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Make ’em hate you: 3 essential oils that repel mosquitoes


As you may know, I’m a big fan of essential oils. They’re like little bottles of elixir that can heal every health and beauty need you can possibly imagine.


Now you might also know that I’ve been experimenting with mosquito traps and repellants. As promised, I’m sharing the ways that work and dismissing those that won’t.

Essential oils is just one way, and by far the best one IMO. This is because these plant concentrates are so versatile that you can use them to your advantage: Inhale the fragrance using a diffuser, ingest the essence with a dilution, and directly applying the oils across your skin.

My favorite way is the last – using them topically. It’s not your room or your internal organs that’s concentrated with the aromas – it’s every inch of you where mosquitoes can bite. All the places they can suck blood is tainted, and this ultimately makes mosquitoes hate you. Just remember not to overdo it, because we’re going full-on undiluted with volatile oils here. But trust me, it works.


For the untrained nose, patchouli smells like your granny’s clothes. But the musky essence is my go-to scent whenever I’m looking to calm my mind or just looking to ground myself. In ancient Asia, silk traders used to pack patchouli leaves with their silk cloths to prevent moths from laying eggs, while in the 60s, patchouli was the rage when it comes to incense. Some even use it as an aphrodisiac, but I’m afraid you perfumed with patchouli could repel both the mosquitoes and your boyfriend (true story).

Based on this 2005 study, patchouli was one of the 4 fragrances that provided 2 hours of complete repellency from mosquitoes (along with clove, citronella, and makhwaen). While I haven’t tried makhwaen before, I can testify that citronella also works, but patchouli is better when you’re easing yourself to sleep. Citronella is for when I’m out playing tennis and sweating, and we all know all that heat and sweat and CO2 are evermore delicious for mosquitoes.

Alternatives: Citronella, catnip, thyme

This scent you’ll associate most with cough syrups, medicated oils, and Fisherman’s Friend. If you’re a fan of minty freshness, then eucalyptus is your friend, only much stronger. Contrary to popular belief, eucalyptus does not belong to the mint family. It belongs to the myrtle family, from where other woodier scents such as cajeput, clove, guava and allspice also belong.

You’re probably already using eucalyptus for throat, breathing, and digestive problems, but now you can also cash in on it to avoid the harmful side effects of DEET-based repellants (eucalyptus-based repellants works better) and to prevent mosquito larvae from growing in the first place.

Alternatives: Lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint

I have a theory on why cloves are so warm and spicy: They have the highest antioxidant capacity of most, if not all plants (1,078,700 µTE/100 g) on earth. I found this fact when I found the ORAC chart from the USDA Database, so if you’re looking for the most powerful antioxidant activity from the inside-out (and in this case, vice versa), go with the cloves. The spice remains an important commodity in the trade from ancient times till today, and as an Indonesian I’m proud to say the myrtle plant is native to Indonesia.

Today, aside from cooking, people are also using cloves as mouthwashes and for overall dental health. Not to mention that of all the essential oils we’ve covered so far, clove oil worked the best on me to keep myself free from mozzie bites all night. Based on the study we mentioned earlier, clove oil provides the longest time of 100% repellency, up to 4 hours compared to the 2 hours of other oils (as well as the other oils in this 1999 study). Bottom line: Clove oil’s efficacy against mosquitoes is proven legit. So start hauling the spice before food and drug companies mark up the price.

Alternatives: Fennel, vanilla, garlic

Still not convinced? Try going one night with any one of these oils to sleep. Rub just 1-2 drops of the oil on your face and neck. Not only are you going to sleep tighter, the nasty midgets are going to flee from you all dusk and all dawn.



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