DIY Mosquito Repellent

It’s the change of a season again and the humidity gives mosquitoes a very good environment to linger around human beings, buzzing near their sweat spots like the neck, behind the ears, and (most annoyingly!) behind the knees.

Despite having an air-co bedroom (which I sort of hope to reduce the humidity), I am still surrounded by mosquitoes when I am trying to sleep. Strangely enough they seem to know at what time I enter my REM and just about I am about to get into my deep sleep, they start to buzz in my ear..

I never really liked anti-mosquito spray because most of the time they made me sick. The smell was so bad and my asthma just never got along with the residue of the spray, even after hours later.

So I decided to make my own mosquito repellent, using the skills I learnt from the Smell and Art course I took few years ago. I knew that the local plant “Zodia” (Euodia suaveolens) is famous for being able to repel insects, so I extracted its smell to keep the mosquitoes away. I also tried using the lemon zest — not only to see whether it can repel insects, but also to soften down the strong smell of the zodia.

Since I will use the extraction in my bedroom, I had to use a safe substance. After a quick reading on the internet, I found that vodka was pretty safe to be used as a household substance, so I got some of my colleague’s vodka to be used for my experiment.

Extracting smell with vodka can be rather dangerous if you use a gas stove, so I went to my friend Ocha’s place to use her induction stove.

Anyway, here are the ingredients for my mosquito repellent:

  • Zodia leaves
  • Lemon zest
  • Vodka


  • Crush the zodia leaves until they are thoroughly smooth. It doesn’t have to be all pulpy, only to make sure that the smells are out.
  • Grate the lemon zest.
  • Put the crushed leaves and grated lemon zest in two separate plastic zip bags.
  • Pour the vodka into the plastic bags. Not too much, only to have the crushed/grated ingredients completely immersed in the vodka.
  • Boil a water on a pan.
  • After the water is half boiled, put the plastic bags down the water. Do not put the bags on the bottom of the pan, so you either have to hold it with your hand or make a some sort of mechanism that will let you to keep the plastic bags floating and away from the bottom and the side of the pan.
  • Do this for around 10-15 minutes. You can also steam the crushed ingredients for around 15-20 minutes.
  • In the mean time, prepare the bottle you are going to put your extracted smells.
  • Put a funnel on top of the bottle, and put a coffee filter on the funnel. If you have a small funnel, cut the coffee filter in half.
  • Cut a small hole on the corner of the zip bag and let the vodka drips on the funnel.
  • Keep holding the plastic bag until the final drip.
  • Close the bottle tightly.
  • Do the same thing for the other ingredient.

On a spray bottle I put:
4 drops of extracted crushed zodia leaves
4 drops of extracted grated lemon zest
6-8 drops of pure vodka

Mix it well and spritz!

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