These 10 DIY Mosquito Repellents Really Work

I have always adopted a holistic, multiple attack attitude in my life. I have used almost every aromatherapy oil available to cure anything from bronchitis to an injured toe. It turns out, mosquitoes are also sensitive to certain smells.

In the past, way-way back, at least 4 years ago, there was a thing we all called “mosquito season”.

mosquito repellents in glass jars on table

For the past 4 years, mosquito season has become an annual occurrence that lasts ALL YEAR LONG! (At least here in Mpumalanga, South Africa)

It is enough to drive one insane. The noisy ones, the ones that are determined to suck you dry, the sneak up on your ankle ones…

Mosquitoes drive me insane. But in many areas around the world, mosquitoes also can bring with them disease.

However, there are several ways to prevent getting bitten in the first place. Drug stores have loads of spray, lotions, and even soap to prevent mosquitoes from biting you. But what is in these brews? Is there a healthier option to deter mosquitoes?

mosquito repelling cream, spray and electric zappers
There Are Many Chemical Sprays, Electric Zappers, Creams, Sticks, and Even Rubber Bracelets to Ward Off Mosquitoes but How Good Are These for The Environment, Your Pets and You

The answer is YES! There are healthy alternatives!

I am going to give you some of my own recipes with step-by-step guides to make these natural mosquito repellents.

How Do These Repellents Work?

The scents and recipes I will discuss work in two ways:

  1. The odor itself is repulsive to mosquitoes masking the smell of the humans and thereby leading to fewer bites. All citrus odors fall into this category.
  2. Some odors cause irritation to the mosquitoes, forcing them to abandon the human snacks you and yours could be.

Most essential oils are multifunctional. They can help soothe away depression, fight common colds and flu, and clear up a wide range of ailments.

Ways of Making Quality Repellents

There are many ways to create mechanisms to infuse these repellent scents to put mosquitoes off your skin.

All of the essential oils and natural scents listed in the recipes section can be used in any of these ways:

  • Candles
  • Sprays
  • Infusers
  • Incense sticks
  • Creams
  • Topical oils
lavender essential oil ready to mix
Remember That All Essential Oils Are Very Remember That All Essential Oils Are Very Concentrated, You Only Need 1 to 3 Drops in Any Recipe, You Only Need 1 to 3 Drops in Any Recipe

Essential Oils That Repel Mosquitoes

If you are interested in aromatherapy, I highly recommend you invest in a book or two that explains all the benefits of each oil. They can be used to treat burns, coughs, eczema, bug bites, and many other maladies.

I did not rely solely on oils to treat my eldest because he had medical issues. I did combine my approach – with his doctor’s approval – treating him with medicine and aromatherapy oils.

Important: NEVER INGEST ESSENTIAL OILS!

Please note, essential oils are very potent, they should never be applied undiluted or directly on your skin. You will always need to use a carrier oil, water, or milk to blend the oils down.

olive oil lavender oil sunflower oil and wheat germ oil
You Do Not Have to Go to Great Expense on Base Oils; Sweet Almond and Wheatgerm Are Great, But If You Do Not Have Any on Hand, You Can Use Regular Sunflower Oil or Olive Oil

These essential – aromatherapy – oils are natural repellents to mosquitoes. Here are the ones that are most likely to work in keeping them at bay:

Lemon eucalyptus oilLavender oil
Rosemary oilThyme oil
Greek catnip oilLemongrass oil
SoybeanNeem oil
Peppermint oilGeraniol oil
Clove oilTea tree oil
Cedarwood oilEucalyptus oil
Citronella oil

Recipes to Blend Your Own Natural Mosquito Repellent

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Lemon eucalyptus oil contains trace amounts of citronellal and p-menthane 3.8-diol. These are odors that mosquitoes do not like to be around. However, one application will not be enough to last the whole night, especially if you are outdoors enjoying good friends, good food, and a good bottle of red wine.

