Mosquito season is in full force, and like many of you, we’ve been on a search for the best natural repellent. We wanted to know if natural mosquito repellents actually work, and were surprised to find a list of natural options to choose from.
Our goal was to find repellents that are DEET-free, environmentally safe, and–of course–actually repel mosquitoes. And it was a bonus if they smelled good because we’re tired of smelling like poison.
Keep reading to see our top picks for the best natural mosquito repellents. Later, we’ll walk you through the ingredients we like to see and the ones we don’t. And if repellents aren’t your thing, we will break down some alternatives too.
Our Top Picks
BUG AWAY! Insect Mist
Best for Babies
California Baby Natural Blend Repellent
Best Repellent Soap Bar
Seed Geeks Bug Off Lotion Bar
Kathy’s Soaps Insect Repellent
PARAKITO Roll-on Gel Mosquito Repellent
Hank’s Garden is famous for its essential oil products, and they’re loved by buyers all over the world. BUG AWAY! Insect Mist is one of their products that combines some of the best essential oils for repelling insects, and it smells absolutely amazing. Say goodbye to toxic-smelling bug sprays!
This natural insect repellent is organic and biodegradable–so you can use it out on the lake without worrying about it contaminating water.
Ingredients: Water, Basil, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Patchouli, Peppermint, Citronella, Wild harvested cedarwood
- No alcohol
- Safe for use in nature
- Nourishes your skin
- You need to spray a lot (which you’ll want to anyway because it smells so good)
Best for Babies
Choosing the best natural mosquito spray for our littlest outdoors enthusiasts can be a challenge, and it’s an important decision for a parent to make.
California Baby Natural Bug Repellent Spray isn’t a new product by any means–parents have been trusting it since 1995, and it’s been approved by the FDA.
We like this for our babies because it’s made from simple, allergy-friendly ingredients, so you can rest easy about what you’re spraying on your baby. (*Remember to always consult a doctor before using any insect repellent on babies under 6 months old).
Ingredients: Citronella, Lemongrass, and Cedar
- Fresh, clean scent
- Free from gluten, soy, sesame, dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts (except coconut)
- Easy to open and lock, to keep kids out
- Needs sprayed every 20-30 minutes
Covering yourself in insect spray isn’t the only way to repel mosquitos! Add Seed Geeks Bug Off Lotion Bar to your shopping cart, and you can smell amazing and keep your skin moisturized.
This is a great option when you don’t want to worry about your bug spray cap coming off and spilling everywhere–ideal for backpackers, car campers, and really, anyone.
Use this lotion by gently rubbing it onto your hands and body. The warmth of your skin will soften the bar, allowing it to glide over your body smoothly.
Ingredients: Beeswax, Mango Butter, Sunflower Oil, Cedarwood, Peppermint, Geranium, Lemongrass, and Citronella
- Easy to travel
- Beautiful scent
- Generously priced
- People with oily skin may find it leaves their skin too greasy
- Takes time to warm up the bar
Best Repellent Soap Bar
Moving onto another non-spray natural insect repellent, Kathy’s Soaps Insect Repellent keeps you clean and repels bugs after you’ve showered.
You can wash off throughout the day with this soap to stay clean and bug-free! Though you may not have to wash off too often, because many buyers report using this as little as two times a day with great results.
The soap uses olive coconut and sustainable palm oils as its base, and grapefruit seed extract is added as a natural preservative. This soap is intended to moisturize your skin and keep it radiating.
*This product is also available as a body spray.
Ingredients: Citronella, Cedar, Eucalyptus, Lemon Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Geranium, and Lemongrass.
- Tested in an area heavily impacted by Zika and passed the test
- The owner has a great rapport with customers
- Lasts longer than most sprays
- Fades by the end of the day–hence the need to use it twice, but some people may feel that two showers a day dries out their skin
Deodorant isn’t the only product you can roll on your body–check out PARAKITO Roll-On Gel Mosquito Repellent. This natural insect repellent has been dermatologically tested and shown not to irritate the skin. You can safely roll it on any exposed area–commonly the necks, wrists, and ankles.
Single and three-packs are available. Store your refills in your PARA’KITO Bracelet. Each bracelet has a mesh pocket on the outside, which fits these roll-on natural mosquito repellents.
Ingredients: Citronella Oil, Rosemary Oil, Geranium Oil, Mint Oil, Clove Oil, and Peppermint Oil
- Lasts up to 5 hours, so you don’t have to keep applying it
- Also masks the scent of your breath and body
- Great for on-the-go protection
- You cannot refill the actual package (which would cut down on waste)
Best Natural Mosquito Repellent Buyer’s Guide
Ingredients to Look for
Natural mosquito repellents usually have many of the same ingredients. The following are some ingredients you should be on the lookout for when selecting a natural mosquito repellent:
Lavender doesn’t just give natural mosquito repellents a fragrant, calming aroma, it also is an active mosquito-repelling ingredient. Humans may love the smell of lavender oil, but mosquitos hate it. It’s a win-win!
In addition to repelling mosquitos, lavender contains antiseptic properties, so applying some on a bite can offer some relief.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Lemon eucalyptus oil is the most well-known natural mosquito repellent, and it has been used since the 1940s. Eucalyptus oil has been shown to provide more than 95 percent protection over 3 hours.
