Scram Skeeters! How to Fight Off & Drive Away Mosquitoes

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…

Citronella Lavender Catnip Eucalyptus *Pennyroyal *Tansy
Basil Thyme Cedar Tea Tree Peppermint Lemongrass

*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
  • Citronella
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Pennyroyal
  • Tansy
  • Marigolds

Commercial Products

*(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

Household Hacks

  • 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.

  • Garlic
  • B1 Vitamins
  • Brewers Yeast
  • Lemons

Related Posts


    • Andy

    I live in Spain and I was told to put a fresh slice of lemon by my bed. I do and I don’t get bitten! Try it. Make sure it’s a fresh juicy slice. Just lay it on a saucer beside your bed about half an hour before you get in.

    If you do get bitten, resist the temptation to scratch it for about 20 minutes and it wont itch any more! If you scratch it you spread the poison around. Leave it alone and it’s gone in no time.

    Sleep tight!

    • Pru

    Thank you all for your tips. You’re “the bomb”!! My mozzie bites blister, ache and itch at the same time, no matter what country I’m in.
    Today I tried the deodorant tip and it was great. Almost instant relief from the itching, and some of the swelling went down. The relief lasted for a couple of hours on the not so bad bites and an hour for the worst ones. The good thing is that a bottle of deodorant is small enough to keep in your bag.
    After work I read the rest of the posts here and tried the antibacterial hand gel, and it worked like a charm. The itching stopped and most of my angry red lumps have disappeared.
    I don’t know if it’s the combination of both remedies, or if the antibacterial gel is magic. All I know is that I’ve spent a comfortable evening and am looking forward to a good nights sleep.
    One remedy that worked for me in New Zealand and Australia was to clip clothes pegs onto the bites. It stops the itch for a while, but the trick for ultimate relief is to leave the pegs on until the pain is unbearable. Not a sexy looking way to alleviate the torture, but it does add incessant teasing and humour to your day.
    In the past I’ve used toothpaste which has provided temporary relief from the itching and longer deterrence from scratching. White paste is better than gel paste because when the gel dries it’s easy to peal off and start scratching again!
    Lavender, basil, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils have never worked for me, whether as a repellent or a remedy. Vinegar only worked for about 5-minutes. Listerine was a waste of time for my mozzie bites but is fantastic for pimples.

    As a preventative at night, I sleep under a net .. I love it, it makes me feel like a princess ;oD

      • Pru

      By the way, the antibacterial gel is fabulous because you can buy little bottles that not only fit in your bag, but for the guys, they fit in your pocket!

    • Charlotte

    One desperate night at bedtime I put Baby Oragel on insect bites my legs & ankles. It was enough to finally get to sleep & didn’t seem to cause side effects. It was a good thing to have on hand when my kids started getting insect bites. A baking soda bath was also soothing.

    • Jme

    You were right about mosquitos being attracted to certain types of people… It has to do with your blood type. They prefer Positive Blood Types over the negative ones…

    • Blue Ridge

    Just thought I’d give an update in case it helps others….

    My previous posts abouve were made in early May 2012 and I live in the eastern part of the USA.

    In early June, I did start getting a few bites but ONLY from the Asian Tiger mossies which are starting to inhabit this part of the USA. I am not getting bit by any other mossies so far. (Google the Asian Tiger mosquito – they’re unmistakable with their black & white striped bodies)

    Even then, I am ONLY getting bit on the lower leg / ankle, no where else. This is a massive improvement as I used to get bitten everywhere!!

    Because I am still getting bit, albeit much less than I was, I have now started taking vitamin B1 capsules twice a day. The reason for this is because they contain much more Thiamin than brewyers yeast tablets (I am still taking the brweerys yeast, too).

    One other important thing to say is that the few times I have been bitten has had much less effect on me than before taking any tablets. So all round taking the brewers yeast has made a massive difference to me.

    I don’t think there is a pefect solution to the evil mossies but I think we can drastically lessen their impact on us.

    I’ll let you know (by end of July) if taking the vitamin B1 tablets along with the brewers yeast tablets has stopped the Asian Tiger mossies biting me. So far it’s stopped every other mossie biting me!!

    Good luck and I’ll post again after end of July 2012.

    • April

    White flower oil help me with the itching almost instantly. I found a bottle on amazon.

