Homemade Mosquito Repellent: Options That Actually Work

Insect repellent
Written by Bradley Page

You are waiting for weeks for a nice warm day so that you can spend it outdoors with the family. But as soon as you stop moving, mosquitoes are sticking to you as though they are part of the family. If this sounds familiar to you we have the perfect homemade mosquito repellent that works like a charm.

You won’t have to worry for the buzzing around you because no mosquito will want to come near you. You can finally have the romantic night out on the open with no mood killers around.

Now here is the science behind avoiding our irritant friends.

See also: Homemade Insect Repellent: Keeping You Safe from Bugs and Mosquitoes

In parts of the world, mosquitoes are known as carriers of infectious diseases, although on our ground there are still no such dangers.

Nutritional Habits of The Mosquitoes

Legend says that garlic protects people from vampires. The truth is that the only vampires around are the mosquitoes. They don’t like garlic and they drink our blood. They are just a little less scary than described.

If you understand the nutritional habits of mosquitoes, it will become easier to avoid them feeding from you. Unfortunately they are not vegetarians, but the good news is that human’s blood is not the only thing on their menu.

Male mosquitoes, for example, are also eating nectar from some flowers. Women need nectar and human blood as nutritional supplements since they are the ones carrying the eggs and they obviously need more energy.

In Mosquito Season Avoid their Favorite Scents and Preferences

  • Flower or fruity scents and fragrances. Mosquitoes are attracted to everything reminding them of nectar or blood whether it is by smell, or color or appearance. If you use a perfume with a flower note, they will experience you as a meal.
    It is the same case with deodorants or soaps that leave a smell on our body. Even if you are not able to sense some smells on your skin, they are immediately drawn to you. They have a very strong sense of smell.
  • Dark or strong colors and leaves. They also prefer “attacking” people that wear nude color clothes. But they are also attracted to strong colors because it reminds them of flowers.
    Basically, it is not possible to avoid mosquito bite by wearing a certain color, it will always remind them of something on their menu.
  • Carbon dioxide. Your body releases carbon dioxide with every breath and when you exercise you release even larger amounts of carbon dioxide. That is the main reason why, when you are sleeping in the same room with a mosquito, you can always hear it.
    How can he otherwise know where your head is, where he can annoy you the most? Burning candles and fire in general, are the exception to the rule. Even though fire releases great amounts of carbon dioxide, it also releases fumes. Fumes make it impossible for every insect to fly, so insects, mosquitoes included, avoid every kind of fume.
  • Lactic acid. Your body produces lactic acid after exercise or when you’re hot and you are sweating. You might not even notice that you’re sweating, but when you are starting to get hot, your body prepares for lactic acid removal and you become a mosquito magnet.
  • Moisture. Mosquitoes love moisture, it is their natural habitat. Even a small amount of water, like a humid ground or a light drizzle, can be understood as a party invitation for mosquitoes. Stale water is the perfect environment for their reproduction.

Essential Oil: The Most Effective Homemade Mosquito Repellent

There are many products on the market that are used as repellents. They are usually from synthetic origin, opposing from this article in which we will deal only with natural, homemade mosquito repellents.

Although the main use of these repellents would be against mosquitoes, they are actually useful for repelling other insects too.

Some of these natural products act only as repellents, which would mean that they lower the possibility of mosquito bites; while others are also insecticides, which are good for repelling insects and excellent in repelling mosquitoes.

Lemon Eucalyptus

Lemon eucalyptus oil is an essential oil that derives from the citriodora family. Although many citriodora plants act as mosquito repellents, lemon eucalyptus is the most effective one. It is also declared as a bio pesticide repellent which means that it contains only natural materials. It is safe to use on skin, can be added to homemade lotions or sprays and can be used on kids over the age of 2.

When you are looking for lemon eucalyptus essential oil, search only for pure form. There are many essential oils mixed together in order to create a more pleasant scent. This is not necessarily pleasant for your cause.

Neem oil

Neem oil is derived from the seeds of Melia azadirachta plant and it contains a high concentration of an ingredient known as azadirahtin, which acts as a powerful insecticide and mosquito repellent. As a mosquito repellent it is tested and approved in 2-5% concentration, but it has a relatively unpleasant and strong smell.

