Can Essential Oils be Used for Pest Control?

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None of us want to share our homes with creepy crawlies or critters. However, the more we learn about the chemicals that are traditionally used for pest control, the scarier they seem. 

This is why so many people are looking for natural, healthy, and safe alternatives – and why you might be wondering about essential oils for pest control. 

Selection of essential oils with various herbs and flowers in the background

The good news is that people have been using essential oils for pests for a very long time, and there are some very effective options out there. Here’s what you need to know. 

Assess the Situation

The first thing you need to consider when you’re thinking about using essential oils for pest control is what the situation is. 

If you’re just trying to keep ants out of your kitchen, it’s OK to use natural alternatives. However, if you’re traveling to an area with malaria or West Nile virus, you probably want to rely on the commercial products that are proven to protect against the pests that carry them. 

Protecting yourself and your family from pests should always be a risk assessment. If the risk from the pests is greater than the risk from a commercial pest control product, it’s probably best to – safely – use the commercial product. 

If the risk is a disease that could be dangerous or even fatal, it might be worth using a chemical-based product, as long as you do so safely. 

If you’re not sure about the risks of the type of pest you’re having trouble with, contact a pest control specialist. They’ll be able to tell you if you’re dealing with a harmless nuisance or a potentially dangerous pest problem. 

Essential Oil 101

The next thing you need to know is that just because essential oils are natural, that does not mean they are harmless. In fact, there are certain types of essential oil that can be dangerous for pregnant women, infants and pets. So again, if you’re not an expert, speak to one before you start using essential oils for pest control.

There are a few golden rules to using essential oils for any purpose that you should always follow. These include:

  • Always dilute your essential oils with a carrier oil or in water – and make sure you shake any premixed oils before you use them – they can separate over time
  • Avoid using essential oils directly on the skin of young children and babies – especially babies under 6 months – infants have very sensitive skin! 
  • Test your diluted oil on a small patch of skin on each family member before you use it on larger areas – some people might react badly to different kinds of oils
  • DO NOT take any essential oils internally – they are not safe to ingest
  • Make sure your essential oils are stored out of reach of children and pets

If you don’t already know how to use essential oils properly, speak to someone who does, and follow all manufacturer’s directions carefully. Also, make sure that you know when your oils expire. Like anything else, essential oils can get old, and when they do, their properties can change. 

Allergy Warning! 

It’s not only young children and pets that can have an adverse reaction to essential oils. Some people are also allergic to certain foods, herbs, and spices. Since essential oils are made from those things, they may trigger an allergic reaction, which could be very dangerous. 

Make sure you avoid any oils that you know members of your household are allergic to, and seek emergency medical care if you see any sudden rashes, difficulty breathing, or other signs of an allergic reaction. 

Effective Essential Oils for Pests

Now that you know the basics of essential oil safety and use, it’s time to look at essential oils for pests that actually work. 

While there are many claims about different oils, some are just that – claims. There are only a few essential oils that can be used successfully to deal with pests, such as:

  • Rose geranium, which can be used to repel ticks and is safe for use on pets and children
  • Peppermint is effective against a wide range of pests, including rodents, various insects, and even spiders – so if you’re looking for an all-purpose oil, this is a good place to start!
  • Cedar has been known to repel various insects for many years – and is why your grandma’s hope chest was probably made out of cedar!
  • Eucalyptus effectively repels fleas, ticks, and mosquitos
  • Citronella is another well-known insect repellent – and most of us have citronella candles that we use outdoors to keep the bugs away! 
  • Lavender – is one of the few essential oils that smells great and repels pests – it works well for various insects and other pests and is safe to use on children and pets

These are just a few of the essential oils that can be used to repel various insects and other pests. If you have a problem with a particular type of creature, you can speak to essential oil specialists to find out if there are any options or products specifically for those types of pests. 

DIY or Buy?

One of the big questions we all face when we’re wondering whether we should use essential oils for pests is whether we should make our own or buy a ready-made product. That’s really up to you, but if you’re not sure you can use these oils safely, or you prefer to rely on the expertise of a commercial product development team, there are some excellent options out there. 

Be sure to do your homework and look at the ingredients in the products you’re considering. Ideally, they should have some of the oils mentioned above, and since you’re looking for a natural product, make sure the other ingredients are identifiable. There’s no point in choosing a natural product that’s packed with all kinds of chemicals you can’t pronounce! 

