Best Bug Repellent Essential Oils You Need to Try This Summer
Summer. It’s the season of fun, getting outdoors, and enjoying nature. Unfortunately, it’s also the season when bugs are most active. If mosquitoes drive you mad, it’s time to explore essential oil bug repellent. The best bug repellent essential oils are eco-friendly, safer than harsh chemicals, and best of all, they smell great.
You’ve probably heard of insect repellents like DEET and picaridin. While both are effective, there’s a rising interest in finding natural alternatives. The reason being, DEET is so powerful it can damage fabrics and even plastics, and in rare cases, users react to these strong repellents.
Take a look at the best essential oils to repel bugs this summer, how they measure up against commercial alternatives, and some genuinely innovative ways families are applying them.
Why Choose Essential Oils for Bug Repellent?
Bug sprays like DEET and picaridin contain toxic ingredients. If a child accidentally consumes DEET, most healthcare providers recommend immediate medical attention or contacting the Poison Control Center.
Essential oils are usually diluted and much safer, especially when purchased from experts who understand the science of oils. Manufacturers can now create bug bite patches: simple stickers soaked with essential oils. They have no drips and don’t need to be washed off, which prevents potential environmental damage. Plus, an essential oil insect repellent can have multiple benefits for your family.
Allergies to essential oils are rare, but if you notice irritation, seek medical help. This is another advantage of mosquito patches for kids or adults—the patches stick to your clothes, rather than touching the skin, reducing the risk of reaction.
Top 12 Essential Oil Insect Repellents
Here are 12 bug repellent essential oils to try. Alternatively, speak to professionals about mosquito stickers already imbued with all the best essential oils to repel bugs this summer.
- Citronella: This oil smells slightly lemony and is famous for keeping bugs at bay. When combined with other essential oils, studies suggest citronella could be as effective as DEET. Citronella may also have anti-inflammatory effects.
- Peppermint: The fresh smell of peppermint is powered by menthol, which mosquitos hate. Studies show peppermint protects against bites for up to 150 minutes. Peppermint may also ease headaches.
- Lavender: Lavender has a long history of use as an insect repellent. Studies also show that lavender protects against biting pests for up to 8 hours.
- Thyme: Thyme contains five plant chemicals called monoterpenes that have all been proven to repel mosquitos. As well as being one of the best essential oils to repel bugs, thyme may also have antibacterial and antiviral properties.
- Cedarwood: Cedarwood oil has a woody, almost spicy scent with just a hint of citrus. It finds a place in our arsenal of best bug repellent essential oils thanks to how effectively it repels a range of creepy-crawlies, including ticks.
- Lemongrass: Another citrusy oil, lemongrass repels mosquitos and various species of flies. It could even help fight off the common cold.
- Basil: Normally associated with Mediterranean food, basil is one of the best essential oils for bug repellents. It wards off flies and mosquitos, and is a frequent addition to gardens in Greece and Italy to provide peaceful, bug-free spaces.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil frequently appears in cold remedies as a decongestant. It’s also effective at repelling mosquitos, especially when combined with other oils such as clove.
- Citriodora: Corymbia citriodora has strong insect-repellent properties even at low concentrations. This oil is also a mild anti-fungal agent.
- Geranium: The beautiful blooms of citronella geraniums have the added benefit of warding off mosquitos. Many gardeners crush the leaves onto their hands to repel bugs.
- Tea Tree: Often used in skincare products, tea tree oil is also one of the best bug repellent essential oils, especially when combined with other oils for bugs such as andiroba.
- Rosemary: Rosemary is associated with improved memory, and it’s great for repelling bugs. This flavorsome herb contains camphor and limonene which drive mosquitoes away.
- Catnip: Cats love this minty herb but bugs don’t. As your cat chews catnip, this releases mosquito-repelling chemicals and helps the whole family out.
Some of the best bug repellent essential oils work better when blended with others.
Essential Oil Blends for Enhanced Effectiveness
Combining ingredients is a popular way to create powerful oils to repel insects. This is how mosquito patches for adults and kids work, by blending oils for synergistic effects that effectively shield the wearer against bites.
Popular and Effective Essential Oil Blends
- Citronella, Lavender, and Peppermint: A blend that combines the strong repellent properties of citronella with the soothing effects of lavender and the sharp scent of peppermint to deter multiple insects.
- Eucalyptus Citriodora, Lemongrass, and Tea Tree: This blend leverages the powerful mosquito-repelling properties of Eucalyptus Citriodora and lemongrass, complemented by the antiseptic qualities of tea tree oil.
- Thyme, Cedarwood, and Geranium: A potent combination for tick and flea prevention, where thyme’s strong scent pairs well with the woody notes of cedarwood and the floral touch of geranium.
Understanding Synergy in Essential Oils
Synergy means using one or more oils to strengthen the effect(s) of another. For example, scientists discovered that adding basil oil to other repellent oils results in longer lasting protection.
Historical and Cultural Use of Essential Oils
Humans have used essential oils for millennia. As long ago as 4,500 BC, Ancient Egyptians used oils to honor Gods, but also for healing ointments and cosmetics. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) goes back to 3,000 BC, and throughout the ages, herbal practitioners have recorded the effects of over 11,000 plants.
Today, people have rekindled their interest in finding the best essential oils for sinus and allergies, insomnia, and of course, insect repellent aromatherapy oils.
Comparison with Commercial Insect Repellents
The big question: Do essential oils work? Here’s what the science says:
- The best bug repellent essential oils ward off mosquitos for up to eight hours.
