Homemade Mosquito Repellent – What You Need To Stay Mosquito Safe

Ouch! Getting a mosquito bite literally sucks.

Whether you react severely to mosquito bites or not, getting turned into a human juice box is fun for no one.

But using a store-bought repellent can be expensive – and bad for your health.

(And let’s not forget, that aerosol spray isn’t doing the environment any favors, either!)

If you’re fed up with being eaten alive and feeling guilty when you bust out that store-bought, DEET-filled crap, it might be time to check out our list of fantastic homemade mosquito repellents.


Why You Should Have a Dependable Mosquito Repellent For Your Home In the First Place

While the idea of not getting bitten is an obvious front runner for why you’d want mosquito repellent in the first place, there are some other significant factors that play into why a homemade repellent may be the best option.

Mosquitos: Carriers of Disease, Bringers of Death

Okay, the heading’s a bit alarming. In reality, most mosquito bites are harmless, if a bit irritating.

However, each time you get pricked, there is technically a chance that the mosquito grabbing a snack on the back of your arm last filled up its tank on an infected host.

Why should you care? These diseases are responsible for millions of deaths each year.

There are many diseases that mosquitoes carry and spread, and we’ll list a few of the big ones.

However, since this article is technically about mosquito repellent, we’ll simply give a few quick facts about each one and leave it to you to do any morbid follow-up research if your curiosity is piqued.

Malaria and Yellow Fever

Malaria is a plague that has afflicted humankind for as long as we can remember.

Over a century ago when the French attempted to dig a canal across Panama, at least 20,000 workers died from the one-two punch of yellow fever and malaria, both of which were contracted by… you guessed it: mosquito bites.

You might be thinking, yeah, okay, but that was a hundred years ago… and in Panama. But unfortunately, Yellow Fever is still a current threat in places like sub-Saharan Africa, while malaria has remained a widespread issue all over the globe.

West Nile Virus

In 1999, West Nile Virus, a disease transmitted from infected birds to humans via mosquitoes, arrived in the U.S.

Nearly 20 years later, in 2016, over 2000 cases were reported, with Alaska being the only state without an incident.

Note: Here’s another article we put together on other diseases that birds can carry, many of which can infect humans as well

The Zika Virus

And then there’s the Zika Virus. A long-standing threat in places like Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, the disease arrived in the Americas in recent years, and a whopping 65 countries worldwide now having reported the presence of the Zika Virus just since 2007.

The virus’ symptoms are generally not too harsh, but it can cause severe defects in babies whose mother’s contract the disease while pregnant.


Why You Should Make Your Own Home Remedy Mosquito Repellent

Alright, nobody wants these diseases, right? So what’s the solution?

Easy, get a bug repellent! But before you run out to the local store and pick up a can of bug spray, there’s another dark side to this already dark coin.

The “DEET-factor” and the Dangers of Chemical-laden Repellents

N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, more commonly known as DEET, is a chemical substance that was invented way back in the ‘40s and ‘50s to protect the U.S. Army during jungle warfare.

And after that staggering 20,000 person death toll that the French suffered in the jungles of Panama, it’s no wonder they’d come up with something as powerful as DEET to keep those little flying deathtraps away.

The only issue is that it looks like they simply replaced one problem with another, trading in a natural threat for a human-made one.

Despite repeated approval (in correct doses) by the Environmental Protection Agency, a 2009 study revealed that DEET may interfere with your nervous system, brain, and organs.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Excessive Salivation
  • Eye -watering
  • Muscle spasms
  • Death

Don’t you just love when the listed symptoms jump from muscle spasms to death?

So, while DEET is extremely effective at protecting against insect-borne diseases, it seems very sketchy, to say the least.

After all, you know something is up when the Center for Disease Control advises you to apply it over your clothing rather than on your skin.

And while other “safer” solutions are being promoted, like picaridin and IR3535, these are still chemical options that need to be thoroughly tested.

The better choice is to simply look into making your own, safer, homemade repellent.

After all, when you know where the ingredients came from, there’s a much better chance that you’re going to be okay with rubbing it all over your skin.

Note: If homemade, toxin-free solutions to life’s problems really get you going, here’s a great resource on non-toxic homemade cleaners!