Whether you make your own or buy products made with essential oils for pest control, remember that they won’t be the same as chemical products. One important thing to remember is that these kinds of products will usually separate, so you always have to shake them very well between uses. 

Natural pest repellents will also probably expire sooner than chemical products, so be sure you know what the shelf life of the product is, and how it should be stored. 

Essential Oils for Common Pests

We share our world with all kinds of creatures, so there’s always a chance you could get some very strange visitors in your home. However, when it comes to household pests, most of us struggle with the same types of critters. Here are some suggested essential oils for pest control for the most common unwanted visitors in your home:

  • Mice don’t like peppermint oil, so spraying it on cotton balls and placing it in their holes and anywhere you’ve seen evidence of them is a good way to keep them out
  • Tea tree oil is toxic to centipedes, so if you have a centipede problem, that’s a good place to start – however, tea tree oil can also be dangerous for pets, so be very careful when you use this! 
  • Peppermint, cedar, lemon, orange, or lavender oils (or combinations of these oils) will keep most spiders at bay – and smell great too! 
  • If you have a flea problem, try peppermint, citronella, and lemongrass in equal parts in a carrier oil – but remember that if you have a major flea infestation, you probably need professional help! 

You should also remember that if the pests themselves are dangerous, you probably also need a professional. That applies to stinging insects like bees and wasps, as well as snakes and potentially poisonous spiders. You do not want to share your space or experiment with animals that could put you in the hospital or worse! 

Repellents Aren’t a Magic Forcefield

It’s important to remember that whether you’re using essential oils for pest control or commercial products, they will never be 100% effective. 

This means that if you’re doing things that could be potentially dangerous – like walking in long grass in an area where there are ticks – you should still take other precautions. 

In the case of ticks, you should always check yourself for bites or attached ticks every time you come home from a place where you might have picked one up. If you notice that you have a mouse problem in spite of using peppermint and other natural options, consider trying something else. 

Some of the diseases carried by common pests can be very dangerous, so it’s best not to rely on a single form of protection. 

Make Your Own Bug Spray

If we’re not talking about a major infestation that requires professional intervention and you’re just looking for something to keep the occasional bug away, we have got a simple recipe for homemade bug spray. It’s cheap, uses natural ingredients, and doesn’t have any harmful aerosols. Here’s how you make it:

  • Pour four teaspoons of witch hazel into a clean spray bottle
  • Add up to 40 drops of your chosen essential oil to the bottle
  • Top the bottled up with water
  • Shake the bottle very well
  • Spray your natural bug spray where you need to keep pests away
  • Remember to shake the bottle every time you use it, and never spray homemade bug spray where it can get into pets’ or people’s eyes.

While this won’t eliminate very tenacious bugs (and would probably only make bees in a hive mad!), it will probably keep more casual visitors away. 

Natural Is Good – But Always Be Cautious

It’s understandable that people are wary of using commercial products these days. Now that we know all the scary stuff that’s in there, it’s only natural to want to avoid exposing our families to them. 

However, it’s also wise to remember that natural doesn’t always mean safe. There are many natural products that are very toxic, too, so you should always take extra care to learn everything you need to know to use any products – even natural ones – safely. 

These kinds of natural essential oils for pest control are also not intended to deal with severe infestations. If you have a serious pest problem, you probably won’t be able to get rid of them with any product – natural or otherwise. In those cases, you will need to contact a professional. 

Pest control professionals not only know which products to use to drive out pests, they also know where they are most likely to come from and be hiding. So they can get rid of the pests you don’t see too, and make sure that they stay gone. 

Pest Control Is a Multi-Pronged Process

It’s always a good idea to remember that in most cases, repelling pests treats the symptom – not the cause. Even if you get rid of them today, there’s a good chance they’ll be back tomorrow. 

If you want to get rid of pests and keep them gone, you usually need to determine where they are coming from too and treat that area as well. 

If you have a flea problem, you can’t just treat your pets. You need to treat their beds, your carpets, and other places where fleas like to hide. Or if you have a mosquito problem, you might need to find the standing water they’re breeding in and treat that problem.

Pests are a fact of life. They’re everywhere, and they can move into any home or garden. But that doesn’t mean we have to live with them. 

So, if you’re struggling with a pest problem and no longer want to share your space with these creatures, contact our team. We offer our customers the best, least harmful solutions to their pest problems, and we can do the same for you. 

It’s time to evict those unwanted pests in your home, and we can help you do just that. 

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