Last Updated: September 23, 2022

10 best natural bug repellents that actually work.

WRITTEN BY Grove Collaborative • 18 min read

Don’t bug out when it’s prime time for pests this season — a good natural insect repellent can help bugs bite the dust long before they get a whiff of you nearby. With any bug repellent, it can be hard finding one you think works well, and with a natural bug repellent the same goes. There are many different natural oils used to repel bugs these days, so before you pick a product for your outdoor adventures, make sure to zero in on what matters to you most. For example, if mosquitoes are your worst nightmare, then try a product with lemon eucalyptus oil or citronella oil.

Our list of the best natural bug repellents that actually work provide multiple options from creams and sprays to wipes and incense from some of the best natural brands around like Murphy’s Naturals and Aunt Fannie’s. Find your faves that naturally and effectively tell creepy crawlers to bug off.

This list of products was determined by ratings and reviews from Grove members.

1. Murphy's Naturals Insect Repellent Spray

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When you take a holiday in the sun, even if it’s a staycation, make sure to put up your guard — your guard against mosquitos and ticks that is. This Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray repels mosquitos and other nasty insects for up to six hours, so you can enjoy your time outside without the annoyance of being eaten alive …

4 Oz
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2. Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks

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With Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks, one bug repellent incense offers you up to 12 feet of protection. Plus, each stick will burn up to two and a half hours, meaning this pack of 12 can offer you up to 30 hours of defense from nature’s most persistent pests. Just light these mosquito sticks ten minutes before you plan to head …

12 Count
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3. Murphy's Naturals Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle, DEET Free

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Usually we don’t sweat the small stuff, but when it comes to mosquitos, we’d rather be safe than sorry. This Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle is easy to use outdoors when you’re trying to enjoy a day or night outside, and it protects up to 12 feet. This natural mosquito repellent candle is DEET-free, petroleum-free, and made from natural …

9 Oz
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4. Aunt Fannie's Mosquito Repellent Spray - Travel Size

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Pesky mosquitoes? Meet your match. Don't let these annoying insects take a bite out of your summer fun. Stock up on Aunt Fannie's Travel Size Mosquito Repellent Spray and enjoy the great outdoors for up to four hours, pest-free. Specially formulated with hardworking ingredients powered by essential oils, this DEET-free (and worry-free) spray is …

100 ml
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5. Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Stick

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Ideal for hikers, campers, and all outdoor adventurers, this Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Stick is DEET-free and plant-based for a healthier choice for bug-repellent protection. It comes in a refreshing, natural lemongrass scent and a mini 0.5-ounce stick that’s perfect for on-the-go traveling. It’s little size makes it super easy to toss …

0.5 Oz
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6. Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Incense Cones

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Mosquitoes can really take the buzz out of enjoying the great outdoors. Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Incense Cones support a bite-free environment so you can have that family picnic or an evening respite on the front porch. Each incense cone contains 10% repellent oil content derived from powerful plant extracts, so you can keep those …

36 cones
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7. Badger Balm Anti-Bug Shake & Spray

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Spending a lot of time outside lately? Have your Badger Balm Anti-Bug Shake & Spray handy to protect you and yours from disease-carrying pests that migrate your way for the season. This USDA-organic formula is vegan, Leaping Bunny–certified, and made in the USA. Plus, it’s laboratory tested to make sure it repels mosquitos, and is DEET-free, making …

1 Bottle
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8. Aunt Fannie's Mosquito Repellent Wipes

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These Aunt Fannie's Mosquito Repellent Wipes - Set of 10 helps mosquitos bite the dust long before they bite you. Each wipe gives you up to four hours of protection from nature’s most annoying, disease-carrying insects, and they’re DEET-free and naturally fragranced so you know they’re safe for kids to use, too. They’re also biodegradable, …

10 Count
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9. Grove Co. Citronella Hanging Coil - 20 Hour Burn Time - Outdoor Use

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A citronella-infused hanging coil to naturally repel mosquitos and bugs from outdoor spaces.

    Our Citronella Hanging Coil uses citronella, a natural insect repellent, to mask human odors that are enticing to mosquitos. Hang the 7-inch coil at various heights and enjoy 20 hours of burn time — it’s …

1 count
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10. Aunt Fannie's Mosquito Repellent Spray

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Get up to four hours of protection from disease-carrying mosquitos and other nasty bugs with this Aunt Fannie's Mosquito Repellent Spray. This Aunt Fannie's mosquito spray is sulfate-, triclosan-, paraben-, and DEET-free. Plus, it’s vegan, not tested on animals, and made in the US with responsible packaging and renewable energy.

Stock up on …

1 bottle
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What are natural bug repellents typically made from?

Natural bug repellents are all usually made from a lot of the same ingredients and aren’t packed with harmful chemicals like DEET. Here is a short list of some of the Earth-friendly ingredients you might find in your natural bug repellent:

  • Citronella oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Lemon eucalyptus oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cedarwood oil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Geranium oil
  • Caster oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Rosemary oil

Keep in mind most natural bug repellents mix a combination of natural oils to fight against a certain type of bug. For example, mosquitoes are usually repelled with lemon eucalyptus oil, while other bugs can be kept away by other oils such as citronella oil and tea tree oil. You can also explore different forms of repellents such as a spray or easy-to-use wipes. To find a natural product that actually works, check out our list of natural bug repellents that keep pests away.

What is DEET in bug repellent?

Many bug repellents on the market use DEET, unless it’s a natural insect repellent. DEET is a chemical also known as N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. It’s been used in insect repellents for more than half a century as its chemical powers do a great job at keeping mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs far, far away. They do so by making it hard for bugs to smell out what they like about humans. The downside to DEET? It really is a harmful chemical, and it can irritate your skin and eyes as well as cause other nasty problems.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, "When products containing DEET get into the eyes, they may cause irritation, pain and watery eyes. People that have left DEET products on their skin for extended periods of time have experienced irritation, redness, a rash, and swelling. People that have swallowed products containing DEET have experienced stomach upset, vomiting, and nausea. Very rarely, exposure to DEET has been associated with seizures in people. Most of these reactions have happened after drinking products with DEET in them or using the products in ways that do not follow label directions."

Choosing a natural bug repellent means you won’t even have to worry about DEET as all natural options are DEET-free. Natural insect repellents also use a mix of natural oils and other natural ingredients to ward off bugs and insects so you can still explore the great outdoors without worrying about damaging your skin or taking a hit to your health.

How does natural insect repellent work?

Natural insect repellents work to ward off insects and keep bugs at bay by using natural oils. These natural oils have been picked thoughtfully by brands as they’re ones that bugs don’t love the scent of. For example, lemon eucalyptus oil (found in this Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray) is known to fight against mosquitos, and it has been used as a natural repellent for many years.

Because natural insect repellents don’t use chemicals like DEET to repel bugs, you’ll want to make sure to follow the instructions for reapplying your repellent in order to get enough power to keep insects away. Some bugs, like mosquitos, can carry deadly diseases and you should always be protected from them. Keep in mind natural options usually need to be reapplied more frequently than those with DEET.

What is Grove Collaborative?

At Grove, we take the guesswork out of which products are good for you and your home. Every product meets strict standards for being nontoxic, effective, sustainable, and cruelty-free. Once you find products you love, we ship to your home on a flexible, monthly schedule.

If you're ready to make the transition to natural cleaning, beauty, and household products, shop Grove Collaborative's natural products for the eco-friendly tools to tackle the job.

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