How to Make Homemade Mosquito Repellent That Actually Works!

Hi friends,

Welcome back to the handbook! Today I am writing from an incredibly beautiful place about a not- so- beautiful situation: being bitten by pesky mosquitoes!!!

In a previous post that you can check out here, I write about eczema and how one mosquito’s feast (and my incessant scratching) led to an unsightly rash on my arms and legs :(. It was not a pleasant experience and though I got my smooth skin back thanks to some all natural treatments, I have been weary (downright frightened) of being bitten since then.

Just before my recent travels, I was living in a place where mosquitoes hardly ventured (and even if they were around, it was far too cold to open any fixings that led to the outdoors!) and my mozzy fears were replaced by my fear of freezing on the walk to the gym. But alas now I am travelling through a place where mosquitoes are as plentiful as rice.

My Sensitivity to Unnatural Things

I know what you’re thinking, go and grab some repellent with extra DEET and journey through unafraid! The only problem is that ever since I was a young lass I have been extra sensitive to… things.

What do I mean exactly? As a kid I naturally shied away from unnatural ingredients even though I could never explain my reasoning to friends and family. Certain things just didn’t feel right and something deep down in my spirit knew it.

When I did my household chores and used a product with bleach or some other strong chemical compound, I would begin to feel unclean and refuse to eat for hours after for fear that some of what I used was on my hands, or worse somewhere in the ether waiting to jump inside my body. I felt this way even after profusely washing my hands several times.

On camping trips I would emerge filled with way more anti- coagulant (venom that mosquitoes inject) in my body than the average person because of my refusal to use bug spray. I just couldn’t stomach putting it on my skin. I mean it killed/repelled bugs for pete’s sake!, and I’m meant to topically apply it to my skin and face?! No thank you!

I’ve sallied forth into adulthood with the same feelings, only now I’m backed with more knowledge as to why that conscious being inside of me was saying “hell no!”

DEET and it’s Evil Fleet

DEET, the main ingredient in most of the strongest repellents is one that most consumers look for when purchasing an insect repellent. It is meant to keep those pests away while we have our summer fun. Only thing is such an ingredient that works wonders in repelling mumma mosquitoes also has effects on us humans. Remember that everything that goes on our bodies, eventually ends up inside our bodies as well! And when it comes to DEET the pesticide is deadly.

I only say that because the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported a total of 8 deaths related to DEET exposure, so yeah, I think deadly is the right word here. What’s more is that all sorts of symptoms are associated with the use of this compound including but not limited to- psychological effects, severe agitation, rashes, dizziness, nausea, numb lips, disorientation, memory loss, and headaches. Insects stay away from this stuff for a reason, and though it saves us from itchy days and nights, is it really worth it? No, of course not! Especially when you can have the same results with ingredients that are safe.

A Day in the Life of Blood Hungry Mosquitoes

Before I divulge one superb DIY mix, let me give you a little background into the lives of mumma mosquitoes. I call them mumma mosquitoes because those are likely the only ones you come in contact with, the females. You see the male mosquito is no more a threat to you than your pillow.

Males feast on fruit and spend their lives close to where they were born (some area where there is still water), waiting for the females to return so they can mate. But what exactly do the lady mosquitoes need to mate properly? Your blood, that’s what!

Oh yes for the mozzy cycle to continue, the female mosquitoes must hunt warm- blooded mammals like you. And they hunt, alright! Coming out after sundown and injecting you with anti- coagulant so you don’t even feel it when they come in for a bloody steal. Or hiding in your bedroom waiting for you to fall asleep (they can tell because of something to do with C02 changes when we sleep) before they emerge and feast upon you as if you were a buffet. They might stay in your home for days (if not found and killed) before returning to their waterhole, mating, and dropping their eggs into that pond of still-water.

When I first learned this er..interesting information, I felt differently towards mosquitoes and began to see the skeeters in a new light. After all, they were just future mothers looking for the nutrients needed for their young to survive! I could hardly hate creatures with a purpose so noble. But then I got bit by a b**ch and thought to myself ****** ******* ***** *******! Yeah, basically that.

