People use insect repellents to keep harmful or annoying bugs away. Natural insect repellents do not contain toxic chemicals, and some research indicates they are effective.
Insect repellents help keep irritating or disease-carrying insects away. They are an
- substances, or a combination of substances, that prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate pests
- substances or a combination of substances that can act as plant regulators
- nitrogen stabilizers
All pesticides that are legally available in the United States have EPA approval. However, pesticides can still contain harmful chemicals. The EPA has issued a list of minimum-risk pesticide ingredients. Most of these are naturally occurring, and many are usable in food products.
This article explores 10 natural insect repellents included in the EPA list of minimum-risk pesticide ingredients in more detail. It also discusses the potential risks of using them, the benefits and risks of N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET), and when to contact a doctor.
Research suggests that the oil is effective for repelling a few different types of insects. For example, an older
Cinnamon is a common food spice, but people also use it in processing, medicine, and agriculture. People may use it in various forms, including as an oil.
A 2021 study suggests that cinnamon, particularly in oil form,
Citronella and citronella oil typically come
A 2021 meta-analysis suggested that cloves may be a
Some research suggests that clove oil may repel mosquitos for up to 2–3 hours after application. However, researchers indicate that further studies into the efficacy of clove oil are necessary.
The scent of garlic may reduce mosquito attraction to human odor. Findings show that garlic oil is a strong mosquito repellent for the initial 30 minutes after application, but that the effect weakens after this time. Some people take garlic tablets to keep mosquitos away, but little evidence supports their effectiveness.
Peppermint comes from
Another 2020 study suggested that peppermint oil acts as a strong Aedes aegypti mosquito repellent for 30 minutes, after which it continues to repel them, but not as significantly.
Older 2013 research suggests that the oil may repel cockroaches at certain concentrations, but it was not as effective as clove oil.
Spearmint, including spearmint oil, contains similar chemicals to peppermint. Research suggests that spearmint oil can act as an effective Aedes aegypti mosquito repellent for the first 30 minutes after application, after which the effect starts to fade.
Research from 2020 suggested that other studies have also found thyme oil to work well against insects. However, the researchers did not consider thyme oil to be an effective Aedes aegypti mosquito repellent when they applied it to a cotton ball.
If a person uses essential oils, such as cinnamon oil, they should dilute them with a carrier oil — for example, sweet almond oil. Before applying to the skin, a person should conduct a patch test to help prevent severe allergic reactions. Similarly, people should not ingest essential oils.
A person should speak with a doctor if they are unsure whether natural insect repellents are suitable for them or how to use them safely.
Research suggests that DEET provides around
For this reason, DEET may be more suitable for some people than others, and people should avoid spraying it directly onto the face. However, the EPA suggests that DEET is not toxic if people use it correctly.
If a person experiences a severe allergic reaction to either insect bites or insect repellents, they should contact a healthcare professional immediately.
People should also speak with a doctor if they wish to know more about insect repellents and which types may be most suitable on an individual basis.
Insect repellents may help prevent insect bites and the transmission of insect-borne diseases. Many insect-repelling products are available, and some chemicals are naturally occurring. Natural insect repellents may work well for some people.
A person should seek medical attention as soon as possible if they experience a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite or a form of repellent.