As a mom, you always have one million things to do, and summers are especially busy. What with the kids being home from school, all the activities going on, and vacations to get ready for, I know I’m always on the go. So it’s nice now and then to sit down and relax outside – until you get bombarded by a horde of mosquitos. So what’s a busy mom to do to get some peace and quiet without all the mosquitoes vying for my attention? Essential oils are a great solution to the mosquito problem and one that’s non-toxic to your kids as well.
Of the oils used commercially, the most well known for its repellent properties is citronella essential oil. As with most essential oils, it has been controversial in whether it is effective or not though. There have been a few studies that have suggested that citronella oil needs to be better prepared and packaged for its effects to be truly repellant of mosquitoes. (1)
Even so, citronella oil continues to be a significant presence in the natural mosquito repellent section – but there are others that are being proven to be just as effective, if not more so. Here is an essential oils mosquito repellent guide you can use to keep your yard mosquito-free and relaxing.
Recommended Natural Mosquito Repellents
What essential oils are good for mosquito repellent?
1. Peppermint Essential Oil Repels And Kills Mosquitoes
Peppermint is an insecticide that not only repels but can also kill mosquitoes. Studies showed that when exposed to peppermint diluted in water, mosquito larvae died within 24 hours. (2) You can simply apply peppermint oil to your exposed skin when going out, and the oil is safe to use even undiluted on the body, although you should always test a small area to make sure you are not particularly sensitive.
The scent itself of peppermint is quite deterring to mosquitoes and other flying or biting insects, so even just spraying the oil or having it burning in a candle or torch can keep your backyard free of biting bugs. If those critters do get you, you can also use peppermint oil to soothe itchy skin.
2. Catnip Essential Oil Is More Effective Than DEET
Catnip isn’t just for cats – the oil was shown to be particularly effective against mosquitoes and even more effective than DEET in a spatial test (which means that the catnip oil kept mosquitoes further away from the subject). (3) The main ingredient in the oil is also the one ingredient that gives the catnip plant its color, nepetalactone.
The plant grows wild in much of the United States, and scientists are even hopeful that it can take the place of DEET in commercial insect repellants soon. (4) It has also been shown to combat other insects such as cockroaches, termites, and ticks but it has a short shelf life so it has to be used quickly. It can be diluted with water or carrier oil and applied directly to the skin for an insect repellant.
3. Tea Tree Essential Oil Repels A Wide Variety of Insects
An essential oil with a wide variety of uses, tea tree oil is also beneficial as an insect repellant. The tea tree oil is extracted from Melaleuca leaves, a plant native to Australia. Although tea tree oil has not specifically been studied as a mosquito repellant, it is quite effective against other types of insects such as bees (5) or head lice (6), which stands to reason that it would help with repelling mosquitoes as well.
It can be found in many different natural products that have essential oils mosquito repellent properties. Try combining tea tree oil with peppermint essential oil and other carrier oils to formulate a truly effective repellant.
4. Eucalyptus Essential Oil Is An Effective Insecticide
Eucalyptus essential oil is not only effective as a cleaning agent but also as an insecticide and pesticide. (7) It is effective against bacteria, fungi, and mites as well and has been shown to be effective against the blood-sucking sand fly, a relative of the mosquito, which causes similar reactions in the skin of humans.
5. Bergamot Essential Oil Repels And Smells Great Too
Bergamot has a citrus, pleasant smell that’s sure to make anything smell like summer. As a bonus, the essential oil is great at repelling mosquitoes and insects in general and has been studied and found to be almost 100% effective against mosquito larvae. (9) There are a few caveats with bergamot essential oil though – for one, the oil is phototoxic which means that it will irritate the skin if applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight.
Therefore, the oil should be used as a spray or diffused in a space for the repelling of mosquitoes. Even so, bergamot is an effective topical relief for bug bites and can be used on the skin as long as it is not exposed to sunlight.
6. Lemongrass Essential Oil Is Easily Found In Many Products
Lemongrass essential oil is one of the more well-known oils for keeping mosquitoes at bay. Even the plant itself is known to be beneficial, simply by having it around your patio, deck, or garden it will help to keep insects away. A close relative of the citronella plant, lemongrass is also available in many commercial products that are made for the repelling of mosquitoes.
The essential oil is truly potent though and has been shown to even be 100% effective against certain strains of mosquitoes and their eggs. (10) The oil can be used in a spray, added to homemade candles or outdoor torches and applied topically to the skin – although, it should be tested on a small area first for irritation. The oil has a protection lifespan of about five hours and can be used in conjunction with other oils for even greater potency.
7. Clove Essential Oil Is One Of The Most Potent Oils
When tested against 38 other essential oils, clove essential oil proved to have the longest 100% duration of repellency. (11) The oil is really quite potent and needs to be applied carefully to the skin, if used in that manner. Make sure to not apply it near the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, or on anybody surface that can be licked or sucked on for little kids and babies.