What To Expect From Your Homemade Mosquito Spray

Now, before we look at our 8 best homemade mosquito repellent recipes, we should make one thing clear.

While these are all excellent recipes that keep chemicals and bugs off your skin. as with most DIY answers to problems, keep your expectations reasonable.

If natural, organic solutions were cheap, healthy, AND more effective than synthetic solutions, store-bought repellent wouldn’t stand a chance!

But the reality is that chemicals are powerful. I mean, that’s the exact reason why we don’t want them on our our bodies, right?

But that also means they’re a heck of a lot more effective in warding off bugs than many more natural options.

So as we dive into finding the best natural mosquito repellent for your needs, remember that you may have to dabble with a few of these before you find the best one that works for you.

Part I – Homemade Mosquito Repellent Recipes for Personal Use

The first five recipes in the list are actual mosquito sprays, bars, and traps, meant to apply to yourself or small living areas in order to keep mosquitos and other bugs away.

The last three recipes (Part II) take the repellent concept to the big leagues, equipping you with ways to clear your entire yard of mosquitoes!

Recipe #1. The Easy Homemade Mosquito Spray

This recipe is an essential oil mosquito repellent, using a specific blend of oils that is a prime anti-mosquito concoction.

While essential oils are a great tool in the battle against bugs, the nice thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to go mixing and matching essential oils like a mad scientist.

This blend of oils is good for young kids as well as adults, making it a great natural mosquito repellent for babies and grown-ups alike.

Note: Although the essential oil used in this recipe is a gentle, kid-safe option, it’s still generally recommended not to put essential oils directly on an infant’s skin. If they’re under two years old, just apply to their clothes and you should be good to go!

What You Need

  • 2 ounces either apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or vodka
  • 40 drops of Shield Me essential oil
  • 2 ounces water
  • Spray bottle

    How To Do It

    This one’s as easy as it looks. Just mix the three ingredients together into a spray bottle and, hey presto, you’ve got bug spray!

    Since essential oils and water mix like… well, oil and water, it’s best to add the essential oil to the ACV, witch hazel, or vodka first, mix it up, and then add the water.

    Pro Tip: Don’t use just any plastic bottle when using essential oils. Find one that is glass or plastic specifically made for essential oil use.

    Once you’ve made the mixture, keep it in your fridge in between uses. It will keep for a few months!

    Pros and Cons

    ​PROS

    • Very easy to make
      Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
    • Especially designed for use with children ages 2-10
      Stylish and looks great in any backyard.

    ​CONS

    • Can be a more expensive homemade option
      May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.
    • No variation in choice of smells
      May be too small if you have plans for a large flock.

    Best Suited For

    This one is best suited for families with younger children.


    Recipe #2. The “Essential” Homemade Repellent

    Another essential oil option, the “Essential” Homemade Repellent involves a combination of essential oils that is simultaneously pleasant to smell and good at repelling mosquitos.

    While it is the last essential oil-focused recipe we will include on this list, there are many, many variations of essential oil mosquito repellents.

    Here are a few other variations on essential oil based repellent recipes (the first one inspired Recipe #1!) that you can find, along with a valuable list of some of the top essential oils to use in mosquito repellents that are also safe for children and pregnant mothers!

    In addition, if you’re going to use essential oils in your spray, make sure to get quality oils, as it can make a big difference in the health aspects of your homemade spray.

    What You Need

    • Spray bottle that works with essential oils
    • ½ cup witch hazel
    • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
    • 40 drops of your choice of these essential oils:

        Eucalyptus

        Lemongrass

        Citronella

        Tea tree

        Rosemary

     How To Do It

    This one lacks the water component from the first recipe, so all three ingredients can be mixed together into the spray bottle and should blend together fine.

    Just pour them in, stir or shake, and there you have it!

    Once this is done, spray it on your clothes and skin, anywhere you might get bitten, with the exception of the eyes and mouth.

    It should keep those bugs off, and keep you smelling like a boss.

    Pros and Cons

    ​PROS

    • A variety of scents to choose from
      Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
    • Easy to make
      Stylish and looks great in any backyard.

    ​CONS

    • Can be a more expensive homemade option
      May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.

