixture of essential oils will not only help rid your home of bed bugs, but the pleasant smell will help mask any musty odors from the bugs.
The journal Insects published a study on products containing essential oils for bed bug control. It was found that essential oils like cedar oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, and lemongrass oil all have insecticidal properties against bed bug populations. The study concluded that using these essential oils in a bug spray can be an effective way to reduce bed bug populations without putting humans at risk of exposure to chemicals.8
How to use:
To kill off bed bugs from your bed frame, box springs, or mattresses, you can make and use your own essential oil bed bug spray this way:
- In a small spray bottle filled with water, add 10 drops peppermint oil, 10 drops clove oil, and 10 drops cinnamon oil.
- Spray in all joints, screw holes, and nooks and crannies where the bed bugs could be hiding.
- Also, treat mattress seams and other soft furnishings with the essential oil natural bed bug spray.
- Use 2 times a day and continue applying until you no longer see evidence of bed bugs.
- Remember to always shake the bottle well before use.
- You can also experiment with different essential oils to get the type of bug spray that is effective for you.
Best Natural Bed Bug Sprays
For many people, it is easier to buy a natural bug spray to kill off bed bugs fast and prevent a new infestation. There are some popular bed bug sprays on the market that have been scientifically proven to eliminate bed bug populations and also get great reviews from customers.
Here are the 3 best bed bug sprays that will help to kill off bed bugs fast and naturally.
EcoRaider contains natural active ingredients geraniol and cedar oil to create a commercial natural bed bug spray.
The journal Insects studied the effectiveness of EcoRaider on controlling bed bugs and found that it helped to kill up to 90% of all bed bugs. It effectively killed off bed bugs from sofas, curtains, furniture, and wall decorations. Also, the residual spray was effective for up to 2 weeks after application.
To use EcoRaider, the manufacturers recommend spraying all edges and seams of mattresses, as well as box springs, and bed frames. You can also use the spray to kill bed bugs from cushions, behind baseboards, edges of carpets, and moldings. It is safe for the whole household and won’t harm pets. You can get more information about EcoRaider and purchase it in Amazon here.
Bed Bug Patrol
Another natural bed bug spray that has a proven insecticidal effect against pesky bed bugs is Bed Bug Patrol. This natural spray for getting rid of bed bugs contains clove oil and peppermint oil as its active ingredients.
The Journal of Economic Entomology reported on a study showing that Bed Bug Patrol eliminated around up to 90% of all bed bug nymphs. The study concluded that Bed Bug Patrol is a “useful pesticide for controlling bed bug infestations.”
Bed Pug Patrol doesn’t contain any harsh pesticides and can be sprayed anywhere you see signs of bed bugs. It can also be used safely on fabrics because it won’t stain them. Bed Pug Patrol also comes in various sizes and can be used as a cost-effective method for controlling large bed bug infestations. You can get more information about Bed Bug Patrol and purchase it in Amazon here.
BBT-2000 is another natural pesticide for exterminating bed bugs. BBT-2000 contains cedar and soybean oil to help get rid of bed bugs and prevent them returning. It also has a residual effect on the bugs and will help destroy bed bugs for up to 1 week after spraying.
According to another study in the journal Insects, BBT-2000 showed substantial bed bug control and was also effective against resistant strains of bed bug populations. In some cases, it outperformed chemical bed bug sprays.10
Chemical Sprays to Get Rid of Bed Bugs
Although some chemical bed bug sprays are effective at dealing with a bed bug infestation, their toxicity to humans and pets are an issue for many people. Great care has to be taken to avoid exposure that could be dangerous to humans, and some bug sprays manufacturers don’t recommend using the product if children are around.
Also, the journal Insects in 2016 published a report on the growing problem of bed bug becoming resistant to pyrethroids (chemical compounds used to control bed bugs). This means that many commercially available chemical-based bed bug sprays may not be as effective as they once were.
Here are the most effective chemical sprays for bed bugs that are on the market.
Temprid SC is a popular chemical-based bed bug spray because it can also be used to get rid of other bugs and insects from the home.
According to research done on Temprid SC, it contains a combination of chemical pesticides that can be used against pyrethroid-resistant bugs. It has become a popular choice as a chemical bed bug spray to control bed bug populations resistant to pyrethroids.
The solution can be sprayed to all cracks and crevices where bed bugs lurk and its residual effect helps to continue eliminating bugs after application. However, it may cause skin irritation if used on mattresses and cushioned furniture. You can get more information about Temprid SC and purchase it in Amazon here.
Harris Bed Bug Killer
Harris bed bug killer is another popular chemical spray to eliminate bed bugs from your home. The manufacturers say that Harris Bed Bug Killer can be used on all soft fabrics to get rid of bed bugs as it won’t stain. You can also spray the solution in all nooks and crannies in your bed frame, furniture, and corners of your room to exterminate the bugs. It is also odorless. You can get more information about Harris bed bug killer and purchase it in Amazon here.
Ortho Home Defense
Because of its fast-acting effect on killing bed bugs, Ortho Home Defense aerosol spray gets good online reviews. Ortho Home Defense bed bug spray is also effective against populations of pyrethroid-resistant bugs and can be used for ticks, fleas, and lice.
According to a study carried out on Ortho Home Defense, it contains a chemical bifenthrin that is considered relatively safe and kills off bugs that pyrethroid-based insecticides can’t. It is also effective against bed bug eggs and larvae.12 It should be sprayed as a spot treatment in any crevice where bed bugs can reside. You can get more information about Ortho Home Defense bed bug spray and purchase it in Amazon here.
Get to Know the Bed Bug Habits
In order for bed bug sprays to be effective in your battle against these tiny pests, you should know something about the habits of bed bugs.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, there are a few facts that are important to know to completely eliminate the very last bed bug from your home.13
For example, females can lay eggs anywhere and it can take up to 10 days for them to hatch. Therefore, it’s important to continue using bed bug sprays and powders even after you think the bed bugs have gone for good.
At room temperature, bed bugs can survive for up to 3 months without feeding. So, even if no one is living in the room, bed bugs can still survive, especially if there is enough moisture in the air. However, to get rid of bed bugs effectively, you should not just rely on bed bug sprays for exterminating the pests, you should have an integrated pest control management program. This includes using various methods for bed bug removal.
Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites
While you are fighting your bed bug infestation with sprays, bed bug powders, and other techniques, you may have to treat bed bug bites.
According to Dr. William Shiel on MedicineNet, bed bugs will bite any exposed area of the body and the most common places are the face, neck, and arms. The bed bug bite can leave you with an itchy welt that looks like a small raised red bump.14
You can treat bed bug bites by using a tea tree oil spray. The journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews published studies showing that tea tree oil can help to reduce skin inflammation and has antimicrobial action.15
You can make a natural bed bug bite treatment by putting 1 cup distilled water in a spray bottle and adding 10-15 drops tea tree oil. Shake well and spray on areas of skin that have clusters of bed bug bites. Or, you could spray the remedy on a cotton pad and apply to the itchy bumps on your skin. You can also dilutes tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil (a few drops of tea tree per one tablespoon of carrier oil).
Alternatively, if you only have one or two bites, you could put a drop of tea tree oil directly on the bite as a spot treatment to help relieve itching, inflammation, and prevent any infection developing.
For more ways to stop skin irritation caused by bed bug bites, please see my article on the top ways to get rid of bed bug bites naturally.