Person spraying natural insect repellant out of glass bottle onto home plants.
June 28, 2024

How to Keep Insects Away from Home Naturally: 14 Effective and Eco-Friendly Solutions

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nsects, some of the most remarkable and resilient creatures on the planet, never cease to amaze. The dung beetle, for instance, holds the title of the strongest animal relative to its body size, while the infamous roach is a testament to survival

But these crawlies’ aggressive will for life often clashes with ours: they destroy buildings to build their homes and spread diseases unknowingly since their powerful tiny bodies have gotten millions of years in challenging environments to evolve strong immunity. Their strengths target our weaknesses, so living together is often not an option.

However, many solutions to the conflict between insects and humans aren’t safe for the environment of other non-targeted animals like birds, nor are they mindful of the cruelty inflicted on the insects. 

Most of the time, insects do not know where their territory starts and ends, or humans have encroached on their homes. So, they seek our houses for shelter; thus, punishing them with death is rather unfair.

The good news is that there are several ways to help these little guys understand boundaries so they stay out of our homes in the first place! We do not need to disrupt the ecological cycle or use harmful, cruel chemicals to keep germs and diseases away from our homes. 

Although we may sometimes be forced to take more drastic measures in cases of severe infestation, especially where public health is affected, we can do our best to ensure that only happens as a last resort.

Table of  Contents

History of Home Insect Repellents

The evolution of home insect repellents is a fascinating journey through history. The ancient Egyptians, for instance, were pioneers in this field, using oils extracted from plants like castor oil to repel insects. These early methods harnessed the natural properties of plants for their insect-repelling capabilities. In ancient  Rome, hand weeding, leek juice, and smoke were believed to keep pests at bay and ensure a healthy harvest. 

In North America, the indigenous people would use pineapple weed and sweetgrass to repel mosquitos. They would also burn prairie sagewort to repel bugs. Fast forward to the 20th century, and the landscape of insect repellents changed dramatically with the introduction of synthetic chemicals. DEET, developed by the U.S. Army in 1946, became a household name due to its high efficacy in deterring a wide range of insects. 

However, the convenience and potency of chemical repellents came with hidden costs, as studies began to reveal these substances' adverse health and environmental effects. This realization has spurred a modern revival of interest in natural insect repellents, which offer a safer and eco-friendly alternative.

Why Should You Use Natural Products Instead of Conventional Ones?

Choosing natural insect repellents over conventional ones is a proactive step towards a healthier home and a cleaner planet. Conventional repellents often contain synthetic chemicals like DEET, which, while effective, can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even neurological issues with prolonged use. Additionally, these chemicals can contaminate soil and waterways, posing risks to wildlife and ecosystems.

Natural repellents, on the other hand, use ingredients derived from plants, such as essential oils, which are non-toxic and biodegradable. These ingredients not only repel insects effectively but also offer additional benefits, such as soothing the skin and providing pleasant aromas. Moreover, natural repellents reduce the chemical load on your body and the environment, promoting overall well-being and sustainability.

What Ingredients Do Natural Bug Repellents Not Contain?

Natural bug repellents are free from harmful ingredients commonly found in conventional products. Here are some of the substances they avoid:

  • DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide): This widely known chemical is used in conventional repellents to prevent diseases caused by mosquitos, such as malaria and dengue fever. DEET is effective but has been linked to skin irritation, neurological issues, and environmental pollution.
  • Pyrethroids: These synthetic chemicals mimic the natural insecticidal properties of chrysanthemum flowers but can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting, and stomach upsets.
  • Formaldehyde: This widely known chemical is also used in pesticides and disinfectants but is a known carcinogen, especially with prolonged exposure, and can cause respiratory issues and skin irritation.
  • Phthalates: Used in bug sprays to repel mosquitos but can cause dizziness and nausea.
  • Picaridin: An active synthetic ingredient that works similarly to Piperine, which causes pungency in black pepper. It is used in skin-applied repellants and can be slightly toxic for acute skin and eye exposure.
  • Para-menthane-diol: An active ingredient synthesized from the eucalyptus plant's lemon and used in insect repellants to keep mosquitoes, biting flies, and gnats away. It can, however, cause eye irritation.

14 Methods and Products to Keep Insects Away from Home Naturally

Keeping your home free from insects naturally involves a mix of proven methods and carefully chosen products. Here, we break down effective strategies and items that can help you maintain a bug-free environment without resorting to harsh chemicals.

