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Bed Bug Repellent Buyers Guide

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What Is a bed bug repellent?

A bed bug repellent discourages and prevents bed bugs from moving to a protected area such as the skin, luggage or furniture.

best bed bug repellents chart

1. OffProducts with >25% DEET sprays and lotions can be applied to skin and is proven to provide a high level of repellency against bed bugs Get Lowest Price
2. JT Eaton Luggage SprayUsed on luggage before traveling to prevent unwanted bed bugs from hitching a ride homeGet Lowest Price
3. BedlamDoes not repel, but kills insecticide resistant bed bugs and will not stain water resistant fabrics and surfaces (test first). Not for skin.Get Lowest Price
bed bug repellentBed Bug Repellent with 25% DEET

do bed bug repellents work?

There are very few chemical compounds that keep bed bugs from entering an area. Research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology (December 2013) in an article title "Repellency of Selected Chemicals Against the Bed Bug" lists DEET (see chart below for best products) and natural compounds under development by Bedoukian Research )isolongifolanone, 3-methyl-5-hexyl-2-cyclohexenone, propyl dihydrojasmonate and Y-methyl tridecalactone show "strong repellency against bed bugs."

Research has shown that sprays that contain at least 25% DEET can repel bed bugs. Follow the manufacturers directions for DEET sprays in terms of skin safety or if they will stain fabric or furniture. 

Repellent sprays are best used in areas where you suspect or know that bed bugs are present. 

Bed bug repellents vs. sprays

Bed bug repellents keep bed bugs away from a specific area for a limited period of time. They do not kill bed bugs. For example, if you spray a bed, the bed bugs will avoid the bed, but seek to hide in areas near that bed that have not been treated.

A better approach for an infestation is to purchase a bed bug kit that contains 2 types of sprays:

  1. Contact or Knock Down Spray: kills when sprayed on the bed bug or bed bug eggs
  2. Residual Spray: when sprayed creates an invisible field that kills bed bugs when the insect crosses through the treated area

best Bed Bug REpellent for skin

Effective bed bug repellents for skin contains at least 25% DEET. It is the main ingredient found in name brand products such as OFF (95% DEET) and Bug Barrier Insect Repellent (100% DEET). Research has shown that products with high concentrations of DEET (97%) show 83% per cent repellency after 8 hours and 93% repellency after 3 hours.

When looking for what repels bed bugs on skin, the answer are products that contain DEET at >25%.

bed bug barrier repellent sprayBed Bug Repellent Spray

does DEET Kill Bed Bugs?

DEET does not kill bed bugs. 

Does DEET Repel Bed Bugs?

DEET is an effective and research proven bed bug repellent at concentrations >25%.  Use according to manufacturers instructions.

Does Sound repel Bed Beds?

According to research by R.W. Hofstetter and K.M. Yturralde shows that the four ultrasonic bed bug repellent devices do not work.  They do not attract or repel bed bugs. (Journal of Economic Entolology 105: 2107-2114, 2012)

best natural repellent for bed bugs

  1. Eucalyptus Oil Spray kills bed bugs, so Lemon Eucalyptus Mosquito Repellent might be effective in repelling bed bugs (Schaefer 2000)
  2. Isolongifolenone has a strong repellent action (Want 2013).  
  3. Diatomaceous Earth (Bed Bug Dust) is somewhat repellent when spread in a thin layer on surfaces
natural bed bug repellentDiatomaceous Earth is a natural product that has some repellent properties. It also kills bed bugs when the dust attaches to insects.

natural products that do Not repel bed bugs

The following products do not repel bed bugs:

  • lavender
  • thyme
  • tea tree oil
  • sweet rice
  • boric acid

Readers of the Bed Bugs Handbook have reported that Avon Skin So Soft keeps bed bugs from biting. We have not been able to find any research to support (or deny) that the product works in this way.

do insecticides repel bed bugs?

Insecticides that are common ingredients in bed bug insecticides do not repel bed bugs. Chemicals tested include pyrethroids and Chlorfenapyr. (Moore, D. J., and D. M. Miller. 2006. Laboratory evaluations of insecticide product efficacy for control of Cimex lectularius. Journal of Economic Entomology 99: 2080–2086)

How to prevent bed bugs in luggage

bed bug repellentBed Bug Liner Keeps Insects Out
bed bug repellent laundry bagBed Bug Proof Fabric Laundry Bag. When Traveling Keep Dirty Clothes Sealed In The Bag For Bed Bug Protection.

How To Protect Luggage Before Traveling

Bedbug Video: How to Apply BedBug Repellent for Luggage

Featured: JTEaton Luggage and Mattress Spray


 This free brochure provides additional information on bedbug sprays.

Study on repellent properties of extracts from the catnip plant.
Available in a free Ebook

Follow these 4 easy steps to get rid of bed bugs.
Available in a free Ebook

Current research on bed bug repellents.
Available in a free Ebook

bed bug ThermalStrike Ranger portable luggage heaterBed Bug Heater Will Heat Luggage or Other Items To Point Where Bed Bugs Are Killed

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EPA: Pesticides to Control Bed Bugs

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