Keep the mosquitos away using the best essential oils for repelling mosquitos. I’ll also share how to make a homemade mosquito repellent spray.
I’ve told you in the past about my son’s sensitive skin, and all of the skin problems he has. Not only does he deal with the rashes associated with atopic dermatitis, but he also has strong reactions to mosquito bites. Whenever he gets bitten by a mosquito, he ends up with a big, inflamed bump that bothers him for days. His complaining about the itchiness and pain of the bumps often keeps both of us up at nights!
Preventing the mosquito bites in the first place is, of course, the best way to keep both of us happy and sleeping well. Here in Spain, the most common way to prevent mosquito bites in kids is with bracelets that use essential oils to keep mosquitos away. While they help, my son gets sick of wearing the bracelets everywhere, and they really only cover a small portion of his body anyway.
Do essential oils work as a mosquito repellent?
Essential oils have become unbelievably popular in the last decade, with claims of healing and preventing a myriad of things, as well as natural and DIY combinations for everything from household cleaning and laundry to aromatherapy and mood enhancement. While some claims may seem more than a little outrageous, there is one thing some of these oils can definitely not only prevent, but treat: insect bites!
Because they do work gently, they are used in the repellent bracelets used by so many kids here in Spain.
With the summer months upon us, hopefully you’ll find the following list of essential oils helpful. These oils are said to prevent insect bites, and will come in handy to anyone venturing outdoors for fun in the sun!
Watch me make the homemade mosquito repellent spray.
Essential oils for mosquito repellent
It should be no surprise that citronella essential oil is #1 on the list. With a proven track record of warding off pesky mosquitoes and other annoying bugs, it is one of the most reliable oils, which is why it shows up in most homemade mosquito repellent recipes. Many people find its fragrance unpleasant, but it is worth adding it to your mix if you are one of those people who seem to get eaten alive when you dare to step outside during these warm days.
This oil is safe for use by people of all ages over 6 months for aromatherapy purposes, and is safe to apply topically as long as it is heavily diluted. (You need to be especially careful about dilution when using on young children’s sensitive skin.)
Tea tree essential oil
Tea tree essential oil is a great multipurpose insect repellent. It works well as a mosquito repellent, but is also is great for getting rid of and preventing fleas and other parasites in animals. (It is safe to use topically on dogs when highly diluted.) You could consider adding some to my homemade dog shampoo bar soap! Tea tree essential oil also keeps lice away. That’s why I also used it as one of the top ingredients in my homemade lice repellent spray.
Tea tree essential oil not only works great as a natural insect repellent, but is very useful for all kinds of skin issues, including insect bite relief.
Tea tree oil is another essential oil that is generally safe for people of all ages over 6 months, as long as it is diluted for topical use.
Lavender essential oil
Lavender essential oil has always been one of my favorites. I love its fragrance, and it’s the one I use most in my homemade soaps because it tends to last longer than most other essential oils in soaps.
A lot of people don’t realize that lavender essential oil also helps with the prevention of bug bites and infestations. (That’s why I added it to both my lice repellent spray and dog soap.)
Lavender essential oil may be the mildest essential oil on the list, and is one of the only oils said to be safe for even babies between 3-6 months of age (as long as it is diluted well when using with babies). It can be used both topically and in a diffuser to ward off many different kinds of bugs. It can even protect your clothes from moths, which is why I showed you how to make lavender sachets for your closet.
Lavender is normally suitable for people with sensitive skin and those with allergies to strong smells due to its lighter intensity. That’s also why it’s great for repellents for younger children.
Lemongrass essential oil
Lemongrass essential oil is closely related to citronella oil, but its odor intensity is much more pungent than sweet. Lemongrass has a citrus like scent that I happen to love, but the strength of its smell is highly unattractive to many kinds of bugs, especially mosquitoes and flies. (Be aware that lemongrass and spearmint oils can attract bees.) Lemongrass oil is also known for its purification of air, making it a very valuable oil.
While it is generally a safe essential oil, it should be reserved for children over the age of 2 to be on the safe side!
Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint essential oil smells pleasant to most humans…but not so much to bugs! That’s what makes it a more attractive oil to use for people who hate the overwhelming fragrance of some of the other oils on the list like citronella. It not only has been shown to keep bugs away, but it kills many insect larvae before they can even hatch into full-grown insects.
It is generally said that you shouldn’t use peppermint essential oil on children under the age of 6(or should at least use caution when doing so). It can also be irritating to the skin, which is why it needs to be diluted for topical use, especially when you use it in sprays for children.
Other essential oils that may prevent mosquito bites
I once bought an essential oil blend meant to be used as an insect repellent, and it was a mixture of lavender, lemon and clove essential oils. Because all three of those essential oils are generally safe for use with children (lemon after 6 months of age, and clove for children over the age of 2), they are good oils to consider when developing a mosquito repellent for your entire family.
