Mosquito Repellents and Bite Remedies

Home Remedies for Repelling Mosquitoes and Soothing Bug Bites

May 18, 2020

Use these natural mosquito repellents and mosquito bite remedies to keep the mosquitoes away and get relief from itchy bug bites!

We love summer, but staying away from mosquitoes is annoying. No one wants to wear long clothes in the heat just to prevent mosquito bites, but the bugs can be relentless.

Keeping those little fiends away is not only a matter of comfort but can be a matter of disease prevention (West Nile, Zika, yellow fever, etc.) though disease is rare.

It’s not all mosquitoes that feed on blood, though: male mosquitoes only drink nectar, whereas female mosquitoes nourish their developing eggs with protein-rich blood. To that end, the female mosquitoes prefer to bite ankles and wrists, where blood vessels are nearer to the skin’s surface. Ever noticed where you get bitten?

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

When a mosquito bites you, it injects a small amount of saliva into the wound to stop your blood from clotting. Our bodies react to this foreign substance and, in defense, produce a protein called histamine. Histamine triggers the characteristic inflammation seen around mosquito bites, as well as the itching.

Natural Bug Repellent Remedies

Sweat attracts mosquitoes! A higher body temperature and more sweat make you more likely to be bitten. A first step is to wash off any sweat and keep your body temperature down.

Of course, the first step is to place a barrier between the skin and mosquitoes—​lightweight long sleeves and long pants. Also, spray yourself with an effective, safe mosquito repellent.

Topical Mosquito Repellents

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD, the man-made version) can be very effective and is safe. It shouldn’t be used on children under 3 years old, however — it’s not well-studied enough. Some repellents in the United States that contain it include Repel Lemon Eucalyptus and Off! Botanicals. 
  • Garlic oil rubbed onto the skin has proven to be effective in some studies. Some people swear garlic works and swallow slivered garlic to ward off these summer pests. Others take garlic tablets or rub garlic juice directly on their skin.
  • Many readers claim that rubbing apple cider vinegar on your skin helps to repel insects. If you take in enough apple cider vinegar by putting it on foods you eat, you’ll develop a body odor that will repel insects, including black flies. One great and refreshing summer drink for this purpose is switchel, made from apple cider vinegar.
  • Catnip oil was reported to repel mosquitoes by some studies.

Synthetic Repellents

  • DEET, which has a long track record, is safe with low risks but many people worry that it’s not. The big advantage of DEET is that it lasts — and you don’t have to use a super high concentration. If you are going to use a DEET repellent, do not use one with more than 25% DEET. Unlike the SPF rating in sunscreens, higher concentrations of DEET don’t mean more protection.
  • Picaridin, a derivative of piperidine, a chemical related to black pepper, has been used in Europe since the late 1990s. In this country, Cutter Advanced was the first picaridin product to hit the market. 
  • IR-3535 is the active ingredient in Avon insect repellents (and some others as well). It lasts for about 2 hours. It can cause eye irritation if you spray it there by accident, but is otherwise very safe.


Though it might not give you the most pleasing scent, garlic juice could help to keep mosquitoes away.

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

  • To keep mosquitoes to a minimum, eliminate their breeding sites on your property. They need standing water to breed, so empty those puddles, old cans, buckets, and plant pots. If you have a pond, don’t worry—dragonflies love ponds, and they are a big mosquito predator. Just don’t hang around standing water yourself!
  • It is thought that certain plants repel a broad spectrum of insects. Marigolds, chrysanthemums, asters, and pyrethrum daisies, as well as herbs such as basil, anise, and coriander, are all thought to repel insects. See more plants that repel mosquitoes.
  • Citronella candles are not proven to work in studies, however, cintronella smoke repels mosquitoes. Or, burn a little sage or rosemary over coals to repel mosquitoes.
  • Add a bat house to your home! Did you know that one small brown bat can eat as many as 600 mosquitoes in one hour? Check this page for more information on bats and other creatures that eat annoying pests!
  • If you are camping outside, use mosquito netting around bedding. Spraying the netting with insect repellent is a good idea.

