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Summer is almost here. Naturally, you’ll head down to the stores to get your favorite summer drinks, clothes, and sunblock. When you do that, don’t forget your mosquito repellent. Yes, the one downside to beach weather is waking up to bug bites and itchy red welts. These insects are attracted by our body temperature and they don’t care if you are an adult or a child or what blood type you have.
If you’ve already added a repellent to your shopping list, make sure you buy one without any synthetic chemicals, such as pyrethroids and DEET. Instead, try out a natural mosquito repellent. It is a safer alternative to chemical-based repellents, and similarly effective.
In this post, we’ll talk about the benefits of switching to a natural insect repellent and plants that naturally repel mosquitoes. If you’re ready to switch, we’ve shared our top repellent picks for 2021.
|TopBest overall||REPEL Insect Repellent||Check Price|
|Best for kids||Babyganics Bug Spray||Check Price|
|Best smell||Medella Naturals Insect Repellent||Check Price|
The Problem with Chemical-Based Mosquito Repellents
Most people never consider what’s inside common insect repellents. These repellents are generally made up of two types of ingredients – Active repelling chemicals and inert chemicals (solvents, foaming agents, and preservatives, etc.) People have been buying these formulas since the 50s and have suffered the consequences. These chemicals include:
DEET of N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide is the most common ingredient in insect repellents. It causes some serious side effects, such as seizures, headaches, and skin blisters. When used in large doses, it also causes shortness of breath and joint stiffness.
Permethrin is a synthetic pesticide that is commonly found in bug sprays. Some companies also use it to treat bug-resistant clothing and mosquito nets. This chemical is neurotoxic and can cause repeated nerve impulses, especially in children. It is also toxic to bees and aquatic life.
These are common chemicals found in mosquito repellents. They include Prallethrin, Phenothrin, and Metofluthrin, etc. These chemicals can cause serious health complications, such as dermatitis, asthma, itching and burning, and incoordination.
Benefits of Switching to a Natural Mosquito Repellent
You can find thousands of traditional mosquito repellents in stores. However, these chemical-based products are not as effective as natural repellents. Not only do they get rid of mosquitoes and bugs with similar effectiveness, but they also do so without compromising your health. Let’s check out some of their unique benefits:
1. A Natural Mosquito Repellent Doesn’t Alter Your Body’s Chemistry
Some toxic chemicals found in common repellents can cause health problems like heart issues, cancer, and high blood pressure. One study suggests that these chemicals accelerate puberty in boys, which leads to behavioral problems. With a natural insect repellent, you can avoid these problems.
2. Natural Mosquito Repellents Smell Better
Common repellents smell terrible. In contrast, natural mosquito repellents come in different fragrances, depending on the plant used to make them. These products smell much better because they’re free of synthetic chemicals.
3. Natural Insect Repellents are Better for Your Body
Some natural repellents are packed with ingredients that benefit the body. These active ingredients can improve your skin, act as natural energizers, or even serve as sunblock.
4. Natural Insect Repellents are DEET Free
As mentioned earlier, it is an extremely dangerous chemical not just for mosquitoes but also for humans and pets. It reacts with chemicals in the body and alters the central nervous system.
5. Natural Mosquito Repellents are Similarly Effective
Research shows that natural insect repellents are similarly effective as their chemical-based counterparts. A citronella oil based product in the study reduced mosquito bites by 84% 
Interested in other natural products? Check out our review about natural air fresheners.
7 Mosquito Repellent Plants You Should Know About
Many common plants use their natural fragrances to keep mosquitoes and other insects away while adding wonderful scents throughout your space. They offer a natural way to avoid bug bites so you don’t have to spray your room or garden with a chemical bug spray. Let’s check out the 7 most common plants to repel mosquitoes:
1. Citronella grass
Citronella (Cymbopogon nardusis) is one of the most commonly used natural ingredient to repel mosquitoes. Oh, and citronella is registered with the EPA as an insect repellent and mostly used in natural products. You can also apply citronella against mosquitoes in an essential oil form.
Rosemary is a popular herb you can find in most kitchens. Its woody scent keeps mosquitoes and other insects away from you and your garden. All you need to do is toss some of it fire, and it will instantly become an aromatic bug repellent. summer almost here, now is the ideal time to grow your own in a south-facing window or the kitchen.
Basil is another popular herb used in sauces, salads, and other dishes, but also essential oils. Thanks to its pungent smell, it easily doubles up as a strong repellent. Plus, you don’t even need to crush the leaves or burn them. Basil’s natural aroma is toxic to mosquito larvae so be sure to keep it in close vicinity to standing water and damp areas around the house.
Lavender is a pleasant-smelling plant and a popular tea ingredient. But did you know that its essential oils decimate flying insects? Research suggests that mosquitoes lose their ability to smell as soon as they come close to the plant. Plus, you can grow your own. It’s incredibly low maintenance and only requires moderate sunlight. You can also choose from different varieties according to your climate. Lavender oil is not only great for mosquito protection, but it has also many other beneficial uses around the household, it’s one of the most versatile plants.
Peppermint is the most effective non-toxic plant that repels mosquitoes. Apart from just repelling mosquitoes, it can also relieve discomfort from itchy bites. Since it’s an invasive species, you shouldn’t have any problem growing it in pots or your garden. The more peppermint you have, the more pungent aroma it releases. As a result, you’ll have fewer bugs.
Lemongrass is very similar to citronella grass, it contains high levels of citral, an oil that naturally repels insects. The plant is a popular kitchen ingredient used in several dishes so you shouldn’t have any problems finding them. However, research shows that lemongrass causes birth defects so pregnant women and new moms should stay clear.