Geranium is another safe oil (for children over 6 months) that may also be helpful for repelling mosquitos as well as other insects. It’s another oil to consider adding if you happen to already have it in your home.
Any of these oils can be used alone or combined in a blend to make your own custom homemade mosquito repellent.
You can either add the oil blends to water or you can add them to carrier oil like coconut oil. The blends can be used as a topical spray or diffused to prevent and ward off bugs.
DIY essential oil mosquito repellent
Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray Recipe
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 20 drops citronella essential oil
- 15 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 5 drops geranium essential oil
- 1 tsp. neem oil
- 1 Tbsp. vodka or denatured alcohol
- distilled water or lavender water
- Add all essential oils to a glass spray bottle. This is easiest when using a funnel. You can use a mixture of repellent essential oils of your choice, ending up with around 80 drops of essential oils total.
- Add the neem oil to your mixture. Neem oil is optional, but also does a great job at keeping mosquitos away. (It does have a rather potent scent, though, so if it bothers you, you can either reduce the amount or leave it out completely.)
- Add the alcohol to the bottle. The alcohol is also optional, but it helps to somewhat mix/emulsify the oils into the water mixture. The oils and water will still separate, so you will need to shake the mixture before each use, but it will help dissolve them better each time.
- Fill the rest of the (100ml) bottle with distilled water or lavender water. We had just made lavender water with my new distiller this past weekend, so I used that as it’s potent fragrance should also help against mosquito bites.
- Cap the bottle and shake the mixture before using.
- Shake and spray the mixture on your skin before heading outdoors or when in mosquito infested areas. Do not ingest!
DIY mosquito repellent for younger children and sensitive skin
- 30 drops lavender essential oil
- 25 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10 drops geranium essential oil
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
Add the oils to a 100ml spray bottle. Fill the rest with water. Shake before using. Do not ingest.
As with all essential oil use, use carefully, and at your own risk; every person and body reacts differently to different things.
Are there any other oils you have had luck with keeping insects and other pests away?
What other oil blends help with bug repellant and bite/sting relief?
Eucalyptus is a great repellent. The lemon eucalyptus tree is harvested for a lot of bug repellents.
Thanks for the tip, Janice!
Yes, I really like eucalyptus, and I also use it in the lice spray I make.
Thank you dear for the information .i want to make mosquito repellent bar soap and lotion in small scale to sell to my people can you show me the way . Thank you
I am Tam from africa
Hi Tam, that sounds like a great idea!
I wish you the best of luck with it!
i am making this recipe for mosquito repellent spray.
again thank you very much i am from india.
please mail me hi i want to discuss more
You’re welcome. Feel free to comment here what you need to know.
Thank you so much for such an informative article! I became…differently-abled a few years ago. After resigning from my position, treatments and learning my new limits, I decided to become as self sufficient homestead as our family could be. We now have a 600+ square foot garden and I make & preserve all our staples like canned goods, cheese, bread, herbs, spices, and condiments from scratch. Long story short, I use my “body forcing me to rest” downtime to educate myself on a new job. Needless to say, when I found your tutorials, I was elated and absorbing for hours in an effort to add our cleaning & hygiene necessities to my list of homesteading. Now if you could just add some keeping chickens for eggs tutorials LOL.
Anyway, I wanted to thank you and also tell you about an extremely useful herb already in my repertoire: Basil.
If you didn’t already know, Basil can act as an analgesic, soothing itchy or mildly painful bites. It is also has antiseptic qualities, so it’s two fold first aid. Take about 3-5 (according to leaf size and application area) large leaves of basil and grind well in a mortal & pestle to form a poultice. Apply directly to and around affected area.
The neighborhood kids come running every time they’re bit by anything asking for “that green stuff” for their skin. AND, you’ll make everyone around you crave pizza LOL.
Thank you so much for your comment- it made my day!
I love hearing about people who are able to make a difference in that way!
I actually do have some hens, but only have 3 right now. I do occasionally post something about them, but not much as I don’t really consider myself that much of an expert. They are basically pets for us that give us some really great, high-quality eggs! 🙂
One of my hens is over 6 years old and she still lays for us almost daily! We did lose our first couple of hens this year, though. That was sad. (One was laying internally and there was nothing that could be done for her.)
I am actually already pretty obsessed with basil, and love hearing that it can be good for so much more than making pesto. 😉 My 8-year-old son actually shies away from almost anything green, but absolutely adores pesto (and avocados), so I make pesto quite often. I can never plant enough basil plants.
I need to enable a way to allow people to share recipes like this with others on the blog- I’m looking into it because I think it would be a lot of fun. Thanks so much for your tip, though. I’ll have to give it a try next time my son gets itchy. He’s quite susceptible to insect bites, so…
I am from india and a retired person. I want to do something for those who can not buy costly mosquito repellents for their kids. You r requested to let me know from where I can purchase citrenola Lavender Peppermint essential oils at wholesale price rather at reasonable price
I am not really familiar with the best places to order supplies in India as I’m based in Spain.