Being eaten alive is not my cup of tea and certainly not the way I envisioned my Thailand days. It took me about a full week of waking up each morning with 2+ fresh bites for me to take action, but once I did, those mumma mosquitoes have said au revoir to Manika- Nia a la blood.

How to Make Homemade Mosquito Repellent

Heres what I used:

Witch Hazel

  • I read once that someone had been bitten to bits by our mozzy enemies when working in the garden. To squelch the itching he/she (it didn’t specify) applied copious amounts of witch hazel. Upon returning to the garden, the mozzies surrounding his/her leg didn’t dare bite again. The actual effects of witch hazel as an insect repellent is unknown but a quick google search will reveal that many DIY mixes use this as a primary ingredient. Personally, I would not make my mix without it as I believe it kept the pests at bay and helped to soothe the bites that were already on my body. You can get a great alcohol- free one  with rose water and aloe vera here.

Lemon Essential Oil

  • This is rated as one of the top essential oils in repelling mumma mosquitoes and so I added about x8 drops to my mix. This is my favorite of all essential oils and any time I can add it to a mix, I’m a happy camper. This made it smell really nice as opposed to having a very strong astringent smell. This is my favorite one.

Tea Tree Oil

  • Tea tree oil is an amazing oil when it comes to preventing bug bites, as our insect friends simply do not like what this oil gives off. This also works really well for an after- bite as it helps to soothe the skin and relieve the itchiness. The smell of tea tree oil is too strong for my nose’s liking, but mixed with the other ingredients (almighty lemon) it did the job without being overbearing. I put about x20 drops to really keep the mummas away. This is my favorite brand, I like Now Essential Oils.

Peppermint Oil

  • This is another oil that mosquitoes just don’t like. Yay for us! In places where the peppermint and spearmint leaves grow, mozzies naturally stay away, so it makes sense that adding the oil from such plants works in the same way. I added x15 drops. Again, of all the essential oils I have tried, this brand is my favorite, it’s the bestest!

In my mix, witch hazel is the most plentiful as I used it to fill my bottle and the rest was only drops of my essential oil friends. I used a very small pin- dropper glass bottle to house my repellent and add it to my skin before going out and before bed time. Although I’m happy with this application, most others that make their own mix elect to pour it into a spray bottle as its easier to apply. You can get one here.

The day that I elected to make this homemade mosquito repellent, it was as if the skeeters were afraid to come near me (yeah you’d better run!). I slathered up before bed time and awoke with not one new bite, and as me and the mister walked a mile to our gym we marveled at the way mozzy’s literally flew the other way (astounding!). Was it the lemon, the hazel, the tea tree, the peppermint or all of the above? I am not too sure, but because the mix is proving the test of time, you won’t find me altering it.

There you have it, friends, with that simple recipe you can make your own homemade mosquito repellent and enjoy your summer days free from unnecessary bites!

Your Turn

What did you think of this post? Have an even better recipe than the one above? Have some questions about what you read? Be sure to comment below and let’s discuss it further! Don’t forget to hit share buttons and share this info with loved ones who would appreciate it! Until next time 🙂

12 Comment

  1. Luna says: Reply

    Hi MANIKA,
    I truly enjoyed your post. I never thought about the dangers of Deet before. I am from the Islands and sometimes mosquitoes are around, I would just put on some repellent and forget about them.
    I am glad I read your post, it has brought home to me the dangers of ignoring the obvious. I have never made the natural repellant and where I live now there is no need for it. I, however, have all the ingredients that are needed based on the recipe on your site. I will certainly give it a try and preserve it for my trip to the islands.
    Thanks for an informative post.

    1. Hi Luna, that sounds awesome. I love when I read something and already have the materials there in my home because it inspires and encourages me to give it a try. It’s great that you are living somewhere pest- free but whenever you are in the company of those mumma mosquitoes, definitely check this mix out! Thanks loads 🙂

  2. Kelli says: Reply

    Thank you. I am allergic to so many things and hate Mosquito’s with a passion. I react to scents. Bug spray stinks. I love the smells of all of the ingredients and oils you listed. I love witch hazel and had no idea that it would help keep bugs off me. I look forward to reading more of The Handbook. Again thanks for saving me from bites.

    1. You are very welcome, Kelli! Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know how this mix works out for you and yes I think you will like the smell!

