To get relief from gnats, you should consider essential oils. Essential oils are known to be a natural insect repellent. In this guide, you’ll learn about the best gnat repellent essential oils. And how to use them, with a DIY recipe.
The best gnat repellent essential oils include peppermint, geranium, citronella, lemongrass, and garlic. Essential oils can be an alternative to exterminator chemicals. Peppermint is one of the best essential oils for gnat repellent because peppermint oil is toxic to both animals and humans.
Gnats come in three main varieties: biting midges (no-see-ums), black flies (black gnats, turkey gnats), and sandflies (Phlebotomus).
Here’s how to repel these biting pests.
12 Gnat Repellent Essential Oils
Below are twelve gnat-repellent essential oils you can use in your home to naturally repel gnats.
Because of its strong aroma and toxicity, peppermint is one of the most effective essential oils used to repel gnats.
Once the gnats recognize the peppermint oil, they will stay away from the immediate area.
This is a popular option because of its effectiveness and because of its pleasant scent.
Application: You can purchase pre-mixed peppermint oil in a spray bottle. This organic option by Rapidtuff is popular and rated by users as effective.
Peppermint oil has been proven to be an effective insect repellent, including for gnats and cockroaches.
Lavender is another great essential oil to repel gnats. Lavender oil is used a lot as a calming essential oil in a diffuser.
The strong, floral scent repels gnats but doesn’t kill them.
Gnats avoid the strong scent of thyme essential oil.
Thyme is used a lot in cooking and is easily grown at home. The oil made from this fragrant herb is used in cleaning and insect repellents.
Lemon oil is a great oil to freshen up your home. The clean scent is often used in natural cleaning sprays. The fragrant oil is also great for repelling pesky gnats from your home.
If you want a floral-scented home, use geranium oil to repel gnats. The strong scent freshens your home while deterring gnats. This is an excellent option in the spring to bring the outdoors inside.
Many aromatic plants have characteristics that mosquitoes avoid, said Prof. Christian Lacroix, with geraniums being one of the best know examples.
“What you do when you rub the fingers on the leaf is break some of these glands, these hairs on the surface of the leaf that contain this compound, and when you smell your fingers, you can smell that very distinctive lemony-like smell.”cbc.ca
Eucalyptus oil has one of the most recognizable and potent aromas of all essential oils.
Because of this powerful aroma, it is very efficient in repelling gnats. Mix up a spray and repel those gnats for good.
Give your home a fresh scent by using rosemary oil as a gnat repellent.
Rosemary is another herb most recognized in cooking. This fragrant herb’s essential oil makes a great gnat repellent.
When you smell citronella, you automatically think of summer. It is used in camping candles to repel mosquitos.
This natural insect repellent is great for repelling gnats in the home and mosquitos in the campground.
Like lemon oil, lemongrass oil has a fresh scent that brightens your home. The strong scent is a natural way to repel gnats. Use lemongrass to freshen your home and repel gnats at the same time.
Garlic is one of the most efficient oils to repel gnats. Most people don’t enjoy a home that smells like garlic, but if you have a severe case of gnats, garlic can be used as the initial oil to rid your home of gnats.
It can be followed by a brighter oil, like lemon, to freshen your home.
Mint oil has a strong scent that is great for repelling. The pleasant scent makes it a great option for natural insect repellents and cleaners.
In addition to the popular peppermint (mentioned above), you can also use these types of mint.
- Chocolate mint
- Corsican mint
- Water mint
- Apple mint
- Pineapple mint
Here’s more about these types of mint.
The strong scent of cedarwood is pleasant in the home and is efficient in repelling gnats. The earthy scent brings the wild mountain scent right into your home.
What Kinds of Gnats Do Essential Oils Repel? 3 Types
Essential oils are efficient in repelling most types of gnats and other insects. The strong scent deters them from the treated areas.
There are three main types of gnats that bite humans. Biting midges, black flies, and sandflies are the most common gnats that affect humans.
- Biting midges are tiny gnats measuring less than ⅛ inch long. They are most noticeable in swarms because of their small size. Biting midges typically feed after sunset and early mornings before sunrise. They turn a dark red from a soft gray after feeding. They are also known as sand gnats and punkies.
