Bed Bug Spray – Do They Really Work?

Unfortunately, since all humans are warm blooded, we make a tasty meal for bed bugs. Although small, they can cause us a great deal of discomfort and the anxiety they cause can keep you awake at nights. To make matters worse, they can multiply rather quickly so it’s in our best interests to get rid of bed bugs fast. If you are reading this, it’s very likely that you have considered trying a bed bug spray in your home and have wondered if it’s effective for controlling bed bugs. In this article, I will make sure these questions are answered and will teach you everything you need to know, which includes a simple, DIY bed bug repellent spray that you can make at home. I have also included a video for those that would like a quick summary of this article. Let’s get started!

Bed Bug Sprays Are Semi Effective for Killing Them

Yeah I know, that statement sounds really vague but let me explain. Since most bed bug sprays require direct contact with the insects, it’s critical that you spray it directly onto them. So if you manage to find these pests and bombard them with the contents of your new shiny bed bug treatment product, they will probably die. However, you need to remember the following points:

  1. Bed bugs will actively avoid any insecticide that you use in your home. When exposed to it, they are often sent into hiding (they will crawl, remember that bed bugs cannot fly), which can make them even harder to get rid of in the long term, especially if you have a large house with lots of carpets, etc. This will definitely not help you rest easy at night!
  2. Over the last couple years, there are many cases of bed bugs becoming resistant to a variety of active ingredients in bedbug sprays. Even pesticides such as DDT, Organophosphates and Pyrethroids are not as effective as they used to be. Some studies have shown that bed bugs become even more active when exposed to certain pesticides!
  3. It’s unlikely that you are able to visually see all the bed bugs that have infested your bedroom or home. As a result, it’s very possible that you will miss some of them during your extermination efforts. Since bed bugs have a fast reproductive process, even leaving a couple around your home can result in another infestation, making all your efforts to kill them a waste of time (and money).
  4. Most bed sprays do not kill the eggs that may be laying hidden somewhere in the room. If these are not attended to, you will have another bed bug problem in a couple weeks so it’s critical to kill them as well. If you are determined to get a bedbug spray, just make sure it contains an IGR (insect growth regulator) that will stop their life cycle.

Remember, I am not suggesting that they do not work. I am just pointing out that these bug treatments are not as effective as many think they are. If you have a small case of bed bugs and you catch it in the early stages, a spray would be a good bed bug killer for your bedroom. However, if you have a large infestation and you are getting a number of bed bug bites, its best to call an exterminator to help you as it’s almost impossible to do it completely by yourself. When I am travelling (mainly for business), I often take a natural bed bug repellent that I will talk about a little later. While it doesn’t kill them, it deters them which is all you really need for the short time period that you spend in the hotel room.

Are These Bug Sprays Dangerous for My Family or Pets?

If you use these sprays carefully and follow the tips below, you will not put the health of your family and pets at risk. However, since most bedbug sprays contain insecticide, some of them can be potentially toxic if you inhale the fumes and for this reason I highly recommend that you leave the room for at least 6 hours after application. I understand that there are a number of “Eco-Friendly” options on the market but you should always use any indoor pest control product with caution. Here are a couple pointers to remember before using these products:

  1. Always make sure that the spray specifically mentions it can be used inside your home. Also remember that you should never directly spray your clothes, pets or the members of your family!
  2. Follow the directions very carefully if you want to keep your family and pets safe. I will be showing you how to use a spray later in this guide but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the safety label of your product!
  3. If you are spraying it in your home, make sure it’s properly ventilated. Additionally, keep in mind that you may need to leave the item (such as a bed) unused for a period of time before using it again as previously mentioned.
  4. After doing a little research, I found that the CDC has officially identified over a hundred illnesses that can be directly linked to bed bug sprays. While a number of them are fairly mild and definitely not life threatening, it’s something to consider before going out to the nearest store to spend your hard earned cash on these products.