  3. Wow, this is some great information here.
    I am an avid outdoors-man. I hunt, fish, hike, camp, canoe..etc…etc… and I hate ticks and hate mosquitoes. They can really suck the fun out of my outdoor activities.
    Anyway, a few years ago I started using a product called permethrin, that is supposed to work really well against outdoor insects, but it is a nasty chemical that is costic. I never liked using it because I was always worried my pet dog would get into it or get sick from smelling my clothes I treated with the stuff.
    I have been looking for a natural solution to my problem, and I think your page has shown me the light. My wife loves home remedies and using all natural ingredients for various solutions. I am going to also turn her loose on your web page!
    TD

    1. Wow thank you so much for your comment! I agree with you about the caustic ingredients in conventional repellents and can see why you would not want your dog to come in contact with such. I really hope that this mix helps you and that you are able to enjoy all of your outdoor activities free from pests! Please let me know how you fair if you try this mix or embark on one of your own. Thanks so much for reading and for referring this site to your wife!

  4. Craig says: Reply

    This is an interesting article!
    I have been lucky in the sense that mosquitoes aren’t generally that attracted to me (I’m not sure if I should be happy or feel insulted), but they do like my wife and kids. When my eldest was still a toddler, we visited my wife’s family in the Philippines. At night, we had to sleep with a mosquito net, but unfortunately my son managed to press up against it. He woke in the morning with literally dozens of bites. He even had bites on top of bites. It was really bad.
    We had generally avoided using store-bought repellents because of his age and somewhat sensitive skin. Our pediatrician recommended putting it on his clothes instead of directly on his skin, but in that heat, he would sleep in only his diaper.

    He’s grown now, but his brother is also a mosquito magnet, and has very sensitive skin (I am going to read your article on eczema after this), so I think this could be a good alternative. One question though: looking at the prices of the ingredients, it could be a bit pricey depending on how long a bottle lasts and how much you have to use. You mention “slathering” it on yourself, which implies using quite a bit at a time. If I was to purchase all of these ingredients, how long do you think they would last me, assuming average use?

    1. Wow you are lucky! Here’s something that you might not know, all people who get welts/bumps or have any kind of reaction to a mosquito bite are allergic to them, whereas there are a lucky bunch (like you) who might be bitten and not react at all! Meaning you just are not allergic. That is amazing and I so wish I was you! Right now with the longevity of the products, great question btw, let me breakdown my own. Most of my bottle is filled with witch hazel which isn’t too expensive if buying from your local drugstore/convenient store. I add drops of the essential oils (which are expensive) to my mix and so far I have made my mix three times. However, I use a glass pin dropper, so when I apply the repellent I am dropping the liquid onto exposed skin to make sure that I am covered before bed time and also when going out. To make it last longer, I’d recommend using a spray bottle and you can add an oil to your mix like olive oil to stretch it even longer. Since I have made the repellent I have not had to go out and buy more witch hazel or essential oils, and I love DIY because the startup cost might seem hefty but whenever I need to make more, I already have ingredients to do so. I think if you bought all the ingredients listed and used the mix daily it would last you about a month. Let me know if you have any more questions, and I will update once I run out of all the raw ingredients!

  5. Penny says: Reply

    I am so trying this, thank you for the great idea. I’m a mosquito feast in humid summers…and I absolutely hate it. The deet stuff doesn’t actually work well on me, and I hate how it smells. I know I’ll like how this smells!
    And the story about lady mosquitoes getting the mood going with our blood is pretty hilarious, I had no idea. It’s funny to contextualize insects…we’re all just looking for the same things, at some level. But I’m with you on the H*** N* when it comes to MY blood!

    1. Hi Penny! Thanks so much for reading! I actually thought of you when I wrote this post because I remember you saying that you are a mosquito target! This has been working very well for me and I really hope that it works out for you as well! Mosquito bites are the worst!

  6. Malaika Kent says: Reply

    Awesome information!!! I will be making this for me and the kiddos!!! I love all of the natural ingredients that you used! Looking forward to making this and letting you know how it works for us!!!

    1. Thanks so much for keeping us in the loop here! Do you live in a place where mosquitoes are a big nuisance?

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