Essential Oils That Chiggers Hate

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A number of essential oils can keep insects and arthropods -- including chiggers -- at bay while you work in your garden or elsewhere outdoors. Those essential oils include:

Like some other bugs found outdoors, chiggers attach themselves to the surface of skin using their mouths. The attachment doesn't typically hurt, but the fluid chiggers insert into skin can cause itchiness in the affected areas.

If you want to use a natural product to deter chiggers, then essential oils may be the solution. Even though essential oils are natural, care may be necessary to prevent them from causing skin irritation. Also, use a few additions to make the oils as effective as possible.

Additives for Longevity

Applying a mixture of clove, lemongrass, thyme and citronella essential oils should help you keep chiggers off your skin. Because essential oils are very volatile and break down quickly, however, they don't last long. Try adding "fixatives" to the essential oil mixture to help keep it on your skin longer. Turmeric oil , hairy basil and 5 percent vanillin may be helpful as fixatives, a paper published in the Malaria Journal in 2011 indicates.

Your Own Bug Spray

Make your own chigger-repelling spray with a few simple ingredients.

Things You'll Need

  • Mixing bowl or small container

  • Measuring spoons

  • Distilled water

  • Vodka

  • Essential oils

  • Vanilla or other fixative

  • 2-ounce spray bottle

  • Funnel

In a mixing bowl or small container, add 4 tablespoons of distilled water and 2 teaspoons of vodka. Add 5 or 6 drops of any essential oils that help repel insects and arthropods. Combining a few essential oils can help increase the effectiveness of the spray, a review published in Bioresource Technology in 2010 suggests. Add a few drops of a fixative, such as vanilla, and stir. Place a funnel over the top of a 2-ounce spray bottle, and pour the mixture into the bottle.


Essential oils can cause skin irritation in some people. So test the spray on a small patch of skin before using it all over your body or spraying it on your clothes. Also ask your doctor before using the spray on children or pregnant women.

You can make the spray stronger by adding a few more drops of essential oil to the bottle.


You can add essential oils to an unscented lotion and then apply the lotion to your skin to keep chiggers and other bugs away.

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.