Mosquito Bite Relief: Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Itching

  • It helps to ice the area of the bite to constrict the capillaries near the skin’s surface and reduce swelling. 
  • If you are going to use a topical cream, stay away from caladryl and calamine lotions for mosquito bites; it’s better to apply a low-potency hydrocortisone and simple patience.
  • Remember: Do not scratch the bite; this will only make it worse. For itchy bites, rub on meat tenderizer or lemon juice. A paste of mashed garlic can also help make bug bites stop itching.
  • White vinegar is another remedy for relieving the itch of insect bites. Apply it in full strength. Don’t use vinegar if the area is raw. See more household uses for vinegar.
  • A paste of baking soda and water can provide much-needed relief to bug bites. Learn more about the countless household uses for baking soda.
  • Oatmeal can also help to provide itch relief—not only for bug bites.
  • Some people have luck with high doses of vitamin B1 (100 milligrams, two or three times a day), but it doesn’t work for everybody.

If you have an intense reaction to mosquito bites, consult your doctor.

We hope these natural mosquito repellents and bug bite remedies help you beat the bugs this season! Have some tips of your own? Please post in the comments below!

Reader Comments

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Great information on the mosquito repellent, did not know about the vinegar, thanks.

Easiest Bug Bite Remedy

I get mosquito and bug bites all the time and they often swell up on my skin and get really itchy. The best thing for the itch is a drop of any liquid soap on the bite, or moisten bar soap and rub it on and let it dry. The itching will stop in minutes and the relief will last last pretty much all day.


I use Witch Hazel. Works every time. My goal however, is to prevent the bite in the first place.


I heard a long time ago that Skin So Soft by Avon worked.... it does. Spray or body wash I use both and don't get bit!

Not Chemical Free

"The water-based BUG OUT Spray in a recyclable plastic pump bottle is totally chemical-free"

...can't be water-based and chemical free. Please be more specific. If you mean free of phthalates and other potentially carcinogenic ingredients please say that. If you mean DEET free (which was already in the header of that portion), then say that. If we keep saying "chemical free" when an item does, in fact, contain chemicals, we help to spread misinformation around what a chemical really is, and only hurt the effort to keep products safe.

That is, water is a chemical, so by default anything with water in it is not chemical free. I should also say "free of harmful chemicals" is just as bad because it's just as non-specific. We need to name and shame the problems in personal care products, not allow them to hide behind a smokescreen.

Good point. We will be more

The Editors's picture

Good point. We will be more careful with our product descriptions.
~The General Store

My wife planted kale it came

My wife planted kale it came up and was ready to harvest but something beat us to it ate all of the leaves what was it? please help.

Hi, Todd: You really need to

The Editors's picture

Hi, Todd: You really need to get out your detective kit for this one, as it is hard for us to tell whether you are talking about systemic damage by some sort of insect (for which there are a number of candidates) or big chomps by some sort of larger animal. Inspect the remaining leaves and stems carefully, as well as the garden soil (for tracks). Hopefully that can give you a clue as to who or what the culprit(s) are. Good luck!

What is eating your kale?

It is probably the cabbage caterpillar. See those white moths they laid eggs on your kale. No need to spray or add other chemicals. Get some white row covers and keep them on your kale. I buy mine at the dollar store. The moths can't land on the kale and lay eggs. Works for radishes too, no more worms. You go from having beautiful Kale to having stocks.

i have a large pool and

i have a large pool and vegetable garden. we are being bitten by flies and mosquitos even during the daytime.HELP!!!! i don't know what else to do. we can't eat outdoors and the flies bite all day. as soon as the sun starts to set the mosquitos start to bite, before it is even dark...I AM AT THE END OF MY ROPE. SUCH A NICE YARD GOING TO WASTE!!!!!

Here are a few home remedies

The Editors's picture

Here are a few home remedies that you can try. Garlic and chives repel mosquitoes. Plant garlic and chives in the garden and in containers that you can keep around the yard. Eat garlic often. Rub your skin with fabric softner sheets or tuck one sheet under your cap or hat. Burn citronella candles.

