11 Natural Mosquito Repellents to Keep Bugs at Bay This Summer
From citronella-infused wipes to DIY sprays you can make at home, these chemical-free repellents are safe and effective.
We're spending more time in our backyards than ever before—and chances are, the mosquitoes are biting. That's why it helps to have a safe, but effective mosquito repellent on hand whenever you plan on heading outside. However, with all the bug sprays, lotions, and salves on the market, separating natural options that actually work from the products that simply claim to repel these pests can be tricky. "When choosing a mosquito repellent, it's important to understand that not all are created equal," says Kari Warberg Block, a pest control expert and the founder of EarthKind. "CDC-recommended active ingredients include oil of lemon eucalyptus, Picaridin, and DEET."
Unfortunately, Warberg Block says DEET has become more controversial over the years because of its unsavory side effects, such as skin irritation and seizures. This has led to an increase in quality, all-natural mosquito repellents. "Picaridin, which is bio-identical to a black pepper plant, and plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus, are both CDC-recommended and EPA-approved ingredients, so if you're looking for more natural options that are proven to work well, your best bet is to opt for one of these," she explains.
Good news: Natural mosquito repellents are safer to use and, according to Dr. Morris Nejat of NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, are every bit as efficient as their chemical-filled counterparts. "Natural mosquito repellents work just as well," he explains. "Just remember to look for products with at least a 20% concentration, since lower concentrations of EPA-registered repellents may not be effective in warding off mosquitoes and other insects." Looking for a potent, all-natural mosquito repellent to keep on hand this summer? From citronella-infused wipes to DIY sprays you make at home, here are 10 of our favorites.
Looking for a plant-based alternative that you can pick up at the supermarket? This name-brand bug spray is made with plant-based pine oil to combat black flies, gnats, and mosquitoes and is widely available at most big-box retailers.
Shop Now: OFF! Botanicals Plant-Based DEET Free Insect Repellent IV, $5.99, target.com.
Lemon Eucalyptus Spray
If you're in the market for a natural mosquito repellent that's small enough to fit in your pocket or purse, scoop up this traveled-sized spray. It contains 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus, and it protects your skin from bug bites for up to six hours.
Shop Now: Murphy's Natural Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellant Spray, $9.99, grove.co.
Designed for people with skin sensitivities in mind, this unscented spray is made with CDC-recommended Picaridin. "It protects against both mosquitoes and ticks for 14 hours, as well as biting flies, gnats, and chiggers for eight hours," says Kari Warberg Block, a pest control expert and the founder of EarthKind. "It also protects against serious diseases that may be transmitted through bugs, such as ZIKA, Lyme disease, Chikungunya, Dengue, and EEE."
Shop Now: EarthKind Stay Away Mosquitoes, $14, amazon.com.
If you thought citronella was only available in candle form, then you'd be mistaken. Formulated with a mix of citronella oil, lime, and soy bean and castor oils, this all-natural spray effectively keeps bugs away by masking the smells biting insects are attracted to.
Shop Now: Skeem Design Citronella Verbena Body Spray, $30, skeemshop.com.
Essential Oil Wipes
This all-natural mosquito repellent is easy to apply on the fly. Specially engineered by a team of chemists and entomologists, these essential oil-infused wipes are loaded with naturally-derived soybean, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, geranium, cedarwood, and peppermint oils to provide maximum protection against mosquitoes.
Shop Now: Bug Botanist Mosquito Repellant Wipes, $14.99, bugbotanist.com.
Homemade Vinegar Spray
Believe it or not, mosquitoes can't stand the smell and taste of vinegar, which is why a homemade apple cider vinegar concoction can work wonders and keep them at bay. Simply fill a spray bottle with a half-and-half mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, then add a dozen or so drops of a mosquito repelling essential oil, such as lavender, peppermint, or rosemary, for an effective DIY-style spray.
The only thing better than a chemical-free insect repellent is one that comes in an eco-friendly package. This certified organic spray is made with mosquito-fighting ingredients, including apple cider vinegar and citronella oil, and comes in a sustainable aluminum bottle (and ships without any wasteful packaging) to boot.
Shop Now: Triple J Farm NY Good-Bye Bugs Organic Tick and Bug Spray, $20, packagefreeshop.com.
DIY Essential Oil Spray
Fun fact: If you have the correct essential oils at home, you can make your own anti-bug spray in seconds. Just fill a spray bottle with drinking water and add ten drops of oil of lemon eucalyptus and five drops of either tea tree or lavender oil for a foolproof repellent.
If you aren't in on the bug-fighting power of soybean oil, then now's the time to smarten up. A proven mosquito repellent, a spritz of a soybean oil-based spray, such as this one by Beekman 1802, can provide more than 90 minutes of all-natural insect protection, which is better than most low-concentration products with DEET.
Shop Now: Bye Bye Bugs Natural Bug Repellant Spray, $20, beekmean1802.com.