Listerine as a Fly Repellent

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Listerine is not an effective fly deterrent.

It's difficult to enjoy spending time outdoors when flies relentlessly pester you. If you're out of repellent and don't have time to run to the store, consider using products found around your home as repellent. You may have heard that Listerine is an effective insect repellent but this frugal method of insect repellent is not as practical as you may have heard.


Listerine is a brand of mouthwash. Aside from keeping your mouth clean with fresh breath, Listerine is known for many other uses, including repelling flies and insects.


Listerine is believed to be an effective fly and bug repellent. According to, a website that decodes urban legends, chain messages insist that Listerine is such an effective mosquito repellent that it not only deters pesky bugs, it kills them, too. This belief is based on the fact that Listerine is made with ingredients used in insect repellent, such as eucalyptus oil. In high concentrations, eucalyptus oil is an extremely effective repellent. Based on the chain messages, you simply pour Listerine in a spray bottle and spray around you to repel insects.


Listerine is not an effective repellent for flies and other insects because it contains less than one percent of eucalyptus oil, whereas typical insect repellents contain up to 75 percent of the ingredient, according to The New York Times. Although Listerine is safe to spray around children and pets, it is only effective against flies if you directly spray the liquid on them. Sherman Farms, a quarter horse farm in Canada, claims that mixing Listerine, apple cider vinegar and citronella is effective at deterring flies from horses, but the citronella is likely deterring the flies, not the Listerine.


Listerine is not as potent as other fly repellents, such as those containing higher concentrations of eucalyptus oil, picaridin, citronella or DEET. It may deter flies for a little while, especially if you apply the liquid generously to your skin or clothing, but it is safer and more effective to use other repellents.


Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams has been writing since 2009 on various writing websites and blogging since 2003. She enjoys writing about health, medicine, education and home and garden topics. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at East Stroudsburg University in May 2013. Williams is also a certified emergency medical technician.