How to make catnip mosquito repellent

Catnip is a mint-type plant used for herbal medicine and to attract cats. According to recent studies, catnip may discourage mosquitoes. The researches patented nepetalactone, the primary ingredient in catnip oil, and hope to develop products to thwart mosquitoes. Though other studies indicate catnip may not be as effective as commercial chemicals, home gardeners and herbalists are using simple catnip mosquito repellents. If you are crazy about cats and not crazy about mosquitoes, check out these catnip mosquito chasers.

Take sensible precautions in using any mosquito repellent. Many experienced outdoor people suggest putting insect repellent on clothing. The repellent lasts longer and is not washed away by sweat. Test the repellent on a small area of clothing to be sure it does not stain. If you do use it on skin, test a small area such as inside an elbow to see if your skin has an allergic reaction. Always apply sparingly, especially on young children.

Grow catnip plants in your garden or indoor planter. Take off a leafy stalk, crush the leaves and rub them on skin or clothing. Wear catnip leaves crushed in a handkerchief or bandanna around your neck. If you are not sensitive to catnip, try rubbing a fresh catnip leaf on pulse spots such as behind ears, inside elbows and wrists, behind knees and at ankles.

Chop a handful of fresh catnip leaves and stems in a food processor. Put the chopped catnip in a pot. Pour 474 ml (2 cups) boiling water over the catnip and let it steep like tea. Strain the leaves out and refrigerate the liquid. Pour it into a spray bottle. Spray on clothing just before going outdoors.

Use catnip oil to make a spray. Mix about a half-teaspoon of essential oil of catnip with 237 ml (1 cup) isopropyl alcohol and 237 ml (1 cup) water. Shake well and spray lightly on clothing, arms and legs. Do not use on children, pets or people sensitive to catnip.

Brew a catnip and vinegar spritz. Crush 35 g (2 cups) catnip leaves and add to 711 ml (3 cups) white or rice vinegar in a 1 litre (1 quart) jar. Seal and store in dark cupboard. Shake every day for 2 weeks. Strain mixture into clean jar and refrigerate. Use as a light spritz on clothes, arms or legs. Some say the vinegar keeps the mosquitoes away, other say the catnip does the work.

Gather 35 g (2 cups) catnip and 20 g (1 cup) rosemary leaves. Crush the leaves by using a rolling pin or scrunching them with your hands. Put the leaves in a clean jar and cover with 474 ml (2 cups) unscented body care oil or vegetable glycerine. Store in a cool dark cupboard for 2 weeks. Shake the jar lightly every day. After 2 weeks, strain out the leaves and pour the oil into a clean jar. Refrigerate and use the catnip body oil as needed.


Add small amounts of lemon balm or citronella to aid the mosquito repellent.

Catnip repels some types of mosquitoes. Others may not be affected. If catnip does not work for your mosquitoes, use the catnip to scent cat toys and scratching posts.


Researchers warn that pure catnip oil is too strong to put directly on skin. It is irritating to the skin and eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Catnip
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About the Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.