Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes

Read more mosquito prevention and repelling tips in my eBook, Repelled.

Every summer, mosquitoes drive me inside more than anything else. Even if I’ve been having a great time outside all day long, as soon as the mosquitoes start to bite, I know it’s time to head for home. I could easily spray on a synthetic  repellent, but I can’t stand wearing something so fumey. Besides – I’d rather not expose myself or my loved ones to DEET, especially since it’s toxic and easily absorbed by the skin.

Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes {Accidentally Green}

The great news is there are many natural repellents for mosquitoes. Since all of these are natural – and actually pretty healthy remedies – pick one to try before you head outside again:

Basil

You might want to consider planting herb gardens by the doors of your house (container gardening would work well) because many herbs ward off mosquitoes. Basil is one of the herbs that acts as a natural mosquito repellent.

Bats

Even if you’re not too keen on the idea of bats flying around your yard, one bat eats hundreds of mosquitoes each night. Consider investing in a bat house to hang from a tree and see if the small addition makes a dent in your mosquito population.

Catnip

Catnip is an especially handy mosquito deterrent – it’s about 10 times more effective than DEET. Mosquitoes can’t stand nepetalactone, the essential oil found in catnip. By planting catnip around your patio and yard, you’ll keep mosquitoes away – then dry the catnip and entertain your favorite cat.

Citronella

There’s a reason citronella candles are popular mosquito repellents: mosquitoes hate citronella. Instead of the candles, though, you can try rubbing citronella oil on exposed area (make sure you’re not allergic to the oil, first) or grow your own citronella plants.

Garlic

One effective natural repellent that deserves to be tried is garlic. Depending on how much you enjoy garlic, you can take a garlic supplement (no-odor varieties are available), eat lots of foods with garlic (I’m thinking of a big loaf of fresh garlic bread along with a spaghetti dinner – including sauce made with basil and garlic). You can even rub a cut clove of garlic over your exposed skin; you should be able to ward off both mosquitoes and Dracula.

Lemongrass

If you’re looking for another anti-mosquito plant to try, invest in lemongrass. Simply break off a stalk, peel off the outer leaves and rub the juicy pulp over your exposed skin. (Personally, I think it’s more pleasant smelling than raw garlic.) You’ll also be able to use the lemongrass when you cook.

Marigolds and mums

You don’t have to stick to planting herbs when you’re avoiding mosquitoes. Try planting marigolds. They have a scent that repels most bugs, including pesky skeeters.

While not all insects are repelled by the scent of mums, mosquitoes are. Plant a bunch and reap mosquito-free living.

Rosemary

Grow rosemary in your garden this summer (like all of these plants, it’s another plant perfect for container gardening) to keep the mosquitoes away. You can cook with rosemary, and if you’re looking for a way to repel mosquitoes while you’re grilling, throw a few sprigs on your charcoal. It should do the trick.

Tea tree oil

If you don’t mind the scent, apply tea tree oil to your skin. Mosquitoes will mind the smell and stay away.

Vitamin B-1

Take one vitamin B-1 tablet a day to repel mosquitoes, as well as flies and gnats.

Make-your-own sprays

If you’d rather repel the bugs by wearing a spray, here are several recipes to choose from:

  • Cut the leaves and stems of catmint and rosemary, then place in a container and cover with a cup of boiling water. Steep for an hour, cool and use the herbal tea as a repellent spray.
  • Mix ten drops of eucalyptus oil, ten drops of cedarwood oil, five drops of tea tree oil, five drops of geranium oil and one ounce of jojoba oil. Apply to your skin (be sure to test a small area, first). Avoid your eyes, and keep out of the reach of children.
  • Crush parsley and mix with apple cider vinegar. Rub the mixture on your skin.
  • If you’re feeling confident and experimental, try creating your own combinations out of these naturally repelling oils: castor oil, cedar oil, cinnamon oil, citronella oil, clove oil, geranium oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil and rosemary oil.
  • This summer I’ve tried a homemade mosquito repellent made from basil, water and vodka … and it keeps the mosquitoes away! I had my doubts, but I tried it deep in the woods for four days. As long as my family was wearing this non-sticky, very lightly scented spray, the mosquitoes stayed away. When we didn’t have it on, we were eaten alive.

