It seems like Mother Nature’s always out to get me. I’m fair-skinned, so I burn easily in the sun. Hay fever wreaks havoc on my eyes and nose. And mosquitoes just love my blood. While I don’t mind using commercial sunscreens or taking over-the-counter allergy medications, there’s something about mosquito repellents like DEET that makes my skin crawl as much as the mosquitoes make my skin itch. Not only is the smell clinically creepy, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m applying something unsafe to my skin. So I’ve turned to homemade mosquito repellent to keep the bloodsuckers at bay.
Here are a few of the options for preparing homemade mosquito repellent, each of which has kept me free of bites in the past.
1. Eucalyptus. Granted, most people may not have a eucalyptus tree growing in their backyard, but many folks have some form of Eucalyptus oil, distilled from the leaves of the tree, in their medicine cabinets. A few ounces of the potent oil, plenty to create a homemade mosquito repellent solution, can be purchased at many drug stores for under $5. Using a spray bottle and some warm water, add about 1 ounces of oil for every 6 ounces of water. Be sure to shake the mixture before each spray, and watch out for the eyes (just as you would with any commercial chemical spray). This homemade mosquito repellent will have a somewhat medicinal smell, but it’s not as unpleasant an odor as that of DEET.
2. Lemon Balm. Another essential oil available cheaply at the drug store, lemon balm can be combined in drop form with water and a spray bottle as described above to create homemade mosquito repellent, though I recommend a more concentrated solution (1.5 – 2 ounces of oil for an ounce of water). However, the lemon balm plant (Melissa officinalis) grows easily in North America, so if you keep this fresh herb in your kitchen, you can snip off a handful of leaves and boil them in some hot water. Let the mixture cool a bit, and then put it into spray bottle.
TIP: I recommend combining eucalyptus oil and lemon balm oil for creating a pleasant-smelling (and very effective) homemade mosquito repellent. In fact, these two essential oils are often combined commercially.
3. Garlic. We all know that garlic has a strong odor, but many people use it effectively as a homemade mosquito repellent. There are several options, including chopping up a fresh clove and applying it directly to the skin (which is rather messy) or taking about 2 ounces of chopped garlic and mixing into into a cup of warm water for a spray. Additionally, if you keep a container of pre-chopped garlic in the fridge (the sort available in most grocery stores), it can be blended into a fragrance-free lotion to create mosquito repellent. While I find garlic to be the least desirable of these three homemade mosquito repellents due to its smell, it’s also often the most accessible. And in a pinch, if the choice is getting bitten or remaining mosquito-free, garlic is better than nothing.