The most reliable alternative to chemical repellents with DEET. A guide that shows you natural methods against mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquito-borne diseases are dangerous. So putting potentially harmful chemicals on your skin. This is why there are many natural mosquito repellents available.
But are they reliable work?
Let me give you a brief overview of DEET-free repellents that have been proven to work and will tell you which products you should avoid.
Best natural repellent
Lemon eucalyptus (OLE) oil is a natural ingredient acting against mosquitoes and has been registered with the EPA.
The only way to be approved is sufficient scientific evidence. Several studies have shown that the oil of lemon eucalyptus protects against mosquito bites.
The material responsible for OLE functioning against the bug is p-menthene-diol (PMD). This can be achieved either naturally (through the lemon eucalyptus tree) or artificially (in the laboratory).
PMDs from both sources have similar characteristics with respect to safety and side effects. Synthetic PMD may also work better against mosquitoes because it is more stable than natural oil.
Some people may have skin irritation, but from my experience this is not very possible. Many OLE products contain too much alcohol, so usually keep any spray away from children.
Comparison products with lemon eucalyptus oil last longer than most other natural ingredients. During my field trials I usually remain free for about 3 hours before I reapply repetition. The natural spray that I use the most:
Remel Lemon Runbugz Natural Insect Repellent
It is a DEET-free spray that works very well against all types of mosquitoes and many other insects. The Lemon runbugz is my favorite pick when it comes to natural mosquito repellent spray.
There are some other natural alternatives to OLE, but they cannot be compared in terms of safety, durability, and reliability. If you want to do something different, one of the most popular contestants is:
Scientific studies have shown that this ingredient is helping against mosquitoes. However it only works for some time. It should be reapplied after 30–60 minutes to guarantee effective safety 2.
From my experience it is too small for many occasions.
- If you are hiking or camping then you do not want to apply the spray every half an hour.
- It is very possible that you forget it and there is a risk of being bitten by harmful mosquitoes.
- They also work less reliably or not at all.
However you may want to give it a try if you go out for a short period of time or visit a low-risk mosquito vector.
The major advantage of citronella oil is that it does not have many side effects and is considered safe for most people. The spray with it is also very good and does not have the chemical smell as other repellents.
However be careful to buy a genuine repellent like Skedattle natural insect repellent spray. 100% citronella oil is sold as well, but this is a completely different thing.
Pure citronella oil is suitable for aromatherapy, but does not work against fighting mosquitoes. Also it can cause some severe skin irritation.
Are Natural Repellents Better?
In my Comprehensive Guide I compared all mosquito repellents supported by scientific evidence. Some of the best options include ingredients from non-natural sources, while there are effective natural repellents.
Both synthetic and natural mosquito repellents can cause side effects. Naturals are not necessarily safe or better. However the potential risks are much lower than the risks of mosquito-borne diseases.
If you experience problems with any component then the best thing to do is switch to a different component that causes fewer side effects.
In my opinion, there is no need to limit oneself to only natural repellents because artificial ones sometimes have advantages, e.g. They live for a very long time. I would advise you to look at all the options available and then decide on a spray that suits your needs.
Other natural alternatives
There are an endless number of other ‘natural’ products out there, but I found that most of them do not work reliably as sprays above. A wristband does not protect all your exposed skin and you risk infection with dangerous diseases like Zika.
Plant oil or neem oil can have some serious side effects and may not work when you need them. The efficacy depends not only on the quality of the ingredients, but also on the exact formulation. I do not want to risk my life being dependent on them.
Taking extra doses of vitamin B has not worked effectively against mosquito bites. This is only useful for the person who tries to sell you expensive pills. No other vitamins or foods can be linked to better protection.
There are enough scientifically supported repellents that are natural and useful. In my opinion there is no need to rely on fake products.
Some of those natural solutions may work for some people, but I’m sure you don’t want to risk your own life if it’s for you. I suggest you choose one of the options above. If you are in a high-risk environment, you can also try non-natural repellent.
Minimize the need for repellents
There are several strategies to cut down on the use of potentially harmful insect sprays. While some may not be possible, others may allow you to apply fewer chemicals. Take action because these tips will make your life easier:
- You can try using natural mosquito killers in your garden to prevent the offspring from being born. It is very easy to control a small population.
- Cover your exposed skin with a cloth. This helps not only against the sun but also against mosquito bites.
- Use a fan or air-con. Mosquitoes and no-see-ums have a hard time staying on your skin when there is wind.
- Use nets such as mosquito zappers that can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in small areas (such as your courtyard or your living room).
Even if you reduce the mosquito population of your garden which is still flying some insects. However, you can fight them in a less repellent way on your skin than before.
Overall natural repellents may be a viable alternative to spray with DEET. As long as you know their limitations and you choose a component supported by scientific evidence, they are fairly safe to use.
While natural solutions may have advantages such as organic origin or low environmental impact that are not necessarily superior to their artificial counterparts in relation to mosquito protection.
That is why I advise you not to limit yourself to one type of repellent. Choose the one that suits your needs and watch your body closely. You will be fine in most situations with additional strategies like clothing.