How to Make DIY Mosquito Repellent That Will Actually Prevent Bites

Keep summer's worst pests at bay with these simple, scented sprays.

Spraying mosquito repellant outside

Zbynek Pospisil / GETTY IMAGES

Nothing puts a damper on an outdoor party, afternoon at the lake, or summer camping trip like a group of uninvited and aggressive mosquitoes. While store-bought repellents can be effective, they can also be full of harsh chemicals. Natural mosquito repellent solutions, however, are a safer way to keep bugs away—and are easy to DIY at home.

How to Make DIY Mosquito Repellent

Homemade mosquito repellents rely on a combination of essential oils mixed with a base of vinegar, witch hazel, coconut oil, or isopropyl alcohol, says technical specialist Shannon Harlow-Ellis of Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly company.

Creating your own repellent is as easy as mixing all the ingredients in a spray bottle and spritzing yourself before heading outside—and you can tweak the oils used to create your own custom scent.

3 Recipes for DIY Mosquito Repellent

Harlow-Ellis recommends using one—or several—of the top 10 mosquito-repelling oils for maximum effect; choose from eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon, thyme, tea tree, rosemary, chamomile, peppermint, cedarwood, or citronella.

The reason these work? The key to avoiding mosquitoes isn't pushing them away—it's preventing them from being drawn to you in the first place. "These essential oils are found to be a mask for the odors that female mosquitoes are attuned to when searching for a blood meal," says Harlow-Ellis. "Sweat, body odor, CO2, and sometimes even your blood type can emit smells that attract these bloodsuckers."

Coconut Peppermint Mosquito Repellent

One of the most effective DIY repellents calls for just coconut oil and peppermint, says Harlow-Ellis. "While this combination of scents is delightful to humans, it will chase away mosquitoes," she says.

To make it, mix 1/3 cup coconut oil and 15 drops of peppermint essential oil in a jar. "At room temperature, the substance will be a liquid, but if you store it in the refrigerator, it will solidify," says Harlow-Ellis. "You can apply it with your fingers on a hot day for a refreshing way to keep mosquitoes at bay. Best of all, kids love the way it smells!"

Rosemary Mosquito Repellent

"This effective DIY repellent has three ingredients—rosemary oil, apple cider vinegar, and water," says Harlow-Ellis. Combine 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and 40 drops of rosemary oil in a spray bottle and shake well. "If you don't like the smell of rosemary, you can also try lavender," says says Harlow-Ellis.

Eucalyptus Mosquito Repellent

For a "foolproof recipe" that banishes mosquitoes, combine 1/3 cup witch hazel and 1/3 cup water with 40 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. "Mosquitoes detest the strong aroma of eucalyptus, so this easy homemade mosquito repellent is sure to be a winner," says Harlow-Ellis. "On its own, witch hazel doesn't really have a scent, so you can also try adding lemongrass, citronella, or tea tree oil if you don't care for eucalyptus."

How Long Does DIY Mosquito Repellent Last?

Different blends of oils and bases will have varying shelf lives—and different time limits for how long they remain effective once sprayed on your skin. "DIY repellents aren't always formulated the same, and the quality of ingredients may vary," says Rita Stadler of Earth Kind. "The answer depends on the type of product being used, its efficacy, and your personal tolerance or reaction to it."

To better understand a DIY mosquito repellent's shelf life (and efficacy), follow this rule of thumb: "Once the fragrance is gone, the repellency is gone," says Stadler. Be ready to reapply frequently, especially when camping or in damp, mosquito-prone environments, and mix your repellent in small batches so it doesn't lose its strength before you get to use it.

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