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9 Natural Insect Repellents: Last-Minute Tips and Recipes

Last Updated: 04 June 2021

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Editor-in-Chief of the Handy Home Master

As soon as the sun comes out and it gets warm, people who are fed up with sitting at the home rush to nature reserves, parks, and other green areas for that long-awaited breath of fresh air. For some of us, a brief stroll or a picnic will suffice, others prefer several days of hiking or fishing, but all agree that there’s nothing more annoying about outdoor activities than pesky insects. Mosquito protection is equally important for everybody. Even devoted nature enthusiasts will often admit that the thought of exterminating those lousy bugs altogether crosses their minds now and then. At least, they all wonder what is the best natural insect repellent. Luckily, there are less radical, handier, and 100% natural ways to repel mosquitoes.

When mosquitos bug you at your home, it’s relatively easy to handle. You can grow some plants that scare them off – for example, lavender or lemongrass are both natural repellent for mosquitoes, you can use the good old vinegar-and-soda trap, etc. It seems like those trendy ultrasonic pest repellers are growing in popularity because they are effortless to use. Indeed, they seem like the most convenient solution – especially when you don’t have pets (even regular cats or dogs may be sensitive to such ultrasonic disturbance). In other words, it’s easy to keep mosquitoes out of your house, but how to get rid of mosquitoes outdoors? Especially when it’s a spontaneous picnic and you didn’t even think about having a repellent ready at hand.

Are Deet Repellents Any Good?

Are Deet Repellents Any Good?

The most apparent solution would be simply to buy the first insect repellent you see at your local store. If there are several, you might even ask the salesperson about which one is better and why. Today, however, people grow increasingly more responsible – and rightfully so! Especially when you’re going out with your children and are responsible not only for yourself. When we tried to research how safe particular brands of insect repellents are, we found out pretty much the same about each. There was always compelling research from the manufacturing company telling us how safe it was. And then there was independent research about the harmfulness of a particular component – mostly about the main one: diethyltoluamide or DEET (according to a recent NCNI survey, only 48% of adults in the US are trusting DEET).

Namely, DEET studies have revealed an alarming rate of bad skin reactions to DEET. Admittedly, the reaction isn’t critical – only some rash, not unlike mild allergy. The difference is that that we know about all allergies beforehand, but we cannot know our reaction to DEET before we use it. As such, we’re convinced that instead of getting that synthetic pig in a poke to see if it’ll bite you, it’s always better to stick to the naturals. But what is a natural insect repellent and why is it better?

How Are Natural Insect Repellents Better?

How Are Natural Insect Repellents Better?

The answer pretty much lies in the question itself: They are better because they are natural. The artificial chemistry in a grocery-store repellent may have undergone some successful testing, but it doesn’t compare to millennia through which humanity has been testing natural repellents. When a substance has been successfully tested in a lab, it doesn’t automatically mean that it will be equally good for you and your kids. The only concern with natural ingredients, on the other hand, is a potential allergy. That, however, is something that people know in advance more often than not.

One might argue that artificial repellents are more effective. It’s true that they have more active substances against insects, but it’s not necessarily a plus. In our mosquito case, not all blood types are equally attractive. As such, opting for a weaker natural repellent allows you to dose it more precisely, for yourself individually, as opposed to just “bulldozing” the air by filling it with literal poison.

Another great advantage of sticking to natural insect repellents is their availability. Sometimes, you can spend days planning that hiking trip down but still forget a small thing like a repellent. Or, you might go for a spontaneous walk on a beach and do not have much time to prepare for the mosquito attack. Either way, there’s no reason why you should tolerate their bites and their buzzing. As you’ll see, you might as well have all the necessary ingredients to make your insect repellent yourself ready in your kitchen. Just mix them, apply them to body areas that may be exposed to insects, and you’re ready to go! Alternatively, it’s equally easy to find where to buy natural insect repellent in any quantity online.

What Plants Are Know to Be Efficient Natural Insect Repellents?

How Are Natural Insect Repellents Better?

It must be difficult to think of a single person who could honestly say that they like mosquitoes. Turns out, these insects are so annoying that even plants have come up with ways to drive them off: a natural mosquito control if you will. As we have mentioned, the only drawback here is an allergy that may drive you off just as efficiently. Given you know about your allergies (or lack thereof), the best way to keep mosquitos at bay is to grow certain plants known for those qualities and make repellents yourself.

What plants are natural insect repellent? They are not some fancy flowers that demand constant care but just some grass that grows on its own so long as you water it. The most well-known natural mosquito repellent plants are basil, citronella, lavender, rosemary, and a handful of others.

If there are reasons why you can’t grow plants yourself, you can still get essential oils for mosquitoes at any drugstore or most grocery stores. Moreover, you will be able to have your mosquito repellent homemade from the leftovers in your kitchen in just a few seconds. Here’s our selection of last-minute recipes:

1. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

You can get lemon eucalyptus oil at any drug store, as well as at many convenience stores. Its main repellent substance is p-methane 3.8-diol (PMD), aided by citronellal. Admittedly, it’s relatively weak, but that allows you to dose your repellent as precisely as it gets.

