What Can I Put On My Body to Prevent Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs are a growing problem in North America, and infestations are becoming more common all over the world. Bed bug bites are the worst part of a bed bug infestation, especially as they only happen as you sleep. Luckily, there are plenty of chemical and natural products you can put on your body to prevent bed bug bites.

5 natural repellents against bed bug bites

If you can’t or won’t put chemical-based repellents on your body, there are effective natural alternatives to try! Here are 5 natural products that you can apply directly to your skin to prevent bed bug bites.

Essential oils – best bed bug repellents

Essential oils - best bed bug repellentsLots of essential oils have insecticidal activity. Whether any essential oil is potent enough to kill bed bugs is still up for debate, but applying essential oils to your body might stop bed bugs from biting you. Tea tree essential oil is thought to work especially well against bed bugs, as is peppermint essential oil, lavender essential oil, and eucalyptus essential oil.

If you use essential oils to avoid bed bug bites, it is important to apply them to your body safely. Pure essential oils can cause skin irritation, so you will need to dilute them with water before you put them on your body. 

Try mixing around 20 drops of tea tree oil or peppermint oil with water in a spray bottle, then apply this to your skin. You can also spray your sheets with a solution from essential oils, as the scent repels bed bugs and can further reduce your risk of bites.

Rubbing alcohol – effective bed bug repellent

Rubbing alcohol is proven to kill bed bugs (and bed bug eggs), but only if it makes direct contact with them. So, rubbing alcohol is an ineffective way to eliminate a bed bug infestation. However, its scent can repel bed bugs, so it may help you to avoid bed bug bites. Apply the rubbing alcohol to exposed areas of your skin before you go to sleep to keep bed bugs away.

Coconut oil to stop bed bugs

Coconut oil can be an effective natural bed bug repellent, and is gentler on the skin than essential oils or rubbing alcohol. One study found that coconut oil fatty acids can repel bed bugs, ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting bugs. Simply smooth coconut oil onto exposed areas of skin before you sleep to keep the bed bugs away (but be aware; coconut oil can cause acne if applied directly to the face)!

Vicks Vaporub 

If there’s one thing a bed bug can’t stand, it’s the smell of Vicks vaporub. Bed bugs are known to hate essential oils, and the strong, menthol scent of vicks makes them sick. Apply Vicks to your hands, feet, neck, and any other exposed area of skin before sleep to prevent bed bugs from biting you.

White vinegar

White vinegar has a strong, acidic smell that bed bugs hate, so it’s a popular homemade bed bug repellent. To apply vinegar to your skin, simply soak a cotton wool ball and rub it over areas most vulnerable to bed bug bites. You can also dilute a few teaspoons of white vinegar with water to make a homemade spray repellent for your bed. This method is unlikely to eliminate bed bugs, but it may prevent bed bugs from hanging out between your sheets.

Non-homemade products you can put on your body to prevent bed bug bites

Non-homemade bed bug repellents, like insecticidal bed bug spray, are widely available for purchase in shops. These products are often highly effective for preventing bed bug bites and may be your best option if you are dealing with a bed bug infestation.

Products that are designed to be applied to the body usually come in the form of a cream or spray and may contain chemical insecticides (such as DEET), or natural insecticidal ingredients (like lavender oil).

Natural vs. Chemical products – Which are more effective?

Natural essential oils are widely used as personal bug repellents and are generally safe to apply directly to the skin. Products containing tea tree oil, peppermint oil, or other essential oils have been widely reported to prevent bed bugs bites.

However, some people find that repellent products made using essential oils simply aren’t potent enough to keep bed bugs away. Certain essential oils can also be toxic to pets, so they may not be safe to use if you have a cat or a dog. If you have a severe bed bug infestation and homemade bed bug repellent isn’t enough to prevent bites, chemical products may be your only option.

Chemical bed bug repellents usually contain an insecticidal ingredient, such as permethrin or DEET. These products are safe to apply to your body and are guaranteed to keep bed bugs from biting you.

Frequently asked questions

What lotion do bed bugs hate?

Any lotion that contains essential oils like lavender, peppermint, tea tree, or eucalyptus will smell bad to bed bugs. This is because many essential oils are natural insecticides, and will make bed bugs flee the scene.

What scent do bed bugs hate?

What scent do bed bugs hateEssential oils are often insecticidal, and bed bugs especially hate the smell of peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil. They are also repelled by the acidic scent of white vinegar.

Will coconut oil keep bed bugs from biting?

Coconut oil contains fatty acids that have been found to repel bed bugs, ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting flies. Therefore,it may help to prevent bed bugs from biting you as you sleep.

How to prevent bed bug bites while sleeping?

Bed bugs hide in your bed frame and the seams of your mattress during the day, and only come out at night to get a blood meal. The only way to prevent bed bug bites is to apply a bed bug repellent to your body before you sleep. Homemade bed bug repellents include natural essential oils, rubbing alcohol, coconut oil, Vicks vaporub, and white vinegar. Non-homemade chemical products are formulated using insecticides like DEET and typically have stronger bed bug repellent properties.

For people with a mild bed bug infestation, natural remedies may be enough to stop bed bugs from biting. In cases of severe bed bug infestation, they are unlikely to completely prevent bed bug bites. If your bed bug infestation is out of control, contact a pest control professional for help. Bed bug control can be a long and intensive process, and bed bug infestations often require drastic treatment.

Does putting toothpaste on bed bug bites work?

Toothpaste won’t heal a bed bug bite, but it can certainly make them feel better. Bed bug bites are relentlessly itchy, and the menthol in toothpaste can help to soothe and reduce the itch. Other natural treatments for bed bug bites include calamine lotion, aloe vera gel, and peppermint essential oil.


Bed bugs can be difficult to get rid of, and bed bug bites can make your life a misery. Bed bugs bite only when you are sleeping, and hide away in bed frames and bedding during the day. When you lie down to sleep, they emerge for a blood meal and leave you with a rash of itchy bites that can take days or weeks to heal.

There are plenty of products you can put on your body that repels bed bugs and prevent bed bug bites. Unfortunately, non of these products will kill bed bugs so, if you have a bed bug infestation, you will need to do a lot more to get rid of them. Defending on the severity of the infestation, bed bug control can be a lengthy and difficult process. For this reason, it’s often advisable to recruit a pest control expert to help you tackle bed bugs.

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