Want to get rid of mosquitoes naturally? In this post you'll discover the top 10 natural mosquito repellents to keep mosquitoes away.
Have you ever looked at the ingredients on conventional mosquito repellent products? Many of them include chemicals like DEET that could have health and safety risks.
But are there natural mosquito repellents that work as well as those with DEET in them? Absolutely yes, and some are even more effective.
There are all kinds of natural substances and alternative products that you can safely use to keep mosquitoes away. Take your pick and start enjoying your time outdoors without the fear of mosquito bites!
Citronella is a plant that is claimed to repel mosquitoes. However, many “citronella” plants marketed as natural mosquito repellent plants are labelled pelargonium citrosum or citrosa geranium and are not actually citronella—or effective repellants.
True citronella is a grass, so if you’re looking to keep mosquitoes away pass on the leafy varieties. Look for citronella winterianus or cybopogon nardus instead.
For a natural mosquito repellent essential oils are easiest since citronella essential oil is almost always made from citronella grass. There’s no need to worry about choosing the wrong plant and you can apply it right to your skin.
- For skin: Mix 3 to 5 drops in coconut oil or moisturizer and apply it to your skin. Reapply every hour for best results.
- For yards: Plant citronella grass around your patio or in a large planter that you can keep on your deck. The plants will only repel mosquitoes within several feet so be sure to plant them close by.
Another plant, lavender is a fragrant natural mosquito repellent that is easy and safe to use. It requires little care and has beautiful purple flowers when it blossoms.
The scent of lavender is strong enough to interfere with mosquitoes’ ability to smell. If they can’t smell you, they won’t be interested in you and will buzz off.
Lavender essential oil is another way to take advantage of the plant. The key compounds from the plant are present in it and it is safe to use on your skin.
- For skin: Add 15 drops of lavender essential oil and 1 cup of water to a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray your skin and rub the liquid in.
- For yards: Plant lavender in your gardens or in planters to keep near sitting areas. Space them out to ensure wider coverage.
3. Neem Oil
Neem essential oil is a popular option for use as a natural insecticide and is effective at keeping away mosquitoes.
In fact, the US National Research Council found that neem oil is more effective than DEET. Scientists at the Malaria Institute in India conducted further research and confirmed the findings.
Because of its remarkable efficacy, it’s a popular ingredient in natural mosquito repellent DIY recipes. It’s non-toxic, plant-based, and safe to wear on your skin.
- For skin: Mix 10 drops of neem essential oil in about a quarter cup of coconut oil or moisturizer. Apply to skin to protect against mosquitoes for up to 12 hours.
- For yards: Put 40 drops of neem oil and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray around your patio, deck, or garden. It won’t damage your plants but can kill bees so avoid plants that you’ve noticed bees frequent.
4. Black Pepper
Black pepper is a highly effective natural mosquito repellent thanks to a compound called piperine. It’s so effective that big businesses that formulate bug sprays have taken notice.
Many European companies are now using a synthetic chemical called picaridin in their products which is derived from piperine. It keeps mosquitoes away up to four times longer than DEET, but is also usually mixed with some questionable ingredients.
Luckily, you can get the repellent effect of piperine without any synthetic additives by using black pepper essential oil. It’s another safe natural mosquito repellent for skin that will help prevent bites.
- For skin: Add 3 to 5 drops of black pepper oil to moisturizer or coconut oil and apply to skin. Reapply every 2 to 3 hours as needed.
- For yards: Mix 10 drops of black pepper oil in a liquid carrier oil and dip long pieces of string in it. Place these strings anywhere outside that you’d like to keep mosquito-free.
5. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
This essential oil has been a popular natural mosquito repellent since at least the 1940s. These days it’s commonly seen in DEET-free mosquito sprays because of its established efficacy.
But you can get a bottle of just the oil and use it in your own DIY sprays and creams. You only need a little at a time so a small bottle will go a long way.
Lemon eucalyptus oil contains some of the same compounds as citronella and works in a similar way. However, some research has found that lemon eucalyptus oil is more effective and longer lasting.
In one study, a mixture containing 32% lemon eucalyptus oil gave over 95% protection from mosquitos for 3 hours. This concentration is quite high but a more diluted version will still offer impressive results.
For skin: Add 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil and ¼ cup of water to a small spray bottle. Shake to combine thoroughly and then spray directly on skin. Reapply every 2 to 3 hours.
DIY Essential Oils Spray
Each essential oil mentioned above can be used alone but combining them is even better! Try this natural mosquito repellent recipe to take advantage of multiple essential oils at once.
If you don’t have one or more of the oils, just leave that oil out. You can add a few extra drops of one of the others.
- ½ cup witch hazel
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp rubbing alcohol
- 25 drops citronella essential oil
- 25 drops geranium essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops neem essential oil
- 10 drops black pepper essential oil
- 10 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- Put rubbing alcohol and witch hazel in a spray bottle and add the essential oil drops. Shake well.
