20 Natural and Effective Ways to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

Written by Sofia Fantauzzo
Updated: November 20, 2023
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Mosquitos are universally detested. Even the staunchest bug-lover might find themselves swatting the nuisance creature away without a second thought. Not only are they annoying, but mosquitos readily transmit diseases like malaria, Zika virus, and West Nile virus. Here you’ll find natural and effective ways to repel mosquitoes from your area without enduring awful chemical smells or byproducts typical of commercial mosquito repellents.

Many of these methods involve using scents or aromas to deter the mosquitos. Other methods are more about preventing the problem from arising in the first place. Regardless of the method you choose, you can guarantee these are sure to help with any mosquito issue you might have. Take caution when using any of these oils or burning scented candles around pets, as many essential oils effective in repelling mosquitos can have adverse or toxic effects on pets.

1. Citronella

Mosquito repellent. Citronella essential oil and fresh leaves on wooden background. Tag with citronella text

The scent from the citronella plant is one of the most widely used natural mosquito repellents.

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Citronella’s strong odor derived from the oils of the citronella plant is popular for use to deter mosquitos. Plant citronella around frequently used outdoor spaces to help keep mosquitos at bay. However, the plant itself isn’t the most effective at repelling mosquitos. For this reason, the best use of citronella is in the form of oils or burning citronella candles.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil in a small bottle. Selective focus. nature.

Peppermint-scented candles or sprays can also help deter mosquitos.

©Tatevosian Yana/Shutterstock.com

The strong minty scent of peppermint plants and their oil are enough to keep mosquitos from coming near you. Peppermint oil has a menthol in it, which can be so overpowering to mosquitos that they’re not able to detect the scent of humans. Peppermint oil can be applied to the skin, but you might experience a rash if you have sensitive skin. Placing a few drops of peppermint oil in a dish of standing water can kill mosquito larvae and prevent more from being laid. Be sure to keep this away from your pets, especially cats. Inhalation of peppermint or other menthol-containing products can be toxic to these furry friends.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary, Herb, Herbal Medicine, Vegetable Garden, Harvesting

Members of the mint family are good candidates to keep you safe from mosquitos.

©AlexRaths/ via Getty Images

Essential oils of rosemary, rosemary scented candles, and plain-old rosemary plants are good options for mosquito-laden areas. A diffuser outside or scented candles can be used effectively to keep these bugs away during outdoor festivities. Stick with diffusing this scent outdoors away from your animals. Additionally, be sure the plants are not being eaten by your pets, as rosemary is not safe for animals to consume.

4. Lemongrass

Lemongrass

Lemongrass essential oil can effectively keep away mosquitos for up to eight hours.

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The citrus odor of lemongrass is an effective and natural way of deterring mosquitos from an area. The right dilution for lemongrass essential oil is 20% lemongrass to 80% of another neutral oil, like coconut oil or olive oil. This scent is typically a pleasant one for humans. However, be sure to keep it out of reach of pets, and if you do have animals around, use only in a well-ventilated area.

5. Catnip

Catnip flowers (Nepeta cataria) blossoming in a garden on sunny summer day. Beauty in nature.

This cat-friendly plant also repels mosquitos!

©MNStudio/Shutterstock.com

Catnip is a good choice for its effectiveness against mosquitos without being dangerous for animals, dogs included. You can diffuse catnip oil like you would rosemary oil. Additionally, you can plant catnip plants around heavily trafficked mosquito areas and not worry about any pets who might munch on them too. In fact, you might have to give your animals their own catnip plant!

6. Basil

Top view of Greek basil in garden.

All different varieties of basil are effective against mosquitos.

©AN NGUYEN/Shutterstock.com

Basil is another essential oil or plant that is effective in the battle against mosquitos. You can plant some near common outdoor spaces, have a container of it on your table, or use a diluted oil to spray into the air when you’re trying to steer mosquitos away. Holy basil is another popular variety of basil to grow for its mosquito-repellent properties, but it also is good for making tea. Like many others on this list, take care when using around pets.

7. Pine Oil

Crater Lake Trail - A rugged hiking trail winding through a pine forest at base of Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado, USA.