Catnip is a popular plant that thrives in almost any condition. It is a cousin of mint and contains the chemical nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is a powerful insect repellent. Although, it might draw a few stray cats to rub and roll around in it. More importantly, this chemical is more powerful than DEET which makes catnip-based natural bug sprays an excellent alternative. However, many people decide to grow catnip at home since it’s quite low maintenance and commercially available.
Garlic is a staple ingredient found in every kitchen. However, its pungent smell is too strong for mosquitoes to handle. Mosquitoes detest it so much that even consuming garlic can mildly repel them. To make it more effective, you can squeeze out its juices and apply them to your skin. Although, this might keep everyone else away too.
In addition to the above, the following plants are known to repel mosquitoes: Cedar, verbena, pennyroyal, geranium, pine, cajeput, cinnamon, thyme, allspice, neem oil and tea tree oil.
The Best Natural Mosquito Repellent in 2021 – Our Top 5 Picks
The following are our top 5 picks of the best natural mosquito repellents in 2021:
The Squito Ban Yaya Organics product is a plant-based formula that contains certified and non-GMO soybean and castor oils, rosemary oil, clove, and citronella. It is free of DEET and other toxic chemicals. It has a light, herbal fragrance that is pungent for mosquitoes but pleasant for people. The formula comes in a recyclable spray bottle and is easy to apply evenly on different areas of the skin. It is also effective against gnats, ticks, flies, and other outdoor bugs.
- 100% natural and free of DEET and toxic chemicals
- Light, soothing fragrance
- Easy application
- Pets might be sensitive to some of the ingredients
- Some users say you have to use a large amount for it to work
Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent is a 100% alcohol-free, plant-based formula specifically designed for babies and kids. Its composition includes 95% certified soybean oil combines with a blend of cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary, geranium, and lemongrass oil. Secondly, the product is free of parabens, dyes, and phthalates. However, you have to be careful when applying it because it can stain your clothes since it’s 100% oil. Furthermore, adults can also use this herbal repellent.
- Suitable for babies, children, and adults
- 100% alcohol-free to prevent dry skin
- Certified active ingredients
- Stains clothes
The Medella Naturals product is one of the most affordable repellents in the market particularly because Medella sells it in a pack of two. It is a go-to option for outdoor adventurers and packs natural ingredients, such as castor and lemongrass oil. It also contains vitamin E that improves skin health. Medella also added a little vanilla to improve the product’s fragrance and make the repellant more effective against insects. Another great feature of the product is that it’s neither oily nor greasy. It can also easily last for up to 2 hours.
- Highly affordable
- Vitamin E for a skin health boost
- Vanilla improves the fragrance
- Effects only last for two hours
- Lemongrass oils might not be safe for pregnant women or kids
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent is a plant-based spray made for both kids and adults. It primarily comprises lemon eucalyptus oil which protects against mosquitoes and other insects for more than 6 hours. Most people opt for chemical-based repellents simply because they last longer than many natural repellents. However, this product is right up there with products that contain 20-25% DEET.
- 100% DEET free but just as effective
- Lemon eucalyptus oil is among the most powerful natural mosquito repellents
- Effects last for 6 hours
- Some people might develop skin reactions to the oil
Papa Jonah’s Wilderness Blossom contains peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass, and citronella oils. More importantly, it is free of sulfates, dyes, and artificial fragrances that cause side effects and harm the environment. This product stands out because its formula is 100% non-staining and safe for children. It will keep all nasty bugs away without harming the environment.
- Free of toxic chemicals
- 100% non-staining
- This product has not been evaluated by the FDA
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some frequently asked questions about natural mosquito repellents:
1. Are natural mosquito repellents safe for babies?
Natural mosquito repellents are generally safe for babies. However, new moms and pregnant women should avoid products with lemongrass in them. It contains high levels of citral which can cause skin irritation and fatal poisoning of the lungs when inhaled or ingested.
2. What mosquito repellent is safe for pregnancy?
Picaridin is considered the safest alternative to DEET. It helps reduce exposure to mosquito bites that carry malaria, dengue, Zika, and other nasty viruses. Natural repellents containing plant extracts, such as lavender, catnip, and peppermint, are also considered safe for pregnancy.
3. How often can I apply a natural mosquito repellent?
This frequency of natural mosquito application depends on a few factors, including the time of the day, the weather, and home condition. For instance, mosquitoes generally come out during night time, so you should apply in the evening and every 6 hours after that. If you’re in an area with many mosquitoes, apply it throughout the day after 4-5 hours.
4. Where to spray the mosquito repellent?
You need to spray and it over all areas of exposed skin. Most sprays or roll-on formulas come with instructions in the product packaging. So, be sure to follow them accordingly. You can spray your hands, legs, and the back of your neck.
5. What scent do mosquitoes hate?
Mosquitoes generally hate all the natural scents that humans find attractive. These scents include the fragrances of plants, such as peppermint, basil, catnip, and lavender. Mosquitoes also hate citrus plants and scents from their extracts.
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Mosquitoes don’t just buzz in your ear and make you itch all over. They also carry nasty diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and Zika virus, affecting millions of people every year. As a result, mosquito repellents have become essential for protection. However, chemical-based repellents contain DEET and other synthetic ingredients that might keep mosquitoes away but not without doing some damage of their own.
Switching to a natural mosquito repellent will reduce your exposure to unnecessary chemicals. These repellents primarily contain plant-based essential oil extracts that, besides keeping insects at bay, also offer other benefits. While you can try out any of the repellents on our list, we highly recommend the Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent due to its versatility, long-lasting protection, and affordability.