Evelyn Romans | 

13 Natural Bug Repellents You Can Find in Your Pantry

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You don’t have to go far to find natural bug repellents that will save you from swatting mosquitos, flies and spiders all day — just look in your pantry! People swear by these insect repellents, and they’re worth trying if you’re tired of buying chemical bug sprays. (But hey — if you need more bug spray, at least save money with these free Off! coupons.)

Use these natural bug repellent solutions to keep pesky insects away from you and your family — pets included!


1. Whole cloves in lemons and limes are natural bug repellents that smell and look amazing too.

Whole cloves stuck in halved lemons and limes on a cutting board

The smells of citrus and clove may be appealing to us, but mosquitoes despise it and stay away. Place lemon and lime halves with cloves anywhere you don’t want mosquitoes.


2. Keep flies away by hanging a Ziploc bag filled with water and pennies.

Man using a staple gun to attach a bag with pennies to a patio ceiling beam

The key here is to hang your bags filled with water and pennies in a place that is well exposed to sunlight. Flies will get confused by this natural insect repellent and stay away when they see light reflecting off the water and coins.

Need more zip bags? Use a Ziploc coupon.


3. Make a peppermint essential oil bug repellent to scare away spiders.

Someone spraying a bottle labeled "Spider Repellent" to the cracks under a doorway

Spiders and mice hate peppermint. Fill a spray bottle with water, add 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil, and spray the peppermint water in the cracks and gaps where spiders and rodents can enter your home.



4. Stop ants from marching with cinnamon.

A tablespoon with cinnamon on a plate with a cotton ball

Dip a few cotton balls into cinnamon and place in areas where ants frequent (you could sprinkle cinnamon directly onto surfaces, but using cotton balls helps with cleanup). The ants will avoid the area and your ant problem will disappear thanks to this natural bug repellent that also happens to smell good. Freshen the cotton balls as needed.


5. Trap fruit flies and gnats with a red wine vinegar and Dawn dish soap bug repellent.

Someone placing plastic wrap over a wine carafe with red wine vinegar and Dawn soap nearby

Combine 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a small glass. Stir gently to prevent bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap, and with a skewer, poke a few holes in it. The flies get in, but can’t get out.

We’ve got free Dawn coupons when you need ’em.


6. Combine lemongrass oil, citronella oil and eucalyptus for a natural essential oil bug repellent.

Person spraying natural bug repellent solution onto her arm

Mosquitos hate this one. Mix one drop each of lemongrass oil, citronella oil and eucalyptus oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil to make this natural bug repellent.


7. Control the aphid and flea beetle population in a garden with homemade garlic spray.

Garlic, a spray bottle, pure castile soap and cayenne on a table near a plant

Garlic’s pungent odor — in combination with cayenne — makes plants sprayed with this non-toxic solution undesirable for consuming or laying eggs. The liquid soap in this recipe will coat and kill any existing larvae.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Tbsp minced or pureed garlic
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid Castile soap


Mix the ingredients together and let the solution sit in the sun for several hours to steep (overnight is better). Strain the garlic solution then add it to a spray bottle. Apply to plants as needed, preferably spraying in the early evening.


8. Use pure vanilla extract to deter mosquitoes and gnats.

Woman applying a cotton ball with vanilla extract bug repellent to her arm

Pure vanilla extract does the trick — anything else may attract bugs instead of repel them. Mix one tablespoon of vanilla extract with one tablespoon of water and apply to your skin with a cotton ball. This natural bug repellent will work for about 30 minutes, so reapply if needed.


9. Skip the insect repellent and put a dryer sheet in your pocket instead.

Someone pulling out Bounce dryer sheets and sticking them in her pocket as insect repellent

According to a study done at the University of Illinois and Kansas State, dryer sheets were proven to repel gnats. While the study wasn’t focused on mosquitos, many have found that dryer sheets are annoying to them as well. Most dryer sheets contain linalool, which is a natural mosquito repellent found in lavender, marjoram, coriander, and basil. (Mosquitos aren’t too fond of those plants either.)

Save money on dryer sheets with these Bounce coupons.


10. Maintain a healthy garden by growing insect-repelling plants.

Person raking soil in a garden
  • Lemon grass contains the natural oil citronella, which is a proven natural mosquito repellent.
  • Basil is delicious in Italian dishes, but house flies and mosquitoes hate it.
  • Marigolds repel mosquitoes, aphids, and even rabbits.
  • Lavender‘s scent is hated by moths, mosquitoes, flies, and fleas.

For more information on insect-repelling plants, see Mother Nature Network.



11. Spray apple cider vinegar on your dog’s coat to get rid of fleas.

Cure your pet from fleas and ticks by spraying fur with an apple cider vinegar and water solution.

Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water in a spray bottle to ward off fleas.


12. Or, give your dog a Dawn dish soap bath if he has fleas.

Give your dog a Dawn dish soap bath if he has fleas.

Dawn soap breaks down fleas’ exoskeletons, killing them almost instantly. Use it in the summer when you’re giving baths between dog grooming appointments.

If you like using Dawn, then we also have Dawn Dish Soap Uses That Will Make Your Life Easier!


13. Kill the sting from bug bites with lavender essential oil.

Woman applying a cotton ball to her arm

So, technically this isn’t an insect repellent, but it feels useful here. Use lavender essential oil to relieve bug bites. It’ll also soothe burns.

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