What Are the Best Natural Ways to Repel Mosquitoes?

Organic mosquito repellent contains no synthetic chemicals and instead relies on ingredients such as garlic, citronella and essential oils to keep the insects away.
Mosquito about to bite.
A woman using mosquito spray.
A citronella candle.
Lemon eucalyptus oil is a common ingredient in natural mosquito repellent.
Article Details
  • Written By: L. Jablonsky
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are several different natural ways to repel mosquitoes. Although repellents containing N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) are some of the most effective products on the market, some people may suffer from side effects like itching and swelling after applying these repellents. Natural approaches may provide a good alternative and repel mosquitoes effectively. Some natural ways to repel mosquitoes include using essential oils like citronella, Thai lemon grass, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Other natural methods, like wearing long sleeves and using a fan can also help.

A number of essential oils can work as insecticides and repellents. The essential oils with reported repellent activity included citronella, cedar, pine, cinnamon, rosemary, garlic and peppermint, among others. The effectiveness of some of these essential oils against mosquito bites is still being tested, however.

Since 1882, citronella in candles and sprays has been used as a method to repel mosquitoes. Although this oil is effective, citronella is not as powerful as other ingredients. Some studies have found that citronella only wards off mosquitoes for about 20 minutes. Citronella can be used for shorter times of exposure and it can be an effective "first defense," used in conjunction with other natural methods.

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In addition to citronella-scented candles and other commercial products, citronella extracted from Thai lemon grass (Cymbopogon Citratus) can aid in repelling mosquitoes. Placing the plants around the front porch or patio can repel mosquitoes from the area. The citronella oil can be extracted through the stem at the base of the leaves. Rubbing the pulpy stem over exposed skin may repel mosquitoes for a short amount of time.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus is also recommended by some experts as an alternative to repellents containing small concentrations of DEET. This oil may also be effective as a deterrent against tick bites. Studies have found that using oil of eucalyptus at a 30 percent concentration protected skin from mosquito bites for approximately 120 minutes. Eucalyptus oil in commercial products should contain at least 70 percent cineole. Children under the age of 3 should not use oil of lemon eucalyptus as a repellent.

These natural repellents work well when applied all over exposed skin. Mosquitoes can still bite bare skin close to the repellent-coated areas, however. Wearing long sleeves, pants, and socks is a simple way to ward off mosquitoes. Although mosquitoes may be able to bite the skin through thin, sheer material, they generally cannot bite through sturdier fabrics. In the summertime, wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeved cotton shirt will usually prevent any mosquito bites on the arms and legs.

Mosquitoes also struggle to fly in very windy conditions. Clipping a miniature fan to a belt loop or placing a small electronic fan adjacent to the seating area can disrupt the mosquitoes' flight, rendering them less likely to bite the skin. These measures, coupled with the use of essential oils, may repel mosquitoes and prevent future mosquito bites.

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