    • Geeky Grandma

    I hadn’t been up on my Stress-B vitamin complex, didn’t take it for two weeks, and got bit today. I usually never get bit. I’ll take them tonight and see if it makes any difference. Meanwhile, used an ice cube on the bites. It works wonders to take the sting, itch and swelling away.

    • Donna

    My husband told me to try rubbing underarm deodorant on my bites and to my astonishment, It Worked. For someone that doesn’t get bite it did work for the itching. It has been two hours and no need to scratch!!

    • Adam

    When I get bitten, I ask my partner to use her fingernails and “Cross” (Make an indentation into the bite in the shape of the letter X.

    This stops the itching permanently within 5 mins.


      • DebbieVerbie

      I do the same thing Adam. It does work with the itching. It must “spread out” the mosquito saliva they leave when feeding on us.

    • Samantha

    Mosquitos are attracted to blood type. These little buggers can smell your blood from a mile away (even if you aren’t bleeding. Those with type O blood attract more Mosquitos than those with type A. Your blood type is why you can be standing next to someone and at the end of the night you are covered in bites and they have none!

    • Joy

    Hasn’t anyone used just plain ammonia? Just dab it on. Has worked on everyone I know of that has tried it. I keep a small bottle of it EVERYWHERE. I am a mos. mag. too.

      • Beverly

      Last summer, as a new resident in SW Florida, I found out that I am quite tasty to those darned bugs. I cycled through all the drug store remedies to no avail with the itch. Finally figured out the ammonia connection, and bought a liter bottle at the grocery store (cleaning agents section) and started dabbing it on bites as soon as I realized they were there. Poured it on a paper towel folded up and held it on each one for about 5 minutes. Really helped.

      Need to work on prevention though. I take a B complex all the time so that didn’t prevent the bites. Avon SSS hardly worked at all. Cutters seemed to work the best, but remember to spray outside because it makes the floor slippery.

      We camped a lot when I was little. My mom never got bit and she swore it was because she would eat a lot of bread in the two weeks before we would go, and continue while there. Maybe there’s something in the yeast connection?

      I got two bites on my foot two nights ago, and they kept me awake. They still itch and are slightly swollen, but I tried the toothpaste trick, and I’ll be darned if my Aquafresh didn’t almost completely deaden it within seconds – WITH THE ADDED BENEFIT THAT MY FOOT NOW SMELLS MINTY FRESH!!! LOL. Really looks silly, but did work.

    • Zack

    2:30 AM and there is a single masquito in my room eating me alive. Already have 6 bites all are swollen.

    • Angel

    I spoke to a gal whose daughter has the same problem as me I swell up and I mean hugely, she told me of a pill you can put under your tongueand it desolves into the bloodstream and it prevents them from biting, But I can not remember the name, it starts with B… and no its not a vitamin. Anyone else know of this?

    • Ellie

    Haven’t been mosquito bait since I was a kid forty-five years ago. Just got home to the DC area and am suddenly being eaten alive by a much smaller mosquito than I’ve ever seen before. Horrible itchy welts all over! Aaaaargh, now I’m worried these could be the West Nile carriers! I’ve been able to stop the itch by dabbing the bites immediately with rubbing alcohol and then applying plenty of the Gold Bond extra-strength cream in the green bottle. Thanks for all the tips for preventing bites in the first place. Will experiment and report back if something works.

    • Pat

    I used B-1 to prevent mosquito bites years ago and it seemed to work, so I guess it’s time to try that again.

    After years of gardening and never having been bitten by a TICK, I was bitten this year and got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Believe me, you do NOT want it. One of my doctors told me to drink two tsp of vinegar before going outside. He said that it works for him – “so far, so good” and he hasn’t been bitten by any insects.

    • Crona

    *sigh* I get bit SO MUCH on my arms and my ankles! I also get bit in other places like right under my butt cheek on my leg. T_T

    Anyways, my friends say mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue and bananas. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I believe it is because I wear lots of blue, and I love bananas!

    There’s just a problem. We don’t buy herbs or expensive brands of shampoo, face wash, or lotion. Do those clip on Off! thingies work? I might buy one if I have good replies on the product.

