Nothing ruins a great summer picnic, barbeque, pool party or camping trip like a swarm of mosquitos. The blood-sucking creatures have no shame as they quickly cover your body with itchy bites. While you might be tempted to grab a bottle of store-bought bug spray, the convenience isn't worth the risk.
Many of these products contain harmful chemicals, such as DEET, that are bad for you and the environment. It's best not to expose yourself to them. Fortunately, there are plenty of all-natural and fairly cheap alternatives that can keep the mosquitos at bay. Send the party-wrecking pests packing with these easy DIY mosquito repellants.
Make your own spray
Avoid chemical-laden sprays by making your own mosquito-repelling concoction. A quick Google search will yield dozens of recipes that are sure to scare away nature's unwanted critters. The best recipes are simple with only a few ingredients, such as water and essential oils.
Here's an easy recipe:
Fill an 8 ounce spray bottle about ¾ of the way full with water. Add in 40-50 drops of essential oils, such as lavender, geranium, eucalyptus or peppermint. You can choose to use only one scent or mix them up to create a smell you'll enjoy. Because oil and water don't mix well, it's best to add in a third ingredient, such as 2 ounces of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, to encourage the oil to dissolve. Shake the bottle so your ingredients combine, and spray it all over your body before heading outdoors.
Strong smelling herbs often repel mosquitos, which don't like the scents. If you have the space, plant an herb garden to keep the pesky bugs away. Basil, rosemary, mint and lemongrass are excellent repellants. Best of all, these plants can serve double duty when you incorporate them into your cooking.
Throw rosemary on the grill
Cooking outdoors is a great way to keep your home cool in the summer, but it also leaves you at risk for itchy mosquito bites. Next time you open the grill, throw a few sprigs of rosemary on top of the charcoal. Because mosquitos don't like the way it smells, it will repel them as it burns. Plus, the natural herb will add a refreshing flavor to traditional on-the-grill foods.
Light citronella candles
Citronella is an all-natural mosquito repellant distilled from several types of grass including citronellal and geranial. The oil created by these plants can be added to candles and burned to ward off blood-sucking mosquitos. Although the compound is considered a pesticide, it's completely safe for humans and it won't even kill mosquitos. It simply repels them to eliminate — or at least reduce — the mosquitos in the immediate area. Light a few citronella candles when you're outside to keep the bugs away.
Store-bought candles can be a bit pricey. If you want to save a few bucks try this easy recipe.
- Grab a clean recycled jar — a pickle or jam jar will do just fine.
- Use a hot glue gun to affix a pre-waxed wick to the bottom of the jar.
- In a double boiler, melt wax or old candles over medium heat until it's completely melted.
- Add the citronella oil (about 1 oz. for every pound of wax).
- Allow the wax to cool slightly and then poor it into your jar.
- Give the candle about 48 hours to cure before you light it up.
Treat your furry friend
Your pet needs to be treated for mosquitos too. Not only are the pesky bugs annoying to your cat or dog, they can easily hitch a ride into your home on your pet's furry coat. Chemical products shouldn't be used on your pet, as they can be harmful to its sensitive skin. But there are a few natural options that are completely safe and effective. For example, a drop of essential oil, such as rosemary or lemon, can be added onto your dog's collar (not his skin) to repel mosquitos.
Lemons are a great bug preventive for your furry friend. Boil six sliced lemons in a quart of water to make an all-natural spray. Let it sit for a few hours before draining it into a spray bottle and giving Fido a once-over. Be careful not to get it into his eyes. To get the mixture on his face, spray it into your hand and rub it into his fur.