I really love the ideas put forward on this site but I am currently traveling in Brazil and repellents with 50% deer plus added citronella lotion just arent working and I’m getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and bed bugs! I’d love to make the natural oil repellent but where in the hell in Brazil or while I’m on the road do I find all of these ingredients and vessels ie travel size spray atomiser etc? Any help would be most welcome. Very few people speak English here so it’s not the best situation for finding things out when you’re stuck in the middle of a city that doesn’t really have much. Thanks in advance for any advice x
I wish I could be of more help, but I’m not exactly sure. I buy most of my ingredients online. It sounds like you are moving around a lot, but are you ever in an area where you can receive packages long enough? I’d assume you should be able to find something that can be delivered to you.
Perhaps in extreme situations, this repellent won’t be strong enough. I’m not sure.
It really appears to help us here in Spain, but we don’t have an overabundance of mosquitos like it sounds like you have.
Hi , I was wondering how long is the shelf life of that product , I presume minimum of 6 months due to alcohol but could it be longer you think ?
I’ve been meaning to update this post because I’ve been researching more about the amount of alcohol needed to effectively preserve a spray. I need to finish my research, but I’ll be updating with more information about that soon.
If you use some high strength alcohol and combine that with the essential oils first, and then reduce with distilled water, not only will the oils have better solubilized into the alcohol, but, yes, you’ll have a product that will keep for quite a long time much more safely, and one that shouldn’t separate. I’d love to tell you the amounts, but I’m away from home and away from my notes. I’m a bit behind on publishing too. Once I get my new post out, I’ll go back to fixing up some of these older posts. (Which is why I’m behind on posting something new in the first place. 😉 )
I try to work hard on making sure my posts are up to date and safe- and this is one of the 4-5 posts that’s on the top of the list for updating with new safety information!
Hi Tracey, I noticed in a comment above that you were doing research on the amount of alcohol needed to effectively preserve a spray. I was wondering if you had updated the recipe yet? Also, a lot of my essential oils don’t have the little dropper thingy in them – I was wondering if you could post the measure of oils in grams as well?
Thanks so much for being so awesome – yours is my daily go-to site to read and learn from. You rock!
Thank you so much!
I’m very slowly going through EVERY post on my blog and completely rewriting many and updating them!
I haven’t gotten around to updating that post yet, but I will. I can say that you want to have around 20-30% alcohol as a good goal for preserving the recipe well.
I did write more about it in my post about natural preservatives!
Right now I’m busy updating seasonal stuff. As soon as Valentine’s day and St. Patrick’s Day are over, I’ll go through some of the others. My goal was to work on the repellent for spring (when people will be searching for it more) and the lice repellent before September (when schools start again). So, yes, it seems a bit haphazard, but there is some thought behind my order of updates. ?
Oh, by the way, to find the part about alcohol more easily, you can open the table of contents under the first photo. Under “common natural preservatives” you can find the part about alcohol! Most of my newer posts will have the table of contents to make skimming and finding what you are looking for more easily!
Thank you 🙂
What if i just substitue alcohol and water to carrier oil? Evoo may be…
Sure! You can definitely do that. I made my first one that way. The only problem is that it can be messy and can stain clothing if you aren’t careful when applying. If you apply carefully, though, it’s a great option!
Hi, your information is wonderful. I should have read this before I mixed my ingredients. I mixed lemongrass and lavender l. I was wondering what if you put in too much lemon oil it really smells strong like pinesol.?
Too much lemon oil or too much lemongrass oil?
Lemon oil can cause sun sensitivity issues, so it’s something to keep in mind when using a product with lemon oil in the sun. (You may be more prone to burning when applying it to your skin.)
If you use “too much” of certain essential oils, you may end up with a rash or some other type of skin reaction if your skin is sensitive to them. You also have to be careful with using certain oils with young children because some can provoke respiratory issues in sensitive children.
Otherwise, other than the scent bothering you, you’re probably OK to use it, but if you’re worried, just dilute it down with some alcohol.
Thaw Tar Su
I really thanks you for read about mosquito spray , i knew last a few week about how to make citronella mosquito spray so i tried it but not success , ingredients are citronella oil (100 ml), water(100 ml) & Alcohol(400 ml) all are mix perfectly but oil & water are spreate. So please tell me how to do that …
The oil and water will separate. You have to shake the ingredients before spraying.
You could also eliminate the water. The alcohol can work as a solvent so without the water it may be enough to have them disperse in the alcohol without separation, but it will depend on the alcohol used and the amount of oil you add.
Can alcohol be used instead of water?
Yes, you can definitely use alcohol instead of water, and it would probably even do a better job of dispersing and you’d also have no conservation problems with alcohol. The only reason I didn’t suggest it being all alcohol is that some people are worried about alcohol being drying on the skin.