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My Favorite Mosquito Repellent: Peppermint

Updated on May 25, 2016
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Jody has been studying herbs and herbal remedies since she was 12 years old. Medicinal teas are a favorite way of using herbs in her diet.

Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. Northeast National Technical Center, Chester.
Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. Northeast National Technical Center, Chester. | Source

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has always been one of my favorites, I just never really noticed how useful it was as a mosquito repellent until I was in high school. When I was growing up my family would go to our ranch in the mountains in the summer after us kids were out of school. I never really noticed it as a child but even though there was a lot of water around we never had problems with mosquitoes. There was however a lot of wild mint. In high school, one of the organizations that I was involved with was the FFA and every year they had what was call the Ag Tour. We would spend about a week traveling across the state visiting different agricultural businesses and then we had to write a report on what we learned and which tour was our favorite and why. One of those tours was of Rainbow Gardens in Kalispell, Montana. It was a fascinating place to visit and one of the things that they told us on that tour was that when the peppermint and spearmint were growing they didn't have hardly any mosquitoes around. They also gave us each a bottle of peppermint essential oil and a bottle of spearmint essential oil. This was when I remembered the same thing from my childhood, but it was a very busy week and the knowledge got pushed to the back of my mind.

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And Then It Came Back To Me

A few years later we had a really mild winter and a wet spring. The mosquitoes were horrible that year. I hate mosquitoes but they love me. I could be surrounded by fifty people and it would be me that the mosquitoes would attack. The moment I stepped outside it seemed like I immediately had dozens of the little bloodsuckers either buzzing around me waiting for their turn or they were biting me and not a single mosquito repellent seemed to work. I felt like I was being eaten alive. And it was then that it came back to me, mosquitoes don’t like peppermint and spearmint. So I took a chance and made my own mosquito repellent.

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My Mosquito Repellent Was Born

I still had the bottles of peppermint and spearmint essential oils so I took a small bottle and filled it almost full with olive oil, which is was I used to cook with, and added a few drops of each essential oil to it and shook it up to mix it. I coated every piece of bare skin in the oil. Oh boy did I reek of peppermint, it was a little (okay a lot) strong. But when I went outside and went for a walk I had almost not mosquito bites when I got home. I was thrilled. I had been gone for almost an hour and was nearly bite free. To this day peppermint, and spearmint but I prefer the peppermint, is my number one favorite repellent. I no longer make it so strong it’s enough to drive people away as well as mosquitoes, but it is still just as effective. I like it even better since it also doesn’t have the chemicals that most repellents do so I can use it on my daughter as well. This is a big plus for me since my daughter would end up with welts the size of quarters whenever she got bit by a mosquito. I don’t think there is much of anything worse than seeing your baby covered in welts from bug bites.

Another Method

If you don’t want to use oil you can also add the essential oil to your lotion as well. If you would like a spray or can do that as well, just fill a small spray bottle almost full with water and add a few drops of peppermint and/or spearmint essential oil, then put a little bit of alcohol, I use vodka or everclear, and shake before spraying it. The alcohol is used to help the oil and water mix together and the alcohol does evaporate quickly. Using vinegar or witch hazel in place of the water and alcohol also work. Eventually they will separate again so that is why you need to shake it well before each use. I have used each and I have found that I prefer to use it in the oil, it seems to last the longest for me. Good luck, have fun, and be mosquito free!

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    • Vampsdes profile image

      Vampsdes 4 years ago from Missouri, US

      This is the first I've heard of peppermint repelling mosquitoes. If it works like you say, it's a great idea! I would prefer planting the peppermint all around the house and see if that would work first. If a boost was needed, then I'd resort to smelling like a peppermint candy while outside. Great information, voted up and useful!

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 4 years ago from Great Falls, MT

      Thanks Vampsdes. I am not sure how much peppermint needs to be planted to have the same effect, but I too am going to be planting it in my garden and have some in containers near the doors now that I have my own home. I use peppermint for a lot of things anyway so having a lot around will be great for me.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

      Hmmm I'll certainly try this - I usually keep fresh mint on my windowsill to make tea (sooooo good) but this year I've been away and no mint and yes mosquitoes and they were aggressive.

      Thanks a bunch and I am now a happy follower! Yay!

