7 Surprising Mosquito Repellents You Probably Already Own

published Jun 4, 2023
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Cropped shot view of barista hand holding a cup with ground coffee inside with paper filter before drip it
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With the warmer weather comes all sorts of fun routines, and, inevitably, a few annoyances. Take mosquitoes, for example. If you’re spending more time outdoors, or inside with your doors and windows open, you may notice the unwelcome presence of these biting critters — and you may be wondering about the best way to keep them away from your patio or kitchen. 

Mosquito repellants often contain chemicals, which are effective at preventing pests, but not always practical or preferable (especially when you’re working with food). Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways to stave off mosquitoes and prevent them from biting you, without expensive, chemical-ridden products. 

Ahead, seven of the best DIY mosquito repellents you can use at home this summer, as recommended by pest experts.

1. Egg Cartons 

Burning egg cartons — or those cardboard to-go trays you get from coffee shops — is one way to deter mosquitoes. Trent Copperfield, vice president of On Demand Pest Control, suggests choosing a fire-safe location, then lighting a carton or tray on fire and blowing it out to let them smolder. The burning smell should keep mosquitoes away while you’re dining al fresco!

2. Garlic Water

Garlic is also a known mosquito repellent, according to Copperfield. Try whipping up a DIY spray by adding a few cloves of fresh, minced garlic to a tablespoon of mineral oil, then allowing it to sit and infuse for a day. Strain out the garlic, then add it to a spray bottle of water. Copperfield recommends spraying the garlic water mixture near all your outdoor light sources to create a barrier that mosquitoes won’t want to cross.

3. Coffee Grounds

Finally, a use for used coffee grounds! The internet recently discovered that mosquitoes hate the smell of coffee, so people have been sprinkling it all over their gardens and patios, or even burning it in a cup to see how well it works. The pros at Parachute Coffee note that the beloved caffeinated beverage actually repels multiple types of insects, making it an ideal choice for outdoor parties of any size.

4. Incense

Burning certain types of incense or candles can also help keep mosquitoes, who are disgusted by certain smells, at bay. “Citronella and lemongrass are both known for their insect-repelling properties,” says Copperfield. “Burn them in and around your home to create a natural barrier against mosquitoes.”

5. Essential Oils

If you have any essential oils on hand, then you already have a tried-and-true method for repelling mosquitoes. Copperfield recommends adding a few drops of pungent oils like thyme, lavender, or peppermint to a spray bottle filled with water, then spraying it around your kitchen and mosquito-ridden outdoor spaces.

6. A Box Fan

If you’re looking for an entirely natural solution, consider setting a few box fans outside on your porch or inside any area of your home where you’re noticing mosquitoes. “I love this method, as it requires just a bit of electricity, no chemicals or essential oils, and effectively prevents mosquitoes from making a proper landing on you due to the strong amount of wind produced by the fan,” says Zack DeAngelis, CEO of Pest Pointers, LLC.

7. Water, Yeast, and Sugar

Licensed pest control expert Zachary Smith, founder of, recommends creating a trap using a two-liter plastic bottle. Mix a cup of hot water, a gram of yeast, and 1/4 cup of sugar in the bottle. Then, cut the bottle in half, attach the top of the bottle upside-down to create a funnel, tape the pieces together, and place it anywhere you’ve seen mosquito activity. “This trap is safe, non-toxic, and kills mosquitoes quickly,” says Smith.