The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Own Natural Repellent for Mosquitoes

Ah, summertime. The sun is shining, the beach is calling…and the mosquitoes are out in full force. There’s nothing quite like being covered in bumpy, itchy bites to put a damper on your summer.

But what’s a mosquito magnet to do? Especially if you don’t love the idea of rubbing yourself – and your children – down with toxic chemicals everyday.

The good news is that there are a bevy of toxin-free and effective natural mosquito repellents on the market. The bad news is that the costs of these sprays and lotions can really add up.

The best news? You can whip up your own natural repellent for mosquitoes all on your own at a fraction of the price. It’s safe, it’s easy and it’ll take you less than 5 minutes – seriously, what are you waiting for?

Ready to make your very own natural mosquito repellent? Here’s how you do it – step by step.

#1. Choose the Most Effective Essential Oils for Mosquitoes

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Essential oils aren’t just great for aromatherapy – some are brilliant at keeping mosquitoes away. And they do it all without chemicals and toxins so you can rest easy about applying them to yourself, your kids, and your pets.

Make sure to experiment with the essential oils below – because everybody has different body chemistry, what works great for one person may not be the magic mosquito-repellent solution for another.

Also, it’s best to go for a combination of essential oils – they work better as a team than alone.

Okay, so which are the most potent essential oils for mosquitoes? Here’s the list:

  • Lemon eucalyptus – get it here! Pretty much every list of natural mosquito repellent ingredients has this one on the list, which is no surprise ’cause this stuff works. And it’s not just the all-natural community that’s telling stories about this mosquito-repelling ingredient – the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently approved eucalyptus oil as an effective mosquito repellent and a recent study shows that a mixture of just 32% lemon eucalyptus oil gave more than 95% protection against mosquitoes for up to three hours. Amazing, but there’s one downside – it’s not recommended for children under 3 (not because it is unsafe, but because it has not been tested on children under 3 years of age yet – just don’t do it ’til there’s further testing, okay?) Make sure you’re getting real lemon eucalyptus oil and not just a combination of lemon essential and eucalyptus essential oils!
  • Citronella get it here! Probably the most well-known ingredient in natural mosquito repellents, this strongly-scented oil was shown to be one of the most effective essential oils against mosquitoes. That being said, citronella is most effective when it makes up at least 10% of your mosquito repellent and it’s most potent when combined with other mosquito-repelling ingredients. For example, citronella oil combined with vanilla extract was shown to provide complete repellency at least 3 hours.
  • Lemongrass – get it here! In one study, lemongrass was found to be an effective insecticide against 3 species of mosquitoes.
  • Catnip get it here! If you have cats, you might want to skip this one since otherwise, you’ll have your besotted kitties following you around for a taste. Without cats – this one’s great since mosquitoes loathe the scent. One study found that catnip oil keeps mosquitoes away for two to three hours while researchers from Iowa State University found catnip to be 10 times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes!
  • Thymeget it here! So great for your skin and wonderful for keeping the annoying bloodsuckers away, thyme was found to be one of the best natural ingredients to protect against malarial mosquitoes – one study found that 5% thyme oil on the skin of hairless mice gave them a 91% protection rate.
  • Cinnamon – get it here! Got mosquito larvae you want to get rid of and adult mosquitoes you want to drive away? Get thee some cinnamon leaf oil. This stuff not only smells delicious, it’s been proven to be apotent all-natural mosquito larvae killer – more effective than ACV – as well as an effective repellent against the Asian tiger mosquito.

Oh wait, we’re not finished yet. Geranium oilPeppermint oil, Clove oil, Patchouli oil, and Cedarwood oil also rank amonst the most effect essential oils for mosquitoes – they’ve been shown to repel malarial, filarial, and yellow fever mosquitoes for up to 3 hours! (Oh, and don’t mistake these essential oils not having their own bullet points for a statement on their efficacy – these work fantastically, it’s just that the list was getting a bit too long).

Don’t want to get a bunch of these essential oils? Go for pre-prepared essential oil formulas – Plant Therapy’s Insect Shield Synergy Blend is a potent combination of citronella, eucalyptus, cedarwood, lemongrass, lavender, patchouli, catnip and tea tree essential oils in one convenient bottle.

diy natural mosquito repellent

Another great one is Amrita’s Bugs Be Gone, which combines lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, rosemary, peppermint, catnip, and sweet lavandin into a potent blend…

A note about Lavender oil, in case you were wondering – it pops up in a lot of natural mosquito repellents, which isn’t surprising because it’s a very gentle way to keep mosquitoes away. But you should know that lavender is not enough on its own and it should be combined with other, more potent mosquito repelling essential oils.