    Best Suited For

    This one is great for anyone looking for a strong but good smelling option that can be tailored to their preferences.

    If your interested in what else you can use those leftover essential oils with, you may also enjoy our article on homemade febreze recipes!


    Recipe #3. The Dried Herbs Spray

    If you want to get away from the essential oils, this one is a killer homemade mosquito spray that you can tailor to your preferred herbal scent.

    Here’s what you’ll need to put it together.

    What You Need

    • Pan
    • Cloth
    • Bowl
    • A spray bottle
    • 1 cup witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
    • 1 cup distilled water
    • 3 or 4 tablespoons of dried herbs (your choice of any one of the following OR combine them into your own blend!)
      • Citronella

        Catnip

        Lavender

        Lemongrass

        Spearmint

        Peppermint

    How To Do It

    Begin by boiling the distilled water along with 3 or 4 tablespoons of your choice of dried herbs. Feel free to experiment with this one. Vary the herbal mixture each time until you find your favorite combinations!

    Let it boil for a minute and then remove it from the heat, give it a stir, and then cover it and let it cool.

    Pro Tip: Make sure to cover it as soon as it’s off the stove, as this will help keep the precious oils in the mixture!

    Once cool, use the strainer and bowl to remove the herbs (they will clog your spritzer otherwise).

    Then add the cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol to your concoction, stir it up, pour it into your spray bottle and off you go!

    Pros and Cons

    ​PROS

    • Smells great
      Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
    • Affordable
      Features an easy-access egg collection door.

    ​CONS

    • Tracking down the specific dried herbs you prefer can be extra work
      May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.

    Best Suited For

    Those who don’t want to spring for essential oils, but still want the delicious, natural smell.


    Recipe #4. The Mosquito Repellent Lotion Bar

    While there are many reasons to make bug repellent sprays, often using a lotion for mosquito repellent can be just as effective!

    Bug repellent lotion bars also work well as a mosquito repellent cream for babies too! However, if you’re pregnant, make sure not to use any herbs that could be dangerous

    Note: If you do want a lotion bar and don’t want to go through the process of infusing the oil, here is a simpler version of this recipe.

    There are so many wonderful herbs to choose from, however, that you should have no trouble finding some that smell good and are safe.

    What You Need

    • A double boiler (or glass bowl and saucepan)
    • Water
    • Cheesecloth
    • Silicon mold
    • 1 cup coconut oil
    • A heaping ½ cup of beeswax
    • ½ cup of another butter like mango, shea, or cocoa (or a combination!)
    • ¼ cup each o​​​​f both rosemary and catnip leaves
    • 1 tsp whole cloves
    • 2 tbsp thyme
    • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
    • 1 (or more) tbsp mint leaf (optional and added to your own liking)
    • 1 tsp of Vitamin E (also optional)

    Pro Tip: If you want to add any other bug resistant essential oils (again, here’s that list of some of the kid-friendly options) to this one, feel free to do so.

    Add between five and fifteen drops of each kind, or to your preferred intensity.

    How To Do It

    Heat up your double boiler, or add an inch or two of water into your saucepan and place the glass bowl on top.  Once you’ve got the boiler going at medium to high heat, add in the herbs and spices (cinnamon, thyme, cloves, rosemary, catnip, and mint) along with the cup of coconut oil.

    Cover the top of the container and let it steep for thirty minutes. By then you should see a distinctly darker color to the oil. That means it’s being infused by those herbs! Rosemary will likely be the dominant smell at this point.

    Strain out the herbs using the cheesecloth and add ½ cup of the cleaned oil back to the boiler. There will be a lot less overall, but if you have more than ½ a cup, save that precious oil for your next batch!

    Now add the ½ cup of your choice of butters as well as the beeswax and stir until it’s melted together and thoroughly mixed.

    Take it off the heat and let it cool. Once it’s off the burner you can mix in any essential oils or the vitamin E. Make sure to do this before the wax starts hardening!

    Once your mixture is ready to go, pour it into your silicon mold and leave it overnight to harden. 

    Pro Tip: You can also pop it in the fridge or even the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes to speed up the process if you’re in a hurry!