- Black flies are common in the United States, measuring ⅕ to ¼ inches long. Their bodies are thick with short antennae and legs. They are dark black, hence the name. They are found around livestock and the home.
- Sandflies are close to the size of biting midges, but they have long, thin legs and humpbacks. They have large wings and range from gray or brown to golden in color.
How Do I Use Essential Oils to Repel Gnats?
The most common way essential oils are used as a gnat repellent is by diluting the essential oils in water and using a spray bottle to treat the home.
There are many recipes for natural insect repellent using essential oils. The essential oils can be used on their own with water or combined in your favorite combination. Pick a few of your favorite oils to freshen your home and repel gnats.
This recipe uses a wide range of oils and other ingredients to make homemade bug spray. Geranium, citronella, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary essential oils are mixed with vodka, witch hazel, vinegar, and vegetable glycerin to make an efficient bug spray.
Homemade Mosquito Repellent Spray Recipe (DIY Natural)
Mix everything except for the essential oils. Once the base is in, add the oils and shake well for immediate use! Recipe via diynatural.com
- 2 tablespoons of either witch hazel or vodka, or 1 tablespoon of each
- 2 tablespoons of either almond oil, jojoba oil, neem oil, avocado oil, or a combination
- ½ teaspoon vodka if using only witch hazel
Add 100-110 essential oil drops
- 55 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- 15 drops of lavender oil essential oil
- 15 drops of cedarwood essential oil
- 15 drops of rosemary essential oil
- One 8 oz spray bottle
Essential Oil Diffuser
Another way you can use essential oils in the home to repel gnats is with a diffuser. You can find diffusers in most retail stores for relatively cheap.
Fill the diffuser up with water, throw a few drops of your favorite gnat-repelling oil, and let the natural oils freshen your home by deterring the gnats.
Here is a great collection of 14 homemade insect repellent recipes.
Will Essential Oils Kill Gnats?
If you are looking to kill the gnats, essential oils are not the route to go. Essential oils will primarily repel the gnats, but will not likely kill them.
Using an exterminator might be the best option for you if you have a large infestation of gnats. While the harsh chemicals are not ideal, they will kill the gnats. Essential oils can be used to maintain your gnat-free home.
Can I Use Essential Oils to Repel Other Insects?
Yes! Most insects do not like strong scents. Because of this, essential oils can be used to repel most insects.
Use essential oils to repel spiders, mosquitos, and most other insects. Most of the essential oils mentioned earlier are great options for deterring insects from your home.
Get creative and mix up your favorite essential oils to repel insects in your home.
Learn more about repelling bugs with essential oils.
2 Risks to Use Essential Oils as Gnat Repellent
While essential oils cause less harm than toxic chemicals used by exterminators, there are still risks to using them to repel gnats. These include toxicity and staining.
1. Toxicity of Essential Oils
While most essential oil sprays are listed as pet and child friendly, this isn’t exclusively true. Some oils (like peppermint) are toxic to both humans and animals. Avoid exposing them to peppermint oils.
Be sure to check each essential oil before using it. Here’s what WebMD has to say about some highly toxic essential oils.
Highly toxic essential oils include camphor, clove, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree, and wintergreen oils, the researchers noted. Many essential oils can cause symptoms such as agitation, hallucinations and seizures. Symptoms may also include chemical burns, breathing problems, liver failure and brain swelling, among others.webmd.com
2. Furniture Damage by Essential Oil
Be careful where you spray your essential oil bug repellent. Essential oils and the carrier liquid (witch hazel, vodka, etc) have the potential to damage baseboards, carpet, upholstery, wood furniture, and painted walls.
And it’s a good idea before using essential oils to repel gnats, to ensure no one is allergic to the oil of choice. Find the best choice for everyone in your home and try essential oils to repel insects!
Are Essential Oils the Right Choice for Me?
If you are looking for a natural, less toxic way to repel gnats, essential oils are an excellent choice for you. Find your favorite-smelling oil, mix it up, and start repelling gnats naturally!
- About the Author
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Dena Haines is a co-founder and writer at The Buginator. And is working to make it the best resource for taking back the outdoors from biting, stinging pests.
She also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Click Like This. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company she runs with her husband, Bryan.