You Will Need:

  • 10 ml of lemon eucalyptus oil
  • 90 ml of the carrier oil of your choice (like jojoba or sweet almond oil)
  • A jar with a lid to blend the oils and store the mixture – you can use coconut oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, witch hazel, or even olive oil (I do not recommend the last one if you do not enjoy olive oil as it has a very strong odor that can be overwhelming).

To make the mixture:

  • Take a 100 ml bottle or jar and pour in 10 ml of lemon eucalyptus oil
  • Add 90 ml of your carrier oil to the bottle or jar
  • Put the lid on and shake the mixture gently to combine the oils or use a spoon to stir the mixture properly.

Note: I squeeze a mandarin, orange, lemon, or lime into mine for an extra pleasant smell. This mixture can last for up to a month.

To apply:

Apply the oil to any part of your body that is exposed to the elements (like your arms, neck, face, and legs). If you find that as the day or night progresses mosquitoes are becoming interested in you again, simply reapply the mixture to your skin.

pouring eucalyptus oil mixture into spray bottle
Pour the Mixture into A Spray Bottle and It Is Ready to Battle the Blood Suckers

Fresh Fruit on a Mug Warmer

Most of us have mug warmers by our desks to keep our cup of coffee warm for longer. But you can use the mug warmer to keep the mosquitoes away while you work.

You Will Need:

  • A bowl, jar, or cup
  • Slices of orange and lemon
  • Fresh lemongrass and basil
  • Whole black pepper
  • Water
  • Optional: 1 drop of lemongrass oil or citronella oil

To Make Your Repellent:

  • Place your slices of orange and or lemons inside your jar, bowl, or cup
  • Add your lemongrass and basil and black pepper pods
  • Fill the jar with hot water

To Use:

Keep the jar on your table. When you are not using your mug warmer for coffee, place the jar on the mug warmer. If you forget, you can reheat the mixture in a microwave-safe dish for 10 seconds to start up the heat again, then place it on your mug warmer again.

Mason Jar Candles

This is an easy to prepare candle that is very effective because mosquitoes do not like the sweet smell of lemons and lemongrass. You can also adapt the recipe by adding other essential oils or substituting if you do not have stock of everything.

citrus peels in jar
Look at the Mandarin, Lime, and Lemon Colors Already Contrasting Beautifully

You Will Need:

  • 1-pint mason jars
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Basil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Water
  • Floating candles
  • Matches

To Make the Candles:

  1. Slice one lemon and one lime for every two jars and place the peels in water
  2. Add slices of both fruits into the two jars (tip: layer them or stand some up at different angles to make it look good)
  3. Add some sprigs of basil to each jar
  4. Mix enough water to fill each jar with 10 to 15 drops of lemongrass oil (this is an exception to the rule of using too much oil; lemongrass does not have as strong an odor as other essential oils)
  5. Stir well
  6. Pour the mixture into the jars with the freshly sliced fruit and basil filling the jars
  7. Add the floating candles
  8. Light the candles
adding floating candles to citrus peel jar

Add One or Two Floating Candles or Pack the Jar Full and Place Tealight Candles on the Filling, the Heat Will Help Move the Smell of the Jar Through the Air

To Use the Candles:

Place the candles in safe areas where they will be safe from pets, children, and clumsy adults. Light the candles.

mason jar with floating candles side view
Add A Romantic Element to Your Home with This Easy to Make Mason Jar Candle

Citronella Oil and Water Spray

Citronella oil is not the same thing as citrus. It is one of the ingredients used in most off-the-shelf mosquito repellents sold across the globe.

Citronella oil contains geraniol, citral, citronellal, and limonene. All of which repel mosquitoes. Mixing the oil with alcohol increases its potency because of the smell of thiamine in the alcohol.

Pure alcohol or vodka work best (if the grownups do not get there first); this is a quick recipe to make.

You Will Need:

  • 10 drops of citronella oil
  • 10 ml of alcohol
  • 90 ml of water

To Make the Mixture:

  • Mix the alcohol and the water in a spray bottle
  • Add the citronella oil and mix thoroughly

Quick and easy to make, this repellent can last up to six weeks.

To Apply:

Spray the mixture onto all exposed skin 2 to 3 times daily.

