Make Your Own Natural Mosquito Repellent

Now that we are all getting outdoors more (hooray summertime!), most of us (some more than others!) are having to deal with pesky mosquitoes that love to try and ruin our outdoor fun.  :-)  I have to admit, here in this semi-arid desert state, we don’t have to deal with mosquitoes NEARLY as much as those of you in the midwest or back east. But ANY mosquito is an unwelcome mosquito!

I don’t know about you….but I will avoid spraying on mosquito repellent at all costs! I hate that stuff! I mean I will USE it if I HAVE to….but it’s just so unpleasant! Well not anymore!  I made up a homemade version that Amy at Positively Splendid shared and found it VERY PLEASANT! :-)

What’s not to like about cooling witch hazel mixed with fragrant esssential oils!?  And it’s SO easy to mix up at batch.  I didn’t have some of the oils I needed in my stash…so I dropped by the local health food store and they had everything I needed.  (If you don’t have the lavender and peppermint oil on hand, you can substitute 5 more drops of citronella and lemongrass…but I love the smell of having all 4 oils in the mix!)

In a spray bottle, mix and shake well to blend:


Do not spray directly on faces. Instead, spray in your hands and then rub onto your face, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
The best protection against mosquito-borne illness is avoidance. If you can, remain indoors during their peak hours (dawn and dusk).
This spray is not waterproof/sweat-proof, so you will need to apply again hourly to ensure continued protection.

Also, it will not protect against ticks, I would recommend a store-bought product that contains DEET if tick exposure is likely.

My bottle of homemade bug spray at the ready on the back patio!   Take THAT you little bloodsuckers!   :-)


Mosquito Repellent


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  1. Dana says

    Geranium oil also works! I just dab a couple of drops around my ankles and elbows..and it works for hours! An entire day near the lake at a cookout..and not one bite! The downside is that it also attracts bees because they think you’re a flower. They checked me out for a few seconds and then moved on though. =) I’ll have to try this too!

  2. Ashley House says

    I have read a few different places that if you just take an unused dryer sheet and put it in your pocket or tie it to your belt loop that it will keep the mosquitoes away. Haven’t tried this yet, but I plan to soon as they are out and about here. I have 2 very allergic children and anything to not have to douse them with chemicals.

    • says

      I hate to burst your bubble, Ashley, but dryer sheets are one of the most common ‘problem’ items for people who have chemical sensitivity. Moving from one set of chemicals to another isn’t going to help as much as you’d hope. Essential oils, like this recipe, are a much better choice.


  3. chris says

    We grind up garlic and water in the blender and then “paint” it around the deck and porch. We don’t have as problem with bugs and you can use it on the dogs too. We just add a “stripe” down their backs and they don’t get bothered with the bugs as well. We just reapply every couple months when the buggers start to reappear.

  4. says

    Plain old-fashioned “Listerine” – can even use the generic PLAIN stuff (no flavorings added) Put it in a spray bottle and spritz it in the air around the perimeter of where you’re going to and it keeps away all bugs. Gnats, no-see-ums, mosquitoes, etc. works if you spray it on your clothes, too.

    I also second the Bounce dryer sheet idea. Friend of mine uses it and says it works great!

    Witch hazel can be found in any drug store or grocery store usually around the alcohol and peroxide shelve(s). It costs about $1.00 around here.

    • Becky says

      I had to do some weeding over the weekend, so I sprayed myself liberally with generic Listerine. Didn’t seem to be working as I heard the little buggers buzzing around my ears and landing on my neck. So I went in the house and grabbed a dryer sheet, rubbed it on my arms and neck and tucked it in my waistband. Don’t think that worked either. I have several welts on my arms. :(

      • christy says

        Becky I have tried both of those and they have never worked. We live in a state that has tons of mosquitoes. They are already out in full force. I have tried just about every natural remedy that I have heard of. Nothing has ever worked like Off Deep Woods. We have spent days camping and no bites or ticks. I am sure it isn’t good for us or the kiddos but the alternative is Tick fever and lyme disease, one of which my husband got and we spent lots of money on hospital bills because he was so sick.

        I am leery to try this one too because it looks somewhat expensive initially. I hope if someone tries it they will let us know if it works good. Especially if they live in the midwest.

        • says

          Wow, so sorry neither worked for you!

          Most of these suggestions were for MOSQUITO repellant, not tick repellant. The only things that I know of that are not commercial that will keep ticks away are Sulfur (an element) powder (not Sulfa- a class of antibiotics) or Skin-so-soft.

          I live in GA – a place with LOTS of mosquitoes and I am a mosquito magnet. The Listerine worked wonderfully well 2 summers ago when I went with 8 girls from my church to camp for a week. We were in a boggy area and it was hot outside. We didn’t have any mosquito, no-see-ums, nor chigger bites nor problems with ticks, though it it possible that there weren’t a lot of ticks in the area.

