Essential Oils

Essential Oils For Mosquito & Bug Repellent

Essential Oils For Mosquito & Bug Repellent

Do you love the outdoors but hate the bugs? Tired of spraying questionable ingredients on your body and in your home? Do commercial products leave you feeling like your skin can’t breathe?

Mosquitos can carry:

  • Zika
  • Dengue
  • West Nile
  • Chikungunya
  • St. Louis encephalitis
  • La Crosse encephalitis
  • Eastern equine encephalitis

Mosquitos aren’t the only bugs capable of carrying or transmitting diseases. Ticks are another problem with their ability to transmit Lyme’s and other illnesses and diseases. Venomous spiders and other biting insects can leave behind painful, itchy, and life threatening bites. 

Say No to DEET

DEET-infused sprays can also damage electronics, clothing, and eyeglasses. It’s toxic to pets, wildlife, and fish, and using it does carry hefty side effects. 

Take a natural approach to your next outing instead. With key essential oils, you might keep the pesky bugs and mosquitos at bay while lowering your risk of adverse effects.


12 Essential Oils for Your Homemade Mosquito and Bug Repellant

  • Lemon Eucalyptus*
  • Juniper
  • Clove
  • Citronella*
  • Pine
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Patchouli
  • Catnip*
  • Geranium

*tested and approved by the EPA for effectiveness in repelling mosquitos. (1)

 

Essential Oils For Mosquito & Bug Repellent

 

1. Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Best method: topical or ultrasonic diffuser 

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to a diffuser
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

Lemon eucalyptus essential oil can be an excellent choice for use in a blend or by itself. Studies show it does repel mosquitos and ticks. 

Should you forget to apply, an upside of this oil is that it doubles an insect bite soother.

Cautions:

  • Don’t use in children under three years old
  • Don’t use if pregnant without your doctor’s consent
  • Don’t use on broken skin
  • Avoid your eyes, nostrils, and mouth
  • You might need to reapply frequently

Repels: mosquitos, biting flies, gnats, and ticks

 

2. Juniper Berry Essential Oil

Juniper Berry Essential OilBest method: topical or ultrasonic diffuser

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

Juniper has science behind its back as an effective repellent of ticks and mosquitos. The essential oil is safe for use in children and for pets. 

Cautions:

  • Avoid ears, nose, eyes, and mouth when applying
  • Perform a patch test if you have sensitive skin
  • Generally safe for children, pets, pregnant, and breastfeeding women, but avoid using directly on your infant’s skin if under 2 months old.

Repels: ticks and mosquitos

 

3. Clove Essential Oil

Clove Essential OilBest method: topical or diffused as part of a citrus blend

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 1-drop clove essential oil with 2 drops of a citrus essential oil. Combine with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin
  • Mix 20 drops with 20 drops of a citrus essential oil. Add to 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.
  • Mix 40 drops with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

Clove oil is one of the most effective essential oils against mosquitos when used alone or you can add it to other bug repelling oils for an all-purpose spray. (2)

Cautions:

  • Can cause skin irritation, so you should perform a patch test
  • Avoid eyes, nose, and mouth

Repels: mosquitos

 

4. Citronella Essential Oil

Best method: topical or ultrasonic diffuser. Possibly effective in homemade candles with a high percentage of essential oil

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.
  • Add 3 drops to shampoo and/or conditioner to repel lice

Citronella has wide use and a long history of repelling mosquitos. It’s a safe and time-tested choice many of us reach for.

Cautions:

  • You might need to reapply it often depending on your concentration level.
  • Don’t use around cats
  • Seek your doctor’s advice if using it on infants under six months old
  • Don’t use if pregnant without your doctor’s consent

Repels: head lice (louse) and mosquitos(3,4)

 

5. Pine Essential Oil

Best method: topical skin and hair use, topical use for clothes, floors, and furniture, and ultrasonic diffuser

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use; you can blend it with other insect repelling essential oils too
  • Combine 1-drop pine essential oil with 2 drops of other bug repelling essential oils. Combine with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin
  • Mix 20 drops of pine with 20 drops of other bug repelling essential oils. Add to 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin, clothes, furniture, and floors as needed.
  • Mix 40 drops with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin, clothes, carpets/floors, and furniture as needed.

Pine and its oil has historical uses. While no major studies include pine essential oil, we felt it worth mentioning its folk lore heritage as a repellant for fleas and lice. It could make a power addition to an all-purpose bug repellant.

