Homemade Mosquito Repellent


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Ugh, they’re here! Mosquito season is upon us. I know DEET works great for repelling mosquitos, recent studies have shown that DEET is safe to use on the skin. In fact the EPA stresses that DEET is perfectly safe when used in accordance with the directions on the label. However, when you don’t want to smell like bug spray or you want to minimize your family’s contact with chemicals, there are other options. I have found some great homemade alternatives that smell wonderful.

Essential oils don’t just smell good many have been found to help repel pests and in fact have been used for thousands of years. The most common essential oils used to repel mosquitos include citronella, catnip, clove, peppermint, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and lemongrass. Geranium, eucalyptus, basil, clove, thyme, tea tree, clary sage, rosemary and lavender oils have also been found to repel mosquitos. Your choice of oil will most likely depend on which smell you prefer. Since everyone has different scent preferences, you may need to experiment until you find one that works for you. Some people prefer mixing and matching oils to create unique scents.

Essential oils, while natural and plant-based, can be very potent and should be mixed with a carrier before being applied to the skin. Once you’ve settled on which oil or oils to use, you must then decide on a carrier. There are several popular carriers which include apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol and coconut oil. Fractionated coconut oil can also be used instead of regular coconut oil and it won’t solidify like regular coconut oil will.

Witch Hazel Mosquito Repellent


  • cup witch hazel
  • cup water
  • 40 drops essential oil


  • In a small spray bottle, combine the witch hazel and water. Witch hazel doesn’t have its own odor so it pairs well with any type of essential oil. Add 40 drops of essential oil, shake the bottle to mix the ingredients. Shake well before each use.

Apple Cider Vinegar Mosquito Repellent


  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 40 drops essential oil


  • Combine the apple cider vinegar and water in a small spray bottle. Add 40 drops of essential oil. Rosemary, lavender, and peppermint complement the strong scent of the vinegar. Shake well to combine the ingredients. Shake well before each use.

Coconut Oil Mosquito Repellent


  • cup coconut oil (warmed to a liquid state or use fractionated)
  • 30 drops essential oil


  • Add the coconut oil to a small, lidded jar (Coconut oil will clog a spray bottle). Add 30 drops of essential oil. Mix or shake and apply the mixture by hand.

Rubbing Alcohol Mosquito Repellent


  • ½ cup water
  • 4 Tbsp rubbing alcohol
  • 40 drops essential oil


  • Combine water, rubbing alcohol and essential oil in a spray bottle. Shake well to combine the ingredients. Shake well before each use.

Essential oils can breakdown and degrade plastic over time, using glass bottles for homemade bug spray is recommended.

Homemade mosquito repellent does not last as long as commercial repellents. It will need to be reapplied every couple hours. Also homemade solutions don’t seem to be as effective as commercial repellents. They may work great to wear around the house while working in the garden, bbqing or doing yard work but will probably not be as effective for a long weekend camping or fishing trip.

Growing certain plants in your garden or in pots around your yard may also help repel mosquitos. You may be interested in reading about Plants that Repel Pests.

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