Squeeze the Juice of Citrus Fruit into Your Spray Mixtures to Boost the Power – One or Two Will Not Make the Solution Sticky

Lavender Oil, Vanilla, and Lemon Juice Spray

This is one of my favorite ingredients because of the delightful smells. Vanilla is one of the best insect repellents and is a delectable smell. The acid content of lemon juice is unpleasant to mosquitoes.

Lavender is known for its relaxing properties. It grows really well where I live, so I use fresh lavender in so many ways. Lavender is nature’s best soldier against mosquitoes. Lavender oil contains eucalyptol, linalool, limonene, and camphor; all of which repel mosquitoes and other bugs.

You Will Need:

  • 12 drops of lavender oil or fresh lavender flowers
  • 4 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 500 ml of water
  • A spray bottle

To Make the Mixture:

  • Mix the lavender oil and lemon juice thoroughly
  • Add 2 cups (500 ml) of water to the oils
  • Pour the mixture into the spray bottle
  • Shake the mixture well before use

To Apply:

Shake the mixture in the spray bottle and spray the mixture on all exposed areas of skin. You can spray this mixture on as often as you want; however, if you live in a hot spot for mosquitoes, you should spray yourself at least 2 to 3 times daily.

Essential Oil Wax Candles

Supplies List for Essential Oil Wax Candles
Things You Will Need to Make Mosquito Repellent Candles

You Will Need:

  • A large pot with a metal mixing bowl or a double boiler (instead of using a double boiler I have one pot that is dedicated to candle making, it gets cleaned after every, use but always has a bit of color left in the metal, I then melt my wax on the lowest heat setting)
pot for melting wax
I Have A Dedicated Pot for Melting My Wax

  • Scissors
  • Mason Jars or decorative candle jars
  • Pre-made wicks in base stabilizers
  • A hot glue gun to attach the wick to the base of the jar
  • Soy wax or plain wax
wax pellets
You Need Wax Pellets Ideally, But You Can Grate Remnants of Old Candles to Add In

  • Crayons or wax coloring for making the candles attractive
orange green and blue candle dye
If You Want to Color Your Wax Candles, You Will Need Proper Candle Dye – Food Coloring Does Not Work Well with Wax
  • 3 drops of Citronella (oil or any of the oils listed in the section on Essential Oils That Repel Mosquitoes) per cup of wax

To Make the Candles:

  • Clean your jars thoroughly
  • Feed the wick into the stabilizer
feeding wick through stabilizer
Feed the Wick Through the Stabilizer and Attach the Stabilizer to the Center of Your Jar with Tape or A Hot Glue Gun
  • Affix the wicks to the middle of the base of the jar using a hot glue gun or tape
  • Stabilize the wick so that it is centered – I do this by wrapping the top part of the candle around a skewer and placing this over the top of the jar once the base stabilizer is affixed to the bottom of the jar
  • Place the jars in the oven set at its lowest heat setting
  • Melt enough wax on the double burner to fill your jar
wax pellets in jar
Measure How Much Wax You Will Need by Filling the Jar with Un-melted Wax
  • Add 3 drops of your essential oil of choice or a blend of essential oils per cup of wax
  • Add a colored wax crayon or candle colorant (colorants are also very concentrated, add a little at a time to get the color right)
  • Carefully pour the hot wax into the jars while making sure you do not push the wick sideways
  • Cut the wick

Extras:

If you want to make the candle look more attractive, you can add slices of any citrus fruit in the wax.

The slices will all sink to the bottom if you do not either, affix them to the side of the jar with the hot glue gun before adding the wax, or adding the wax in layers letting each layer set before adding more, if the wax you add is too hot, it will melt the wax below it, it should be warm enough to pour but not hot. I prefer the glue gun as it is quicker and less work.

To Use the Candles:

Set the candles up in safe areas away from children and pets, where they will not set anything else alight or get bumped over.

Scent Jars

If you do not want anything burning, you can create beautiful scent jars to place around your entertainment area, or throughout your home. These last a few weeks but will need to be replaced as needed.