Cautions:

  • Seek your doctor’s advice if using it on infants under six months old
  • Don’t use if pregnant without your doctor’s consent

Repels: fleas and head lice (louse)

 

6. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Essential OilBest method: topical use, household spray, and diffuser

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use; you can blend it with other insect repelling essential oils too
  • Combine 1-drop lavender essential oil with 2 drops of other bug repelling essential oils. Combine with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin
  • Take 3 drops of lavender and 3 drops of a carrier oil. Apply to your pulse points and exposed skin.
  • Mix 20 drops of lavender with 20 drops of other bug repelling essential oils. Add to 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin, clothes, furniture, and floors as needed.
  • Mix 40 drops with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin, clothes, pets, carpets/floors, and furniture as needed.

Pet and kid safe lavender can repel bugs without toxic side effects. It’s also one of the few essential oils that pregnant women can use.

Cautions:

  • Consult your doctor if you’re in your third trimester
  • Avoid using in children under two months old without checking with your doctor

Repels: fleas, houseflies, moths, beetles, and mosquitos

 

7. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint Essential OilBest method: topical, household spray, and diffuser

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin; use a 1:3 ratio on children over six months old
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

You can use peppermint alone or in combination of other bug repelling essential oils on the list to create a multi-purpose spray.

Cautions:

  • Allergic reaction can occur in sensitive skin, so you should perform a patch test.
  • Avoid eyes, ears, nose, and mouth to prevent burning sensation
  • Don’t use on children unless well diluted or part of a blend. 

Repels: mosquitos, ants, spiders, roaches, and it might repel lice(5)

 

8. Basil Essential Oil

Basil Essential OilBest method: topical and diffuser

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin; use a 1:3 ratio on children over six months old or if you have sensitive skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

Basil makes a good choice to repel mosquitos, but you can combine it with other essential oils to tackle multiple outdoor pests. 

Cautions:

  • None

Repels: mosquitos(6)

 

9. Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme Essential OilBest method: topical, diffuser, or household spray

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin; use a 1:3 ratio on children over six months old or if you have sensitive skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

Thyme has a strong scent, so you might wish to blend it with other oils. It’s safe for children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women to use topically, diffuse, or use in an all-natural bug and home spray.

Cautions:

  • Avoid if allergic to oregano

Repels: mosquitos, fleas, lice, bed bugs, moths, and beetles

 

10. Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli Essential OilBest method: topical, diffuser, household spray, laundry 

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin; use a 1:3 ratio on children over six months old or if you have sensitive skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.
  • Add 5 drops to your laundry cycle or wool dryer balls 

Historically, patchouli oil has seen use for a multitude of common occurrences, such as moth repellent in India. 

Cautions:

  • None when diffused, topically applied, or used in the home

Repels: ants, fleas, lice, moth, flies, termites, and bed bugs(7)

 

11. Catnip Essential Oil

Best method: topical or diffuser

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin; use a 1:3 ratio on children over six months old or if you have sensitive skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

Catnip essential oil the third essential oil the EPA recommends for mosquito control. This is mostly due to its potential 8-hour duration from a single application. It’s more effective that DEET without the side effects.

Cautions:

  • Do not use while pregnant or breastfeeding

Repels: mosquitos, ants, spiders, roaches, Japanese beetles, aphids, weevils, and squash bugs. It might repel mice and rats, which harbor fleas.

 

12. Geranium Essential Oil

Geranium Essential OilBest method: topical and diffuser

How to use:

  • Apply 10-20 drops to an ultrasonic diffuser for indoor or outdoor use
  • Combine 3 drops with 3 tablespoons of carrier oil and rub into your exposed skin; use a 1:3 ratio on children over six months old or if you have sensitive skin
  • Mix 40 drops (of a single oil or blend) with 1/2c apple cider vinegar and 1/2c witch hazel. Pour into an 8-ounce spray bottle. Apply to skin and clothes as needed.

Geraniol is the main compound in geranium that is responsible for repelling mosquitos. It’s present in other essential oils, such as citronella, but it out performs it on a comparable level to DEET. 

Topical and diffused geranium essential oil is safe for use in dogs if properly diluted.

Cautions:

  • Don’t use while pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Avoid use in children under six

Repels: mosquitos and ticks(8,9)

 

Final Thoughts on Essential Oils for Mosquito and Bug Repellent

Make essential oils part of your next outing or routine bug repelling spray.
Using natural solutions to everyday problems reduces your exposure to potentially harmful and toxic chemicals. Essential oils might still carry risks, but you have greater choices to ensure you find one that will work for you rather than against you.

Consider blending oils on our list and experiment their effectiveness on common indoor and outdoor pests. Another option could be to diffuse certain oils and apply others topically, depending on your needs.