- Blended oils provide high levels of protection at low concentrations.
- Catnip is as effective as DEET for some individuals.
- Essential oils protect against bugs with a low risk of irritation.
- Commercial insect repellents can disrupt ecosystems and damage the environment.
Many studies suggest that DEET lasts longer than even the best essential oil bug repellent, but these studies usually measure DEET against single oils for bugs rather than blends.
Safety for Children and Pets
Don’t ingest undiluted essential oils or apply them directly to the skin. Always use a pre-diluted oil or learn how to dilute the oils yourself. Keep oils away from children and pets.
You can dilute most pure oils to a safe 1%-3% ratio using carrier oils. These are neutral oils suitable for blending with aromatherapy oils. An alternative is using hydrosols. Also called flower waters, hydrosols are distillations of plant chemicals and are much less potent than pure oils.
Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing
Whether you choose essential oil insect repellent or hydrosols, it’s important to ensure the ingredients are ethically sourced and sustainable. Over-harvesting of certain herbs damages the environment, and poor manufacturing processes can lead to increased CO2 production. It’s also vital to check that workers picking the plants receive fair treatment.
Look out for certifications that promote ethical working practices or even show exactly where the plants come from. If in doubt, simply contact the manufacturer and ask.
How to Safely Use Essential Oils as Bug Repellents
There are multiple DIY ways to use oils to repel insects:
- Skin application
- In a diffuser
- In a spray
Always dilute your oils. Use eight-12 drops in an ounce of carrier oil such as almond oil. If irritation occurs, discontinue use. For skin application, always put a tiny amount on and leave it for an hour as a patch test. If you don’t notice any irritation, you should be fine to use this oil on any non-sensitive exposed skin.
Diffusers use a heat source to evaporate oil-infused water. Just five to seven drops of natural bug repellent essential oil in the water carrier is usually sufficient.
A spray is a simple way to apply an even layer of the best bug repellent essential oil. Use a neutral carrier like witch hazel solution. Blend your essential oils, then use one part oil blend to 10 parts witch hazel in a clean spray bottle. Again, always patch test before using on anyone’s skin.
DIY Essential Oil Bug Repellent Recipes
There are many ways to incorporate the best bug repellent essential oils into your daily routine. Here’s how to create a spray using the following oil blends:
- 15 drops of eucalyptus, 10 of citronella, five of peppermint
- Four drops each of cedarwood, tea tree, peppermint
- Five drops each of orange, thyme, and eucalyptus
You can use these sprays in any room, on the skin (after a patch test), or even to saturate a bug-repelling wristband.
Add essential oils to coconut oil for a moisturizing repellent that soothes the skin. Use one part oil blend to 20 parts oil.
Have a go at making anti-mosquito candles. Add three drops of citronella oil to one cup of melted wax. Remember: Never put pure essential oil directly onto your skin.
User Experiences and Testimonials
When hunting down the best essential oil bug repellent, it’s always good to hear experiences from existing users. A comprehensive online survey found that natural repellents and candles were the second and third-most used methods for banishing mosquitos.
Here are some testimonials from people who’ve used essential oils for bugs:
“Very impressed. Bought for going to the South of France where our baby got bitten a lot last year and this year didn’t get bitten at all.”
“Worked great for us on holidays! My little one didn’t get bitten once!”
“Coming from someone who is always annihilated by mosquitoes, these actually work!!”
Innovative Ways to Incorporate Essential Oils
Aromatherapy diffusers can help with mood and wellness. Cleaning sprays with essential oils create daily bug-repellent routines. Adding diluted essential oils to skincare products can improve their efficacy.
The best essential oils to repel bugs should be those you don’t have to reapply constantly or risk spraying in your eyes. That’s why genius solutions like mosquito patches and stickers are so popular. NatPat (Natural Patch) stickers come infused with expertly blended essential oils. Simply apply them to clothes near exposed skin, and enjoy mosquito protection for up to eight hours.
Patches can also be effective for itching, mood management, or even sleep.
Maintenance and Precautions
Essential oils need proper storage and care. Keep oils in a cool, dark place. Patches should remain sealed in the pack before use.
Some oils cause phototoxicity. This is a reaction to light that causes an immune system response similar to an allergic reaction. Phototoxicity presents like sunburn and requires medical attention.
If you or a family member suffer from allergies or are part of an immune-suppressed group, always speak to a healthcare provider before using essential oils. Remember, undiluted oils are not suitable for use on skin or sensitive areas of your body.
Not Sure Pure Oils Are for You? Try Natural Patch!
The best bug repellent essential oils offer many benefits, but also carry risks when used in their pure form. Undiluted oils could cause reactions, and applying them directly to the skin isn’t always the best choice. Stay safe and use patches imbued with bug repellent essential oil that never needs to touch the skin. Simply apply fun stickers anywhere on the clothing and enjoy a bug-free summer.
What essential oil keeps most bugs away?
Citronella is one of the most popular and effective repellent oils for bugs.
What smell do bugs hate the most?
Bugs loathe the smell of various strong essential oils including peppermint, lavender, and cedarwood.
Which essential oil repels mosquitoes the most?
Studies suggest that lemon eucalyptus, citronella, and geranium oil may be the most effective at repelling mosquitoes.
What to mix with essential oils for bug repellent?
For bug repellent room sprays, mix oils with water, dilute vinegar, or witch hazel. For skin application, a carrier oil like almond or grapeseed is essential.