    I have a fan that is about 11 inches by 12 inches. I wish it was portable, it’s not, obviously because I said that. I’m not sure if it has a strong enough wind… Um… Current? (Is that the correct word?) Anyways, but I’m pretty sure a mosquito couldn’t fly against it, but is there a way to measure that? If so, how much can a mosquito can fly against?


      • Jessy

      Hi guys. We love the off clip on fan things 😉

    • Rhonda

    Didn’t see it in the MANY comments, but the most effective relief of itching, and reducing/healing minor skin infections, that I’ve EVER seen is: Soak, as long as possible (at least 30 min.}, in a hot tub of water, with at least 1-cup of EPSOM SALTS, dissolved in the water. The salt draws out the infection, drainage, etc., (by osmosis, I assume!). It stops the itching immediately, too! I’m telling you, its an absolute miracle! Many years ago, my daughter was constantly being eaten alive by mosquitoes, chiggers, etc. Secondary infections in the bites became so bad that she had to be seen by a doctor 2-3 times a year, and treated with multiple drugs, antibiotics, and ointments–with minimal, if any, relief. An older lady at church suggested the Epsom’s to me. I tried it, expecting no change. The next morning, the multiple bites my daughter had–were absolutely gone!!! I had tried every trick that I could find, before. I made her wear pants all summer long. I rubbed her down with garlic. I tried every ointment and creme on the market. I went thru every type of bug repellent. I even cut her fingernails as short as possible and soaked her fingers in bleach, twice a day, to stop the infections from scratching! Nothing worked. Until I tried the Epsom’s. Later on, I became a nurse, and I used Epsom soaks on bed sores, in-grown toenails, minor cuts and infections, etc., always, with great results. And strangely, I even used it once to draw the venom from a cats leg, after being bitten by a rattlesnake! I put the cat in hot water and Epsom’s in the tub, and it drew out the venom! I couldn’t believe my eyes! So give it a try, you won’t be sorry. And it helps with strained/sore muscles, when added to the bath water, too!!!

    • Rebecca

    I don’t know about stopping the itching after the mosquito bite swells up but what I have found to e affective for me is putting honey on the bite before I even scratch it. If I put so,e honey on it a few days later its gone. But if I wait until after I’ve already scratched the bite, the honey is not very effective.

      • Pauline McDowell

      We have been to Africa 4 times and our doctor there told us about mentholaturm stops the itch immediately. Going again next week and we always take mentholaturm
      with us.

        • Daphne Garrett

        Hello fellow magnets, Pauline you just reminded me of another great preventative “must be pure Shea Butter”. I can it worked for me 100% plus all the other benefits however pure Shea Butter isn’t a good smell but at least you won’t be bitten and itching. I can’t find any,will only buy it in person. If anyone knows “personally” where to buy it online let me know. I’ve only bought it from someone I can watch put it in the jar from the large (don’t know what its called). Amazon has it of course but costs are high and you can’t see or smell it. Just heard report on news of nile virus about 15miles away. Be careful…peace out

    • nancy

    Try ICY HOT it does ok for me

    • Shey

    I have super sensitive skin, and mosquitoes just looove me. I’ve found that a little bit of baby oil in a spray bottle works wonders for me when I hike, and if I do get a bite, I just rub a little chapstick on it. The baby oil doesn’t irritate my skin, and the chapstick takes the itch out almost immediately and reduces the swelling. Just make sure you use an all-natural chapstick like Lypsyl or Burt’s Bees original. I’ve had better results with the Lypsyl, and it’s fairly inexpensive at Walmart.

    • Garl7

    I get WELTS!!!! and get bitten when walking to the car. When I have bites I scratch until the bleed. I have found that if I can RESIST the scratch for 15-20 minutes it won’t itch at all. Deoderant works for me, as does bugspray and the Avon stuff(I hate the smell). when I visited the rainforest in Ecuador I used some heavy duty stuff prescribed by a doctor. Smelled terrible but no bites!! Ultrathon

    • Amanda

    We moved to Australia from uk,and the mozzies here are buggers.i used to buy Avon skin so soft when holidaying like in Greece but it doesn’t help here.we have to buy products contain deet and still get bitten.The best thing to put on your bites and it was on the local radio is Vegemite,In the Uk it’s marmite,doesn’t smell particularly good but it works.I take antihistamines daily but it doesn’t stop the itch,the pharmacy suggested putting hydrocortisone on my daughters as we sometimes use when her eczema is bad.

