How to Make Homemade Mosquito Repellent: 6 Easy, Effective Recipes
Reluctant to expose yourself and your family to chemicals found in commercial bug sprays? Mix up an effective but nontoxic homemade alternative.
Mention DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) in a crowded room, and you’re likely to hear a chorus of different opinions regarding its potential toxicity and health implications. Against a backdrop of such uncertainty, perhaps the only sure fact is that many people—parents of young children, in particular—have begun to limit their use of insect repellents that contain potentially harmful chemicals and switch to natural alternatives instead. Research shows that certain plant-based substances like citronella, neem, and eucalyptus can protect against host-seeking mosquitoes.
In recent years, a handful of plant-based natural bug sprays have come on the market, but most or all tend to cost more than the average person wants to spend. The good news is that you can quickly and easily make your own homemade mosquito repellent, at low cost and exclusively with ingredients you feel comfortable using. Below, the best all-natural bug repellent recipes.
Working Time: 3 to 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $5 to $10
Before You Begin
Before using your homemade repellent to keep mosquitoes away, it’s important to note that natural repellents can be effective, but they might not provide the same level of protection as chemical alternatives. Frequent reapplication may be necessary. Additionally, some essential oils used in these repellents, like peppermint and eucalyptus oils, can be harmful to pets and children, so it’s vital to keep them out of reach (we recommend locking them away!) and avoid applying them to sensitive areas like the eyes or wounds. Finally, note that most essential oils can catch fire easily. When you’re not using them, keep them in tightly sealed containers in a cool, dark place to prevent potential incidents.
Best Essential Oil Bug Repellents
The effectiveness of any homemade mosquito repellent depends on essential oils, which can be used alone or in combinations of two or three. Several essential oils are known to work against pests, including:
Which oil you choose to use in your natural mosquito repellent is often just as simple as which smell you prefer—you can even blend oils to create a more appealing scent. Be warned, though, that some combinations smell better than the sum of their parts. For instance, lavender blended with geranium and peppermint smells heavenly, while other blends just weren’t meant to be.
Once you’ve settled on which oil or oils to use, the next step is to decide on a base—that is, a skin-friendly carrier for the mosquito-fighting essential oil. The six most popular carriers are witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, isopropyl alcohol, white vinegar, and lemon juice. For each base, you’ll find a tried-and-true repellent recipe below.
6 Recipes for Natural Mosquito Repellent
Choose your preferred base and favorite scent among the following recipes to create a homemade mosquito repellent that is effective and DEET-free.
1. Witch Hazel
In a small spray bottle, combine the witch hazel with an equal amount of water. Because witch hazel doesn’t have its own odor, it pairs well with virtually any type of essential oil. After adding about 40 drops of oil, shake the bottle to mix the ingredients and get rid of mosquitoes for good!
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Combine the apple cider vinegar and an equal amount of water in a small spray bottle. Next, add in your chosen essential oil, noting that rosemary, lavender, and peppermint best complement the somewhat strong scent of the base. Give the bottle a good shake to finish.
3. Coconut Oil
Sweet-scented coconut oil makes for the least offensive base where children are concerned. Add the coconut oil to a small, lidded jar, then follow with essential oil (peppermint or lavender are both good bets). Shake, then apply the mixture by hand.
4. Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol is similar to witch hazel but should be diluted with equal parts water in this homemade mosquito repellent recipe. Combine the alcohol and water in a spray bottle, add about 25 drops of your favorite pest-fighting essential oil such as catnip, shake it up, and spray it on.
It’s important to note that with this solution and others, you should always test it on a small area of skin first. Watch for irritation and other allergic reactions before spraying it all over your body.
5. White Vinegar
Like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar comes with a pungent odor, but it makes for a good base. Mix it with pleasant-smelling essential oils such as citronella and eucalyptus to take down the vinegar scent while deterring mosquito pests.
6. Lemon Juice
The juice of three fresh-squeezed lemons
2 cups of water
If lemon juice is as effective at repelling mosquitoes as it is at cleaning the house, this recipe is worth a shot! Combine the juice of three lemons and two cups of water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and let it steep for about 1 hour. Allow the mixture to completely cool and add it to a spray bottle.
As with all of these homemade mosquito repellent recipes, be careful not to spray or rub it in the eyes or on open cuts and scratches.
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Compared with their commercial cousins, homemade mosquito repellents tend not to last as long. Once the smell dissipates (after a couple of hours), expect to reapply the treatment. Also be aware that while natural bug repellent solutions can be highly effective, they may not stand up to the most unforgiving tests—say, a weeklong hiking trip deep into the backwoods. That said, for everyday circumstances, such as lazing away the afternoon on a backyard hammock, natural solutions offer wonderfully pleasant protection and, yes, peace of mind.
Q: What is the best homemade mosquito repellent?
The best homemade mosquito repellent includes a base ingredient such as witch hazel, vinegar, or coconut oil with insect-deterring essential oils such as lavender, citronella, or peppermint.
Q: What smell do mosquitoes hate?
Mosquitos are thought to dislike several natural scents that are pleasing to humans, including lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, catnip, and more.
Q: Does homemade mosquito repellent also keep away other bugs?
Yes, like mosquitoes, other pesky insects such as flies and spiders tend to steer clear of common essential oil scents.