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6 Best Natural Mosquito Repellents That Actually Work

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Person standing on rock spraying bug repellent on leg at sunset
LordHenriVoton / Getty Images

Biting insects have a tendency to interfere with the outdoor activities we love the most, but using harsh chemicals to repel insects can be toxic to humans as well. Natural mosquito repellent is a great alternative to keep the bugs at bay without the worry of harmful chemicals on your skin or in the environment.

In this article, we'll discuss why it's a good idea to switch to natural bug sprays and give our recommendations for seven of the best natural mosquito repellents on the market.


Our Picks for the Top Natural Bug Repellents

Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

Why Switch to Natural Insect Repellent?

Natural insect repellent can ward off bug bites while also protecting your skin and the ecosystems around you. Traditional bug sprays and insect repellents may include synthetic chemicals such as DEET and picaridin, which can cause irritation to those with sensitive skin. Even though DEET and picaridin are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, they can be toxic to humans and to the environment.

Natural bug repellents use blends of essential oils and sustainable elements like cedar and lemongrass to prevent bug bites while protecting the environment. Essential oil fragrances such as eucalyptus and peppermint also give off a pleasing aroma, unlike traditional bug sprays. Read on to learn more about our picks for the best natural mosquito repellents.

Best Natural Mosquito Repellents

When choosing our top recommended natural bug sprays, we looked at factors including:

  • Ingredients: Formulations with natural ingredients such as essential oils and plant-based materials are the safest for your skin and the environment.
  • Effectiveness: Oil of lemon eucalyptus, peppermint oil and citronella are proven to effectively repel insects in a more natural way that's both eco-friendly and can help users avoid skin irritation.
  • Scent: The smell of vanilla and peppermint are much more pleasing than the potent smell of traditional bug repellents. With many natural products, you can keep insects away and smell fresh at the same time.
  • Reviews: Customer ratings speak not only to the effectiveness of the bug sprays, but also about how they feel on the skin, their fragrances, how long they last and more. Each repellent below has at least a 4-star rating out of 5.

Best Overall: Bug Soother Spray

Simply Soothing

Made by a family-owned business in Iowa, Bug Soother Spray uses high-quality yet gentle ingredients such as lemongrass oil, castor oil, vitamin E and vanilla oil to create a barrier between you and pesky insects.

This product is efficient at keeping fleas, gnats, no-see-ums and mosquitoes away from all members of your family, including kids and pets. It's even durable enough to be used on farm animals such as horses and chickens. Bug Soother Spray comes in a two-pack with a bonus travel-sized bottle, and you can purchase a refill container to cut down on waste.

Customer Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars with about 8,000 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: This bug spray formulation includes premium oils and vitamins while staying DEET-free. It has a non-greasy, non-sticky feel and a sweet vanilla scent, and it is not tested on animals. The Bug Soother family is confident enough in its product to promise a satisfaction guarantee if your needs aren't fulfilled.

$19

Best for Outdoor Sports: All Terrain Herbal Armor

All Terrain

Whether you're mountain biking or cheering on your kid's little-league team, All Terrain Herbal Armor is one of the best natural mosquito repellents for outdoor sports. From a packable 2-ounce container to a large 8-ounce bottle, the company sells a variety of sizes to meet your needs.

The brand was started by a climber who saw the harmful effects of DEET when bug spray leaked in his backpack on a trip to Costa Rica, destroying parts of his gear. When he returned home, he created All Terrain's insect repellent to ensure everyone could enjoy the benefits of the outdoors without mosquitos — or plastic-melting toxins — ruining the moment.

Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 1,500 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: All Terrain is cruelty-free, DEET-free, non-GMO and dedicated to helping people live active and healthy lives.
$17

Best Candle: Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle

Murphy's Naturals

Whether you're at a campsite or on the patio, Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle can help give you a bug-free space. The 100% soy and beeswax blend candle is packed with five plant-based oils including citronella, peppermint, rosemary, lemongrass and cedarwood. These key ingredients are effective at creating an insect-proof barrier without spreading pesticides to surrounding areas.