You Will Need:

  • Attractive see-through jars
  • Fresh citrus fruit
  • Fresh greenery: herbs, lemongrass, basil, thyme, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus leaves, peppermint, cedarwood, or cloves
Basil, Lemongrass, Thyme, Rosemary, Pomegranate Seeds, and Edible Flowers
Basil, Lemongrass, Thyme, Rosemary, Pomegranate Seeds, and Edible Flowers Provide Stunning Color

  • Water
  • Optional: essential oil

To Make the Scent Jars:

  • Clean your jars thoroughly
  • Add slices of fresh lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins, or grapefruit, or a combination of any of these (you can also use citrus peels for this, do not throw away your peels when you eat oranges, rather place them in a scent jar)
  • Add any of the greenery – you can use a combination of any of the greens to make the jars look more attractive; The greens will really make the citrus colors pop
  • Fill the jar with water
  • Add 2 to 3 drops of any of the essential oils that repel mosquitoes while soothing your senses
Scent Jars
Scent Jars Look Great in Any Light and From Any Perspective

To Use the Scent Jars:

Just set the jars around your house to make the rooms smell off-putting to mosquitoes.

You can place them as a focal point, or just add them on a side table or bookcase.

Neem and Coconut Oil Spray

Neem oil has a very potent odor that mosquitoes are really repelled by. Combined with coconut oil it is even more potent.

What You Will Need:

  • 10 drops of neem oil
  • 30 ml coconut oil
  • 50 ml vodka
  • 250 ml boiled water
  • Spray bottle

To Make the Mixture:

  • Mix together the neem oil and the coconut oil
  • Add the vodka and mix well
  • Add the boiled water to the mixture – it needs to be boiling to mix well with the oil and alcohol
  • Pour the mixture into the spray bottle
  • Allow the mixture to cool down completely before use

To Apply:

Shake the spray bottle and spray the mixture onto exposed skin. Reapply as often as needed.

Cinnamon Oil Spray

Cinnamon is one of my favorites. The smell brings me back to my childhood days waking up to the smell of hot crustless milk tart (a decadent South African specialty). Cinnamon can be used in many ways to repel mosquitoes.

You can take cinnamon sticks and boil them in water for a couple of hours, then pour the mixture with the sticks into ornamental bowls to place on the table or to rub or spray onto your skin.

You can burn the oil on a burner or diffuser with a carrier oil or water.

What You Will Need:

  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon extract
  • 59 ml of water
  • Spray bottle

To Make the Mixture:

  • Pour the water into the spray bottle
  • Add the cinnamon extract
  • Shake the bottle to ensure that the mixture is thoroughly combined

To Apply:

Shake the spray bottle before each application. Spray the mixture on exposed skin as often as needed. You never know what could happen if you smell this good and there are random hunks or babes around.

Basil and Orange Candle

This is a beautiful table decoration fit for a wedding tabletop. While providing a romantic feel, guests will appreciate not being eaten by mosquitoes. It does take a bit of preparation, but it looks extravagant, smells heavenly, and is highly repellent of mosquitoes.

You will need:

  • See-through glass container – this could be a thick decorative bowl or even a jam jar, but it needs to be a wide mouth jar
  • Orange, lemon, grapefruit, or lime
lime oranges and lemons in bowl
All Citrus Fruits Will Do the Job, Which to Use Will Depend on Season, Availability, and Personal Preference
  • Citrus peeler or sharp knife
  • Basil leaves
  • 1 or 2 x 2-inch floating or tealight candles per jar
  • Water to fill the jar
  • Matches
  • Optional: you can add other items like berries and edible flowers to make the jar even more bright and colorful

To Make the Candle:

  • Peel your citrus – you will not need the inside of the fruit, only the skin
peeled lime
Carefully Peel Your Citrus Fruit, Try to Get the Whole Peel in One Go
  • As you peel the fruit, place the peels in some water that you will use to fill your jars, this will prevent the peels from drying out while you work
  • Pick large basil leaves
  • Place them into the water as soon as possible when you pick them – you can also place them in water until you are ready to use them
  • Take your clean jars, and layer the peels with the leaves until the jar is almost full
  • Pour the water that held the peels and leaves into the jars until the jar is full
parrot next to orange
My Dedicated, Hardworking Helper Ensures That Nothing Goes to Waste When It Comes to Fruit
  • Add your floating candle