Please remember that this guide is not meant to scare you away from using sprays for bed bugs. However, it’s very important to know the potential dangers before using any product and hopefully you have learnt some valuable info.

How to Apply a Spray for Bed Bugs on Your Bed

Bed Bug Spray Bottle I know that many people will still want to use these sprays in their home. As a result, I thought that it would be useful for my readers if I outline a few steps that will ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Step 1: You must make sure that you purchase enough for your home. It’s very important to kill all the bed bugs to prevent a repeat infestation and the last thing you need is to run out in the middle of application. You also need to check the severity of the infestation to decide on how much you will need (sometimes it’s just cheaper to get your room treated by a pest control expert). Besides your mattress and box springs (under the mattress), you can look at your side tables, on your carpets, under your couches and even behind pictures.

Step 2: Use the bed bug spray and treat any areas where they might be hiding. I find that focusing your effects around the edges of the bed is very effective as this is where they often congregate (look out for the tell-tale brown marks). I highly recommend that you spend at least 25min per room as you don’t want to miss any bedbugs. For more tips, check out my other guide on killing bed bugs in bedrooms and other parts of your house.

Step 3: Monitor the situation and react immediately by repeating step 2 if you find any bed bugs in the future. I find that repeating this entire process once per week (for a month) will improve your success rate for overall bed bug control.

I also recommend that you vacuum your carpets and throw all your linen (sheets, etc.) into the washing machine for a hot cycle. If you have any other items that have come into contact with bed bugs, make sure that you wash or treat those as well (if it’s safe of course, you don’t want to spray your kids favorite play toy for example). Removing the clutter from the room will also help you find and potentially kill bed bugs where they might have potentially been missed. Do you have any other bed bug control techniques that you would like to share? Please let me know in the comment section 🙂

What Is The Best Bedbug Spray That You Can Buy?

While The Bug Squad doesn’t sell any products (or have a specific bias towards any specific brand), we understand that many of our readers will be wondering where they can buy bedbug sprays. After doing some research and looking over a number of reviews to save you some time, here are my findings:

  1. Amazon (online store) seems to have a number of good deals for these sprays. You can pick one up for about $13 per 16oz. and it will be delivered to you within a day or two. Instead of providing a link to a specific product, I recommend that you type “bed bug spray” into the search field and order by ratings to find a decent product for your needs.
  2. Home Depot (online store) also has some good sprays for bed bugs and I encourage you to check them out for more details. It seems that they are a little cheaper but remember that your primary objective should be to find a quality product, not just the lowest price. In saying that, they have some great brands and they go for about $11 per 16oz.

Thumbs up for buying bed bug sprays locallyIf you would rather purchase it from a local retailer (such as Walmart or Target), that’s also perfectly fine. Just chat to the store manager (or an expert if they have them around) and they should be able to offer some advice on their products. Regardless of your choice, just make sure that the product has some good pest control reviews, kills bed bug eggs and can be used indoors and you should be good. If you are still unsure and have some bug questions, please feel free to leave a comment below this article and I will get back to you within about 24 hours. 🙂

How to Make Your Own Natural Bed Bug Spray

Yep, you read correctly, The Bug Squad has its own natural bed bug repellent that can be made at home and has proven to be rather effective for keeping these pests away. However, please note that it’s not meant to kill them, it’s only really for your bed and it’s a very temporary solution. Despite this, it can definitely give you some short-term peace of mind and is a great solution for hotel beds (while traveling) and other places like these.

Natural Spray For BedbugsStep 1: Grab a bottle that has a top attachment which will produce a fine water “mist” when you spray it (nothing fancy, as long as it doesn’t squirt out in a steam of water).

Step 2: Fill the bottle with water and add about 20 drops of lavender and rosemary oil for every 250ml of water. Shake well and screw the top on properly so there is no leakage (especially if it’s going in your travel bag)

Step 3: Target any areas that you want to repel bed bugs. This could be the mattress box, the mattress itself (don’t put too much though as the scent is rather strong sometimes) or even a certain part of the room.

