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What To Eat To Repel Bed Bugs

Bed Bug Cimex Lectularius At Night In The Moonlight

Bed bugs feed off fresh human blood and depend on their strong sense of smell to identify them. Most people do not know this, but your diet can affect the scent bed bugs perceive around you.

One of the easiest ways to keep these blood-sucking bugs away from you is to eat food they dislike. So, what food can you eat to repel bed bugs? Find out in this article!


Bed bugs are an annoyance in every space, especially in the summer. With lots of activities during that time, it can be extremely stressful to fend off these blood-sucking insects.

Fortunately, there are some foods you can eat to keep these bugs away from you. These include:

  • Lentils and beans
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Garlic and onions

These foods can repel bed bugs as an alternative to expensive chemical-based bug-repellant sprays. We discussed more in the guide.

In the following headings, we will discuss seven foods you can eat to keep bed bugs away from your space. Also, we’ll suggest simple ways to incorporate these foods into your diet. Finally, we will answer frequently asked questions about deterring bed bugs with food smells.

7 Foods To Eat To Repel Bed Bugs

Some foods have strong odors that can ask the body’s original scent and make you unappealing to bed bugs. It is not you the bugs can’t stand – it is the chemical compounds in those foods.

So, eating certain dishes can protect you from sickness-causing bites from these pests.

Below, we go over foods that can repel bed bugs as an alternative to expensive chemical-based bug-repellant sprays:

1. Garlic and Onions

Garlic And Onion

The best chefs swear that these two spices are the secret to every savory meal. But apart from being the ninth wonder, garlic and onions can help deter bugs, especially mosquitoes and bed bugs.

These spices release a chemical compound known as allicin when added to a meal. Allicin is a proven natural bug-repellant.

Scientists have confirmed that allicin helps fight malaria infections resulting from a bad mosquito bite.

Allicin is a sulphuric compound that evaporates through skin pores and releases a foul smell. Some people perceive this smell as a body odor, but it is much worse and choking for bed bugs and mosquitoes.

Garlic and onions are more potent when consumed raw instead of cooked because the potency of the allicin in them reduces when exposed to heat.

While this may not make you popular at thanksgiving dinner, you won’t have to worry about blood-sucking bugs in your house.

If you can’t stand the raw smell, you can slice some garlic and onions into stir-fry and tomato-based meals. These do not require much heat and will preserve the juice in the garlic and onions.

2. Hot Chili Peppers

Red Chili Peppers, Spicy On A Wooden Spoon

Chili is more than a spicy addition to meals. It doubles as a bug repellent also – all thanks to capsaicin. Capsaicin is a compound in hot chili peppers that releases heat that makes pepper spicy.

Eating spicy food can make one feel hot inside and out. Some people even get burning sensations, especially if their palate still needs to adjust to it.

Now, imagine the effect of this spice on tiny insects like bed bugs, for instance. Capsaicin is known to irritate bug sense, and it only makes sense that it is an ingredient in most insecticides.

The smell of capsaicin evaporating from your body after a spicy meal is enough to keep bed bugs far away.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar In A Bottle

Like other natural bug repellants, apple cider vinegar alters your natural scent. The overpowering smell of apple cider vinegar can affect how your sweat smells.

Here it gets interesting – the human nose does not pick up this new smell. But, to bugs, the smell of your sweat mixed with apple cider vinegar is acidic and irritates them.

Taking a spoon or two of apple cider vinegar three times a day can help keep bed bugs away. Unlike garlic and onions, other people will not perceive the smell on you.

For a more pleasant taste, you can mix some spoons of apple cider vinegar with honey. You can even take it with salads or soups to further mask the taste.

But if you can’t stand the taste, apply the vinegar to your body using a cotton ball. Focus on the exposed areas of your skin, use liberally, and allow to dry.

4. Tomatoes

Fresh Tomatoes In A Plate On A Dark Background

Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin B1 or thiamine, which, when released through the skin, can help fight off bugs. People believe a thiamine-rich diet can deter insects like bed bugs and mosquitoes by making your skin less attractive.

Tomatoes are some of the easiest vegetables to incorporate into your diet. For example, you can eat yummy slices of ripe tomatoes alone or as part of a healthy vegetable salad.

Alternatively, you can whip up some delicious tomato soup or make some sauce to go with pasta. Add fresh onion cuts and chopped garlic to make a formidable bug-repellent combo.

Another good thing about this natural bug repellant is that its juice can even help with the itchiness from a bed bug bite.

Suppose you were bitten, and your skin is itching. Rub a bit of tomato juice on the affected spot and wait a few minutes for it to kick in.

5. Lemongrass

Dried Sprigs Of Natural Lemongrass

Lemongrass contains many minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. It also contains citronella oil, a major insect-repelling substance found in most bug-repellant sprays.

Lemongrass oil is a staple in different Thai and Asian dishes. Try it out and have some in your pantry. You can incorporate lemongrass into your at-home recipes like coconut curry and soups.

Alternatively, you can add lemongrass tea to your stash and apply the oil to your body for its soothing bug-repelling effect.

When consumed, the lemon grass fragrance helps to disguise your body’s natural scent, making it difficult for bed bugs to locate you.

Incorporating lemongrass into your diet may be the secret to protecting yourself from these unwanted blood-sucking insects.

6. Grapefruit

Grapefruit Red Juicy Slices Background

Grapefruit is popular for its antioxidant properties and for being a reliable source of vitamin C. This fruit contains a chemical compound known as nootkatone. Nootkatone is a common ingredient in pesticides and insecticides.

As a result, grapefruit is an effective repellant against insects like bed bugs, mosquitoes, lice, and ticks. Citrus fruits like grapefruit are easy to blend into your daily nutrition plan.

You can have some grapefruit for breakfast or mix it with other citrus fruits to make a delicious salad. You can even add grapefruit oil to your collection of skincare products.

7. Lentils and Beans

Lentils On Isolated White Background

Like tomatoes, lentils and beans contain thiamine and have a distinct yeast-like smell that bugs detest. Lentils and beans go with almost anything – they add much-needed flavor to delicious meals.

You can serve beans or lentils as a side dish to accompany your entree. They also make an excellent addition to spicy dishes like chili.

Whatever way you choose to eat them, these thiamine-rich foods can transform your body into a walking bug repellant.


Bed bugs are an annoyance in every space, especially in the summer. With lots of activities during that time, it can be extremely stressful to fend off these blood-sucking insects.

Fortunately, there are some foods you can eat to keep these bugs away from you.

We discussed seven of them in this guide, including garlic, apple cider vinegar, and lemongrass. Also, we suggested ways to incorporate them into your diet.

Planning meals to go with the bug season is an effective way to keep these pests at bay. Refer to the tips above for inspiration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Smells Drive Bugs Away?

Overpowering scents like lavender, mint, and peppermint oil easily put off bugs.

While these may be pleasant to the human nose, they can be toxic to bugs. Depending on the concentration, these smells can kill bed bugs or force them to leave a certain area.

Can Alcohol Repel Bugs?

No clear evidence shows that drinking alcohol can prevent bugs from biting you. However, alcohol tends to boost the body’s thiamine levels.

In addition, drinking a cold beverage means you won’t sweat much. Sweat increases the body’s lactic acid secretion, attracting insects like bed bugs and mosquitoes.

So, with reduced sweat emissions, bed bugs are less likely to come around you.

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