    Once the mosquito repellent bars are hardened, just rub them on your dry skin and voila! You’re protected against the mosquitos! Remember to reapply every 2 to 3 hours.

    These bars should keep for several months up to a year. However, make sure they stay cool or they’ll melt!

    Pros And Cons

    ​PROS

    • It’s a lotion combined with a bug repellent, what’s not to love?
      Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
    • Great flexibility in choices for the scent
      Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
    • Infuse the oil yourself!
      Features an easy-access egg collection door.

    ​CONS

    • Quite a bit of work
      May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.
    • Require a lot of ingredients
      May be too small if you have plans for a large flock.

    Best Suited For

    Those who don’t want to use a spray or want the benefit of lotion combined with their spray!


    Recipe #5. A Homemade Mosquito Trap

    All the recipes so far have been helpful for temporary exposure to mosquitoes, especially when you’re on a hike or are relaxing outdoors.

    But, if your problem involves mosquitos regularly getting into your living space, you may need more of a homemade mosquito killer rather than a simple spray or lotion.

    This mosquito trap is a great way to bring that mosquito invasion to an abrupt halt.

    What You Need

    • 2-liter soda bottle
    • Knife
    • Scissors
    • Duct tape
    • A pot
    • ½ cup of brown sugar
    • ½ cup of water
    • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast

    How To Do It

    Start by cutting the soda bottle through the middle, roughly two-thirds of the way up. Flip the top part over and insert it, spout down, into the bottom portion without it touching the bottom. Then use duct tape to re-attach the two pieces of bottle together.

    Next, boil the water, add the sugar and dissolve it completely, creating a syrup. Once cool, add the syrup into your bottle.

    Add the yeast, but don’t mix it. Just let it sit on top of the syrup.

    Make sure the syrup has cooled all the way before adding the yeast. Don’t do it sooner or it’ll ferment too quickly.

    Pro Tip: Toss the syrup into the fridge for a bit to cool it faster!

    And there you have it. Your mosquito killing trap is complete.

    It should last for about two weeks.

    You’ll know when it needs to be replaced when the bubbles stop forming in the syrup (this means the fermentation process which helps attract the mosquitoes has stopped, and the trap has become less effective).

    If you want to get a visual rundown on how this one works, along with some more details on why it works, check out this nifty video.

    Pros and Cons

    ​PROS

    • Helps catch mosquitoes in a larger living space
      Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
    • Doesn’t require the application of a spray or lotion
      Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
    • Lasts for weeks
      Features an easy-access egg collection door.

    ​CONS

    • Has to be kept out of reach of children and pets
      May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.
    • Not aesthetically pleasing
      May be too small if you have plans for a large flock.

    Best Suited For

    Those who have mosquito infestations in their living space.


    Part II: Homemade Mosquito Repellent for Your Yard

    Now, having an outdoor mosquito repellent to put on yourself is helpful, especially when you’re away from home, hiking, or moving around in general.

    But, sometimes you just want to go outside and sit down for a minute without dousing yourself in a spray to enjoy the experience. Wouldn’t it be nice in those moments to just have a whole backyard mosquito repellent?

    Good news… you can!

    Here are some great options to make your own natural mosquito repellent for your whole yard. They are both parent- and kid-safe mosquito repellents, that can be sprayed onto the grass, your driveway, and on any stagnant water in the vicinity.

    Note: If you do have any stagnant water like a swamp or pond by your property, while treating it with a homemade repellent can be helpful, the best long-term solution is to get that water cleaned up and flowing.

    Recipe #6. Read It and Weep: The Onion Option

    A classic mosquito repellent, this option leverages the power of an onion… and that’s it! How simple can it get?

    The repellent usually lasts for around a month before needing to be reapplied.

    Now let’s see how it’s made...

    What You Need

    • An onion
    • Water
    • A container with a lid
    • A sprayer (A pressure sprayer is great, but a large squirt bottle works as well)

      How To Do It

      Once again, this one is super simple. Just chop up the onion, put it in your container and add a gallon of water.

      Stir the repellent around a bit and then cover it up and leave it to steep in a warm, sunny spot for 3-5 days.

      Pour it into your sprayer and give your yard, porch, patio, lawn chairs, swing set, etc. a good dousing!

