How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

This is how to get rid of stink bugs with essential oil, plus a handful of other natural methods. You'll have a bug-free home before long!

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By the time fall comes around, everyone I know has had it with bugs. I was ready for winter to come and rid the Midwest of bugs. But warmer weather all year round means unwanted visitors like to linger.

If you keep finding bugs with flat, brown or grayish bodies and prominent antennas—those are stink bugs. Not exactly what you want around your house! But don’t crush them or the bugs will release an unpleasant odor. Instead, use a DIY trick to keep stink bugs away for good.

Is your kitchen in need of pest control, too? Here’s our guide to wiping out pantry pests.

Why Are There So Many Stink Bugs in My House?

For starters, due to more mild winters, scientists fear a potential stink bug population explosion. This means more stink bugs will find a way into your home through tiny openings or cracks, then hunt out food on counters, behind baseboards and the foliage of indoor plants. The scent of one stink bug will attract another stink bug… and another… and another.

Prevention is everything when it comes to keeping stink bugs out of the house. Look for broken seals or openings around doorways, windows and vents and block any points of entry. Be aware that stink bugs can also find a way in around loose foundation cracks and near the chimney, too. Once you seal the gaps, head indoors to banish the stink bugs for good.

How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

If you swat or step on a stink bug, this insect will release a nasty odor. Instead, take matters into your hands in a less violent way.

Like other insects and animals, stink bugs are repulsed by strong smells. You’ve learned how to rid your house of flies with strong-scented soap, but for stink bugs, try cloves or essential oils.


Bottle Of Cloves And Stink BugClaire Krieger/Taste of Home, ibunt/Getty Images

Sprinkle a handful of whole cloves on windowsills, around doorways and on doormats in your home. If the problem is extreme, purchase clove oil to spray around windows and doors outside. While the whole cloves will repel and prevent stink bugs, clove oil will kill them off. Keep in mind, though, that clove oil can be toxic to even beneficial insects, so consider dried cloves first and use clove oil sparingly.

Essential Oils

Bottle Of Essential Oil And Stink BugGetty Images (2)

The use of a strong scent is a handy tool for sending stink bugs on their way. Put spearmint oil or lavender oil in a spray bottle and spritz around windows and doors to keep your home pest-free any time of the year. Spearmint oil has a strong aroma that’s pleasing to us but not appealing to the stink bugs. Lavender is also a popular choice; it can add a clean and pleasant scent to the house while keeping the stink bugs away. Lemongrass, neem and ylang-ylang oil will also work.

If you’re worried about spraying the essential oils on painted surfaces or near fabrics, douse some cotton balls with the oil and place them in discreet locations.

More Ways to Repel Stink Bugs

Don’t want to use cloves or essential oil? Not a problem. There’s more than one way to get rid of stink bugs. But first, assess how bad the insect invasion is. If needed, call a pest control professional to help evaluate your situation, and they’ll start you in the right direction. Otherwise, check out the following tips:

Properly seal your home. If the stink bug problem has made its way inside your house, identify the area of entry. Once the area, or areas, are identified, seal them up with caulk, or replace window screens as needed. Make sure to check places like doors, windows, siding and chimneys. This might need to be done with professional help.

Clear off counters. Until the stink bug problem is under control, don’t store fruit in bowls. This is an attractive snack for stink bugs. Eliminate any moisture on your counters, too.

Use other natural repellents. Though it doesn’t have a clean scent, garlic is strong enough to keep stink bugs at bay. Crush up a few cloves of fresh garlic and leave them in a tray on your windowsill.

Consider using food-grade diatomaceous earth. Farmers’ Almanac suggests sprinkling a trail of diatomaceous earth across windowsills and entry points. The substance is essentially the fossilized remains of phytoplankton in the form of a white, chalky powder, and it’s a strong bug killer. This will kill any bug with an exoskeleton, so if you want to keep beneficial insects around, opt for a different strategy. And make sure to purchase the food-grade stuff so it’s considered non-toxic for humans and pets.

Hannah Twietmeyer
Hannah is a writer and content creator based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a passion for all things food, health, community and lifestyle. She is a journalism graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a previous dining and drink contributor for Madison Magazine.
Alice Knisley Matthias
Alice Knisley Matthias writes about food, family, education, and garden. Her work appears in The New York Times, Washington Post, Food Network, Delish, The Kitchn and Parade. Her book about healthy kid snacks is published by Scholastic. Other work includes Woman's Day, Redbook, Highlights for Children, Boys' Life, Kids Discover and America's Test Kitchen Cook's Country Cookbook.