Make Your Own Basil Mosquito Repellent {accidentallygreen.com}

Simply place a handful of fresh basil leaves into a glass measuring cup. Pour one-half cup of boiling water over the basil. Let the leaves steep for two to four hours. Squeeze the basil leaves to get out as much of the liquid as possible. Pour the infused liquid into a spray bottle. Add one-half cup of vodka to the squirt bottle. Shake gently to mix the contents. Apply this all-natural insect repellent by spraying it on your skin. Be sure to spray it where you’d like to repel mosquitoes … they may end up biting on skin that’s not coated with the basil mixture. (While this mixture is safe, especially compared to DEET brands, be sure to keep out of the reach of children.)

Update: I love the basil mosquito repellent and use it every summer! I’ve also tried a dozen other recipes for homemade repellents. Some failed … but seven were huge successes. To try these effective, natural repellents, download my eBook, Repelled: Accidentally Green’s Guide to Natural Mosquito Prevention, for $1.99.

Prevention techniques

It also helps to prevent mosquitoes. Make sure you:
  • Eliminate standing water. Check your bird baths, buckets, gutters, kids’ toys, old tires, pet bowls, planter saucers, recycling bins, swimming pool covers, tarps, and wheelbarrows.
  • Whack your weeds and keep your grass trimmed.
  • Wear light-colored clothing; mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.
  • Avoid incandescent lights and candlelight – both attract mosquitoes.
  • Try to stay in a breeze or close to a fan, if possible.
  • Try to be as artificially unscented as possible – mosquitoes are attracted to the scent of perfume, sunscreens and fabric softener.
Finally, mosquitoes will be attracted to you if you’re hot and sweaty – kind of a natural occurrence during the summer, huh? They like you because:
  • They’re attracted to carbon dioxide and you produce more carbon dioxide when you’re hot or when you’re exercising.
  • They’re attracted to lactic acid and you release more lactic acid when you exercise.
  • They’re attracted to the chemicals in your perspiration.

Do you have any natural mosquito prevention tips that I haven’t mentioned?

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Photo credit
Christian Meyn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Hilary Kimes Bernstein is a Christ follower, wife, mama, and journalist who blogs about making healthy decisions that honor God and happen to help the environment at Accidentally Green. She’s recently released her first eBook, First Bites: How To Instill Healthy Eating Habits During Your Baby's First Year.

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Lovely comments so far...

  1. Great post! Could you explain why vitamin B-1 helps?
    And to add to the mosquito attraction list: pregnant women. I read that because they typically breathe in and out more (from the extra weight, I’m sure), more carbon dioxide is produced, just like when you exercise.

  2. You’re right on about pregnant women producing more carbon dioxide and attracting more mosquitoes, Andrea!

    I just did more research on Vitamin B1 and mosquitoes, and found conflicting opinions. Old wives’ tales swear by it (I have no idea why), but there is no scientific evidence. Unfortunately, all the scientists seem to swear by DEET.

    • Anonymous says:

      OF COARSE the scientists swear by Deet! they also see no problem with genetically modified foods or high fructose corn syrup LOL!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this info, Hilary! We’re going camping in a couple weeks and I’m looking forward to trying tea tree or citronella oil. There’s nothing worse than coating yourself with Off then having to sleep with it on your skin. :P

    Denise K.

  4. I’m going to try some of these. Thanks for all the tips! I am usually not bothered by mosquitos, but this year in our area, they are worse than they have been in more than 50 years apparently and they are vicious. They are even biting through clothes. These are great ideas to try as I don’t like the idea of chemical bug sprays for my kids.

  5. Usually, I’m using citronella oil.
    It’s the first time I hear about lemongrass- I’ll try it next summer.
    Great post with great tips. Thank you for sharing it.

  6. crazy question but r any of these safe for a child under 2 my nephew gets bitten all the time and most say that you cant use on child under 2 we r at a loss on what to do

  7. While you wouldn’t want any child to consume any of the homemade sprays, they should all be safe for children of any age since they’re all-natural. (I used the vodka and basil concoction on my 18-month-old daughter all summer long, and she was fine.)

  8. Thanks.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Last spring we started using soapnuts for laundry and we barely noticed any mosquito bites all summer long. It works so much better than Deet and it’s so simple because you don’t have to do anything at all other than regular laundry.

    ~Tennille~

  10. Hello, can we get these plants and oils in Nigeria?

    • I’m sorry, but I have no idea if you can get the plants in Nigeria. You should be able to order the oils online, though. (If you click on the Amazon ad at the top of this page and search for the oils, hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for.)

