Hey, bugs: No one invited you to the party. Banishing mosquitoes and other pesky household insects is fun for no one, but it is especially tough for anyone who is nervous about using store-bought or chemical-laden insect repellents. Happily, the best homemade mosquito repellent may be something you can DIY with just two ingredients. Made with easy-to-find peppermint oil, this spray repels common insects, and its sharp, familiar scent will wake you up with every spritz.
Taking Precautions With Peppermint Oil
Researchers have verified that peppermint oil repels mosquitoes, so it is a natural choice for your homemade repellent, but peppermint oil can be dangerous for other creatures too. Peppermint oil can be toxic if it is ingested by dogs, and cats should also not be exposed to this essential oil. Never spray peppermint oil insect repellent around pets' food or in areas where pets may lick surfaces. To be on the safe side, pet owners may want to choose a different mosquito-repelling strategy altogether.
Peppermint oil can also be irritating to humans. If you plan to spray your insect repellent onto your skin (as opposed to spraying it onto surfaces), do a spot test first. Combine a drop of peppermint oil with a few drops of a carrier oil, such as olive oil, and rub the mixture onto your skin and cover it with a bandage. Wait a day to see if you experience any burning or redness in that spot; if not, you can use peppermint oil safely.
Don't use a DIY repellent or any solution containing essential oils on children, or at least talk to their pediatrician first. These oils should never be applied topically to infants or other young children without a doctor's supervision.
Making Peppermint Oil Insect Repellent
The best homemade mosquito repellent does not necessarily have a lot of ingredients in it. Peppermint oil could be enough to keep mosquitoes from biting you, so there is no need to combine it with other ingredients in order to make it effective for repelling insects. That said, like other essential oils, peppermint oil is extremely potent and should be diluted before you spray it anywhere.
All you need to do to make the easiest peppermint oil repellent is to fill a small spray bottle with water and add five drops of the oil. Swirl the solution to mix it and do a test spray. If you can't smell the peppermint, it's probably not strong enough. Continue adding the oil a few drops at a time until you have a mixture with a noticeable odor.
Keep in mind that using peppermint oil for mosquitoes is not the only way to use this solution. Many people report that peppermint oil repels other insects too, so it might be worth trying if you are noticing ants or other creepy crawlies getting into your home. Try soaking cotton pads in the solution and place them at windowsills, floor cracks, pantry doorways and any other areas where you have noticed insects entering. Because the efficacy will wear off when the peppermint odor dissipates, replace these cotton pads every few days.