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How to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay Without the Spray

If there’s anything that can put a damper on outdoor fun, it’s mosquitoes. These tiny pests thrive in all the spaces people like to gather—parks, yards, lakes, pools, and gardens. While you can find several repellant sprays on store shelves, you may not always enjoy the smell, feel—or taste—of these products on your face, arms, and legs. We’ve rounded up some alternative methods to combat mosquitoes, so your itch to get out the door doesn’t result in itching while outdoors.


Mark “natural bug repellant” as another motivator for starting your herb garden ASAP. Though smelling great with our favorite floral-scented perfume, cologne, and scented lotion is charming, simply a dash of your favorite eau de toilette can instantly make you a target for the little bugs. To keep them at bay, consider cultivating plants that have delightful fragrances for humans but are repulsive to mosquitoes. Some excellent options include: 

  • Lavender 
  • Citronella grass 
  • Marigolds 
  • Rosemary 
  • Basil 
  • Catnip 
  • Lemongrass  
  • Peppermint 
  • Chives 
  • Lemon balm 
  • And so many more!  

These plants will help transform your outdoor space into a fragrant and mosquito-free haven.  


A Consumer Reports test shows that an outdoor fan reduces mosquito landings by 45 to 65 percent for people sitting nearby. Not only does a fan make it more difficult for mosquitoes to fly against the steady breeze, but it also helps disperse carbon dioxide emitted by humans, which unbeknownst to many of us, is like a beacon to mosquitoes, signaling them to land here.


This method may only work for a short period, so it’s best to reach for the Bounce only when you’re in a pinch. Dryer sheets contain the chemicals linalool, which is toxic to some types of insects, and beta-citronellol, which is found in citronella. For added effectiveness, stuff a few extra in your pockets or rub another on any exposed skin.


Beyond a morning pick-me-up, plant fertilizer, and skin exfoliant, coffee’s other superpower is an all-natural mosquito repellant. Whether caffeinated or not, used or unused, burning coffee grounds can be a chemical-free way to repel mosquitoes. Just pour dry coffee grounds in a bowl or on a flat surface, burn the grounds like you would incense, and watch your worries fly away.


Vinegar is another pantry staple that just keeps on giving. Thanks to the overpowering smell of vinegar, mosquitoes tend to steer clear. Apple cider vinegar works well on its own, while white vinegar should be mixed with one-part vinegar to three-parts water for the same repelling benefits.


There’s something about the makeup of certain foods that send mosquitoes heading for the hills. Foods like: 

  • Garlic 
  • Onion 
  • Lemons 
  • Oranges 
  • Grapefruit 
  • Tomatoes  

All these foods produce mosquito-fighting chemicals. Either use pungent foods in your next barbecue or snack on them to create a bug-free zone. 

Enjoy Your Plate in a Bug-Less Space

Plants outside in the garden that keep mosquitos away

Create a DIY mosquito repellent and elevate your outdoor dining experience while enhancing your al fresco meals. Implementing these methods not only deters insects but also enhances the ambiance. Picture warm summer evenings with a beautifully set table featuring basil and rosemary, complemented by the gentle breeze of strategically placed outdoor fans. These tactics not only reduce interruptions but can also infuse your dishes with flavor and fragrance.  

For advanced al fresco dining, our "A Step-by-Step Guide to the Perfect Summer Charcuterie Board" offers creative ways to incorporate bug-repelling herbs into a delightful charcuterie spread. So, create your bug-free haven, enjoy outdoor dining, and impress your guests with culinary finesse.