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Essential Oils

How To: Use Essential Oils to Repel Mosquitos

As spring rolls into summer, it’s time to fire up the grill and spend time in the refreshing outdoor air. But at the same time that you’re preparing your barbecue feast, mosquitoes prepare to make a feast out of you. Fortunately, you can repel them using the right essential oils and bring more peace to your summer nights.



Although disease-ridden mosquitoes have plagued tropical regions throughout history, they are increasingly showing up in the United States. No longer just an annoyance, mosquitoes can transmit some potentially fatal diseases with a single bite.

Why Not Just Use DEET?

It's quite common for the average person to run to the store and grab a can of insect repellent containing DEET to help protect them from mosquito bites.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Insect Science looked at the effectiveness of spray mosquito repellents, as well as wearable devices, at warding off mosquitos. T he study concluded that though the bracelets were ineffective in protecting against mosquito bites, sprays containing DEET and PMB were both effective insect repellents when used in sufficient concentrations. 1

Despite its effectiveness in repelling mosquitoes, DEET-containing products may not always be readily available or not the preferred option for some individuals. In these cases, the benefits of essential oils can be leveraged to help repel those pesky insects and bring more calm to your summer nights.

Using Essential Oils as Insect Repellants


Citronella Essential Oil

Extracted from several Cymbopogon species, citronella essential oil is commonly used in commercial insect repellents. It has several properties that make it an ideal oil to stave off mosquitoes and similar insects. 2

Citronellol, citronellal, and geraniol are the most studied terpenes found in the oil. They contribute to the oil's insect-repelling properties. 3 You can also use diluted citronella oil to help relieve the discomfort of existing mosquito bites.

Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil

The refreshing scent of lemon eucalyptus essential oil makes it a popular insect repellant choice for many. Extracted from the leaves of the gum tree, lemon eucalyptus oil also contains large concentrations of citronellal, in addition to the terpenes eucalyptol and limonene. 4

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE or PMB) can be used as an effective repellent for mosquitoes. Though they mention that the difference between OLE and lemon eucalyptus essential oil is that the former has been formulated for insect-repelling purposes, many have also used the essential oil in its pure form as an insect repellent. 5

Use lemon eucalyptus essential oil to keep mosquitos at bay by adding it to a spray bottle with water and spraying it when you want to keep mosquitos away. Alternatively, add a few drops to a diffuser or dilute with a carrier oil and apply to the skin.

lavender to repel mosquitos Lavender Essential Oil

A staple for many essential oil enthusiasts, lavender is beneficial for repelling mosquitoes and relieving bites. Extracted from the Lavandula angustifolia , the oil provides relaxing effects while keeping you protected from mosquitos. 6


Peppermint Essential Oil

The mint family is well-known for repelling mosquitoes. However, you don't have to fill your garden with mint plants in order to benefit from their powerful effects. Instead, grab some peppermint essential oil.

Derived from Mentha piperita , the oil has a refreshing scent and a range of health benefits, in addition to repelling mosquitos.

For a natural bug spray, fill a 16 oz spray bottle with 8 oz of distilled or boiled water. Fill the other half with witch hazel, then add 20 drops of peppermint and 20 drops of oregano essential oils. Shake to mix. 7

sweet basil to repel mosquitos

Sweet Basil Essential Oil

This fragrant herb is well-known in the kitchen. However, its benefits extend well beyond flavoring your favorite dishes. Extracted from the leaves, stems, and flowers of the basil plant, this oil has a sweet and spicy aroma.

The specific chemical composition can vary depending on where the plant was grown and when it was harvested; however, it has been shown to have insect-repelling properties. 8

catnip essential oil to repel mosquitos

Catnip Essential Oil

A member of the mint family, Nepeta cataria is considered to be highly effective for staving off mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other pests.

According to a 2005 study comparing the effectiveness of catnip essential oil versus DEET, catnip spatially repelled and inhibited mosquito attraction more effectively than DEET. 9

Use this oil to repel mosquitos by mixing it with a carrier oil and applying it topically to the skin. Alternatively, add a few drops of this oil to a diffuser.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree oil comes from an Australian plant and is one of the most well-known essential oils. It is also an excellent choice for remedying bug bite discomfort. For relief from mosquito bites, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut, almond, or jojoba oil, and apply to the affected area for itching relief.

Additionally, a 2014 study found that tea tree essential oil had insecticidal and repellent effects against some insects. 10

Clary Sage to repel mosquitos

Clary Sage Essential Oil

This essential oil has a floral scent, and many individuals use it to promote a sense of well-being. However, clary sage oil can also be blended with a carrier oil and applied to the skin to protect against mosquitoes.

Alternatively, use this oil to keep mosquitos out of your space by placing a few drops into a diffuser.

Homemade Insect Repellants

Before preparing homemade insect repellants, ensure you have a dark blue or amber glass container to keep them in. Avoid plastic bottles because they are subject to degradation from essential oils. Additionally, always make sure that you mix the ingredients well before use.

Below are some ideas for homemade insect repellants to keep you mosquito-bite-free this summer.


Begin by adding one cup of liquid to a glass spray container. Use one part vodka, one part witch hazel, and two parts water. Then add up to 100 drops of your essential oils of choice. You can use one oil or mix a few together for maximum effectiveness.


Make sure that you can regulate the temperature of your cooking pot when making a lotion or ointment. Melt one part beeswax and one part coconut oil, stirring well until combined. Remove from heat and let stand. Once the mixture has begun to cool, stir in 10 to 30 drops of essential oil per one-quarter cup of the mix. Blend well and allow the mixture to cool. Store in refrigerator.


Add a few drops of one or a few different essential oils to a room diffuser and allow the vapors to keep mosquitos away from an area.

Final Thoughts

Using essential oils has been shown to effectively repel mosquitos while providing a range of other health benefits. Whether applied topically, sprayed, or diffused through a room diffuser, the essential oils highlighted above can make your summer nights worry- and bug-free.

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