We use a floor fan turned

We use a floor fan turned onto low out on our deck when it's buggy out. It's amazing how well it works in keeping mosquitoes and small flies away from us.


This is a great way to keep small insects and especially mosquitos away as they are not strong fliers and will not be able to get to you through what to them, is a gale.

Terminex Mosquito treatment

Terminex offers a mosquito treatment service through the March-August season. Its not super cheap but it cuts down the mosquitoes by about 70% or so.


I spray Listerine around where I am sitting. Works great.

ANTS. I have a newborn this

ANTS. I have a newborn this summer, I need to protect my home, fire ants big and small invade inside, and huge black ones are out back biting on my dog:( what can I do

I locate their little mounds

I locate their little mounds by tracing their path out of my house. Then I sprinkle ANDRO ant bait around their mounds for them to carry into the nest which will kill THAT nest.. Before they re-organize and build another nest, I use clear silicone sealant to seal up the spots where they were entering my home. It takes several hours for this sealant to cure completely, but it is very sticky and will encase any straggling ants forever.

It's best to follow the ants in daytime when they are active, but put the ANDRO around the nests when they're all inside the nests at night for them to find the next morning.

It may take a few times of repeating this process, but soon the ants will leave your property. They stay away from my property for a few years before I have to do it again.

Rid ants

Buy tons of cheap baby powder & puff it on the ant piles - truly works for a long time!!

Baby powder for ants

I will try this in my backyard in Canada.
Thanks fir the tip.

Cloves work. We had an ant

Cloves work. We had an ant problem, and we couldnt figure out where they were getting in, so I sprinkled clove powder under my front door, and they all ran away and we havent seen them since. A "green" exterminator told me about this rememdy.

have you tried diatametious

have you tried diatametious earth? Completely safe and it kills anything with a hard shell like ants, roaches, etc. Get the food grade kind.

Cinnamon-Natural and Ants won't go near it!

I researched natural remedies to repel Ants and the best one I found was Cinnamon. I tried it and it works. Ants immediately stopped. They would not continue on or cross the path of cinnamon, and the ones with cinnamon on them just died. I love it.

Can you tell me how a person

Can you tell me how a person can get rid of chiggers nonchemically if that's possible? And what can you give your dogs if they have several chigger bites on them? Thanks for your time!

Chiggers dislike "smelly"

The Editors's picture

Chiggers dislike "smelly" stuff.
Some readers say sulphur dust or powder (available at most local pharmacy stores) is a good repellent. Shake some in your socks and then stuff your pants in your socks and wear long boots. Some readers say tea tree oil works; we've never tried it.
Guinea fowl eat chiggers if you can hosts a few in exchange for pest control!
Otherwise, the best control is mowing lawns and weeds and shrubs that offer shade and moisture. When sunlight and air circulate freely, chiggers don't. Otherwise, the only solution is chemical: DEET.

Getting Garlic Powder from

Getting Garlic Powder from your local grocer and sprinkling it all through your yard creates a great Mosquito barrier! It has NEVER affected my pets, and I use it all summer every summer. I go a little extra thick around the patio and porch area where I sit. Citronella is actually derived from the Citronella plant. I have one in a pot on my front porch and it help a lot too. And for ticks...ticks also hate vinegar, a cotton ball with vinegar works just as well.

ticks,, to get a tick to back

ticks,, to get a tick to back it's self out from it's bite on you fill a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol, gather the tick in the cotton ball and hold the tick in the alcohol soaked cotton ball for a few minutes. the tick will back it's self out, in tact.

To get a tick to back out

To get a tick to back out from the skin much faster then with alcoholic on a cotton ball is to get a pair of tweezers heated up with a lighter for about 3O seconds and grab tick and instandly its out



Snails! Snails! Snails!

Snails! Snails! Snails! They're in my garden, on my house, in the plants all around my yard. I have picked them, stomped them, sprayed them, put down crushed egg shells and diatomacious earth . . . HELP! They're eating everything!