In this article: Find out the top essential oils to repel bugs and insects, plus how to use them around your home and on your body.
Bugs and insects can be a major problem in the warmer months of the year. Whether you are dealing with ants in the kitchens, mosquitoes in the yard, or fleas on your pets, bugs are a big nuisance!
Unfortunately many commercially made products contain questionable ingredients that just aren’t safe to spray around or apply around your kids or your home. And your skin is your largest organ- and it will readily absorb all of these chemicals.
Luckily, there are more natural products and ways to repel bugs and insects such as herbs and essential oils. Below is a list of 11 different essentials oils that repel bugs and insects so you can feel better about banishing the bugs but keeping your family healthy!
11 Essential Oils That Repel Bugs and Insects
Peppermint essential oil is one of the most hated oils by many insects.
Peppermint oil can repel ants, fleas, flies, lice, moths, and more.
You can use it diluted in a carrier oil on your skin or mixed in a spray. You can also place cotton balls with peppermint oil on them around your home- especially in the kitchen where ants can be a problem.
I love smell of lemongrass, but insects do not! Lemongrass oil is closely related to citronella, which most of us know repels insects.
Lemongrass oil will help to repel mosquitoes, fleas, fruit flies, and moths. No seeums- which run rampant in my area and are almost worse than mosquitoes also hate lemongrass.
No natural bug repellent article would be complete without citronella. Citronella candles have been a staple on back decks and picnic tables for decades to keep mosquitoes and other biting bugs at bay.
In addition to burning candles, citronella oil can also be used in insect repellent sprays and oils.
Citronella oil will help repel mosquitoes, fleas, flies, moths, and many other insects.
In general, most insects hate citrus, making orange essential oil a great choice for repelling insects in your home. It is actually one of the more underused oils that most people underestimate.
Orange oil is especially effective at keeping ants away, as well as other household pests such as crickets and spiders. Orange oil is also effective against biting or stinging insects such as wasps, fleas, lice and ticks.
Lavender oil– the oil for everything- is also an effective essential oil for repelling bugs.
Use lavender for fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and chiggers.
Lavender is also great at soothing bug bites after they occur.
Rosemary essential oil can help you repel insects in your home and in your yard.
Rosemary is effective on flies, mosquitoes, and ants.
Cedarwood essential oil is a very aromatic oil that helps repel fleas, ticks, spiders, mosquitoes, lice, and gnats to name a few.
Cedarwood oil is one of my favorites to use in my home for fleas. Fleas hate cedar!
Read more about getting rid of fleas naturally:
9 Non-Toxic Ways to Get Rid of Fleas
6 Essential Oils to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally
Eucalyptus Lemon Oil
Eucalyptus oil is great for pests, but Eucalyptus lemon is even better. The oil I am talking about is Eucalyptus citriodora.
Eucalyptus lemon can help repel mosquitoes and ticks, and there is even a name brand insect repellent on the market using this oil.
It is also an effective oil for pest control around your home, in corners, where pests try to enter.
Your cats might drawn to catnip, but insects tend to stay away!
Catnip essential oil is effective against mosquitoes and ticks, one study even found that it was 10 times more effective than DEET!
Geranium essential oil is one of my very favorite oils, and the fact that it helps to repel insects makes me love it even more!
Geranium oil can be used against wasps, ticks, lice, gnats, flies, and mosquitoes.
And finally basil essential oil is also a great natural insect repellent.
Basil oil will help flies, mosquitoes, and mites.
Using Essential Oils to Repel Bugs from the Body
Nothing ruins a good time outdoors more than bug bites! There are a few different ways you can keep bugs and biting insects away when you are outdoors:
Cream: You can mix your essential oils with carrier oils, beeswax or even just into a unscented natural lotion base. And rub it on your exposed skin to repel insects.
Oil: You can dilute your chosen essential oils into a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and spray or rub it on your skin before going outside.
Spray: The easiest way to apply your homemade bug repellent to your body is to spray it. Homemade bug sprays are usually made in a base of witch hazel or plant enzymes as opposed to water or oil. Use a spray bottle to apply on your body and clothes.
