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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

4 Essential Oils that Repel Bugs in Your Home

4 Essential Oils that Repel Bugs in Your Home

Wouldn’t it be great if bugs didn’t like the scent of your indoor air?

Then they’d be happy to avoid your home! 

These 4 essential oils that repel bugs can make the dream a reality. I’m using them in a diffuser blend, so their people-friendly, bug-busting scents can fill your indoor air and keep pests out of your space.

The main essential oil in this blend may surprise you. It’s Catnip! (Yup, the kitty crazy-maker!)

Catnip essential oil repels bugs—especially mosquitoes!

Some Catnip oils contain high percentages of nepetalactones, which have been shown in studies to repel flying insects, including mosquitoes. One study showed greater than 95% repellency! 

In this blend, I’m combining a nepetalactone-rich Catnip with three other essential oils that repel bugs. I’ll talk a little more about each of those oils after the recipe.

“Keep Bugs Out with Catnip” Diffuser Blend

  • 5 drops Catnip essential oil (Nepeta cataria)
  • 2 drops Cedarwood essential oil (Juniperus virginiana)
  • 2 drops Palmarosa essential oil (Cymbopogon martinii var motia)
  • 1 drops Patchouli essential oil (Pogostemon cablin)

This blend has the floral, herbal scent of Catnip, layered with sweet, woodsy, earthy notes.

“Keep Bugs Out with Catnip” Diffuser Blend

You’ve already learned why Catnip is so effective against pesky pests! 

Let’s talk about the other essential oils that repel bugs in this diffuser blend.

Cedarwood essential oil

Juniperus virginiana

Cedarwood is famously used in closets to keep moths away from clothes. You can find Cedarwood planks to hang on clothes hangers, spheres for drawers, and Cedarwood mist to protect your clothes. (Some closets are even made out of Cedarwood!) 

And moths aren’t the only insects that don’t like Cedarwood. Mosquitoes, ants, fleas, flies, and spiders also tend to avoid it.

Cedarwood’s component cedrol likely plays a big role in making it so distasteful to bugs.

Palmarosa essential oil

Cymbopogon martinii var motia

Palmarosa contains geraniol, which has been shown to repel a variety of microbes, fungi, and pests—including mosquitoes. 

Diffusing Palmarosa oil can also help purify your indoor air, reducing the presence of airborne microbes. You’ll love this oil if you sometimes come down with spring colds!

Patchouli essential oil

Pogostemon cablin

In one study, Patchouli was among the most effective of 38 essential oils studied for repelling mosquitoes! That explains why it’s such a popular natural bug repellent. 

We can thank its main component patchoulol for this. Research shows it repels several species of insects.

What to do if you get a bug bite

On the occasion that I forget my bug repellent and I get a bite, I like using essential oils to calm the itch. 

Try The Essential Itch Away Spray (from our blog!), made with aloe vera, lavender, peppermint and two other skins-soothing oils. 

How to Safely Use Essential Oils With Kids


Reichert, W., Ejercito, J., Guda, T., Dong, X., Wu, Q., Ray, A., Simon, J.E. (2019) Repellent Assessment of Nepeta cataria Essential Oils and Isolated Nepetalactones on Aedes Aegypti. Sci Rep 9, 1524. 

Peterson, C.J., Coats, J.R. (December 2011) Catnip Essential Oil and Its Nepetalactone Isomers as Repellents for Mosquitoes. Iowa State University, Entomology Publications. 

Muller, G.C., Junnila, A., Butler, J., Kravchenko, V.D., Revay, E.E., Weiss, R.W., Schlein, Y. (2009) Efficacy of the botanical repellents geraniol, linalool, and citronella against mosquitoes. Journal of Vector Ecology. Jun; 34(1):2-8. Doi: 10.1111/j.1948-7134.2009.00002.x.

Trongtokit, Y., Rongsriyam, Y., Komalamisra, N., Apiwathnasorn, C. (2005) Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Phytotherapy Research. Apr;19(4):303-9. doi:10.1002/ptr.1637.

Yi-Xi Feng, Yang Wang, Chun-Xue You, Shan-Shan Guo, Yue-Shen Du & Shu-Shan Du (2019) Bioactivities of patchoulol and phloroacetophenone from Pogostemon cablin essential oil against three insects, International Journal of Food Properties, 22:1, 1365-1374, DOI: 10.1080/10942912.2019.1648508

Karen serves as Co-Director of Education at Aromahead Institute, where she works closely with students and helps them earn aromatherapy certification. Karen’s strong values for healthcare, education, and sustainable practices have guided her entire career, and remain the principles that shape her daily activities at Aromahead. Karen loves sharing her knowledge of essential oils and how they can enhance the beauty of ones’ journey through life and has authored numerous articles and guides on the safe and effective therapeutic uses of essential oils. In Karen’s free time, she can be found hiking amongst nature, reading, and enjoying her family.

Topics: essential oil bug repellent, geraniol, Palmarosa essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, patchouli essential oil, diffuse essential oils, how to use catnip essential oil, cedrol, nepetalactones

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