Do Bed Bugs Smell?

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Visible bugs on your bed or other surfaces are the most evident signs of a bed bug infestation. However, there are often other overlooked indications: the insect odor.

As a result, one is left wondering Do bed bugs smell? What it is like, and how does one get rid of it.

Well, Let’s Find out!

Do bed bugs smell?

Like many other insects from genera Cimex, Bed bugs emit an unpleasant odor linked to the pheromones they generate when disturbed or agitated. Furthermore, Bed bug fecal waste can also cause odors.

Do bed bugs smell

The stench of bed bugs has been characterized as pleasant or cilantro-like by some, while musty or moldy by others.

That being said, this odor may not be detectable by everyone—some individuals cannot smell it at all—and it may only be detected when a large number of bed bugs are present, suggesting a severe infestation.

What Do Bed Bugs Smell Like?

bedbug smell

Bed bugs can be accidentally introduced into houses when they attach themselves to individuals or clothing in contaminated public settings. People can detect indicators of an infestation through a variety of methods, including odor and bed bug bites.

These pests have a musty, pleasant odor that is sometimes compared to coriander, musty or moldy. However, this bed bug odor is usually only detected after a significant infestation.

Infestation might also manifest itself in the following ways:

  • Sheets and bedding had dark blood stains.
  • Bites cause itchy, inflamed skin.

Impact of Bed Bugs Infestations

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown, parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They are difficult to control and can be a nuisance. The smell of bed bugs is often described as musty or sweet.

Bed bug infestations are tough to eradicate and can result in a range of issues for people who are afflicted, such as skin rashes, psychological tension, and sleep deprivation.

Why Do Bed Bugs Smell?

Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on the blood of mammals. These critters are often found in close proximity to human beings, and one common to identify an infestation is by the presence of their smell.

But why do bed bugs smell? Well, Bed bugs release pheromones to attract mates. This is how they find each other and how they reproduce. The smell of bed bugs is often described as musty or sweet.

Why Do Bed Bugs Smell When They’re Killed?

bug house infestation

Bed bugs that are alive have a unique odor; however, bugs that have been killed have a distinct odor as well.

These tiny creatures emit pheromones, which serve as both a mating signal and a warning. In fact, these pheromones are released when bed bugs are exterminated.

Furthermore, these chemicals are used to notify other bed bugs that they are in danger and can make their escape. As a result, when you eradicate bed bugs, you may detect a greater odor.

Do Bed Bugs Smell Bad?

Bed bugs produce an unpleasant, musty odor when they are present in large numbers. The bigger the infestation, the more intense and noticeable the smell will be. In fact, the smell gets worse as the population grows and the insects begin to feed.

If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, it is important to get help from a professional right away.

What Smell Do Bed Bugs Hate?

Fortunately, bed bugs despise a variety of scents, and some oils and products can even help you get rid of these pesky pests:

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is a well-known essential oil with numerous uses. It is common knowledge that bed bugs despise the smell of lavender.

In fact, when used in conjunction with other treatments, such as heat therapy, lavender oil proves to be an efficient way to get rid of bed bugs without using harsh chemicals.


Alcohol can help eliminate bed bugs because it dehydrates them and eventually kills them. It is important to use high-percentage alcohol, such as vodka, and apply it directly to the bugs or their hiding places.

The scent of alcohol will mask the areas that the insects are drawn to, like blood or sweat, and will stop them from laying eggs.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural remedy that effectively gets rid of bed bugs. It is a strong essential oil that can be used to make the bugs leave the house. It should be diluted with water and sprayed around baseboards, furniture, and other areas where the bugs may be hiding.

Diatomaceous Earth

DE is a natural substance that is made from the fossilized remains of algae. It has a variety of uses but is most commonly known for its ability to kill bed bugs. DE is effective because it punctures the bed bug’s exoskeleton, causing them to die from dehydration.

Blood Orange Oil

Blood Orange oil is a citrusy essential oil that has the ability to help repel bed bugs. The oil can be used in a diffuser or sprayed all over the pillowcases and mattress.

It will help to cover up the scent of humans, which bed bugs are attracted to, and will also help to kill any existing bugs.


Fresh lemon juice is preferable because it has a stronger aroma. Bed bugs, on the other hand, despise all citrus fruits.


Cinnamon is a spice that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and aromatic properties. It is also a natural insecticide, which means it can be used to kill bed bugs. The smell of cinnamon is unpleasant to bed bugs, so they will avoid areas where it is present.

You can use cinnamon to fight bed bug infestation: by sprinkling it on surfaces or spraying it onto furniture.


You can get the duel benefit of eliminating the bed bugs and keeping your home feeling fresh and clean by using peppermint oil or fresh leaves.

What is the Best Way to Get Rid of the Bed Bug Smell?

bedbug infestation

Bed bug smell is unfortunate for many people who have to deal with these pests. The good news is that there are ways to get rid of the smell:

Prepare the Area

It is essential to undertake all required steps while dealing with bed bugs to ensure that the space is adequately cleaned and disinfected. This includes vacuuming all areas where the bed bugs may be present, as well as using a suitable insecticide.

Attack the Insects

Once you have located the bed bugs, it is essential to take action and exterminate them. 

You can employ a variety of techniques, such as utilizing steam to attack the insects.

It penetrates the cracks and crevices where they like to hide and kills them under carpets. This kills the bed bugs on contact.

Ensure to clean all of your bedroom furniture, including the mattress, box spring, and headboard.

Use Bug Repellent Aromas 

After that, you can use some of the chemicals mentioned above and spices to kill any bed bugs left behind.

How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bug Spray Smell?

chemical repellent

The stench of bed bug spray can be rather terrible when used to get rid of these bugs. It’s not just unpleasant, but it’s also potentially dangerous if you’re exposed to it for a long time.

However, there are some ways to reduce the smell of bug spray. You can try airing out the area where you sprayed, closing windows and doors, and using fans to circulate air.

Additionally, you can use a mixture of oil and water to get rid of the scent of insect spray as an option.

Simply mix two cups of water with one cup of vegetable oil, and put it in a spray bottle. Then, spritz the mixture wherever you’ve sprayed bug repellent, and the odor will dissipate in minutes.


Bed bugs are a common problem and can be found in any type of home, regardless of how clean it is.

These tiny critters emit a characteristic musty, sweet smell when they are present in large numbers. If you notice this smell and suspect that you may have an infestation, it is important to take action immediately.

Because bed bugs are difficult to eradicate after they have established themselves, you should get assistance from an exterminator if you suspect you have an infestation.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.