Summertime means bugs in abundance, especially for people living in subtropical and tropical regions. Making your home an insect-free zone is the best way to avoid evening bites, and botanical repellents are often considered a safe, effective (and fragrant) choice.
One of the most commonly recommended natural repellents is lavender oil, but does it actually work – and, if so, is it really potent enough to keep you protected?
Does lavender repel bugs?
The best way to determine how effective an insect repellent really is is to dig into the science behind the claims.
In this case, the science tells us; yes! Lavender oil really can be used to repel bugs.
One study found that, when used indoors, lavender diffusers effectively repelled 93% of mosquitoes. This percentage dropped to 58% when the diffusers were used outdoors, but they still did a way better job than citronella (which only managed to repel 22% of mosquitoes).
Further evidence has shown that lavender oil can effectively repel mosquitoes for up to 8 hours, and yet another study found that lavender oil may repel ticks almost as effectively as DEET.
Why does lavender repel bugs?
Studies have found that lavender really does repel bugs. Not only that, but it does so potently and effectively. But what exactly makes lavender such a good insect repellent?
The answer is linalool, a compound found in lavender (and a variety of other flowers and spices) that contributes to the scent of the plant. Other plants that contain linalool (including basil, oregano, thyme, and mint) have also been found to repel insects.
However, lavender is widely considered to be the most effective of these at repelling insects, probably due to its high linalool content.
What bugs does lavender repel?
How to use lavender to repel bugs
Now you’re aware of the wonders of lavender as a bug repellent, you can put that knowledge into practice! There are lots of different ways to use lavender as an insect repellent at home, and for personal protection against bites.
Make a lavender-based insect repellent
Lavender oil makes a good personal insect repellent, but you should avoid applying the concentrated oil directly to your skin. Though lavender is non-toxic and generally safe to use, some people experience redness and itching if they get it on their skin.
Fortunately, it’s super easy to knock up a skin-friendly, lavender-based mosquito repellent. Add lavender oil to a carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil, avocado oil, sesame oil or apricot kernel oil) and use this as a daily moisturizer to repel bugs. You should use 1-2 drops of lavender oil per ounce of carrier oil.
Alternatively, you can add 10-15 drops of pure lavender oil to plain, liquid soap to make a fragrant, insect-repelling body wash.
Keep your pest safe from ticks and fleas
Make lavender sachets
If you have lavender growing at home, you can use the dried flowers to make sachets and pillows for your home. These not only smell great but can also help to keep bugs away!
Sewing a few small, cloth bags to hold the lavender is simple, but you can also buy them online if you aren’t feeling crafty.
Whip up a lavender spray
Lavender spray is incredibly easy to make and can be spritzed around your home to keep bugs away. Simply mix 30-40 drops of oil with 1.5 ounces of distilled water in a clean spray bottle, then use this to apply to spray to strategic areas around your home, such as:
- Patio furniture
- Other furnishings
- Around doorways
Grow lavender in your garden
Planting lavender outside your house (in plant pots, if you don’t have a garden) can help to deter bugs from hanging around outside. You can also bring a few sprigs indoors to dissuade bugs from wandering in.
As an added bonus, the scent of lavender is known to have relaxing, stress-relieving properties, and the beautiful purple blossoms make it a lovely addition to your home!
Scatter saucers of lavender oil around your home
The simplest way to use lavender oil as a bug repellent is to leave little dishes of it in strategic areas. Place 30-40 drops of pure lavender oil in saucers and leave them around doorways, in outdoor spaces, or anywhere else that typically has a lot of bugs. This method is the best for people who don’t want to apply anything to their skin.
Set up reed diffusers
Reed diffusers are a great way to use essential oils. They continually disperse the oil into the air, making your home both fragrant and bug-free.
Essential oils are widely promoted as effective natural insect repellents, and lavender is thought to be the best at keeping bugs away. Several scientific studies have produced evidence to back this up, with some reporting that lavender oil can repel up to 93% of mosquitoes. Lavender oil is also thought to repel fleas, ticks, flies, and moths, and linalool (the insect-repellent compound that gives lavender its fragrance) is also found in basil thyme, oregano, and peppermint.
There are several ways to use lavender oil as an insect repellent. It can be mixed into soap or carrier oils to make a personal repellent that can be applied to the skin, incorporated into sprays, planted outdoors, or simply left in saucers in strategic places around your home.