Best Oils to Repel Mosquitoes: Natural & Effective Solutions

Best Oils to Repel Mosquitoes: Natural & Effective Solutions

Mosquitoes range from the annoying to the deadly. That’s why we spend so much time and money on the best insect repellents to send them on their way. Although DEET and picaridin are popular choices, they aren’t the safest options available.

Commercial insect repellents are packed with toxic chemicals that you wouldn’t normally consider rubbing on your or your family’s skin. In some cases, DEET can cause irritation, blisters, or even seizures.

But there is another way. Essential oils, used for thousands of years, are making a comeback as effective bug repellents. Let’s take a look at the best oils to repel mosquitoes.

The Dangers of Mosquitoes and Diseases They Carry

Mosquitoes are considered one of the most dangerous creatures in the world. We all know the itchy, irritating bumps their bites cause. More worryingly, some people are allergic to mosquito bites which can result in swelling, fever, or even cellulitis, a nasty infection. Mosquitoes also carry some of the deadliest diseases in the world which they transmit through their saliva:

  • Dengue
  • Malaria
  • West Nile virus
  • Zika virus
  • Yellow fever
  • Chikungunya

These diseases often have lasting effects. For example, yellow fever attacks the liver and kidneys, causing fatigue, jaundice, coma, and even death.

Most of these diseases occur in tropical climates. If you live or vacation in the Caribbean, Africa, Central America, or numerous other warm places, you’re automatically at risk.

Understanding Mosquito Attraction and Repellent Mechanisms

Mosquitoes are naturally attracted to humans. You’re basically an all-you-can-eat buffet on legs. Only female mosquitoes bite because the blood they drink gives them energy to produce eggs. Some species actually prefer animal blood, such as birds. However, the following factors make humans and other primates highly visible to mosquitoes:

  • Carbon dioxide from your exhaled breath
  • Body heat
  • Perspiration
  • Skin odor
  • Certain perfumes/deodorants

Some people believe that eating large amounts of garlic repels mosquitoes as it creates an unpleasant smell. However, this doesn’t work for everyone. That’s just one reason why aromatic essential oils are a popular alternative.

Top Essential Oils for Mosquito Repellent

The best oil to repel mosquitoes should smell great, work efficiently, and be easy to apply. Oils carry fewer risks than DEET and, properly diluted and patch-tested, are safe to use for all the family.

Citronella Oil

Citronela Oil

Citronella is a strong, citrus-scented oil proven to repel mosquitoes. It’s particularly effective against Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito known to carry yellow fever.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint’s fresh smell sends bugs on their way. Plus, peppermint oil can provide a cooling, soothing effect for irritating bug bites.

Catnip Oil

Catnip Oil

Catnip is another minty herb but one with super-strong mosquito-repelling powers. It’s considered one of the best oils to repel the critters, and in some tests, it performed better than DEET.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and is often used in after-bite care to help prevent infection. It’s also a powerful repellent, useful against mosquitoes, fleas, and other biting critters.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil (Lemon Scented Gum)

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Is lemon eucalyptus the best oil to repel mosquitoes? It’s certainly a contender. Studies show that, even at relatively low concentrations, it repels as effectively as DEET.

Lavender Oil


Lavender is a famously soothing scent and has an anti-inflammatory property that may stop bites itching in seconds. Lavender is also a potent repellent, warding away mosquitoes for up to eight hours.

Other Effective Oils

Other insect-repellent oils include fragrant basil and thyme or spicier scents like clove and cedarwood. Many of these oils repel numerous bugs. For example, cedarwood is particularly effective against ticks as well as mosquitoes.

How to Use Essential Oils for Mosquito Repellent

Once you’ve discovered the best oil to repel mosquitoes, you need to know how to use it. Diluted oils can be applied to skin after a patch test. You can also diffuse oils or use them in sprays.

You can also blend oils to increase their effectiveness. Some have synergistic effects, which means they can enhance each other’s potency. For example, clove and eucalyptus oils make a stronger mosquito repellent when blended than when used individually.

Why not have a go at making your own mosquito spray? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A clean spray bottle
  • Witch hazel solution
  • Citronella oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Peppermint oil

Use one drop of each oil per fluid ounce of witch hazel. Fill the spray bottle with your mix and shake before each use. Spray around the room or on non-porous surfaces. You can use this mix on your skin, but always patch test first. Each oil is a strong repellent, but they also carry mood-lifting and soothing properties which help you create a more peaceful environment.

Safety and Precautions

Always dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil such as argan, grapeseed, or almond oil. Use six drops of pure essential oil per ounce of carrier oil for a 1% essential oil blend. Typically, 1%-3% potency is sufficient.

When using oils on skin, patch test first. This means applying (diluted) oil to a small area of non-sensitive, non-broken skin. If irritation occurs, wash the area, and discontinue use.

Pets can react differently to humans, so keep your oils away from your furry friends. Don’t let children apply their own oils as they may use too much. Mosquito patches for kids, fun stickers infused with an expertly mixed blend of oils, are a safer alternative as they’re applied to fabric instead of skin. You can even get an itch patch infused with soothing oils for afterbite care.

Environmental Considerations

Oils are safer for the environment as well as your skin. DEET, when washed off, enters waterways, carrying its toxic ingredients into local ecosystems. Essential oils from plants are wholly natural, so the only concern is if you can recycle the packaging. Look out for recyclable glass bottles or, even better, biodegradable materials.

Comparing Essential Oils to DEET and Other Chemical Repellents

Citronella, lemon eucalyptus oil, and catnip are all as effective as DEET when applied correctly and safely. Other oils work together for synergistic effects. Mosquito patches for adults and kids, for example, already contain an expert mix of blended oils for maximum repellent effects.

Properly diluted oils are safer than most commercial alternatives. The official advice for DEET is to never inhale it and to wash it off as soon as the risk of mosquito bites has gone. With safely blended oils, you can use them with minimal risk for as long as you like. Plus, they’re much kinder to your skin and the environment.

User Experiences and Reviews

But what do users actually think about oils for repelling mosquitoes?

“After four days [on a camping trip], the only bite I got was when we were packing the car.”

“They work like magic and we love in swampy hot climate perfect recipe for bugs, especially mosquitoes.”

“Works better than bug sprays!”

“They smell great and I like this option for my kids as well. Highly recommend!”

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

The best oils to repel mosquitoes have the added benefits of beautiful fragrances and even mood-lifting qualities. Families love the fact that they’re safer than commercial, chemical alternatives. Plus, there are now easy-to-apply alternatives like mosquito stickers that require no mixing, blending, or diluting. Essential oils could be the key to mosquito-free fun outdoors.


What is the most effective mosquito repellent oil?

The best oil to repel mosquitoes is a tie between citronella, catnip, peppermint, and lemon eucalyptus oil. They all perform as well as DEET in scientific studies.

What smell do mosquitoes hate the most?

Mosquitoes hate strong, sharp smells like citrus and mint, but also aromas like lavender and geranium which have similar constituents.

Which oil is used as mosquito repellent?

Experts consider citronella one of the best oils to repel mosquitoes, and may blend this with other oils for enhanced effects.

What is the most effective repellent for mosquitoes?

Consider synergistic blends of the best oils to repel mosquitoes, such as citrus-scented oils, catnip, lavender, and other tried-and-tested repellents.

Mosquito Patches for Kids

Mosquito Patches for Kids

A scientifically formulated and tested blend of highly effective, all natural essential oils that have been used for hundreds of years by indigenous communities to repel mosquitos.

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