It reminds you of an onion or garlic smell. It is safe to use on clothes or patches, but strictly forbidden for oral use in high concentration. It is mostly used in emulsions, mixed with water or other spray ingredients. In order to cover the unpleasant smell, other essential oils are usually used.

If you choose to mix this essential oil and use it as a mosquito repellent, it is best to consult an aroma-therapist that will explain which essential oils help its effectiveness and which don’t.

Andirobe essential oil

This is an essential oil very similar to neem oil. It contains tetranortriterpenoids; limonoids with intense repellent properties. It is used as an insecticide as well as it is confused by the insects with the hormone ecdysones, which is responsible for pupation regulation.

Tetranortriterpenoids interrupts the pupation and eventually kills them. That is why mosquitoes tend to avoid anything that reminds them of this smell. The benefit for people is that it doesn’t smell as bad as neem oil, so it won’t act as a people repellent too.

Citronella essential oil

There are two types of citronella essential oils: Ceylon citronella and synthetic citronella. The synthetic one is used in perfumes because of its price and more pleasant smell, but it can do the trick for you if you don’t have any other mosquito repellent ingredients available.

The Ceylon citronella contains a small part of aldehid citral so it is less irritating for the skin, although it’s recommend that you avoid skin use altogether. You can put is on a wooden object on the table or on part of the clothes you are wearing.

Citronella has been used over 60 years as a mosquito repellent and it is generally considered harmless but high concentrations can irritate the skin, especially a child’s skin. As for the synthetic citronella the time effect is shorter and it should be more frequently applied.

It is interesting to mention that vanilla, which we use in cookies, combined with citronella, can heighten its mosquito repellent properties but decrease insect repellent properties.

This is due to the fact that some insects are attracted by vanilla. Nevertheless, citronella usually acts as a synergist, it is almost never isolated.


Geranium or geranium rose essential oil is rich with monoterpenic alcohol substances (geraniol, citronelol, linaol) and is often used against mosquito troubles.

If you ever wondered how to make a mosquito repellent, this essential oil would be the start. It acts best combined with neem oil, Himalayan cedar and menta essential oil.

It is important to state that it must be mixed with a carrier oil if applied on skin, like many other essential oils. This is particularly significant when applied on animals, since they tend to have a bigger reaction than humans. When applied on pets, it is safest to put some on the collar, so he won’t be able to consume some of the geranium.


Pinen, Kamfor and Cineol are some of the components of rosemary essential oil responsible for its mosquito repellent properties. If you plan on making a homemade mosquito repellent using rosemary, you should combine it with basil and menta.

Eucalyptus is a great addition to this solution; besides mosquitoes, it will also take care of the flies in your home. Rosemary has such an intense aroma that even by rubbing some on your skin, it will last for hours


Lavender is mostly composed of camphor and cineol. These ingredients are the perfect choice if you are looking for a powerful mosquito repellent. It is usually used in homes against moths or combined with some cleaning agents in order to keep the house or the area insect free.

You can either use an essential oil in a candle evaporator or if you manage to find some, natural aromatic herbs. It will create a double effect for you; keep the mosquitoes out of your personal space and create a relaxing atmosphere with its calming properties.

Nepeta cataria

This essential oil is not for cat lovers. Cats are not keen on this smell, but neither are mosquitoes. This is a product that is still not commercially used, perhaps because of its unpleasant smell or its higher price.

However, it is recommended for home use since it is a great mosquito repellent and has anti bacteriological properties.

Choose The Most Suitable Mosquito Repellent for Your Skin

Apple cider vinegar

The best version of mosquito repellent would be to take some supplement or food in the morning and be protected during the day. If you have apple cider vinegar at home, this can be easily doable.

Mix one glass of warm water with a few spoons of apple cider vinegar. It will make your body produce a smell that you won’t sense, but the mosquitoes will stay away from you.

Basil plant

Mosquitoes can’t stand the smell of basil so it is best to keep a basil plant on the table where you are staying around. If the weather is suitable for mosquitoes, and their visits are more frequent, put some water on your basil plant. It will cause the plant to produce a more intense aroma which will spread around; you will feel the pleasant scent and the mosquitoes will avoid it.

