Just about everything to do with summer is great: the sun, the shorts, the sandals, even the sweat. But mosquitoes are one of the warmer weather’s biggest drawbacks, turning golden evenings into paranoid swatting parties. When it comes to repelling these pesky bugs, essential oils can help. This New York Times article cautions that the efficacy of essential oils for repelling mosquitoes is not proven; however, if you’d still like to try going the natural route (read: without DEET), here are some of the best options.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender may be soothing for humans, but it doesn’t seem to have the same effect on insects. This floral oil contains linalool, a naturally-occurring terpenoid alcohol that studies have shown to help deter mosquitoes.
Use it: Add 15 drops to a diffuser with 5 drops of Rosemary for a garden-inspired aroma. Place your diffuser by an open window or on a patio with an outlet.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
A less polarizing cousin to citronella, Lemongrass has become known as a great oil for repelling mosquitoes. Its strong earthy, lemony smell can prevent the bugs from picking up on the human wearer’s aroma.
Use it: Add 10 drops to a spray bottle with 4 cups of water, spraying arms and legs, and reapplying every hour as needed. Note: it’s best to spot-test on your wrist before applying everywhere, and be sure to shake the bottle gently to combine before each use.
Peppermint Essential Oil
With a refreshing minty smell and subtle cooling properties, Peppermint is a classic household essential oil. And studies have shown it to be effective in repelling mosquitoes and preventing bites. Which is a win-win, really.
Use it: Add 15 drops to a diffuser with 10 drops of Cedarwood for a bold, outdoorsy aroma. Place your diffuser by an open window or on a patio with an outlet.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Similar to Lemongrass, the enveloping smell of Eucalyptus can overpower a mosquito’s senses, thus making it harder for them to detect their food (read: human blood). Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties are added benefits.
Use it: Add 6 drops to a dropper bottle with 10 tablespoons of Sweet Almond Oil. Apply topically on your arms and neck, reapplying every hour as needed. Note: it’s best to spot-test on your wrist before applying everywhere. Bonus: this doubles as a nourishing body oil.