You can find a great homemade bug spray recipe over on the Organic Goat Lady.
Using Essential Oils to Keep Bugs Out Of the Home
There is nothing more frustrating than a line of ants on your kitchen counter. Or spiders jumping out at you from dark corners.
Here are some options to use essential oils to repel bugs in your home:
Sprays: You can make a spray similar to the homemade bug spray above and spray it on furniture, sheets, carpets, etc. Take care in pet areas and make sure you are using a pet friendly oil.
Cotton Balls/Strips: Place a few drops of oils on cotton balls or strips and place them strategically around your home, focus on the entry points where ants, spiders, and crickets may be entering your house.
Diffusing: Diffusing is pretty simple- place a few drops of your chosen oils in your diffuser and turn it on!
You can also try using some of these essential oils OUTSIDE your home in places where insects are likely to enter.
Other Ways to Repel Insects Naturally:
Essential oils come from plants, so it’s only natural that the same plants can also protect you from insect invasions.
Try planting some of the same plants around your yard especially in places you spend time like around your deck or porch.
Plant lavender, basil, catnip, rosemary, and lemongrass in your herb gardens- or even keep some plants in a sunny window indoors!
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only. I do not prescribe, diagnose or treat any medical conditions. Please consult your health care provider before implementing any of the information provided on this site.
The information provided on this site is completely my own opinion and does not reflect the opinions or beliefs of any other entity.
Any statements or claims regarding health benefits of foods, supplements or essential oils listed on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.
It is nice to know about these essential oils & I try once.
Cinnamon is a good ant repellent. Sprinkle a bit around window sills and doorways to keep the little boogers away 😊
Thanks for the great list of different oils I can use. I am fresh out of rosemary oil and not in a position to buy more at this time, but I have some of the others listed. My spouse is allergic to mosquitoes and her bites swell up like golf balls. Maybe I can mix some lavender in her daily moisturizer. She loves that scent. After we do a sensitivity test, of course.
Hi Sara. Plants and lavender: The drugstore has Epsom salts with some lavender ingredient mixed in also. I put this on my plants, they have zero bugs and the Epsom salts make them grow like crazy. One tablespoon per gallon of water. You may also mix this with water and put in a spray bottle. Spray the leaves for additional plant absorption. All plants love it. Thank you for your article on the oils??
you never said lemon oil and its the best , its good on pets too stops them getting infestations
I am looking for essential oils that i can use on my house plants. I have SPIDERMITES. I have used a soapy insecticide on them and its helped a little but still have them. I was told try essential oils. And am not finding much on what kind to use. Those mites have killed a few of my plants and i hope someone can help me. Please
For Kathy: my homemade insecticide recipe to go – 250 ml warm water, 1 teaspoon NEEM OIL, 1/2 tsp dishwashing soap, 10 drops of peppermint and rosemary essential oils (or just peppermint) I mix it in the blender to disperse oils and pour in the spray bottle. It helps with aphids for sure, but I usually spray it on any pests on my plants.
Excellent post and wonderful blog, this sort of interesting posts I really like, keep it up…
This observation is anecdotal, in no way scientific. As a summer wildling kid who spent dawn to dust outdoors in rural central Pennsylvania at the time, I was a human smorgasbord for biting insects including, blackflies (punkies), sweat bees, mosquitos, the occasional tick, chiggers, and my personal central PA horror, the hideous deerfly. The former are annoying and the latter is a modestly dangerous beast of a biter. The bite is intensely stinging and itching at the same time. It stays for days in a slightly raised pinkish welt about four inches across. Deerfly typically hone in on you gradually, literally circling you, orbiting around and around about four feet away, and then quickly land most often on the back of the neck. They are fast biters, but I was a fast kid and usually got in the swat just in time as long as I knew they were after me. Not always. These bites have in some reported cases been fatal to sensitive victims. BUT – I made it all go away by rubbing myself down with CAMPHORATED OIL I stole from the family medicine cabinet. (Restitution was paid!) Sure, it stank a bit, but all these little airborne miseries stopped selecting me as a human hors d’oeuvre. Camphorated oil worked for me. What do you think?