Once applied to the skin, it should not be left on overnight as it can cause dermatitis – wash off as soon as you go back indoors with warm water and soap. Clove oil can also be added to candles or torches for insect protection.
8. Lavender Essential Oil Is Gentle And Helps With Itchiness
Although one of the weaker essential oils that has been studied in its repellent effects against mosquitoes and similar biting insects, lavender essential oil is worth mentioning because it has been used for many centuries as an insect repellant and because it is one of the most well known essential oils. (12) In a mix with other essential oils, such as eucalyptus or clove, lavender can be an effective repellant.
It is also one of the most gentle when applied topically so for some it might be the only option available. It’s also a good solution for pets, as it is gentle and non-irritating. Spraying your pet down with lavender essential oil, water, and witch hazel combination can help keep them mosquito-free all day. Lavender can also help prevent infections from bug bites and the itchiness from spreading.
My Essential Oils Mosquito Repellent Experience
As a mom, I have been using essential oils for repelling mosquitoes because they are less toxic than commercial mosquito repellent products that make use of DEET. I’ve had the most success with lemongrass and my kids seem to love the smell of lemongrass essential oil best too.
Creating a simple spray with lemongrass essential oil and distilled water works well for my family, as we just have to spray it on like you would with commercial products. I recommend to add one teaspoon of epsom salt, it prevents oils from sticking to the container and also helps the oil to mix with water (this could be optional). There’s no fuss or mess and the long repellency lifespan of the oil means that we only have to reapply every few hours when we’re outdoors.
I’ve also had a few drops of the essential oil in a necklace to test how it would work if it wasn’t applied directly to my skin and I can say that it was quite effective. Although the smell might be a bit strong for some, I was alright with it. I did get one or two bites around my ankles (where the smell was the weakest I guess), but overall I would say it was a success.
Essential Oil Products You Can Use For Mosquito Repellent
3-Pack Variety of NOW Essential Oils
- Pack of: Grapefruit 1oz, Cintronella 1oz, & Lemongrass 1oz
- Each Essential Oil is 100% Pure and Natural Extract
If you’re looking for a good starter pack to use in your fight against mosquitoes, look no further than this set from NOW that includes citronella, lemongrass, and grapefruit. Although grapefruit is not known for its repellent properties, it helps to give the solution a nice scent when mixed all together with the other two. This set can be used to create body sprays or as wonderful aromas for candles or outdoor torches.
Essential Oils Kids Diffuser Bracelet
- Includes One Dark Blue Bracelet & 2 pads (mix). Enjoy peace of mind...
- The bracelet easily diffuses essential oil - right where your little...
- Cleverly designed with extra care from soft silicone for even the most...
As I was saying earlier, I’ve experimented with adding oils to a necklace for repelling mosquitoes and this bracelet is essentially the same thing. Kids are more likely to be OK with a bracelet than a necklace though – plus, less of a choking hazard if they’re outside playing around. This adorable bracelet comes with extra pads and in a simple design which can be used for both boys and girls. It comes in three colors so you can let your kids choose their favorite color and the soft silicone band will ensure that there’s no chaffing involved and none of that, “Mom, it’s too tight!”
UpNature – The Best Citronella Essential Oil
- HIGH QUALITY CITRONELLA OIL: 100% pure, gentle, and effective natural...
- MADE WITH LOVE: UpNature was founded by two brothers with a vision to...
- GREAT FOR AROMATHERAPY: Place in a diffuser to help prevent and treat...
If you’re still particular to citronella essential oil, UpNature has a great product that can be used to disperse the gathering mosquitoes in the twilight. Their product is steam-distilled and 100% pure and natural, and they guarantee quality in their products with their 365-day return policy. The oil comes with a convenient dropper so it’s easy to add it to any liquid, candle, or diffuser with precision.
Precautions on Mosquito Bites
Although not as common as they used to be, some mosquitoes can carry diseases that can be serious if not treated or dealt with in time. Here are a few things you should not do or watch out for if you got bit:
- pay particular attention to any bites that get overly inflamed or red
- try not to itch any bites and apply ointment if they are particularly itchy
- watch out for bites that start looking as if they are oozing or infected as there might be more going on
- West Nile Virus symptoms: fatigue and flu-like symptoms with one in five getting fevers
- Encephalitis symptoms: fever, sore throat, confusion, seizures, and muscle weakness can all be symptoms after being bit by an infected mosquito
- Malaria symptoms: high fevers, fatigue, body aches and alternating hot and cold stages can all be clues pointing to malaria
- Zika virus symptoms: fever, joint or muscle pain, pinkeye or a rash are all symptoms that will run their course in about a week
Did you guys expect any of these essential oils to be on the list? Which ones are the ones you use or will be using from now on? I know that I rely on these heavily during the summer months and I could not go without them without being a mosquito feast. I always have some of these at home and its super easy to whip up a repellent spray when I need it. If you’ve got some extra information to share, I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.