diy mosquito repellent
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How to Make a DIY Homemade Mosquito Repellent (That Really Works)


Jun. 18 2020, Updated 1:01 p.m. ET

If you find yourself spending significantly more time outdoors during the warmer summer months, you are not alone. While the average person spends most of their life indoors — 87 percent of it — or in a car (6 percent of the time), spending time outdoors has been proven to improve short-term memory, lower blood pressure, combat depression, anxiety, and bad moods. But though there are so many reasons to get outside during summer, the rise of summer bugs might just be enough to keep you inside.

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With so many health benefits to spending time outdoors, don’t let the threat of mosquito bites keep you within the four walls of your own home. Sure, mosquitoes can be annoying (at their best) and downright scary (at their worst), but we all deserve to enjoy time outdoors without worrying about mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or Zika. Luckily, there are a few natural remedies you can try out before resorting to toxic mosquito-prevention products like DEET. 

Planting certain greenery around your yard will help more effectively ward off those blood-thirsty mosquitoes. Try lemon balm, basil, citronella, lavender, catnip. However, if you prefer to make your own DIY mosquito repellent in lieu of rearranging your entire garden, then keep reading for an effective mosquito-repelling recipe.

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What is the best homemade mosquito repellent?

how to prevent mosquito bites
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The best homemade, natural mosquito repellents use either one or a combination of the following natural essential oils: cinnamon oil, citronella, geraniol, Greek catnip oil, lemon eucalyptus, lavender, neem oil, soybean oil, tea tree oil, and thyme oil.

Chances are you’ve heard a great deal about the effectiveness of citronella. After all, that market is oversaturated with citronella candles and essential oils, and some people even recommend planting citronella plants in your yard to ward off bugs. There’s a good reason for that, since the right formulation of citronella can prove as effective at warding off mosquitoes as DEET. Citronella is also a main ingredient in most mosquito and bug repellents anyway and it can protect you for up to two hours. If you want to use citronella in your DIY mosquito repellent, mix equal parts water with witch hazel, and add in 30 drops of citronella and 10 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil.

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A combination of soybean oil and lemongrass oil has also been found to be effective in killing the following species of mosquitoes: Aedes Aegypti, Culex Quinquefasciatus, and Anopheles Dirus.

Instead of using witch hazel as your equal parts base, you could also use vodka or vinegar. However, vodka is not as gentle an astringent as witch hazel, and if you are prone to skin irritation or have sensitive skin, witch hazel is likely the better option for you. 

How do you make homemade mosquito repellent?

homemade mosquito repellent
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To make a DIY homemade mosquito repellent, you will need about half a cup of water, and then half a cup of whatever your base is going to be. You will also need about 30-40 drops of the mosquito-repelling essential oil of your choice and a spray bottle in which to store the repellent.

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Bases: You already know that you will need half a cup of water for your mosquito repellent recipe, but you will also need to cut it with another liquid. This could be witch hazel, vinegar, or vodka.

Vodka will be a stronger repellent, but it is not always the safest option for sensitive skin types; it may cause irritation. Witch hazel is the gentlest base option, though vinegar is another effective option for a mosquito repellent base as well.

Essential oils: The best essential oils for warding off or killing mosquitos include citronella, lavender, geranium, lemongrass, and lemon eucalyptus. 

You can also try some of the aforementioned oils: rosemary, peppermint, cinnamon, soybean, Greek catnip oil, thyme, and tea tree oil. Cinnamon oil is most effective at killing mosquito eggs, but it can also repel adult mosquitos, specifically the Asian tiger mosquito.

Catnip — or Greek catnip oil — was also found by researchers at Iowa State University to be 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.

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In an animal study, just 5 percent thyme oil — applied topically — was found to provide a rate of 91 percent protection in mice against mosquitoes. According to Malaria Journal, burnt thyme leaves give off a protection rate of 85 percent anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Throw some thyme leaves into a bonfire to roast your s’mores mosquito-free.

Tea tree oil is a pretty miraculous little oil. Hailing from Australia, this essential-oil-that-could works wonders on treating acne and dandruff, but it’s also effective at preventing mosquitoes, bush flies, and biting midges. If you’re going camping, tea tree oil is a must-have.

What scent keeps mosquitoes away?

Luckily for us, there are a ton of scents that mosquitoes don’t like, even if they do like the smell of human flesh. Natural scents that typically send mosquitoes flying in the opposite direction include vinegar, rosemary, lavender, citronella, peppermint, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, cinnamon, soybean, geraniol, catnip, thyme, neem, and tea tree.

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Can vinegar keep mosquitoes away?

apple cider vinegar mosquito repellent
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Fun fact: Mosquitoes despise the smell and taste of vinegar. Too bad we can’t plant vinegar plants around the perimeter of the yard, huh? For this reason, bottled apple cider vinegar is an effective, natural mosquito repellent that will keep those nasty bugs away.

To use apple cider vinegar as a homemade mosquito repellent, combine half water and half ACV in a spray bottle. Please note, however, that this spray is for items; not for skin. You can spray this half-and-half concoction around the perimeter of your yard, on the legs of the table where you will be seated, or around the perimeter of the pool.

For an extra added dose of prevention, add anywhere from 20-30 drops of an anti-mosquito essential oil. Some essential oils that will complement this mixture include lavender, peppermint, or rosemary oils.

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Does homemade mosquito repellent also keep away other bugs?

mosquito repellent diy other bugs
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Depending on which combination of essential oils you use, your mosquito repellent might also work double-duty to repel other bugs as well. That being said, if you are looking to repel a specific kind of critter, check out these essential oil combos for the best, natural results.

Flies and gnats: Lavender, patchouli, peppermint, rosemary, spearmint.

Fleas and mites: Eucalyptus.

Ticks: Cedar wood, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, sage, thyme.

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