What Natural Mosquito Repellent Works Best?


Various essential oils can be used as natural bug repellants and help you avoid these annoying and potentially dangerous mosquito bites. They can be a good alternative to popular sprays that contain synthetic and toxic chemicals like DEET. Also, they almost always smell better.

Olgorly / Getty Images

You have several options, from lemon eucalyptus oil to clove oil, although some have been shown to be more effective than others. Very often, products containing these oils need to be applied frequently, at least once an hour.

Lemon eucalyptus oil

Lemon eucalyptus oil has proven to be the most effective natural mosquito repellent. A 2016 study found that this particular oil ranked third after DEET and picaridin. It is the only natural repellent registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its efficacy and safety in humans .

Note: Lemon eucalyptus oil and lemon eucalyptus oil are not the same. They come from different plants, and lemon eucalyptus oil contains much less mosquito repellent ingredient called PMD. Make sure any product you use as a repellent contains oil of lemon eucalyptus .

Mosquito repellants that contain this combination of essential oils, such as Repel Lemon Eucalyptus , have been shown to be as effective as the best chemicals .

The first investigations concluded that the Repel product provides 120 minutes of protection against mosquitoes.

The only problem that some people have with these products is the smell. However, the fresh lemon and eucalyptus scent is probably not as intrusive as many unnatural repellants.

Rose geranium oil

Geranium oil is not an EPA registered repellent , so its effectiveness has not been included in studies. However, it is one of the most common essential oils in natural repellants.

One of the most famous brands that use geraniums is Bite Blocker. The effectiveness of research on this organic repellent varies wildly, from just over an hour to seven hours. The combination of rose geranium oil and coconut oil is believed to contribute to its success, although neither is as effective on its own as DEET.


Citronella is a well-known natural mosquito repellent. The oils from the plant are used to make lotions, sprays, and candles.

Several studies have found citronella-based repellants to be as effective as DEET. The main problem with this old reserve is that it can evaporate in two hours, depending on the formula. The most recent discoveries have shown that combining it with vanilla can slow down evaporation.

Citronella candles, which people have long used on terraces and on walks, are not as effective as applying them to the skin. Candles that provide continuous oil evaporation have been proven to reduce mosquitoes by up to 50%.

Other natural mosquito repellants

Other natural ingredients are being studied, but there is limited scientific support for the claim that they can effectively repel mosquitoes.

Patchouli oil

Concentrated patchouli is one of the most effective essential oils. According to a Chinese study, it can provide full protection for two hours , and many would agree that it has a very strong odor, which is why some people don't like it. There are no known dangers when applied to the skin. However, it is best to use a carrier oil with any essential oil.

Thyme oil

Carvacrol and alpha-terpinene, two compounds derived from thyme essential oil, have been found to have significant repellent properties. Certain concentrations are more effective against certain types of mosquitoes, but most topical applications are at least 89% effective in about an hour. Thyme oil must be diluted as it can irritate the skin. One study found that burning thyme leaves provided 85% protection for at least an hour.

Clove oil

Studies have shown that undiluted topical clove oil is active against mosquitoes. Research has shown that it is effective for almost four hours. However, like thyme oil, clove oil should not be applied undiluted to the skin as it can be absorbed and cause side effects.

Peppermint oil

Numerous studies have shown that peppermint oil is also very effective. Undiluted essential oil has been shown to be an effective repellent in 45 minutes. No skin irritation was observed with peppermint .

Cedar oil

Cedar belongs to the pine family, which includes other pines. They have long been used as insect repellants. Cedarwood essential oil has also been shown to be one of the most effective oils. However, some people are concerned about allergies.

Neem oil

An extract from the tropical neem tree, neem oil contains insecticidal compounds called azadirachthins. A 2% concentration of neem oil has been shown to provide 56% effectiveness for four hours.


When rubbed into the skin, garlic oil proves to be an effective mosquito repellent. It is widely believed that eating garlic can also scare off mosquitoes, but studies have not confirmed this.

Get the word of drug information

Before using any natural mosquito repellent, it is wise to speak with your doctor to discuss your options. As mentioned above, some oils can cause irritation or allergic reactions in some people. Just because they are "natural" does not mean that you can simply use them without proper knowledge and advice.

Related Articles
Foods to Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth From Radiation

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common side effect of radiation therapy for people undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer. Read more

Thyroid adenoma: Causes, Treatment, and Diagnosis

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your throat that produces hormones affecting a number of Read more

NSAIDs and You Thyroid Function

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently taken over-the-counter medications. Due to their systemic or whole body effects, it's Read more

How Doctors Are Failing Thyroid Disease Patients

The thyroid disease community has continually mentioned the lack of support they experience and the difficulty they have navigating the Read more