1. Essential Oil Sprays

Essential oil sprays use concentrated plant extracts known for their insect-repellent properties. According to Medical News Today, essential oils have various beneficial properties, such as antimicrobial activity and antifungal and insecticidal properties. Their insect-repellent property means oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and tea trees create an environment that bugs find inhospitable. 

  • Effective for: General insect deterrence, especially mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.
  • Quantity and Application: Take 10-30 drops in a spray bottle. Mix this with 2 ounces of white vinegar and 2 ounces of distilled water. Mix thoroughly and spray around your home. 

2. Vinegar Solutions

Vinegar solutions are a mixture of white vinegar and water. Vinegar's acetic acid repels many types of insects. You can spray it on ant trails and corners with spiders. Fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar scent, so that you can trap them in a vinegar solution.

  • Effective for: Ants, spiders, and fruit flies.
  • Quantity and Application: Prepare a 50/50 solution in a spray bottle and use it to spray in your home. 

3. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a fine, white powder made from the fossilized remains of algae. It is used for various purposes, including as a natural insect repellent. When insects come into contact with diatomaceous earth, the tiny, sharp particles stick to their exoskeletons and start to absorb the oils and fats from their outer layer, dehydrating them. This results in many insects avoiding contact with areas such as doorways where this powder has been sprinkled.

  • Effective for: Ants, bed bugs, and fleas.
  • Quantity and Application: To use diatomaceous earth effectively, sprinkle a light layer around entry points, such as doorways and windowsills, and along baseboards where insects are likely to travel.

4. Mint Leaves or Oil

Fresh mint leaves or mint oil, with its refreshing scent, is a popular herb for culinary uses and a powerful natural insect repellent. The strong aroma of mint is pleasant to humans but overwhelming and repulsive to insects. The menthol in mint disrupts the sensory receptors of pests, making it difficult for them to navigate or locate food. 

  • Effective for: Ants, flies, moths, and mosquitoes.
  • Quantity and Application: Place fresh mint leaves in problem areas or use a few drops of mint oil in a spray bottle filled with water.

5. Cinnamon

Ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks are another kitchen staple that doubles as a natural insect repellent. The strong scent of cinnamon is a natural deterrent to many insects. The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon affects the nervous system of insects, repelling them and sometimes causing fatal reactions.

  • Effective for: Ants, spiders, and cockroaches.
  • Quantity and Application: Mix two teaspoons of cinnamon with 4 cups of warm water and leave the mixture overnight. Strain and mix it with a few drops of dishwasher soap and rubbing alcohol. Sprinkle ground cinnamon in problem areas or place cinnamon sticks in drawers and closets.

6. Catnip

This herb from the mint family is known for its insect-repellent properties. Catnip, famous for its euphoric effect on cats, is also highly effective at repelling insects. The nepetalactone compound in catnip is a powerful insect repellent. It affects the sensory receptors of insects and causes sensations of itch or pain, making treated areas unattractive and uninhabitable. 

  • Effective for: Mosquitoes and flies.
  • Quantity and Application: Place fresh catnip leaves around your home or use catnip oil in a spray bottle.

7. Herb Sachets

Small bags filled with dried herbs such as rosemary, mint, and thyme harness the natural repellent properties of aromatic herbs. The strong scents of these herbs naturally repel insects. Placing herb sachets in closets, drawers, and other small spaces creates a barrier that insects are reluctant to cross, keeping your belongings safe from pests.

  • Effective for: Moths, spiders, and ants.
  • Quantity and Application: Place one sachet per closet or drawer.

8. Cedar Chips

Shredded cedar wood has long been used in storage solutions for its pleasant smell and insect-repellent properties. Cedar emits a pleasant scent to humans but is repulsive to many insects. The natural oils in cedar can also disrupt the pheromone trails that insects use to communicate and navigate.

  • Effective for: Moths, fleas, and cockroaches.
  • Quantity and Application: Spread a layer of chips in storage areas and at entry points.

9. Glue Traps

Sticky traps are effective, non-toxic methods of keeping pests out of your house. You can purchase non-toxic glue traps or make your own. Simply mix a cup of water and corn syrup and boil it until it turns into a sticky paste. Spread it on bright-colored cardboard and place it strategically at your door or window to catch some bugs.

  • Effective for: Rats, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and crickets.
  • Quantity and Application: Consider the entry points in your house—place glue traps near doors, windows, corners, and under furniture.

