How to get rid of stink bugs with dish soap, a vinegar spray and more

Keep these smelly pests out. Here’s how to get rid of stink bugs with home remedies and defensive strategies

Stink bug on furniture
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to know how to get rid of stink bugs? These uninvited sharers of your home might not create a health risk but, just like the other critters in our guide to how to identify bugs, they’re a nuisance – and one that, er, stinks. 

The arrival of spring is welcome, but not so much the stink bugs that emerge with it. Where do they come from? The experts at Orkin explain, ‘Stink bugs have an uncanny ability to slip into homes through torn screens and door cracks thanks to their flat body shape. When the weather turns cold, these pests overwinter indoors in hopes of surviving until the spring.’ In other words, when temperatures rise and the sun comes out, stink bugs emerge. 

And while stink bugs won’t spread disease or damage the structure of your home, they can be present in large numbers, flying around your rooms and crawling on surfaces. Worse, they release a smell you really won’t enjoy when they’re threatened as a natural defence, and the same happens if you squash them. The odor also hangs about after the bug is dead – for example if it has expired in a light fitting. 

Take heart, though. There are measures you can take when stink bugs are in your home, plus strategies you can adopt to block their routes inside to help put a stop to their smelly ways. Read on for the lowdown.

How to get rid of stink bugs

The bad news is that stink bugs like to eat many native plants so your garden is likely to attract them. The key, then, before we go into detail, is to stop them coming inside in the first place, as well as deal with them if they do breach your defences.

Check out our tips and strategies below, but remember if you really do have a home invasion, you can contact bug experts for help. 

1. Never, ever squash stink bugs

You’ve spotted a stink bug inside your home, and you’re tempted to squash it. That’ll get rid of it, right? Stop right there! Do not squish a stink bug because that’s what will make it stink. And, no, don’t step on one either.

Instead, try to gently take the offending critter outside, or flush it down the toilet. If it’s a question of more bugs, you can sweep them up using a dustpan and brush (again, don’t squash as you go) – and then flush.

2. Try a dish soap solution

You can kill stink bugs in a dish soap solution. Put water into a bucket and add a good squirt of dish soap. Knock the stink bugs into your soapy solution using a brush, and they’ll drown.

3. Make a vinegar spray

Try this home remedy to a stink bug invasion from Farm and Dairy. You’ll need a spray bottle. Add two cups of hot water, one cup of white vinegar then a half cup of dish soap. Put on the lid and swirl to combine. You can use the solution to spray the stink bugs directly. Bear in mind that you’ll need to wipe up afterwards with this method.

4. Keep them out by sealing cracks and gaps

The best way to get rid of stink bugs is to keep them out of your home in the first place. Start by sealing cracks through which they could be gaining entry, which might be around window and door frames, siding, pipes, and so on. Use caulk to fill the gaps.

You should add weather stripping under exterior doors to seal gaps by which stink bugs could enter as well.

5. Check screens

Stink bugs don’t need much in the way of an entry point, so make a thorough check of window and door screens and patch repair or replace as necessary. 

Adding screens to vents in attics and crawl spaces is a sound strategy, too, to stop the critters getting in this way. 

6. Pay attention to exterior lights

Unfortunately, exterior lights attract stink bugs, so turn yours off when they’re not required. You could also consider swapping to outside lights that detect motion so they only come on as necessary. Close blinds and drapes after dark, too, so the light from inside your home isn’t beckoning the beasties.

7. Use dryer sheets

Yes, really, dryer sheets. Some homeowners have reported that these can be used to get rid of stink bugs. Rub a fresh sheet – or sheets for large versions – on window screens. Apparently the stink bugs don’t like the smell and stay away, which seems a neat reversal.

8. Attract them – then kill them

Here are two other quirky remedies we’ve heard good reports about. The first is to leave a damp towel draped over a lawn chair at night to attract stink bugs. In the morning you can kill the stink bugs that have flocked to the towel by putting it in a dish soap solution in a bucket.

You could also try guiding the stink bugs directly to a bucket of soapy water so they meet their ends. How? Easy. Just put a light over your trap.

9. When to call in the experts

If it’s an invasion of stink bugs you’re facing, or your efforts to eradicate them indoors, and stop them coming in from outdoors, have failed our advice is to call in the pros. 

Pest controllers can apply chemical products around the possible entry points to deter the unwanted visitors.

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.