Basil is a popular ingredient in soups and salads, but did you know this tasty herb can be used to keep mosquitos away? The pervasive smell that is delicious to us is disgusting to them.
The scent of cinnamon is usually associated with fond memories in the kitchen because its aroma can quickly take over your whole house. Cinnamon oil can also kill mosquito eggs and act as a repellent against mosquitos.
Thyme and Clove Oils
Thyme and clove oils are common ingredients in several cuisines, and they have also been used as effective mosquito repellents.
They have been shown to provide 1½ to 3½ hours of protection, depending on the oil concentration. Clove oil combined with thyme oil at a 50/50 ratio prevented a bite for 1¼ to 2½ hours.
Both thyme and clove oils can be harsh on the skin, and they should not be used at concentrations greater than or equal to 25 percent.
Greek Catmint Oil
Also known as Nepetalactone, Greek catmint oil is a member of the mint family, and it is the essential oil in catnip responsible for giving the plant its notorious odor. Greek catmint oil has been shown to be 10 times more effective at keeping mosquitoes away than DEET.
Repellents containing 2% soybean oil can provide 1 to 4 hours of protection against mosquitos and other insects. Soybean oil is also safe to use on infants and children.
Citronella is an essential oil distilled from lemongrass and other herbs, and it’s a very common natural mosquito-repellent ingredient. Although, it was originally used for perfumes. Citronella-based repellents can protect from mosquitos for about two hours.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has a host of benefits, from improving scalp health to antiseptic properties to acting as a mosquito repellent. It has a strong stench that repels mosquitos and other insects.
This essential oil is one of the safest ways to repel mosquitoes, and it’s nontoxic to other household animals. It’s been shown to last about 3 hours and repel 70 percent of mosquitoes during that timeframe. Avoid using Neem on your skin, because it can irritate it.
Geraniol is an alcohol that comes from plant oils like citronella, lemongrass and rose. You may see it as a fragrant ingredient in your personal care items. It’s also used in drinks, ice cream, and candy.
This ingredient is a common natural mosquito repellent ingredient that is shown to be effective for 2-4 hours against mosquitos. However, people with sensitive skin should not use mosquito repellents with this ingredient because it may irritate them.
This oil is great for clearing up acne and other skin conditions, and it also works as an insect repellent. It has a strong aroma that mosquitos hate.
Applying this oil can repel mosquitoes for 2 hours, although combining it with other ingredients may help it last longer!
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood has been shown to not only repel but also kill mosquitoes. It can also take care of termites, bees, flies, and cockroaches.
Rosemary is a herb used in a variety of dishes, and mosquitoes dislike its woody scent. This herb also keeps moths and carrot flies away.
Sunflower oil is a common natural insect-repellent ingredient used with other essential oils. Studies have found that it does not repel as well as other oils, but it can be used in conjunction with them.
Geraniums are a beautiful flower, popular in flower beds and hanging baskets. They also repel mosquitos and other bugs.
Ingredients to Avoid
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found no risks or concerns of DEET when used as directed, this chemical has a scary reputation related to people ingesting it, resulting in seizures, psychosis, and coma or death.
If you have children who may accidentally ingest bug spray, you will want to avoid DEET products at all costs.
Another concern surrounding DEET is its toxicity to fish and other aquatic life. If you use bug spray while fishing, you can easily expose harmful toxins to the water around you.
Pyrethrin is an ingredient used in bug sprays because it is extremely toxic to most insects. The caveat is it is also toxic to pollinators, your pets, fish, and is known to cause skin irritation.
Phenothrin kills insects, but it can also cause health issues in humans such as nausea, vomiting, and skin reactions.
This ingredient is used in popular insect killer Raid as well as other insect repellents and household cleaners.
Imidacloprid does not degrade well if it ends up in the soil or water, so it’s not good for the environment. It has been banned in Europe since 2018.
This ingredient is often used in products marketed to kill fleas such as Advantage, a popular flea and tick preventative used on cats and dogs.
It is also in several plant insect repellents such as BioAdvanced.
Natural Mosquito Repellent Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know a natural mosquito repellent will work?
The best way to know if a natural mosquito repellent will work is to check if it’s been tested by any scientific labs. Reviews will also give you a good idea of how well the product works.
What are alternatives to mosquito repellent?
We get it, sometimes you need an alternative to mosquito repellent, even natural options can have side effects for some people. And it’s still important to protect yourself from Zika, West Nile, and other viruses.
Bug nets are made out of tiny holes that keep mosquitos coming through. If you’re sleeping in a hammock, we recommend using a hammock with a mosquito net combo. Setting up a bug net tent around your campsite can help you relax bug-free for hours (just be careful when you open the door).
Wrapping up Natural Mosquito Repellents
You’re ready to buy the best natural mosquito repellents, so you can stay safe and bug-free! Plus, you can smell delightful with natural insect sprays like BUG AWAY! Insect Mist. Still working through what you need to bring with you on your next camping trip? Check out the Camping Checklist.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Nicole Kinkade grew up in campgrounds in the Midwest with her family in their RV and has many fond memories around the campfire. She and her husband took many tent camping trips at the beginning of their relationship, and she looks forward to sharing the outdoors with her young son as he gets older.
She loves discovering new camping techniques and sharing them with the world. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Media Communication, she is a passionate writer who loves sharing her knowledge online.
Nicole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org