10. Cleaning Kitchen Surfaces

Regular cleaning and sanitizing of kitchen surfaces to remove food residue and crumbs can keep away insects, especially those that carry harmful pathogens like roaches. Insects are attracted to food sources, so keeping your kitchen clean can significantly reduce the likelihood of infestations. 

  • Effective for: Ants, roaches, and flies.
  • Frequency: Wipe down counters, sweep floors, and clean up spills immediately, paying attention to spills around garbage bins.

11. Clearing Yard of Bushes and Junk

Overgrown vegetation and yard debris provide shelter and breeding grounds for insects. Regularly trim bushes, mow the lawn, and dispose of leaf piles and other garden waste. This practice reduces the insect population and prevents them from migrating into your home.

  • Effective for: Mosquitoes, ticks, and various garden pests.
  • Frequency: Regular yard maintenance, especially after the rainy season or periods of rapid plant growth.

12. Managing Trash

Trash, especially food waste, is a magnet for insects like flies, ants, and cockroaches. Regularly disposing of household waste and keeping trash bins clean and sealed eliminates a significant food source and breeding ground for these pests. 

  • Effective for: Flies, ants, and cockroaches.
  • Frequency: Regularly check and empty your indoor trash bins, and clean them thoroughly once a week. Ensure outdoor bins are adequately sealed and cleaned monthly or more frequently as needed.

13. Removing Stagnant Water

Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other water-loving insects. These bugs lay their eggs in still water; before you know it, you've got a swarm on your hands. Check for and remove any sources of standing water, like clogged gutters, plant saucers, old tires, or unused pools. If you have bird baths or water features, refresh the water regularly and consider adding a small pump to keep the water moving.

  • Effective for: Mosquitoes and other water-loving insects.
  • Frequency: Regularly inspect your yard and home for standing water, especially after it rains. 

14. Sealing Holes and Cracks

Insects can squeeze through the tiniest of openings to get into your home. Sealing these entry points effectively blocks their access. Walk around your house, both inside and out, and look for any gaps around windows, doors, pipes, and vents. Use caulk to seal small cracks and weatherstripping for doors and windows. Don’t forget to check your attic and basement, as these areas are often overlooked but can be prime entry points for pests.

  • Effective for: Ants, spiders, roaches, and other small insects.
  • Frequency: Conduct a thorough inspection and seal all potential entry points. Recheck and reapply caulk or weatherstripping as needed, especially after extreme weather changes.

Bug-Proof Your Abode Naturally

Keeping insects away from your home naturally can be a breeze with some savvy, natural strategies. It’s all about being proactive and making a few simple changes.

Think of it this way: your home is your sanctuary, and with these natural methods, you're protecting it and making it safer and healthier for you and your family. Plus, you're giving a hat tip to Mother Nature by ditching the chemical warfare.

Remember, consistency is key. Stay on top of these tasks, and like magic, the unwelcome critters will find someone else's picnic to crash. It’s a win-win situation—fewer bugs, a cleaner home, and peace of mind knowing you’re keeping things natural. 

FAQs About Natural Insect Repellant 

What smell do insects hate?

Insects hate the smell of essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and citronella. These scents disrupt their sensory receptors, making your home less inviting. These oils in diffusers, sprays, or sachets can effectively repel various insects.

What is the best homemade insect repellent?

The best homemade insect repellent combines essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, or citronella with a carrier oil or witch hazel. Mix 10-20 drops of your chosen essential oil with water and a tablespoon of witch hazel in a spray bottle for a natural, effective bug spray.

What trick will get rid of most insects around your home?

A simple trick to get rid of most insects is to use a mixture of peppermint and water. Combine 5-10 drops for every ounce of water and spray it to entry points like windowsills and doorways. The pungent smell of vinegar deters insects and keeps them from entering your home.

How to naturally get rid of bugs in the house?

To naturally get rid of bugs in the house, use essential oils like peppermint or eucalyptus, which insects hate. Clean regularly, seal entry points, and use vinegar and water spray on windowsills and doorways. This combination effectively deters most common household pests.

What scent keeps away all bugs?

No single scent keeps away all bugs, but peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella are highly effective against many types. These scents disrupt insects' sensory receptors, making your home less appealing. Using these oils in diffusers or sprays can help keep various bugs away.

What is the number one natural insect repellent?

The number one natural insect repellent is a blend of essential oils, particularly citronella, eucalyptus, and lavender. These oils are known for their effectiveness in repelling insects. Mixed with a carrier like witch hazel or water, they provide a potent, natural defense against bugs.

Last Update:
Jun 28, 2024