Since lavender is one of the only essential oils that can be applied in a greater concentration (less diluted) on your skin, it makes a great skin-soothing ingredient to add into your DIY repellents to make the concoction more gentle on your skin and lend its lovely scent.

The same with Tea tree oil – which can also be applied in greater concentrations on your skin. A 50% concentration of tea tree oil was found to be comparable to 7% DEET in repelling mosquitoes for up to 7 hours, making it a good natural mosquito repellent – but better when combined with more potent essential oils.

The same thing with Vanilla oil or extract – it makes a great addition as it’s both delicious-smelling and a mosquito deterrent.

Note: We don’t recommend using citrus scents – although they’re great and yummy-smelling, citrus oils can also be phytotoxic so if you’re planning on using this natural mosquito repellent during the daytime, skip the citrus oils!

#2. Choose a Carrier Liquid

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Wait, why do I need a carrier? It’s generally not advised to put essential oils directly on your skin – you need to dilute them in either:

  • Carrier oil(s). Carrier oils are oils like olive oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, etc that can be applied directly to the skin and so are perfect for diluting essential oils. They’re great to use since they’ll help the essential oils last longer and spread easier on your body. The only downside is you have to rub them on your skin rather than being able to just spray it on. The best carrier oils to use are:
    • Soybean oil – shop it here. This is perfect since it’s a natural mosquito repellent even by itself that’s been shown to provide longer lasting protection from mosquitoes. Also comes with a bevy of benefits of your skin and hair, doesn’t feel greasy on your skin and almost odorless.
    • Extra virgin olive oil. Everyone has some lying around so this is an easy option, plus it absorbs beautifully – no odor and no sticky or greasiness.

Note on carrier oils: We love coconut oil in general, but it’s not great for this since the scent tends to attract mosquitoes. There is a huge variety of carrier oils you can use – avocado, castor, grapeseed, jojoba, safflower, sunflower, sweet almond, walnut oil – and all of them come with skin benefits.

Just make sure to choose wisely since some are on the thick-and-heavy side (avocado, castor, sunflower) and some can be quite oily/greasy (jojoba).

  • Witch hazel – shop it here. A natural astringent, witch hazel is gentle on the skin and helps disperse the essential oils well.
  • Distilled or boiled water. As gentle as it gets and everyone has it on hand so it can be the easiest option – the only downside is that it won’t keep for long so use your water-based mosquito repellents quickly!

Essential oil dilution is a tricky topic, but a good rule of thumb for a daily mosquito repellent you’ll be using directly on your skin is to keep the essential oil concentration at 10% of the total solution.

  • A 10% concentration is fine for most adults. This translates to 10 drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier liquid or 60 drops per ounce.
  • A 1% concentration is best for children under six, pregnant women, elderly adults and those with really sensitive skin. This means 1 drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier liquid or 5-6 drops per ounce.

#3. Make Your Natural Mosquito Repellent

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Got all your potions together? Great, now we’re going to mix them!

If you’re using carrier oils – you’ll want to get a flip-cap bottle to easily carry it around in.

If you’re using water or witch hazel – go for a spritzer bottle for easy application.

Now all you have to do is pour your carrier liquid into the bottle of your choice and then drop in your chosen essential oils – keep in mind that you want to aim for 10% essential oil.

If you’re using a 100ml bottle, mix 90 ml of your carrier liquid and 10ml of essential oils. If you’re using a 200ml bottle, mix 180ml carrier liquid and 20ml of essential oils.

Shake well and spritz (or rub) it on and you’re good to go!

Tips on Making Your Own Natural Mosquito Repellent:

  • It can be tricky to get the concentration of essential oils just right.  So start small, adding just a drop or two into the carrier oils and gradually increase the amount (remember 10% essential oil concentration should be the maximum) until you get to a scent that’s potent without being overwhelming. If you’re making the natural mosquito repellent for your pets or children – less is more!
  • Does your repellent smell too strong? Use a fruit or nut carrier oil to help mask the scent. Another option is to add in plenty of vanilla extract.
  • Keep your natural repellent away from heat or sunlight, especially if you’re using witch hazel or water. Another option is to store them in colored bottles that keep the light out – this will help it last longer.

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