      Pros and Cons

      ​PROS

      • Easy to make
        Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
      • Minimal ingredients
        Stylish and looks great in any backyard.

      ​CONS

      • Smells like onions!
        May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.

      Best Suited For

      Those who want a super simple, effective option that is natural and easy to make.


      Recipe #7. The Paul Harvey Recipe

      This one comes to us from none other than the famous radio super-personality, Paul Harvey himself.

      The best part of this recipe is that it can last up to three months!

      We provide the rundown on what you’ll need and how to put it together, but if you prefer a visual, here’s a quick video.

      And now we’ll tell you the rest of the story…

      What You Need

      • 3 cups Epsom salt
      • 3 bottles inexpensive beer (if it’s stale, all the better!)
      • 36 oz mint mouthwash (for a more eco-friendly option, look into organic or natural mouthwash, like PerioBrite)
      • A sprayer or large spray bottle

        How To Do It

        In your sprayer, mix 3 cups of Epsom salt, 3 cans or bottles (roughly 36 ounces) of inexpensive beer, and roughly 36 ounces (roughly one bottle worth) of mint mouthwash.

        The idea here is to have approximately a 1 to 1 ratio of mouthwash to beer.

        Swirl it around until it’s mixed together in the sprayer.

        Make sure the salt is thoroughly dissolved! 

        Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to shake or mix up the concoction each time you use it to make sure none of the ingredients have separated.

        Pros and Cons

        ​PROS

        • Classic, proven recipe
          Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
        • Beats the cost of expensive lawn treatments by professionals
          Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
        • Works for up to 3 months!
          Features an easy-access egg collection door.

        ​CONS

        • Smells like beer and mouthwash
          May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.
        • No preservatives, so it has a short shelf life and needs to be applied relatively soon after mixing
          May be too small if you have plans for a large flock.

        Best Suited For

        Those who want a battle-tested, powerful repellent that will last for months.


        Recipe #8. Garlic Yard Spray

        Another age-old, though slightly less effective, way to clear mosquitos (and vampires!) out of your yard, is to use garlic. This has been done for centuries in various ways.

        Here’s a simple, yet effective recipe that should keep those pesky bugs off your lawn for anywhere from a few hours to a week.

        What You’ll Need

        What You Need

        • Blender​​​​
        • Strainer
        • Gallon container with lid
        • Sprayer or spray bottle
        • 3 heads of garlic
        • Water
        • List Element
        Optional:
        • 2 hot peppers
        • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

        How To Do It

        Peel the cloves from three heads of garlic and add them to your blender.

        Fill the blender a little over half full of water.

        Optional: Instead of 3 heads of garlic, use 2 heads of garlic, 2 hot peppers, and 2 tbsp of vegetable oil to the same amount of water in the blender.

        Blend thoroughly for at least a minute.

        Strain out any chunks and then add the strained liquid to your gallon container.

        Fill the rest of the container up with water.

        Put the lid on the container and store it in a cool, dry area like a refrigerator or cold storage room until needed.

        When you go to apply the repellent, further dilute the concentrate by adding ¼ cup of the concentrate to 1 gallon of water.

        Mix into a sprayer or spray bottle and apply to your lawn.

        Pros and Cons

        ​PROS

        • A natural option
          Easy to move, whether around the yard or to a new house
        • Very simple to make
          Stylish and looks great in any backyard.
        • Extremely affordable
          Features an easy-access egg collection door.

        ​CONS

        • Not good to use if you have a cat!
          May not hold up against stronger predatory animals like coyotes.
        • Needs reapplication regularly
          May be too small if you have plans for a large flock.
        • Smells like garlic!
          Does not include a tray to collect chicken droppings.

        Best Suited For

        Those who want a more organic, natural approach to keeping their lawn mosquito free.


        Stay Safe Out There...

        And there you have it: 8 homemade mosquito repellents that range from sprays and lotions, to house traps and entire yard applications.

        Comment below and let us know which ones you’ve tried, how effective they were, and if you had to tailor the ingredients or application to get better results.

        Also, if you have your own favorite homemade mosquito repellent recipe, we’d love to hear about it. Please share it with us!

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