How to make a natural, non-gross-smelling mosquito repellent

May 25 | Guest post by Jillee

mosquito repellant 3
Now that we are all getting outdoors more, most of us are having to deal with pesky mosquitoes that love to try and ruin our outdoor fun.

I don't know about you, but I will avoid spraying on mosquito repellent at all costs! It's so unpleasant! So I finally made up my own version that's MUCH more pleasant and palatable.

What's not to like about cooling witch hazel mixed with fragrant esssential oils!? I didn't have some of the oils I needed so I dropped by the local health food store and they had everything I needed. (If you don't have the lavender and peppermint oil on hand, you can substitute five more drops of citronella and lemongrass, but I love the smell of having all four oils in the mix!)

In a spray bottle, mix and shake well to blend:

How to use this spray:

  • Do not spray directly on faces. Instead, spray in your hands and then rub onto your face, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
  • The best protection against mosquito-borne illness is avoidance. If you can, remain indoors during their peak hours at dawn and dusk.
  • This spray is not waterproof/sweat-proof, so you will need to apply again hourly to ensure continued protection.
  • It will not protect against ticks! I recommend a store-bought product that contains DEET if tick exposure is likely — or if you'd rather avoid chemicals, long sleeves and pants do the trick, too.

My bottle of homemade bug spray at the ready on the back patio! Take THAT you little bloodsuckers!

  1. This is great. I wonder if some etsy-er has this all blended up and for sale in their store? (Ya know, for those of us too lazy or cheap to buy each individual component.)

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  2. I am seriously violently allergic to mosquito bites, I am going to try this and hope it helps!!

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  3. This sounds fantastic. Being 6 months pregnant and trying to pull weeds in my garden without being eaten alive has been a pain this spring, and I've been really hesitant to use the usual mosquito repellent because I just don't feel comfortable covering myself in chemicals. Can't wait to make up a bottle this weekend!

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  4. Awesome! I also love the display in the little bucket. I need to try this for my Bday party next month.

    This would be great for summer weddings, too, maybe have a cross-post in OBB? I know I had this issue last year for my wedding. Ended up just using OFF, ew….

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    • Great idea. We'll totally do an OBB "steal this" about this!! :)

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  5. I have made my own insect repellant like this, but I also added rose geranium oil, which is supposed to repel ticks. I work outdoors, and we have a TON of ticks, but it seems to be working because I rarely find them on me. It also works pretty well for mosquitoes, as well.

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  6. Wow. I'm sitting here literally covered in mosquito bites all over my arms from one night helping my neighbor weed flowerbeds and one night of sitting under a tent in my bff's backyard drinking beer like the white trash royalty we are and I'm MISERABLE. It's too hot during the day here to do anything meaningful outside until prime mosquito time, I'm afraid of DEET, and I hate the way citronella smells. Derp that I never thought to mix something else with it to make it pleasanter. I'll be heading to the health food store to buy citronella oil tomorrow, since that's the only part of this recipe that I don't have at home already. You might have just saved me from a terribly itchy summer. Thanks!

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  7. Is the lavender in there to make it smell nice, or is it an "active ingredient"? Sadly, lavender makes me sneeze uncontrollably, so I have to avoid it.

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  8. apparently crushing then boiling the leaves of chrysanthemums makes it a great way to repel aphids and also mosquitoes. or you could also rub the leaves on yourself just for mosquitoes.

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    • It's true that chrysanthemum leaves are a natural bug killer. Boiling them makes an organic insecticide for other plants. However, I'd be careful about putting it on your skin, especially if you're boiling it and making a concentrate. It's strong stuff, some commercial pesticides are made from it too. It's something that i use sparingly on my plants, as it does not really discriminate and can kill beneficial insects as well as bad ones.

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  9. I'm TOLD that geranium oil is a natural tick repellent. Not sure how that plays with the other flavors.

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  10. FYI for folks who aren't into DIY or can't get a hold on some of the ingredients: There is a commercial product by a company called All Terrain called Kids Herbal Armor that contains all these essential oils as their active ingredients. I have no interest etc. in the company, but I've had good luck using it myself and I HATE bug sprays. However, it does contain some chemicals (no DEET) as inactive ingredients, so keep that in mind.

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  11. Darn, I clicked on this hoping to find an alternative to citronella. :(

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  12. You might want to note that it's important to use real lavender essential oils, imitation/synthetic lavender oils actually attract mosquitoes. I'm an entomologist who studies mosquito attractants.

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  13. I saw this from a post on OBB. I'm not having a summer wedding, but I am highly allergic and highly attractive to mosquitos so this is a good idea for me. My only question is, I though citronella was derived from lemongrass. Can you replace the lemongrass with citronella or vice-versa? I just know how expensive essential oils can be so I'm trying to cut costs.

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    • Yes! This has a list of potential ingredients that will net a similar result.

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