These 2 Natural Mosquito Repellents Are Already in Your Pantry

published Aug 6, 2023
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The internet is chock-full of solutions that reportedly help repel mosquitoes and prevent pesky bites that feel itchy and uncomfortable, and TikTok is convinced that some actually live in the baking aisle. If you can’t be bothered with devices and sprays designed to eliminate everyone’s least-favorite warm weather pest, perhaps you can find the answer in your pantry, as people on social media have been doing lately.

First up: cinnamon sticks, which TikTok favorite Mr. Rice says will help repel mosquitoes if you wear them in your socks or even as a necklace tied together with string. Of the sweet, spicy fragrance from cinnamon, he says, “They cannot stand it,” he says, “those idiot mosquitoes.”

In a follow-up video, Mr. Rice suggests placing a few cinnamon sticks in old stockings or socks, placing them in your pockets or socks. Of the handy trick, he jokes in his caption: “don’t call me Mr. Rice,  call me Mr. Cinnamon Sticks.”

Cute, but does it actually work? Turns out it does. In 2021, research published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecules called it a natural pesticide, adding, “Cinnamon acts on pests mainly as a repellent, although in higher doses it has a biocidal effect and prevents egg-laying.” For mosquitoes specifically, the research notes: “Cinnamon leaf oil proved to be very effective as a killing agent for mosquito larvae. The compounds cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and anethole, which are ingredients of cinnamon leaf oil, were found to be the most effective against mosquito larvae.”

Another TikTok favorite: vanilla extract, which user @susandoingsusanthings says “works really well,” provided you’re not allergic or sensitive to vanilla extract, of course. Using straight vanilla extract (or diluted with some water), you simply apply it to a cotton round and then rub it directly onto skin, avoiding contact with your clothing to avoid stains. When you’re out for the day, you can either place the vanilla-soaked cotton into plastic baggies for on-the-go application or add it to a spray bottle and pop it into your bag.

You’ll want to make sure you use pure vanilla extract, so avoid anything with sugars or alcohols, as these might have the opposite effect and attract pests. That said, plenty of users report success, even using it on kids as a safer, more natural option, while some didn’t notice a difference. One user joked that she “smells like a cupcake” but was still bothered by mosquitoes during a 30-minute gardening session, but her toddler managed to remain bite-free.

With this one, it seems your results might be mixed, but at least you’ll smell like your favorite baked goods. Just be sure to grab some cinnamon, too, for good measure.