          I’ve also used Skin-So-Soft with great results. It’s just a lot more expensive for me than Listerine. I’m wondering if any oil would work like the Avon product for ticks as it’s probably more to do with the slickness than the smell, though infusing/adding some of the above herbs to it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

          My friend personally used the dryer sheets for mosquitoes and it worked for him.

          HOWEVER, I’m wondering if whether or not an alternative works has to do with different people’s body chemistry. That would explain why things work well for some people and not at all for others, as well as why some people in a family get eaten alive and others are barely bothered by bites.

          Hope that for those that these things don’t work well will be able to find an alternative to the pesticides in the commercial stuff. However, it’s better to use the chemicals than to get Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or an anaphalactic reaction to being bitten!

          • Daria says

            I’ve used the Skin-so-soft for years with much success. My budget stretcher was that I had bought the bath oil and never used it, so I just mixed a small amount (an ounce or two) with my favorite (or less used) skin lotion. The large bottles can be bought as a BOGO, so they’ll last for years!

    • Demaroge says

      The Listerine did not work for me. I personally tried it. No luck.

      Dryer sheets – NOPE.

      Consuming garlic tablets daily – may have helped but certainly not a complete remedy

  5. Demaroge says

    I tried the yellow plain Listerine…did nothing for us. :( I really wanted it to work!

    I did read somewhere about a mosquito trap. Putting yeast in it causes a reaction creating carbon dioxide so the mosquitoes are attracted to it and then drown. Sounds like a winner for an outdoor gathering. Placing a jar of the stuff in a close but hidden spot would draw the mosquitoes away from your friends.

    I am pretty sure I saw that on Pinterest site…..I plan to try it next time we have an outdoor gathering.

    I wonder if tea tree oil would be a good deterrent?

  6. Helen C. says

    Oh, Jillee ~ Thanks SO much for this post! We’re raising our 9-yr-old grandson (our 5 children are now grown) and the time spent at Little League games has become almost unbearable due to mosquitoes. My husband is his coach, so I’m at Every.Single.Game. I can’t make myself spray products with DEET on my grandson, or his friends, to keep the little blood suckers at bay. This will make their lives ~ and mine ~ much more pleasant on game nights!

  7. Jess C says

    I’m so glad you posted this, Jillee! I am highly allergic to mosquitos. If I get bit, the bite will turn into a rock-hard purple welt and trigger an asthma attack if I’m bit multiple times. I usually have to avoid the outdoors during the summer unless I want to douse myself with stinky, expensive repellents or be stuck beside a citronella candle. That’s not fun. This post is a god send! Thanks so much!!!

  8. Christine says

    Walgreens sells witch hazel for $4, and I believe this week Walgreens is giving a $4 register reward coupon good on your next purchase when you buy witch hazel. Also, witch hazel has many other uses…can’t wait to try this!

  9. Jen says

    Vanilla is my natural bug repellent of choice. I love the smell of vanilla and bugs hate it, so I just spray on vanilla body spray before I go out in the summer (Bath & Body Works works great). I smell fantastic, and I don’t have the gross feeling that comes from other bug sprays. This even got my through several summers as a camp counselor in the Midwest! Thou, I upped the ante and used vanilla shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (all just cheapo stuff from suave) and I probably only had 5 bites that whole summer. I know some people who don’t like vanilla as mush as me just dab some extract behind their ears, on their wrists, and their ankles.

  10. says

    I’m so happy to see this natural alternative for mosquito spray. I keep a potted Citronella Geranium “Mosquito Plant” on my front porch in the summer to keep the pests away. I just brush up against the plant, stirring up its scent when I go outside and the mosquitos flee. I sometimes pick a leaf off of the plant and rub it on my arms and legs if I’m getting away from the porch, but it has a very strong citronella scent. I’m thinking the blended oils in your recipe would tone down the smell of the citronella some.

  11. Demaroge says

    Hey everyone! You can also make your yard insect repelling! Here is a site with 5 plants that sqeeters avoid!

    Lavender, mint, garlic, basil, rosemary and lemongrass are all herbs that the buzzing blood suckers don’t like!

    I plan on making borders of theses around my house and porch….we shall see how well it works!

      • Demaroge says

        Thanks….I had no luck with the mint! Can you believe it?!? It DIED! LOL!

        On one (that died anyway!) I cut the bottom of the pot out so the roots could grow but the plant would stay more contained. I don’t know if it would have worked or not because all the mint plants I planted died.

        Sad…. but true. LOL!

        I have seen a lot of plants that we can plant to help keep bugs away. Basically any of the essential oils named come from a plant … and the bugs don’t like the smell of the plants! SO, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon grass, mint, geraniums …. any and all of the oils mentioned would help. So, ladies and gentlemen plant the plants in your yard if you can! I am going to try again next year!

  12. Jaan says

    After last years record monsoons, the pesky misquitos were so bad, that the walls turned black from them covering it. You actually had to be careful and not to breath them up into your nose or in your mouth. Eww! Yep, it was bad, and we are expecting the same this year. I will be trying out each and every suggestion in hopes of keeping them ‘monsters’ at bay.