Preparation and Use

Mix 10 cl of lemon eucalyptus oil with 90cl of any carrier oil (coconut or olive) in a 100cl bottle. Apply your eucalyptus mosquito repellent to the exposed areas before going out and whenever you feel like it’s aired out or when mosquitoes start to bug you.

2. Lavender


You may know lavender for its soothing fragrance. To insects, on the other hand, it’s quite repellent. This is due to substances like camphor, eucalyptol, limonene, and linalool – all of which are found in lavender oil. You can power up its mosquito-repelling properties by adding vanilla and lemon juice to the mix. The latter variation of the recipe is also known as a lemon mosquito repellent.

Preparation and Use

Mix 10-12 drops of lavender oil, 3-4 tablespoons of pure lemon juice, and 3-4 tablespoons of vanilla extract powder. Then, dilute the mix in about 300cl of water and apply this natural mosquito spray onto the exposed area 2-3 times a day.

3. Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon is arguably the oldest known natural mosquito repellent. Its main active substances are anethole, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and eugenol. It’s relatively easy to extract from regular cinnamon bark.

Preparation and Use

Just add ten drops of cinnamon oil to about 40cl of water, mix it well, and spray onto the affected areas. It will have quite a strong odor, so it might be considerate to apply it only when you go out.

4. Citronella Oil

Citronella oil is made of lemongrass. Chances are you can find this grass on your lawn without even cultivating it. It’s arguably the most effective natural bug repellent, too, almost as powerful as DEET. Aside from the obvious citronellal and citronellol, its active substances are citral, Geraniol, and limonene. You can amp up these herbal insect repellents with alcohol.

Preparation and Use

First, mix 10cl of medicinal alcohol from your local drugstore with 90cl of water. Alternatively, it’s okay to use ordinary vodka but not any other spirits. Spray on the exposed body parts before going out and repeat if mosquitos keep bugging you.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Aside from its strong fragrance that keeps all insects away, the tea tree is known for a variety of medicinal uses. For instance, its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties will come in handy if one of those pesky bastards does get to you. The fragrance might not be pleasing for anybody, so you might consider diluting tea tree oil with a carrier oil.

Preparation and Use

We suggest the ultimate proportion of 10 drops of tea tree oil to 30cl of coconut oil. Apply to the exposed body parts 2-3 times a day.

6. Neem Oil

Made from fruits and seeds of a neem tree, neem oil is a famous natural insect repellent, not only against mosquitos. The tree comes from the tropical regions of India and has proved to be effective in places where mosquitoes are a much more severe problem than on our blessed shores. The downside is that it’s difficult to grow neem trees and extract neem oil yourself; you will always have to get it at the drugstore.

Preparation and Use

As little as 10 drops of neem oil for 30cl of carrier oil (preferably coconut) is enough for the mix. Apply twice a day to all the affected body parts. It’s safe to use more often if you feel like you need it.

7. Mouthwash and Salt

This must be the easiest natural insect repellent to make at home because it requires very basic ingredients that pretty much everybody has. Most mouthwashes are made of eucalyptol, menthol, and thymol, often topped up with alcohol. These are all powerful repellents. You can add ordinary supermarket salt to add an extra layer of protection against other insects.

Preparation and Use

Add three cups of salt into a large bottle of your mouthwash (preferably mint flavored). If your mouthwash is alcohol-free, you can amp up your solution by adding a small amount of alcohol. A 12oz (0.3L) can of beer suffice. Mix it well and spray it around your house twice a day or spray it around yourself when you’re outdoors. It’s a natural outdoor mosquito repellent, so it’s not to be used directly on your skin.

8. Alcohol Spray

Natural Insect Repellents Are Easy to Make and Quite Efficient

This option is also a popular natural mosquito repellent that works. Essential oils that repel mosquitoes are generally known and easily available, but alcohol will help them dissolve faster, thus increasing efficiency. No reason to be concerned that alcohol may dry your skin, because the oils will compensate for it.

Preparation and Use

Mix one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol with 10 drops of any essential oil, then add water and shake well. Spray the exposed areas of your body 2-3 times a day.

9. Baking Soda and Vinegar Trap

Yet another commonly known DIY mosquito repellent. It works differently than the others, however. Instead of scaring the mosquitos away, it attracts them. So, you can trap them in your natural insect killer and kill them.

Preparation and Use

You take an empty plastic bottle and cut the head off. Then, pour a ¼ cup of baking soda into the bottom part. Cover it with the cut-off head upside down and pour one cup of vinegar. The interaction of soda and vinegar releases carbon dioxide which attracts mosquitoes into your natural mosquito killer trap. Once they fly inside, they cannot get out of it and are left to die. You can set up a new trap every day or whenever you feel like it’s necessary.

Natural Insect Repellents Are Easy to Make and Quite Efficient

Chances are you have found more than one recipe that you can prepare right now from the ingredients you have or didn’t know you had. You can also see that preparing them is not some sophisticated multi-level process but a handy and effortless way on how to repel mosquitoes. It’s something anybody can do at home in just a few minutes! If you worry about how long before natural insect repellent expires, no need to; use it just one and refill any time you need. Given this, there’s literally no reason to pay extra money for a manufactured DEET repellent when you have an equally effective solution ready at hand. All one needs is to know what is a natural mosquito repellent and how to make it.

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