Having grown up in the south, I am more than familiar with the itching misery that mosquito bites can cause. However, as annoying as mosquitoes are, they are much more than just a nuisance. They are also responsible for spreading diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and the West Nile Virus. According to the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), over one million people die from mosquito-borne diseases every year and another 700 million become seriously ill. So, making sure that you are protected with an effective mosquito repellent is not just a matter of convenience.
There are a number of commercial mosquito repellents available on the market today, but most of them contain the controversial DEET. Although DEET is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a number of people who are allergic to the chemical and still others who just prefer not to put such a harsh substance on their skin. I belong to that latter group. In my personal experience, products containing larger concentrations of DEET have caused my skin to redden and break out into a light rash. This reaction is certainly more preferable than contracting a life-threatening illness from a mosquito bite, but I would prefer to be protected from mosquitoes without this side effect if possible. With this in mind, I began a search for an all-natural alternative years ago, and I am always on the lookout for new ones that arise.
While there are numerous testimonials from various sources concerning natural mosquito repellents, I found that the sole ingredient recommended as such by the CDC is the oil of the lemon eucalyptus plant. Currently, the only commercial product available in the United States made from this oil is Repel Lemon Eucalyptus. I have tried other products, both commercial and homemade, made with oils such as citronella, geranium, and tea tree as well. I did have some success with them, but the effectiveness of the products containing lemon eucalyptus oil seemed to surpass them all.
Through experimentation with essential oils, I have found a recipe for an all-natural mosquito repellent that works very well for me and others who have tried it. One disadvantage of this recipe is that it needs to be applied more often than its commercial counterparts. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus can last up to six hours, but I need to reapply the following homemade recipe every 1-2 hours for it to be as effective.
Homemade All-Natural Mosquito Repellent
1 ounce jojoba oil
3 ounces vodka – Any type of vodka will do, but higher proof vodkas tend to work better.
1 teaspoon lemon eucalyptus essential oil
1 4-ounce spray bottle
Simply add the vodka and oils to the spray bottle. Make sure to shake the bottle well before using as the contents will settle.
Directions for Use
Spray on liberally before going outside. Reapply every 1-2 hours. Just as with commercial products, this mixture should not be ingested.
“Mosquito-Borne Diseases”, American Mosquito Control Association.
“What You Need to Know about Mosquito Repellent”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent”, Repel.
“The Insect Repellent DEET”, Environmental Protection Agency.