As someone who spends a good deal of time outdoors, I know how irritating certain insects can be, especially in humid areas with lots of stagnant water. From mosquitos to biting flies, a back full of itchy and burning bites can truly be a miserable experience, however temporary. Because I don’t like the smell or the ingredients used, I tend to stay away from chemical-based insect repellents commonly found in pharmacies and camping gear stores. To help you stay bite-free on your next trip to the great outdoors, here are a few of my favorite natural insect repellents.

Soy-Bean Based Products

According to a 2011 study, researchers found that soy-based products are an effective natural alternative to DEET. In fact, some products, such as Bite-Blocker, are made with simple and organic ingredients and can protect the user for up to 8 hours. Being non-toxic to the skin, soy-bean based insect repellents is an excellent alternative, especially for children with sensitive skin and allergies.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

While you may not have heard of this next option, lemon eucalyptus oil is one of the most effective natural deterrents for mosquitos, flies and even ticks. When compared to DEET, researchers have found that it is approximately as effective. However, because lemon eucalyptus oil can be ingested in large quantities, it is best to avoid using this option for young children. Adding lemon eucalyptus oil to homemade candles can be an excellent way to create a naturally scented insect repelling device that can be placed anywhere in your home.

Peppermint Oil

This particular repellent is my personal favorite, as I am a huge fan of the peppermint smell it gives off. For my own personal use, I fill a small pocket size spray bottle with jojoba oil and add around 30 drops of peppermint oil to the mixture. It’s easy to make as you can get all the ingredients online or at your local health market. The best part is the jojoba oil will moisturize your skin while the peppermint keeps the bugs away. It’s truly a must bring for your next backpacking trip. 


The last natural repellent on our list is probably one of the most popular. It is widely available for purchase at any gardening store, most commonly found in candle form and used for picnics, BBQs and other outdoor meals. Citronella is an oil extracted from lemongrass, giving off a fresh and lemony scent. However, many studies have shown that citronella, when compared to peppermint or eucalyptus, is a much less effective repellent. 

As I’m sure we can all agree, mosquitos and other biting bugs can be a nuisance we can do without. However, when applying something to your skin, it’s always important to use as many natural ingredients as possible.