Pine oil contains multiple aromatic compounds that mosquitos hate.

©Sean Xu/Shutterstock.com

Repelling mosquitos has never smelled so good. The scent of pine essential oils, which contain monoterpenes, limonene, and other aromatic compounds, repels mosquitos for up to 11 hours. You can use pine-scented candles or use in a diffuser. As always, be wary of diffusing any scent around pets.

8. Neem Oil

Neem oil is quite effective in ridding succulents of pests.

Derived from the neem plant, neem oil is an effective remedy for many different pests.

©iStock.com/Ninetechno

Neem plants or, more effectively, neem oil, is a natural and effective mosquito repellent. It is most effective when applied to the body along with a carrier oil, like coconut oil. You can use a 2% neem oil solution mixed with coconut oil to keep mosquitos from getting near you. However, neem oil is sensitive to sun exposure and degrades easily, so be mindful of your sun exposure when wearing this neem oil concoction. Keep the bottle of neem oil in a cool and dark place, like you would any other essential oil.

9. Utilize Mosquito Nets

many mosquitoes on insect net wire screen close up on house window

Physical barriers like mosquito nets are helpful in preventing mosquitos from getting to you.

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Mosquito nets are like fine mesh that can be draped over just about anything. You can put them over tents or even beds indoors if there’s a mosquito issue inside. While they might not be the most attractive solution, they are odor-free and pet-safe. They are also relatively cheap and can last for years. Be sure you’re purchasing a net that is not treated with insecticides if you’re looking for a natural solution.

10. Use Chemical-Free Homemade Mosquito Repellent

essential oil based mosquito repellent

If you use essential oils regularly you likely already have a mosquito repellent on hand.

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Mosquito repellent can be made easily using materials you likely already have on hand. All you need is a carrier oil, like coconut oil or olive oil, and some essential oils. The most effective oils are neem oil, tea tree oil, and rosemary or eucalyptus oil. You can use 10 drops of your preferred essential oil to 30 milliliters of your carrier oil. Add boiled water to the mix and put it in a spray bottle. Then, you’ve got yourself a natural and effective mosquito repellent! These can be sprayed in an area or on your body, so be cautious to avoid the eyes.

11. Eliminate Standing Water

reflection in the puddle with leaves and rain drops

Puddles and other open, still water sources are a big attractor for mosquitos and other pests.

©MikhailSh/Shutterstock.com

Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos. This can be places like vases, buckets of water, or areas where water puddles. By clearing out buckets of standing water or finding ways to stop leaks that lead to puddles, you’re better off eliminating these water sources if you can. If you can’t do that, then consider adding some essential oils of the scents mentioned above to deter mosquitos. Additionally, these essential oils can also be effective in killing off larvae.

12. Turn Off Porch Lights

Modern wall lamp with motion and light sensor on the brick wall - pathway or wall light for modern design building or house - motion activated porch light - part of home security system

Turning off porch lights at night or using motion-sensor lights also reduces light pollution.

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Reducing the amount of light can help lower the attractiveness of your area to mosquitos. You can also change the light bulbs you have from white to yellow bulbs. This makes humans more difficult to see, and if you’re also using some scents, you’ll already be hard to smell.

13. Use Homemade Mosquito Traps

Rosemary herbal tea in a glass cup on rustic wooden background with copy space.Rosemary tea.Selective focus.

Mosquito traps are useful for indoor areas of infestation, but can also be used outside.

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You can make a simple, effective, and natural mosquito trap with just a few ingredients. If you have water, sugar, and yeast (and a bottle to put it in) you can easily make multiple traps. Mix four tablespoons of sugar with warm water. Then, you can cut a two-liter water bottle off about two inches below the spout. Place this cut part, inverted, on top of the remaining portion of the plastic bottle. Then, pour in 1.5 tablespoons of yeast, then the sugar water. Don’t mix. The spout is where the mosquitos will enter the bottle, attracted to the yeast. They won’t be able to get out, either. For best results, use a tinted bottle or cover the bottle with a dark-colored cloth. Replace this mixture every few days so the yeast stays active to attract the mosquitos.