  11. Anonymous says:

    A year later and I wonder back onto this article wondering if you’ve tried soapnuts yet… They are amazing in so many ways! If you haven’t tried them yet, go out and get some. You’ll love them!

    ~Tennille~

  12. Anonymous says:

    vinegar
    listerine
    beer
    shake up, spray around yard….no mosquitoes

  13. Anonymous says:

    I use 1/2 cup wintergreen isopropyl alcohol, 10 drops geranium oil, 8 drops citronella oil, 10 drops rose oil and 5 drops tea tree oil. Mix with water in a spray bottle. Repels mosquitoes, flys, gnats and especially ticks!

  14. Ok Help me out here. What on earth are soap nuts? Is this something only avail in the US? Are they natural or man made?

  15. Hi, Just wondering how long these spary concoctions are good for? would you need to be making them up daily, weekly, or do they keep doing their job for a while? thanks!

    • I’m sorry that I don’t know for sure, Molly. They’re effective for longer than a day. I’ve made fairly small batches before, so we’ve used them up within a week or so. I do still have some spray that I made last summer, and I’m looking forward to trying it out to see exactly how effective it still is.

    • I made some of the basil and vodka spray last summer and had some left over. It still works! I was surprised and very happy! Happy spraying!

  16. its best way to live in natural and healthy by planting these herbs. thanks a lot for this valuabale information

  17. CHRISTOPHER MAINGI says:

    Thanks for the information,it helped me alot

  18. For the basil vodka spray, can I replace the vodka with 70% alcohol? And how muxh do you think I can mix the alcohol in it? Will the skin get dry?

  19. Penny Ng says:

    I love natural remedies. Dry some lemongrass leaves. Cut pulverize into small pieces and make hot tea drink out of it. Drink a few cups through the day by the next day, mossies will avoid you like plague. Drink a cup daily to keep up the effect.

  20. Editorlaw says:

    May I add Neem tree; they say neem trees came from India.

  21. B P SHUKLA says:

    As you all may be aware, Hindu temples have scented incense sticks. I found that Jasmin drives away mosquitos and best of all Jasmin has pleasant smell. So just light that stick somewhere where u r sitting like in the garden or inside your home and the mosquito will go away.

  22. Rajan T.S.N says:

    effefective remedy. dry Neem leaves and burn it/ the smoke repels
    mosquitoes for atleast an hour

  23. I just moved to Texas and being rather allergic to mosquitos, I am trying anything and everything. My ankles are destroyed currently lol. Got the citronella burning, got the brown sugar trap out, and I’m currently steeping rosemary, peppermint, basil, and garlic chives in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water.

    This needs to work XD. I get headaches from the chemical sprays at stores and the bracelets and necklaces never worked for me. I’ll let you know if this whacked out combo of herbs works.

  24. Hi there! I am looking for a homemade mosquito repellant for my dog. Can I use the basil vodka one or can you recommend something? Thank you

    • Hi Nicole,

      The good news is that basil is not toxic to dogs, so the spray should be safe. Be sure to keep it out of your dog’s eyes, and make sure your pet doesn’t drink the repellent … as long as you just spray it on his or her coat, it should be worth a try!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Click the following link for more natural ways to deter pesky summer bugs before you become snack food. AccidentallyGreen.com [...]

  2. [...] from Accidentally Green makes her own spray-on insect repellant using just basil, vodka, and water. Check out those easy [...]

  3. […] that commercial mosquito sprays and citronella candles were the only ways to deter mosquitoes. Then I discovered a host of natural ways to prevent the pesky bloodsuckers. My family tried these techniques last summer. While we don’t live in the deep woods, I did […]

  4. […] 5. Natural RepellentsThere are lots of natural ways to repel Mosquitoes. A great idea if you want to avoid harsh chemicals. Some of these are quite surprising.  If you have a large mosquito problem you might want to invest in a fruit tree. This will attract fruit bats. One single bat can eat hundreds of mosquitoes every night. Planting basil, marigolds or rosemary will also help keep mosquitoes away. For more natural mosquito repellent ideas go to accidentallygreen.com. […]

  5. […] Anti-Mosquito Plants: Did you know strategically planting anti-mosquito plants can keep the bugs away? Basil, lemongrass, marigolds, mums, and rosemary are all excellent varieties to plant in your garden this summer to naturally repel mosquitos. […]

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