- Add water. Shake again to mix all ingredients thoroughly.
- Spray onto skin and reapply every few hours as needed. Remember to shake again before each application.
There are more natural mosquito repellent plants than just citronella grass and catnip is one of the most effective. Research has found that the nepetalactone found in catnip is 10 times more effective than DEET.
Catnip can be grown in sun or partial shade. It grows up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide so it needs ample space.
Plant the herb in suitable areas where you’d like to keep mosquitoes at bay. It can become quite invasive so you may prefer to grow catnip in a planter instead of the garden.
As a natural mosquito repellent, catnip will keep bugs away but it may attract neighbourhood cats. If you don’t want them in it, wrap chicken wire around it or surround it with another type of barrier.
If you prefer flowering plants to grasses, marigolds might be the choice for you. These vibrant little flowers look great in the garden and will chase away mosquitos.
Marigolds are annual plants so you have to plant them each year. They should be planted in full sunlight or areas that get sun for most of the day.
The distinct scent of marigolds is what keeps mosquitoes away. Some people don’t particularly like the smell, but if you don’t mind it it’s handy as a bug repellent.
Plant the flowers around your yard and sitting areas. You can also put them in small pots near doors and windows to deter them from sneaking into your home.
8. Badger Anti-Bug Balm
Now we’re getting into the pre-made products. These are great because they’re already tested out, packaged, and ready to use.
Many parents feel uneasy about using DIY mixes for their little ones and that’s understandable. Their skin can be very sensitive and might react differently from more mature skin.
If you’re looking for a natural mosquito repellent for babies, try Badger Anti-Bug Balm. It’s safe for babies and toddlers and suitable for mom and dad, too.
Badger Anti-Bug Balm comes in tins and sticks which are easy to carry with you and simple to apply. It has been lab tested and proven to repel mosquitoes and prevent bites.
The product is certified organic, all natural, and petroleum-free. It uses a combination of essential oils in castor oil and olive oil to repel mosquitoes naturally.
9. Dr. T’s Mosquito-Repelling Granules
A great natural mosquito repellent for yard use is Dr. T’s Mosquito Repelling Granules. It’s affordable, is suitable for use over a wide area, and works fast.
Dr. T’s formula includes natural mosquito repellents like mint, lemon grass, and garlic oil. The natural ingredients mean that the granules are environmentally friendly and safe around kids and pets.
To apply the granules simply use the built-in sprinkler cap on the container and scatter them across your lawn and garden. You can also use a fertilizer spreader if you have one.
One container of Dr. T’s granules is enough to cover about 4000 square feet, so it goes a long way. The effects will last for up to 3 weeks but you should reapply every 2 weeks for best results.
This product also works really fast, with mosquitoes being repelled within just one hour of application. That means there’s very little waiting between scattering the granules and enjoying your yard without mosquitoes.
This one is a bit unusual compared to others on the list. While everything else mentioned is meant for skin or can be put in your yard, this is one you ingest.
Mozi-Q is a mosquito repellent that works from the inside out. It’s a chewable pill based on homeopathic remedies so it’s all natural.
It contains five different plant-based ingredients that are meant to prevent mosquito bites. They also work to reduce the body’s reaction if you do get bitten so you don’t get as itchy.
It sounds strange, but the idea has been tested and found to work quite well. One ingredient, staphysagria, was studied alone over a 4 year period and was 90% effective in 421 participants.
The combination of ingredients is also a safe and effective mosquito repellent for dogs. If your four-legged friend is going outdoors with you, you can both take Mozi-Q to prevent getting bitten.
Other Ideas to Protect Yourself
Standing water: Mosquitos breed in stagnant water so having it around your yard could attract them and give them a good place to lay eggs. Empty birth baths, buckets, bins, and anything else holding stagnant water and make sure your gutters are clear.
Light-Coloured Clothing: Wearing clothes that are dark or brightly coloured makes you a more visible target for mosquitoes. White or light colours like beige or grey won’t attract them to you as much so choose them instead.
Loose Clothing: A mosquito’s proboscis—the stem it uses to bite you—can poke through tight clothes and reach your skin. Whenever possible, cover up with loose clothing to make it more difficult for mosquitoes to bite you.
Bats: Bats feed on mosquitoes and will eat a lot of them in a night since they’re such small insects. Attract bats to your yard using a bat house to control the mosquito population naturally.
Mosquitoes can be a major problem, especially in the summer months, and not just because they cause itchiness. They can carry viruses that cause illness, so avoiding bites is crucial in some areas.
But with rising concerns about the safety of DEET, more people are looking for a natural mosquito repellent. The good news is that there are plenty of great options out there, both pre-made and DIY.
So take your pick of the many natural mosquito repellents, get outside, and enjoy the beautiful weather. When you protect yourself naturally you’ll avoid bites without having to worry about your repellent’s ingredients.