14. Landscape

An inviting path in mid-summer at Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Adding diversity to your yard can increase the number of beneficial insects and birds that visit.

©Anne Katherine Jones/Shutterstock.com

A great way to effectively repel mosquitos naturally is to add plants to your landscape that they don’t like. Many of the plants listed above are effective when planted around the garden. Even planting some plants like basil or rosemary in a container can decrease the number of mosquitos that drop by.

15. Utilize the Help of Natural Predators

Bird feeder set up with a squirrel baffle

Bird feeders can help to attract birds you might not see regularly.

©Khairil Azhar Junos/Shutterstock.com

By adding bird feeders, bird boxes, or bat boxes to your yard you can cut down on the insect population. Bats especially can help rid an area of mosquitos naturally and with great effectiveness. Plus, you’d be helping out populations of bats and birds that can use the extra bit of food or shelter available to them.

16. Use Cedar Mulch

man's hands in gardening gloves are sorting through the chopped wood of trees. Mulching tree trunk circle with wood chips. Organic matter of natural origin

Be wary of using cedar mulch throughout your garden, as it can also deter beneficial insects.

©larisa Stefanjuk/Shutterstock.com

The aromatic scent of cedar wood when used as mulch can repel mosquitos and other insects. The oils present in the mulch produce enough of a scent to draw away these blood-thirsty insects. Mulching also has multiple benefits for your garden. Consider adding cedar mulch to the areas of your garden where people most frequently hang out.

17. Reuse Your Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds aren’t just for composting anymore!

©iStock.com/Michelle Lee Photography

You can keep the coffee grounds from your morning cup to chase away mosquitos. This isn’t as easy as just sprinkling them around the area you wish to keep a bite-free zone. The most effective way to use coffee grounds as a natural and effective mosquito repellent is by lighting them on fire. However, you can still sprinkle them around the yard or create a spray using two parts of water to one part coffee. Bring the coffee and water to a boil and let it get thick and concentrated. Then, you can add this mixture to a spray bottle and spray around areas commonly affected by mosquitos.

18. Create a Breeze

Mosquitos are not very strong and can’t fly well against air currents that fans generate.

©portokalis/ via Getty Images

Fans can be used to sabotage incoming mosquitos. This a great and effective way of keeping mosquitos away from an outdoor dining experience or just a porch hang-out. Any fan can work here, it doesn’t need to be an outdoor fan. As long as it isn’t a mini-desk fan and is appropriate for the amount of space you’re trying to keep mosquito-free, it will work well. The only downside with this method is you need to be close to a source of electricity or be able to safely run an extension cord.

19. Decorate with Lemon and Clove

Natural homemade repellents on wooden table. Lime and lemon with cloves.

Any type of citrus will work well here, but preferably a lemon or lime.

©Jana Kollarova/Shutterstock.com

If you’re short on resources but have an old bottle of clove and some citrus hanging around, you’ve got a pretty effective natural mosquito repellent on your hands. Simply cut the citrus in half and stick some of the clove into each segment. You can leave these around the house or along windowsills. Like other products on this list, just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re animal friendly. Be sure you’re not leaving these unmonitored if you have mischievous pets around.

20. Seal Entrances Mosquitos Can Use

DIY Winterizing a glass door by applying thermal plastic with tape and heat shrinking it

Sealing cracks in windows or doors might help save you some dollars on heating or air.

©Lost_in_the_Midwest/Shutterstock.com

One of the best ways to cure a mosquito problem is to prevent it from becoming an issue in the first place. If you’re constantly under attack while you’re indoors, find the source. This could be from unsealed cracks in windows or doors. You can use caulking, weatherstrips, and door sweeps to keep unwanted creatures outside.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © jiade/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sofia is a lover of all things nature, and has completed a B.S. in Botany at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). Professionally, interests include everything plant and animal related, with a penchant for writing and bringing science topics to a wider audience. On the off-occasion she is not writing or playing with her cats or crested gecko, she can be found outside pointing out native and invasive plants while playing Pokemon Go.

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