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 4 years ago from Great Falls, MT

      You're welcome! They have been very aggressive this year. I helped at a camp in Glacier National Park and the mosquitoes were horrible there. I was so glad I had my peppermint lotion with me. Everyone else was being eaten alive even using OFF, but they left me relatively alone. Although I did have to use some of the other repellent on my clothes since I couldn't put lotion on them, but with the combination worked really well too.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

      Love the idea of peppermint lotion - and I've also had some peppermint liquid soap. Ah, jacope, nature does work if we just know what to do with it. Thanks a million!

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 4 years ago from Great Falls, MT

      That it does and it's so much fun to work with and learn about. You are very welcome!

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 3 years ago from Great Falls, MT

      Thanks for reading and commenting Jay. If you have small children it works great for them since most repellents say you shouldn't use them on kids two years old and younger. With peppermint you don't have to worry about it because it's chemical free and safe for even small children.

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      melo 3 years ago

      I was having problems with mosquitoes one day and I didn't have any repellant. On intuition I grabbed a bottle of peppermint extract used for cooking, opened it and set it on the table next to me. No more mosquitoes!

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 3 years ago from Great Falls, MT

      Hi melo,

      Peppermint is awesome, isn't it. It's also useful for a lot of other things. I'm planning another hub on the different uses of peppermint since it can be used for so many things.

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      Beth37 3 years ago

      Who knew? And it's such a wonderful scent.

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 3 years ago from Great Falls, MT

      Hi Beth :) I have always been fascinated by how many things a single herb can be used for. Peppermint is one of my favorite scents & tastes, especially dark chocolate with mint. Yummy!

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      David 23 months ago

      How long does the oil work for?

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 23 months ago from Great Falls, MT

      It depends on how strong you make it. Mine normally lasts a few hours, especially if I mix geranium essential oil with the peppermint.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      This is one of those things I have heard over the years but never from someone who actually has tried it...so thanks for the suggestion and confirmation.

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 17 months ago from Great Falls, MT

      You're welcome, billybuc. I'm glad it was able to give you confirmation. I've found that I have become sensitive to the more chemically based repellents but that essential oils work wonderfully and don't make me sick.

    • profile image

      am 11 months ago

      How many drops of peppermint oil do you put in an 8 oz bottle of olive oil, to use as a repellent? TIA

    • profile image

      angelabrown711@hotmail.com 11 months ago

      How many drops of peppermint oil would I put in an 8 oz bottle of olive oil? TIA

    • profile image

      Amy 8 months ago

      How peppermint oil extact and lavender soap mixed together has a repellent

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 8 months ago from Great Falls, MT

      How many drops you put in an 8 oz bottle will depend on how strong you want the smell, and on how aggressive the bugs are. I have noticed in my travels that using 5-10 drops works well for most, but there have been a few areas that it barely phased the mosquitoes at all. I would start with 5 and then add 1-2 drops until you find what works best for you and your area.

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 8 months ago from Great Falls, MT

      It might work, Amy. You would have to try it. However, most of the peppermint oil extracts that I have seen tend to have glycerin in them, which has a sweeter smell and can attract some bugs. You would want to check the ingredients of what you plan to use. You could also put 5-10 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle of witch hazel and use it that way. I would love to hear how the method you use works for you.

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      anonymous 8 months ago

      What in peppermint do mosquitoes dislike?

    • profile image

      MPeterson 8 months ago

      Peppermint oil is NOT for use on small children! It is well documented to cause respiratory distress when applied by any route. Essential oils should be used with care as they do effect the body when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. PLEASE update your article!!!

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 5 months ago from Great Falls, MT

      Anonymous, I have not found any research as to why mosquitoes dislike it. I don't know if that has even been studied. It is likely due to a combination of constituents that work synergistically.

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 5 months ago from Great Falls, MT

      MPeterson, Where did you find this research? I agree that all essential oils should be used with care. And peppermint is very potent and therefore should be diluted. It is, however, a traditional remedy for many respiratory ailments. It is this benefit that is why it, or the menthol derived from it, is used in most over the counter cold and congestion remedies.

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      Vicki 6 days ago

      I used peppermint oil on cottonballs to keep mice and spiders away. Also stuffed some in a fake wasp nest hung outside to keep the wasps from making their nests in the soffits.

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      Greybird1 3 days ago

      I wonder if a peppermint formula will also discourage ticks.

      Anybody have thoughts about that?

    • jacope profile image
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      jacope 3 days ago from Great Falls, MT

      Peppermint does discourage both ticks and lice, but lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is used more for those than peppermint is-especially on pets.

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