How to Use Clove Oil as an Insect Repellent

Clove oil, along with citronella, can be one of the most effective natural ingredients to use as an insect repellent. Just be sure to dilute the clove oil before applying it to your skin, since it will irritate your skin in its pure form.

Use clove oil as an insect repellent by diluting it with either rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, vodka or olive oil. You should use 1 part clove oil to 10 parts of the diluting solution, and shake vigorously before applying it to your skin. Clove oil in its purest form is a strong skin irritant, and should not be applied directly to your skin.

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Dilute clove oil with distilled water, using the same 10 to 1 ratio, and pour the solution into a plastic spray bottle. Apply the solution to outdoor areas such as broad-leafed plants, brick planters and fences, forming a perimeter around your outdoor activity area. You may need to reapply the solution every 1 to 2 hours for maximum protection.

Avoid applying clove oil as an insect repellent, even in its diluted form, around your eyes, mouth and nose. With small children, you may want to avoid spraying the solution on their hands, since they may be tempted to lick it from their skin. While clove oil is fairly safe to use on pets and children, internal consumption may cause abdominal distress, nausea and vomiting.

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Mix clove oil with other types of natural oil for a more effective solution that will repel a greater variety of pests, such as mosquitoes and fleas. Clove oil is often combined with citronella oil to form one of the most effective natural mosquito repellents available.

Re-apply the diluted clove oil solution at least once every 1 to 2 hours, or more frequently if you are sweating or if it is humid outdoors. Even wind can cause the clove oil to evaporate rather quickly.

Wash clove oil from your skin once you return to the indoors. Use hot water and soap to scrub the oil from your skin completely. Leaving clove oil on your skin overnight, even in its diluted form, can result in dermatitis.


A few drops of clove oil can be added to a citronella lamp or candle for an increase of both potency against insects and pleasantness of the aroma.