How To: Make Homemade Mosquito Repellent

Reluctant to expose yourself and your family to the potentially problematic chemicals found in commercial bug sprays? Instead, try one of these pleasantly scented, nontoxic homemade alternatives.

By Jennifer Noonan | Updated Apr 30, 2021 6:35 PM

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Homemade Mosquito Repellent


Mention DEET in a crowded room, and you’re likely to hear a chorus of different opinions regarding its toxicity and health implications. Against a background 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. In recent years, a handful of 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: You can quickly and easily make your own homemade mosquito repellent, at low cost and exclusively with ingredients you feel comfortable using.

Homemade Mosquito Repellent - Essential Oil Detail


The effectiveness of any homemade mosquito repellent depends on essential oils, which can be used singly or in combinations of two or three. Several essential oils are known to work against pests. These include lemon, lemongrass, catnip, citronella, lavender, geranium, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil. The choice of oil often depends merely on which smell you prefer. Some people even mix and match oils to create a more appealing scent. If you want to experiment, though, tread a bit carefully. Some mixes smell better than the sum of their parts—for instance, lavender blended with geranium and peppermint—while other combos just weren’t meant to be.

Once you’ve settled on which oil or oils to use, you must then 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.

How to Make a Homemade Mosquito Repellent with Essential Oil

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

– 1/3 cup witch hazel
– 40 drops of essential oil

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.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
– 40 drops of essential oil

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.

homemade mosquito repellent


3. Coconut Oil

– 1/3 cup coconut oil
– 15 drops of essential 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.

Compared with its 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 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.

4. Isopropyl Alcohol

– 1/2 isopropyl alcohol
– 1/2 cup water
– 25 drops of essential oil

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.

how to make homemade mosquito repellent


5. White Vinegar

– 1 cup white vinegar
– 50 drops of essential oil

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.

FAQ About Homemade Mosquito Repellents

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.

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.

Does homemade mosquito repellent also keep away other bugs?

Yes, like mosquitoes, other pesky insects such as flies, spiders, etc., tend to steer clear of common essential oil scents.