Just remember, this is not a long term solution. Heck, it’s not even a solution to kill bed bugs. It’s just a method that works to keep them away for a short period of time. I have had a few queries about using rubbing alcohol to kill bedbugs and although it does work (when directly applied), I personally hate the smell so it’s not really an option for me. However, if you want to add it to the mix above, please feel free to do so as it will give your spray a bit of killing power 😉

In conclusion, bed bug sprays are not that good for killing bedbugs as they usually need direct contact to have any effect. Additionally, if you don’t get rid of them all, it could drive a number of them into hiding, making extermination even harder. These sprays don’t have any major health risks (as long as you use them correctly) and if you want to try one at home, just make sure that you follow the instructions on the label and read over the steps recorded in this article. If you are just looking for a repellent for a short term solution, I highly recommend that you give my one a try as it’s very effective. If you feel that you are losing the battle against these pests, please feel free to drop me a message and I will organize a free quote from an exterminator in your local area. Thanks for reading this article and I encourage you to show your appreciation by sharing it with your friends. 🙂

Educational Video On These Sprays:


  1. Avatar Jesse saavedra says:

    I try new pesticide called crossfire, for two weeks they die out. However the next week after, they refuse die any suggestions?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Jesse! I havn’t tried that product, but I recommend giving DE a try. Check out my article on getting rid of bed bugs, it will provide some additional info for you to read (instead of me typing it out here again hehe).

  2. Avatar carol says:

    hello .. i am planning a cross country trip and will be staying in hotels along the way ..i am staying in 4* places but would like to know if i should spray the room when i check in ?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Carol, you can do that if you want, but your best bet is to just check the corners of the bed, etc. for signs of them. You will quickly notice some discoloration if there is a bed bug problem. Hope that helps!

  3. Avatar Aaron Kriegerson says:

    Thanks for your article about how to exterminate bed bugs, Natasha. I’ve never had them, but I hear that once they infest a mattress they can be very difficult to prevent from spreading and kill. I’ll keep your tips in mind about how to spray for them. However, I might be tempted to call a bed bug exterminator to make sure that they are gone for good.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Aaron, agreed, it is difficult and often needs a professional skill set.

  4. Avatar george hall says:

    Is heat a good way to kill bedbugs?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi George! Yes, high temperatures can kill bed bugs, using a steam cleaner is a good example of it.

  5. Avatar Steve Foley says:

    Hello Natasha,
    I added you last year after I added Denise Donovan from the IBBRA. We are a heat remediation company in East TN, Gatlinburg precisely, and I could not agree with your info more. We are constantly taking over contracts from hotels and vacation rental companies in our area because the chemicals just are not working. By reiterating many times that chemicals just don’t work like they used to, I am glad to see someone in the bedbug industry actually wants to let everyone know that. Most of us do our best not to step on fellow exterminator’s toes, but nice to see someone mentioning the obvious. We would love to be connected with you in any way possible. Let me know what you need from us, and email over anything I would need to send to me tech guy to do the same for you.

    One thing in the article though. We have found that washing 1st doesn’t always solve the problem and can spread some of these pests to the next load of laundry. It is my understanding that it is difficult to drown a bedbug in the short period of time during a wash cycle. I have also witnessed live bedbugs ‘stuck’ in the drain holes of the washer after the spin cycle has finished.. Some of the newly fed little bugger are so fat, they can’t slip through the holes. What we have our clients do in the lodging industry is to ‘dry’ all lines/clothes first. The temp on most dryers in ‘high cycle’ will reach up to 170′, which will kill all of them, and then they get caught in the lint trap for easy cleanup. They can then wash dirty laundry or if it were clean, they can refold and put up. Just a neat little trick we have learned over the past few years.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Steve! Thanks for your kind words, they mean a lot coming from a pest expert such as yourself. I also appreciate the tips that you have shared in your comment, they will definitely be beneficial to my readers (I also learned a couple things 🙂 ). I have left the link in your name intact so that others may find your website as my way of saying thank you for the value you have added to my article. Have a good one!

