Save Money With Natural Mosquito Repellent

How to make natural mosquito repellent spray from
Looking to make your own natural mosquito repellent spray? Good for you! Mosquitoes are out of control this summer in many parts of the country, and with new mosquito-borne illnesses making the news daily it’s good to take precautions.

If you’re one of those people mosquitoes devour, and I certainly am, knowing how to make natural mosquito repellent will let you enjoy summer’s lazy days without scratching like mad all night long.

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How To Keep Mosquitoes Away

Don’t let them breed. The best natural mosquito repellent is prevention! Mosquitoes can breed in as little as 5 days, even in something as shallow as a bottle cap full of water. Make a habit of checking your yard every few days, and immediately after any rain. Clean out the places where mosquitoes are likely to breed:

  • Clogged gutters
  • Kiddie pools
  • Saucers under container plants
  • Bags of potting soil or mulch left sitting out
  • Improperly chlorinated swimming pools
  • Ornamental fish ponds
  • Puddles and muddy areas
  • Bird baths
  • Holes in trees or stumps
  • Uncovered rain barrels and other open containers
  • Old tires
  • Tarps
  • Children’s toys

Mow your lawn. Adult mosquitoes need places to rest during the day, or when a breeze picks up. Keep your lawn trimmed and pull any weeds growing near your patio and deck.

Use yellow bug lights. White light attracts insects, including mosquitoes. Replace your porch and deck lights with yellow bug lights and you’ll repel the clouds of mosquitoes swarming nearby.

Learn to love citronella. Truly natural mosquito repellent involves citronella. Mosquitoes hate the smell of citrus, which is why citronella candles, oils and spray can keep them away. Citronella comes from the oils of the lemongrass plant, a tropical plant easily grown in containers. We keep a pot of it near our deck table where it repels the bloodsuckers and is easily accessible from the kitchen for those nights I’m making Thai food. Come winter, we haul it inside and keep it watered, then back out it goes the following summer.

Use other mosquito-repelling plants, too. Catnip is an herb that offers a natural mosquito repellent 10 times more effective than DEET. The only possible side effect is that it may attract neighborhood cats, so don’t plant it in your vegetable or flower beds. Rosemary, another herb, also repels mosquitoes and has the added benefit of making chicken taste delicious.

Encourage other flying objects. Brown bats can eat up to 500 mosquitoes in one hour. (That’s 4000 per night!) Purple martin birds can eat their own weight in mosquitoes nightly. Why not invite these feasting fliers into your yard by building a bat or martin house and let them do the work for you!

How To Make Natural Mosquito Repellent

You will need:

Tip: Natural mosquito spray works best when liberally applied to patio furniture, as well as patio- or deck-flooring, too!

Combine the essential oils, water, and vodka in a spray bottle. Shake well and apply over skin and clothing every 2 hours.

To substitute fresh herbs: Crush 3 tbsp. lavender, rosemary or rose geranium leaves. Add them to the liquids and wait 1 hour while they steep. Strain, then pour the mixture into a spray bottle.

To replace the vodka: You can use white vinegar OR isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, which is known as “surgical spirits” in the UK.

One thing I know from personal experience that won’t work: those electronic gadgets that claim to emit a high frequency that mosquitoes can’t stand. I bought several of these last summer when we were having chemically-sensitive guests over for barbecue. By the end of the night, we’d all been bit so many times that we had to move the party indoors, where someone promptly spilled barbecue sauce on my white carpet. Never again!

Whip up a batch of natural mosquito repellent spray, and follow these tips on mosquito control, and you’ll not only save money but also your skin.

Equipment you might need:


  1. Old Married Lady says

    I am grateful that mosquitoes are not a problem where I live. Our house backs up to a natural wetland garden and in the evening when we let the dogs out we’ll sometimes get a moth in the house and oh, I don’t rest until hubby captures and gets it out. He prides himself on being able to capture the live moth in his hand and set it free outside.

    We are weird.

    • says

      Oh, you’re lucky not to have a mosquito problem! We have a creek in our backyard that gets sluggish in the summer when we don’t have much rain. The mosquitoes breed like crazy on the banks and swarm over it in huge, black clouds. Ugh!

  2. Yvearl says

    Oh my goodness! These are great! We get slaughtered pretty much from March-October. At least 3/5 of us. {The other two must endure allergies, so I’d pick the blood-suckers over that any day} I also found a natural product called Swy Flotter by Kiss my Face. It’s paraben free citronella lotion. Smells great, feels awesome and moisturizes. So great for my kids that hate the other smelly/stinging bug repellents.
    Thanks for the tips HWHT! Loving the new site!

  3. says

    Dearest Katie,

    Funny, we LOVE the yellow outdoor lights and have them for decades already, in energy saving bulbs. Yellow lights soften and also look so much more romantic, besides attracting less the mosquitoes…
    Enjoy your summer!

    • says

      I agree, Mariette. We have yellow lights on our deck, and it’s almost like sitting in candlelight at night! (P.S. Happy Birthday, Ravy!)

  4. says

    I didn’t know that about catnip! Thanks for the recipe for a homebrew repellant. The one we use now is by California Baby – it’s got citronella and rosemary and no chemicals. We haven’t really been bothered by mosquitos much this year though, because of the wonky weather earlier I think. One moment it was summerlike, and the next it was flurries of snow. I think it may have killed them off. Or I could be wrong. They may be lying in wait to ambush us :)

    Great post as always!

    • says

      Wow, snow? We barely had any this winter — very unusual for Kansas — and it’s been brutally hot until yesterday when our 100+ heatwave finally broke. I think I’d crawl across broken glass for snow right about now. Well, maybe not across broken glass… but I’d crawl!

  5. says

    I’m totally trying your the homemade recipe. I’ve tried just drinking the vodka and hoping that would work, but alas…it didn’t. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Erin says

    Hi Katie,

    My sister and her husband swear by Madagascar vanilla. Yes, the kind you cook with. She dabs it behind her ears, on her wrists, behind her knees and ankles. She smells like a cookie and the bugs don’t bother her one bit! I’m going to try it, since up here in Massachusetts we had a pathetic-no-snow winter and have enough mosquitos to pick up my 9 month old daughter and carry her away!

    Just thought it *might* smell better than catnip/geraniums!!

    Thanks for the other ideas!!

    • says

      That would certainly smell better than geraniums, although my cats are big fans of when I wear catnip oil. (They remind me of a boy I knew in 3rd grade who’d follow me *everywhere*!)

      I’ll keep my eye open for Madagascar vanilla next time I’m at the store and will give this a try. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Rave says

    In 1579, William Langham in his “Garden of Health” book gave a method for perfuming clothes which would also act as an insect repellent.

    “Boyle it (lavender) in water and wett thy shirt in it and dry it again and weare it.”

    We’ve been fighting insects and especially mosquitoes for quite some time, huh?

  8. says

    I just went camping and decided to use it as an opportunity to test an insect repellent recipe I thought up. I brought 4 cups water, 1/4 cup yarrow flower and 1/4 cup lavender flowers to a boil and shut it off. I let it steep for an hour while I did some packing. Then I strained it into a spray bottle and added 10 drops lavender essential oil. It worked great! The nights that I remembered to put it on, I had no bites. The kids loved getting sprayed down, too.

  9. says

    Very nice and informative post Katie. Everyone faces a mosquito problem and following these steps which you have mentioned in this post is really going to help in a big way.

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