As promised from yesterday’s article about relief for itching bites, I’ve compiled a big list of recommendations for ways to deter and drive away mosquitoes (including some homemade insect repellent recipes).
A few things to note first:
- You pretty much have to stop breathing to not attract the attention of these annoying critters, a big attractor for them is the carbon dioxide from your breath.
- It also seems they are attracted by scents like perfumes, sweat, body odor as well as body heat. Unless you stop using shampoos, soaps, deodorants and detergents–it’s hard to be scent free.
- From what I understand, DEET has proven to be the most effective repellent. DEET is pretty crazy stuff though, so if you’d like to try less harsh solutions, there are plenty of tips below for you to give a shot.
Something to keep in mind: Since some people seem to be a skeeter magnet while others around them don’t get a single bite, I suspect that there could be a personal body chemistry factor involved. That could explain why a remedy that works for one person, may not work for another.
This would help explain why some people swear by the Bounce dryer sheet method, or the Avon Skin So Soft solution, while others have a different experience. Neither Bounce nor the Avon SSS did a thing for me btw, but I did include them in the list below…too many people SWEAR by their effectiveness and that shouldn’t be ignored.
Basics For Success:
- Wear light colored clothing, these critters are drawn to dark garments and it seems to be because dark clothing retains heat better (and the warmth is what’s attracting the mosquitoes).
- Keep yourself covered as much as possible (including wearing a hat). Although they can find their way through the fabric, this will help cut down on bites.
Suggested Helpers & Tips
Vanilla Extract: A few different recommendations for this one, each contradicting the other.
Some say to dab Vanilla Extract on your pulse points, others say to rub it all over your skin & dab your clothes. Some say the cheap stuff is what’s required, others say the real, pure Vanilla is the only thing that will work. Some advise applying it full strength, others recommend diluting it with water then spritz it on.
Play around with Vanilla to see what gives you best results–there are plenty of believers for this one so I think there’s something to it.
Garlic: This isn’t a favorite thing to do day-to-day, but if you’re going camping or hiking through heavily infested areas, try a garlic powder and water paste.
Apply to pulse points, behind knees, on shoes and ankles and a dab or two on your cheeks or somewhere on your face and neck.
Remember–keep out of eyes. And maybe stay out of public places too because things will be a tad aromatic I’m sure ;).
Essential Oils: Mix choice of EO with rubbing alcohol, or witch hazel, or distilled water and spritz on body or directly on cloth to rub on body (shake before each use).
Another option is to add a few drops in baby oil or olive oil then rub on skin.
You can also apply along a strip of fabric (cotton) and tie around wrist. *Make sure to avoid mouth and eye areas.
I’ve listed the EO’s that promise best results in the chart below…
*Seems to be strongly recommended.
Homemade Mosquito Repellents
If you’re interested in experimenting with making your own concoctions, here are a handful of different recipes that you can try. Most of these have been sent in by readers and they’re all easy enough to make (thank you for sharing guys!).
The majority are made with assorted essential oils but there is one shared by Jennifer that requires only simple ingredients (garlic cloves, mineral oil, water and lemon juice) so the expense is really minimal.
Here’s a tip sent in by Angela for her tried-and-true solution:
This is a recipe given to me by my aunt, I find that it stores well but should be used within the year.
1/4 cup vegetable oil combined with these essential oils (mix and store in a spray bottle):
8 drops cedar
5 drops eucalyptus
4 drops lavender
2 drops rosemary
2 drops juniper
1 drop peppermint
1 drop cinnamon
1 drop clove
Here’s one from Mark:
I like this because it only needs a few items and it’s a breeze to put together. Make sure you shake it up for a few minutes each time before you use it.
I hope your readers try it because it does work just as well as bought and it’s better to use on your body than those poisonous sprays that they try selling us in stores.
2 cups witch hazel
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
20 drops citronella EO
20 drops lemongrass EO
Instructions: Mix in a spray bottle and shake well before use.
Jennifer sent this one in:
Mosquitoes hate garlic and so when I saw this in a magazine a few years ago I clipped it, tried it and found that it did a good job keeping me bite free.
Directions: Mince a few cloves of garlic then cover with mineral oil. Allow it to sit for at least 24 hours. Next you take a teaspoon of *just the oil* and mix it with 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Strain through a cheesecloth if you have any floaties then pour into a spray bottle. Shake before each use.
Here’s another recipe from Mother Earth News that was online at one time that I can no longer find:
Since the 1999 appearance of West Nile virus in North America, it’s more important than ever to keep these pests at bay. You can outsmart them with this homemade, Earth-friendly solution.
It couldn’t be easier to make, ingredients needed are any combination of these EO: basil, cedarwood, citronella, juniper, lemon, myrrh, palmarosa, pine, rose geranium and/or rosemary mixed with 190-proof grain alcohol (Everclear). Quantities: 2 1/2 tsp of EO mixed with 1 cup of the alcohol. The combination of assorted EO’s makes this an effective option for fighting a variety of mosquito species and other insects.
Here’s one from another source no longer available online…
Yarrow Bug Spray
Fill a jar with fresh yarrow flowers and leaves (cut into small pieces) or use 1/2 jar full of dried yarrow. Cover with vodka, seal jar with lid and allow to brew for a week. Strain, fill a spray bottle 1/2 full with the infusion liquid then top up with water. Add a few drops of catnip essential oil (adjust as needed for effectiveness). Shake well before each use, may need to reapply every hour or so.
Plants That Drive Them Away
Break off leaves and crush them roughly, rub them all over your clothes and skin. Toss the bruised leaves around the perimeter of your deck or patio. Also plant these in pots and arrange them around the patio. You could also infuse these in water and then treat the tisane as a spritzer.
- Lemon Thyme
*(other than DEET items)
- Avon’s Skin So Soft (straight or 50/50 ratio with rubbing alcohol)
- Bounce Sheets (hanging out of a pocket or waistband)
- Listerine (50/50 ratio with household vinegar then applied all over body)
- Vicks VapoRub
- You can purchase citronella torches to stand in the ground or set on table tops
- Spray garlic powder and water all over the yard and bushes. Use a fertilizer hose attachment. Will need to be done bi-weekly (approximately) or after a heavy rain.
- Another trick you can try is to apply Listerine on the lawn or around the deck or campsite.
Apparently the smell that comes out of your pores from a steady diet of the below deters skeeters. The items aren’t meant to be combined, they’re just different suggestions.
- B1 Vitamins
- Brewers Yeast