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Essential Oil Versus Bug Spray: The Camper Real Test

Bugs can make a camping trip miserable. So, which bug repellent is best? We put the essential oil remedy versus bug spray to the test to find out once and for all which is best.

Keep reading to learn the results so you can have a relaxed camping experience without bug bites. So let’s buzz in by looking deeper into whether bug sprays are safe and if essential oils really keep bugs away.

What Is the Best Bug Repellant for Camping? 

You may find a long list of bug repellants. Some people swear by essential oils, while others prefer bug spray with chemicals. We’ll get into the pros and cons of both in more detail, but first, let’s look at one of the newest repellants on the market. 

Thermacell mosquito repellers are the latest trendy product. They are DEET-free, scent-free, allethrin-based, and keep mosquitos away without having to put any chemicals on your skin. In addition, it comes with a fuel cartridge and interior heating element without an open flame that keeps the bugs away for up to 12 hours.

But are Thermacells the best bug repellant? It wouldn’t be our top choice, but it’s a close contender. Keep reading to find out what the most reliable and long-lasting option is.

Are Essential Oils or Bug Sprays Better?

Many campers say that peppermint essential oil is the best bug repellant. Bugs, including spiders, flies, beetles, and ants, dislike the peppermint smell. So it’s an excellent natural alternative to putting chemicals on your skin or around your RV.

However, there’s no strong evidence that peppermint holds up against ticks and mosquitos. Ticks and mosquitos are the two most evil bugs you’ll find camping in wooded or wet areas. So a repellent that doesn’t keep these two away isn’t helpful for campers. 

In contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends bug spray with picaridin or DEET. The United States Environmental Protection Agency also regulates the safety of insect repellants. The EPA also approves lemon and eucalyptus oil, but it’s considered plant-based instead of essential oil.

In addition, the excerpts claim that bug spray is better for repelling bugs and, therefore, potential disease from their bites. But are insect repellants safe? 

Hands holding CBD Oil bottle and pipette

Are Bug Sprays Safe?

The EPA states that bug spray is a safe and effective way to repel bugs and prevent diseases from ticks or mosquitos. However, they don’t work against lice or fleas. Find a bug spray with one of the following three active ingredients: oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, or diethyltoluamide (DEET). 

And always read the direction label before using it to ensure you apply the spray correctly, especially on your skin. Don’t spray it around your eyes, nose, mouth, or irritated skin. Wash clothes with repellant on them with soap and water, and don’t spray it indoors.

Do Essential Oils Actually Get Rid of Bugs?

Some essential oils can get rid of bugs except ticks and mosquitos. For example, mice and spiders don’t like the smell of peppermint oil. To use it, combine a 1:4 ratio of peppermint oil and white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on any entry point for rodents or bugs.

Peppermint oil is also known to keep away ants. However, to get rid of ants, you must kill the queen. So while peppermint oil may detour the ants coming into your camper, finding the queen is your real mission. There are various ways to do so, and you’ll find great tutorials online. 

What Essential Oils Drive Away Bugs? 

Peppermint oil is at the top of the list of essential oils that drive away bugs. Others associated with repellency include citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, and catnip oil. The formulas for commercially made essential oil bug repellent are typically a mixture of oils at low concentrations mixed with water or something else. 

How Do You Make Essential Oil Bug Spray?

Most formulas mix an essential oil with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Typically a 1:4 ratio of oil to liquid works well. However, anything other than a 1:4 ratio may overwhelm your camper or your clothes with odor.

How Do I Keep Bugs Out of My Camper?

The best way to prevent bugs from coming into your camper in the first place is to keep your RV and campsite clean. And keep your exterior lights off at night as bugs congregate near the light. You can also spray the perimeter of your campsite or RV with peppermint oil or bug spray.

Consider making it a practice to use repellants when you set up camp and reapply throughout your stay as needed. You can also get a Theracall patio shield. 

What Bug Repellant Do Campers Recommend? 

In the end, we’ve concluded that bug spray is the best repellant for ticks and mosquitos. Due to the disease they carry, going with the CDC-recommended buy spray seems appropriate. 

However, essential oils certainly have their place in keeping other pests away, especially mice, spiders, and ants that creep into your RV. Try spraying a mixture of peppermint oil and white vinegar around your RV the next time you camp in a buggy location. 

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