To Use the Candle:

Place the jars wherever you are sitting and light the candle. Make sure the candles are well away from children and pets, and not in a place that they could get knocked off or set anything else on fire.

tea treee oil and other essential oils bottles
Tea Tree Oil Is Something No Home Should Ever Be Without; It Is Great for Repelling Mosquitoes

Lazy Options

There are several lazy options available to avoid attracting mosquitoes. These are all readily available on the market and can bring comfort and convenience together.

You can switch to a good lavender softener, you can purchase ready scented vanilla, cinnamon or lavender candles, lavender, vanilla, or cinnamon scented room sprays, and body and hand creams; All of which will be unfavorable to mosquitoes.

Home cleaning products are also mostly scented. Choose products with aromas mosquitoes do not like to keep the house clean and ward off the pesky mosquitoes.

Incense Is Widely Available Everywhere in The World; Choose Fragrances Like Sandalwood, Vanilla, Lavender, Cinnamon, Or Citronella

Choosing a scent that is pleasing to you is as important as their effectiveness for deterring mosquitoes. You can even get Citronella incense sticks. The market is full of different holders for incense sticks that can also make for attractive decorative points.

Using Incense Is Also A Quick Easy Deterrent for Mosquitoes and they Do Not Have to Be an Eyesore, There Are Many Stunning Incense Burners on the Market

Citronella is very effective for keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Citronella incense is pleasant, it is not overwhelming, and it is great for mosquitoes because the smell really aggravates them.

burning citronella incense stick

FAQs

Q: Are essential oils bad for humans?

A: Everyone who considers using essential oils is always wary of side effects. I know that some people do have reactions – which is why you should always do a skin test.

Just place a drop on your wrist and wait a half hour to see if your skin turns red or starts developing welts. If you do have an allergic reaction, just stay clear of that scent.

Q: Are essential oils bad for pets?

A: I can honestly say that in my 50 years, I have not had one pet with a negative reaction to essential oils.

In fact, I regularly use essential oils to treat hot spots, cuts, arthritis, and muscle pain in my dogs, cats, horses, and – very diluted down – to soothe itchy skin that causes my African Greys to pluck their feathers.

Q: How much oil is too much?

A: Remember that essential oils are extremely condensed. Normally, I recommend only one to three drops depending on the desired effect.

Conclusion

I hope that I have opened your mind a little more to the benefits of aromatherapy when fighting those pesky mosquitoes.

Planting lavender, lemon trees, eucalyptus trees, thyme, peppermint, rosemary, or cloves in your garden can not only make your garden more attractive, or more edible, it will make your garden a very unpleasant place for mosquitoes to be.

If your yard is unattractive to mosquitoes, they are less likely to come in your windows, because they would need to pass through a field of yucky smells.

Of course, the easiest option to keep on hand if you do not want to have to make a barrier for unexpected guests, is to simply head down to your local stores for some incense sticks. They do not go off and are easy to store indefinitely. Sandalwood, cinnamon, lavender, or vanilla work very well to repel mosquitoes quickly.

Here is a bonus recipe that takes less than two minutes to make:

Mix 2 drops of Citronella oil, 2 drops of Lavender oil, 1 cup of water, and the juice of 1 mandarin, lemon, orange, or grapefruit in a spray bottle, and you have a quick mosquito repellent.

Citronella Lavender Water and Juice of a Mandarin

Citronella, lavender, water, and the juice of a mandarin or lemon is fresh and the mixture will last 4 to 6 weeks.

Ok, that was it! Don’t forget to pin this article for later so you can come back to it, and also to check out our other article on mosquito traps.

mosquito repellents pinterest

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1 thought on “These 10 DIY Mosquito Repellents Really Work”

  1. Thanks for the great post, I had no Idea essential oils could be used as a mosquito repellent, I am definitely trying this thanks.

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