Simply light the cotton wick and enjoy the outdoors without the annoyance of mosquitos. When you're finished with the candle, you can take advantage of the sustainable packaging and reuse or recycle the tin can. If candles aren't your thing, Murphy's Naturals makes other eco-friendly products to keep bugs away, such as repellent spray, incense sticks and a mosquito repellent balm.

Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: Murphy's candles don't contain DEET, picaridin, dyes, petroleum, parabens or synthetic fragrances. The company is a certified B Corp, makes all of its products in the U.S. and supports 1% for the Planet.
$12

Best for Kids: Babyganics Bug Spray

Babyganics

It's important to be extra precautious when choosing a bug repellent suitable and safe for your little ones. Babyganics takes into consideration just how sensitive kids' skin can be and uses simple ingredients such as soybean, geranium and citronella oils to ensure a non-irritating formula. In order to keep children at ease and undistracted, the bug spray doesn't have a strong scent like most other brands, yet it can still keep mosquitoes, gnats and flies at bay with just a few sprays.

Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 4,600 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: DEET-free and never tested on animals, this baby-friendly bug spray is entirely oil-based to keep your children safe while preventing mosquito bites and pesky flies.
$7

Best Cream Repellent: SallyeAnder No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent & Anti Itch Cream

SallyeAnders

SallyeAnder's creamy bug repellent is perfect for applying to commonly exposed areas, such as hands and ankles, or hard-to-spray spots like behind the ears. If you forget to apply it initially, the product also works as an anti-itch cream for any annoying bug bites you're tempted to scratch. The lotion-like product repels black flies, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. It comes in a 2-ounce tin for personal use or an 8-ounce tin for the whole family.

Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 5,300 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: SallyeAnder's "No-Bite-Me" cream uses a blend of 100% natural ingredients, including 16 essential oils. It is DEET-free, handmade in the U.S. and cruelty-free.

$14

Best Drugstore Brand: Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

Repel

Swap your traditional Repel DEET-based bug spray with one that has simple but still extremely powerful ingredients. Repel's plant-based insect repellent offers six hours of protection against insects as well as a refreshing lemon scent. The bug spray's main ingredient is oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is the only active plant-based ingredient recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only will it keep away pests that carry Zika and West Nile, but it can also be used on children over two months old, so the whole family can enjoy mosquito protection.

Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with nearly 26,000 Amazon ratings

Why Buy: Family-friendly and DEET-free, the Repel spray is known to be highly efficient at keeping away bugs without a sticky residue being left behind on your skin. If you don't have time to order natural bug spray, this one can typically be found in stores.
$5

Frequently Asked Questions: Best Natural Mosquito Repellent

What smell do mosquitoes hate the most?

Mosquitoes hate many smells, from citrus scents of lemons and oranges to earthy, herbal lemongrass to strong cinnamon and peppermint. They're also said to dislike the naturally produced oils found in catnip. Many plant-based essential oils with scents such as cedarwood are efficient in repelling mosquitoes and other insects.

Is there a natural mosquito repellent that actually works?

Many natural mosquito repellents are effective at creating a barrier against insects. If you're looking for products that work well, we recommend Bug Soother Spray, All Terrain Herbal Armor and the Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle.

What is the strongest natural insect repellent?

According to the CDC, bug repellents containing the plant-based chemical oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) are considered the most effective. Other essential oils are not registered by the EPA and, thus, have not been studied as thoroughly nor been recommended by the CDC, but they may also be effective at repelling insects.

What is the healthiest mosquito repellent?

The healthiest mosquito repellents are those derived from plant-based materials. Synthetic chemicals such as DEET and picaridin have been long used in repellents, but they can cause harm to humans and the environment. Natural bug repellents never contain DEET and are usually harmless to those with sensitive skin.

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