The same goes for the basil plant, lavender plant, rosemary plant and many others.


Alcohol is a very effective mosquito repellent. Nevertheless, you should avoid using it on kids since the skin is an absorbent organ and is not adapted to their skin. If you are making a mosquito repellent, it is suggested that you use water instead of alcohol.

Alcohol is often used as a repellent by making an alcohol infusion. It is made by putting some of the suggested plants in a bottle of any kind of alcohol. It is best for you if you use alcohol without smell. The mosquitoes will definitely sense it, but not your friends. Put the bottle on room temperature for about 2-3 weeks.

During this time, it is important that you mix the solution frequently. After this time, throw away the plants and store the solution in the fridge. In the solution are extracted all the essences from the plant. You can use this solution on your clothes or on your skin, it will work either way.

Olive oil

It is a generally known fact that the favorite gathering for mosquitoes are water surfaces. The most surprising thing is that this is true even for small water surfaces like small jars with water or flower pots.

For the reason of making mosquitoes go away from your small water surfaces, it is best to put olive oil in the water. Even a few drops with be detected from our insect friends.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil helps in the fight against mosquitoes but also calms the affected area on the skin. You can use it mixing it with water or alcohol.

It is not recommended to use it on its own. If you are planning on mixing it, it should be 2:1 rate. For example 120 ml water and 60ml of tea tree oil.

How to Make Mosquito Repellent – And Never Get Bitten Again

In order to protect yourselves from mosquito bites in a closed space it is best that you use the essential oil variety of the above mentioned herbs. You can use it with diffuser or a candle, it will do the trick either way. Some additional protective methods are not a bad idea as well.

If your skin or your nerves are mosquito sensitive, you might want to think about protective nets on all the doors and windows.

However for open spaces, herbs are more convenient. Some herbs are difficult to find, but keep in mind that herb in general will last longer when you are outdoors. Essential oils are transmitting through air and only a light breeze might take them away thus allowing the mosquitoes in.

One of the most effective homemade mosquito repellent formula:

  • 100 drops citronella
  • 50 drops lemon eucalyptus
  • 50 drops menthol
  • 50 drops Himalayan cedar
  • 50 drops rosemary

This solution should be mixed with 70% alcohol and sprayed on clothes. This combination is perfect for outdoor activities and will definitely protect your skin from mosquito bites. Every hour or two the procedure should be repeated since essential oils mixed in alcohol evaporate easy even though they are on clothes.

If you prefer skin application of essential oils, you must mix the solution with a carrier oil of your choice. For maximum protection, the carrier oil shouldn’t smell sweet.

You should put this mixture on the exposed parts of the body that are not covered with clothes, although it is best that you avoid the more sensitive parts of your body like your face and neck. You can exchange the menthol with geranium if you don’t like the tingling sensation it has on your skin.

The essential oil mixtures should not be applied on children under the age of 2 or pregnant women.

First Aid After A Mosquito Bite!

If you skipped a spot on your body, forgot to spray it and a mosquito got to you, here are some remedies to ease the itching and redness.

Essential oils:

  • Lavender
  • Lemon grass
  • Bay leaves essential oil

Other remedies:

  • Aloe Vera (cream or gel form, although the natural alternative is always the best)
  • Chamomile
  • Rub banana peal
  • Clay
  • Propolis
  • Coloidal silver
  • Baking soda (mix it with water in order to make a paste, then apply on the affected area)

Don’t forget to read our article on how to choose the best first aid kit to prepare yourself for any emergencies.

Interesting Mosquito Facts!

However you choose to protect yourself, there will always be some “creature” in nature that will either scare you or bother you. The trick is to accept that we share nature with other living things and we must make peace with it.

No matter how much mosquitoes or some other insects disturb your harmony, don’t reach out to toxic repellents that will eventually do you more harm than the mosquitoes themselves. Natural and homemade mosquito repellents are completely safe and they are just as efficient as the synthetic ones.

If you already know that mosquitoes are a problem for you, consider planting some of the suggested herbs and keep them around you. They will undoubtedly repel mosquitoes and lighten up the space a bit.

For guidelines on how to choose the best mosquito repellent, check out our article to help you.

Featured Image Source:


Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!