  13. Tina says

    Came across a nice solution by accident (mother of all inventions was accident prone)
    Hubby and I were camping and had taken those citronella oil torches for the site. Oil spilled onto some clothing in the back of the car. The clothes were shoved into another bag as they had oil on them. Needed the hoodie in that bag as it was cold. The mozzies avoided me…and I had no repellant on. I fly-fish and, being in the water and in rain, out at dawn and dusk, I become a bug-magnet. Not any more!
    Now I have a dryer sheet with citronella oil on it in the bottom of the plastic bag I store my outdoor clothes in, and I swab the oil on the inner surface of hat brims. I have been known to swipe a lightly-soaked dryer sheet on the exposed surfaces of all-weather coats, and keep a ziplock baggie with soaked dryer sheets in my flygear backpack for quick swipes as needed.

  14. Christina says

    I have used this recipe and it works well but I was curious to see if we could tweak it at all to keep the fire ants at bay. Instead of the witch hazel we used the original formula of “Listerine” (but we bought ours at the Dollar Tree) and it worked BEAUTIFULLY!!! Not a bug bite to be found! :)

    • roy says

      fire ants….pure essential orange oil….mix two tablespoons in gal of water, mix well…..find mound and wait to around 10 am when ants are active, drench mound…will kill queen….may want to again if ants remain, must get oil to queen….they dont move to make another mound, they are finished….

  15. MI Gal says

    HOT weather (100s) broke tonight, so we spent some time outdoors and tried this recipe with no success, even after repeatedly spraying head to toe, all 5 of us got bit by Mosquitos. I’m hoping for some tweaks to the recipe to make it worth the $20+/- I spent on ingredients. I had high hopes of avoiding deet products. Any ideas?

  16. Karen says

    Lavender is a natural repellant for all blood suckers, mosquitoes, ticks, bed bugs, etc. I take a small spray bottle with me when travelling for hotel beds. I used a lavender soap last time I was out hunting, I didn’t get a single tick and people sitting next to me did. Have a lavender body wash I take camping, and haven’t had a mosquito bite all summer.

  17. Alejandra says

    I love you’re site!!! I can’t wait to try all of your homemade solutions!! I have a repellent idea that has worked wonders for me… I’m a mosquito magnet! I recently moved to Japan, and I guess I was fresh meat for the mosquitos here, because the had a feast with me! So, in an attempt to find a remedy that was natural (I was babysitting a new born and didn’t want any chemicals rubbing off on her) I stumbled upon this: Simply add a few drops of vanilla extract to a small spray bottle of water! I use about 6 drops of vanilla extract per 8 ounces of water, then spray all over my body. I have a small bottle I carry in my purse and reapply when I feel like it! :D

  18. Connie K says

    You can add tea tree oil and neem oil to this mixture to help with ticks. It doesn’t smell as great, but it’s still much better than OFF! I’ve used this mixture, but with citronella leaves instead of oil, all summer, and it worked really up until about two weeks ago. The mosquitoes have come out in full force, so I start with this stuff but eventually have to switch to Deep Woods OFF.

  19. Gail says

    I am a magnet for mosquitos! I’ve tried EVERY remedy, including the ones mentioned in these posts but nothing works for me. (I think the chemical make up is different in everyone so, what might work great for one has no effect on another.) What DOES seem to be working, quite by accident….. I started taking 1/4 aspirin every day for my heart. Since I started this regimen, I haven’t been bothered much with mosquitos! Mosquitos buzz around me but won’t land! Is it a coincidence or do they not like the aspirin permeating through my skin??? Worth a try for others to experiement!

  20. Michelle says

    The lemongrass and lavendar may attract honeybees. I’m a beekeeper. Lemongrass is used in bait boxes to catch swarms. Bees make a natural lemon scent in their hives to welcome the bees to the hive. Bees also work lavendar. So, if you find them coming to check you out, that is why.

  21. Demaroge says

    I have added more oils to my ‘recipe’ although I started with Jillee’s. Here is what has been successful for us:

    1 c. witch hazel
    1 tsp. aloe vera juice (if you have it)
    8 drops citronella oil
    8 drops lemongrass oil
    3-5 drops lavender oil
    3-5 drops peppermint oil
    3-5 drops tea tree oil
    3-5 drops vanilla oil (I had to buy it at a cake supply place)

    You can also add clove oil (cautiously! it is toxic in larger quantities or to smaller bodies) and/or calendula oil (marigold oil) although I have not tried those additions as of yet.

    I hope you find some combination of oils that work for you!

  22. says

    Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.

    I enjoy the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m surprised at how quick your blog loaded on my phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, awesome site!

  23. Dawn says

    I mixed
    •1 cup witch hazel
    •16 drops citronella essential oil
    •16 drops lemongrass essential oil
    •5 drops lavender essential oil
    I sprayed all exposed skin with a fine mist including clothes until damp (I used a recycled “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray bottle). I went outside at dusk. I was out there 15 minutes when the mosquitos nearly carried me away. I received 6 bites before I could get back in the house. Though I do smell wonderful this recipe was a flop.


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