      • Avatar daisy says:

        HI Natasha I really appreciated the info on this website. I am so frustrated because I have a bed bug infestation. We had bedbugs at our old apartment, that we moved from two an a half years ago. We threw out our beds and we sleep on air mattress. I see them but they are not full grown just small red dots. They are in all my clothes. I am the only one sensitive to them, so I have skin bites on my back and also on my face because they get into my hair. I had a professional come in about a year ago and that helped for a little while.. They are still here an I can’t afford to pay a professional again. I really just want to get rid of them once and for all. my back hurts so bad, I have not slept on a regular bed in over two years. They have cause me so much anxiety that i can’t sleep. Any extra advice you can give, woul be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.


        • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

          Hey Daisy! Its a pleasure, glad you have enjoyed it. I highly recommend that you rent (or borrow) a handheld steamer. After hot washing your bedding, clothes, etc, use it once a day on your entire room (beds, carpets, curtains, etc.). Provided its hot enough, this will kill those insects without an excessive expense. If this doesnt work, get an exterminator and then followup with the steamer, that will almost guarentee that they will be removed. Cheers Nat

  6. Avatar Dr. Chazhoor John Babu says:

    Hi Natasha, I am delighted to see your very confident approach to the most difficult problem of the universe! I liked your simple approach in recommending “Eco-friendly” products. In India we still use some of the harsh insecticides because its the only thing that really works. I look forward to hearing from you!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey! I usually recommend eco-friendly products when they are an effective alternative to chemicals. However, when it comes to bed bugs, you usually need more “stopping power” and unfortunately, most natural products only really repel them (such as my natural bed bug spray outlined in this article). I have noticed a number of natural solutions online but since I haven’t had much success with them and thus don’t recommend them to my readers. Thanks for your comment 🙂

    • Avatar Lorelai @ Pest London says:

      I’m pretty sure DE (diatomaceous earth) is an effective natural and eco-friendly manner to get rid of bed bugs. If they are persistent you can maybe combine a DE treatment with essential oils and steam treatment. I think it can be achieved, maybe harder than with hardcore chemical pesticide/insecticides, but it’s worth the shot having in mind the harmful properties of the chemical sprays. Seriously, I’d rather get bitten a few more days than poison my body (and those around me and the environment) with neurodamaging toxins. But I guess that’s just me.

      • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

        Hey Lorelai! Absolutely, I can agree with that, thanks for leaving a comment!

      • Avatar Kira Hutchinson says:

        After reading that a hotel where we stayed had bed bugs recently, I am paranoid and wanting to treat our bedrooms for preventive purposes. I’ve read a lot of blog posts and appreciate your natural approach! I’ve seen that some people say ethyl alcohol and diatomataceous earth are also helpful. What are your thoughts on combining the essential oils you recommend with water, grain alcohol, and some DE in a spray bottle? Is there anything else that might help repel and/or kill possible bed bugs without being toxic to our young family? Thank you very much!

        • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Kira, that sounds good. Also keep an eye out for any signs of bed bugs moving forward and you should be able to catch it early, if it ever happens.

      • Avatar Stacey says:

        Lorelia, Do you recommend a particular spray.

  7. Avatar Mel Chilewich says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. Quite a good discussion on sprays. My partner and I have also spent quite a bit of time trying to help prevent infestations and re-infestations. What do you think of Gluutube for bedbug detection? I have been looking for opinions from other professionals and your thoughts will be most appreciated.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Mel! I haven’t actually used the product but it looks pretty decent. I will have to get some feedback on it from my other readers before I recommend it. Thanks for sharing it with us though, appreciate your input and contribution to The Bug Squad. 🙂

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