Do a quick search on the internet and you’ll find many claims about essential oils. From getting rid of a headache to fighting infections, it seems like there’s nothing that a few drops of the right oil can’t do. But can they get rid of pests?
There are plenty of articles saying they can get rid of pests from mice to bed bugs, and others that sing the praises of oils like citronella for their ability to repel insects like mosquitoes.
However, if they work at all, their effectiveness is likely to be limited, like many DIY pest control methods. Even if you do manage to repel pests for a short time, essential oils won’t be of much use if you are dealing with an infestation.
So can essential oils get rid of pests?
Before you spend your precious time and money on yet another DIY pest control method that doesn’t work, read on…
Common myths around essential oils and pest control
Peppermint oil gets rid of mice
Do a Google search and you’ll find claims that putting peppermint oil on cotton balls and leaving them near where mice might be getting in will deter them.
This theory is probably based on the fact that mice and rats have a very keen sense of smell. But there’s no evidence to back up these claims, and even if rodents don’t like the smell, what’s to stop them from going and setting up home somewhere in your house that doesn’t smell like peppermint?
Your time and money would be far better spent pest-proofing your home to stop mice from getting in. Seal any cracks in walls or gaps around pipework, keep your house clean, and call in the pest control professionals if there are signs of an infestation.
Tea tree oil gets rid of bed bugs
There are studies that have indicated that tea tree oil can effectively repel some insects like mosquitoes and flies but using it to get rid of bedbugs in your home is another thing altogether.
Even if the tea tree oil worked on bed bugs, you would have to make sure all of the bugs came into contact with the oil. Because bed bugs breed so fast and they are experts at hiding, you would be fighting a losing battle, trying to find them all and spritz them with oil before those few bugs turn into an infestation.
A better course of action for you would be to wash and dry your bedding and clothing, and vacuum everywhere, then calling in the professionals to treat the affected areas before bedbugs spread to your other rooms and even your neighbours’ homes.
Tea tree oil gets rid of cockroaches
Cockroaches are fast and they breed quickly, so spraying them with oil and getting all of them is a difficult task. You might get one of them, but the chances are, you won’t get its family that are hiding out under your appliances or in your walls.
What you can do is keep your home clean, seal up any cracks or gaps where cockroaches could get in, and fix leaks to eliminate potential water sources. Then call in professional pest control. Make no mistake, these are resilient pests and a few drops of tea tree oil here and there is not going to cut it.
The other issues with essential oils
Aside from being ineffective at getting rid of pests, there are issues you need to be aware of when it comes to essential oils.
They are unregulated: Unlike the pest control products we use, there is no legal obligation for essential oil manufacturers to tell you exactly what’s in the bottle, so you don’t know what you’re buying in terms of how strong the oil is and whether it contains any additives or not.
Concentrated or undiluted essential oils can be harmful to health: Essential oils may be natural, but natural does not mean safe.
Some essential oils, especially citrus oils like lemon and bergamot, can make the skin more sensitive to the sun, and this can cause inflammation and irritation.
Other oils like tea tree oil can be toxic to us, children, and pets (particularly cats) if swallowed, especially in its undiluted form.
Why you should call in the professionals
You might think ‘yeah they would say that’ when we tell you to call in the pest professionals to help you get rid of pests and keep them out. But it’s a better bet than wasting time and money on DIY pest control methods that don’t work.
You try them and they fail, and all the time the infestation is getting worse.
You could be thinking ‘do I really have to pay for pest control when I can just take care of it myself?’
Yes you could, but the chances are, you’ll spend more money on those failed attempts than you would on getting us to come in and do the job fast, safe, and effectively for you.
Essential oils may be helpful for some things, but pest control? We’re giving them the thumbs down.