    • Jeff

    When bitten apply toothpaste this always takes my swelling down and stops the itching after 20 minutes or so

    • NeesieFaye

    When I moved from CA to the panhandle of FL I was eaten alive by mosquitos! I counted 129 on my body! They made huge whelts on me and I was miserable! I started using brewers yeast in powder form and made shakes with it in it, or put it in juice. Within a week, the mosquitos quit biting me!

    • Monica

    This past summer I was doing a different diet and to my surprise, I didn’t get a single mosquito bite even though other people around me were getting bitten like crazy. I was eating just vegetables, meats, blue corn chips, nuts, fish, cod liver oil, and I think that’s about it. No sugar, no carbs (except the chips), no dairy, and little to no fruit. I’m guessing it was the very low glycemic index of my diet that protected me – although essential fatty acids present on the skin surface because they moisturize from the inside out, so perhaps it was that. See, now these are the things science should be studying!

    • Debbie

    WHY CANT THEY INVENT AN INJECTION THAT STOPS YOU GETTING BITTEN BY MOSQUITOS? – CAN YOU SCIENTISTS PLEASE PLEASE TRY AND INVENT THIS AND I WILL TAKE IT DAILY – Ive tried EVERY deterent, they dont work! I am sitting here with a swollen eye and cheek, swollen wrist and two swollen ankles

    • Alice

    I gotta tell you, I have read ALL of this and I can’t wait for this summer! LoL – I plan to try everything on anyone I can find with a bite – myself included. We are going to plant the right plants to repel, we are going to take the ride vitamins and other internal products, and we are going to try to prevent.
    I agree with Debbie! We don’t have the plague any more, why can’t there be a shot for the horrible itch of the mosquito!

    • Susan

    It is mid March and I am already being bitten by those pesky mosquitos. I read the part about the yellow Listerine. I think I will try it out on my deck table and soak a sponge with the Listerine and sit it in a shallow dish. Just a thought.

    • mairi

    Essential oils such as lavender, mix in bottle of water, spray yourself, it makes you smell good and the bugs hate lavender. Gotta keep spraying a lot though because it wears off quickly. Can also use the undiluted lavender oil for the itch if needed. Use diphenhydramine cream also for the itch. Its Benadryl ointment and not the pill

    • tristan

    a big thanks to you all. horrid bites all evening itching me to insanity. the toothpaste i tried a month ago didn’t work. so tonight i tried the deodorant, didn’t seem to work, waited 15 minutes, still itching. so i tried vinegar. i put vinegar on a cottonball and dabbed my feet on the bites, and put one between the toe where the worst bite was (aargh). it WORKED within moments. THANK YOU!!!! i am pleased as punch and not suffering! I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE FOUND THIS.

    • Me Also

    Re Brewer’s Yeast. Once I used to be prone to be covered with mosquito bites as well as bites of other insects. Quite some years ago and old Army veterinary officer told me how to use Brewer’s Yeast to prevent bites and have been bite free for decades. There are some who claim that it doesn’t work for them but that might come from misuse. I take 4 tablets in the morning before becoming exposed to mosquitos etc. (at least half an hour before expected exposure). If going outside in the evening, I repeat the process. My wife learned that she needed to do this too. No matter the climate I was in while in the Army, if there were mosquitos or other biting insects, I went without bites (including living in the ‘great outdoors.’ I recall sharing this with others in the Army who thought I was crazy until they noted that bugs would land on my skin and quickly take off … while they were scratching from bites. A civilian female friend went on a cruise to the Caribbean with her 3 sisters and their husbands. The sisters took my advice while their husbands laughed it off. The sisters had a great time all the way home … while the husbands scratched all the way home.

    • Cindee

    The BEST repellant for all bugs is Tea Tree Oil! We live in the country in west texas. Never get bit anymore!

    • Leigh

    Thanks to Val, raised in Mexico, I learned this free very effective solution to stop the itch of mosquitoes, though not spiders: Press your fingernail deep into the center of the bite and hold for 10 seconds. Then repeat, making a cross. Itch stops immediately. You can also rub in some lavender essential oil right after though not really necessary. The cross seems to disperse the mosquito saliva while the lavender oil disinfects. Nothing else works for me, also a major magnet for skeeters. Of course, you’ll need a helper to get to the ones you can’t reach.

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